I have bought and sold stuff on ebay for a number of years and any collector who uses this facility knows that it is like playing a game of Russian roulette. For every genuine seller that puts a product up, there are many more who sell bootlegs and fakes. One of the key problems is tat the very companies who produce boxes and moulds for the genuine articles, also use the same resources for bootlegs. While a seasoned collector can easily spot a fake figure, it is made harder by the fact that they now ship in genuine packaging. While there are many sites out there that have visual comparisons of genuine and fake articles, there are a few key rules of buying that can be applied to limit the chances of a first time ebay buyer falling into the trap of buying a fake.
High demand figures generate the most interest and sales and as a result generate the most bootlegs. High demand and missing out on pre-orders can “blind” a buyer into a search and buy frenzy. Always keep a cool head and don’t jump for the first item you see, do your home work on the item. Also bootleg sellers will use the prototype gallery photos in their sale. Do not assume that these are the genuine article, it is all to easy to copy and paste a picture from website to ebay auction.
Anime figures are generally limited run items that spawn re-releases at the manufacturer’s leisure. Seeing large quantities of old figure releases (5 + years after release date) on ebay probably means they are not genuine.
Anime figure collecting is not a cheap hobby with most 1/8 scale figures clocking in at $90+, rarer figures can go in excess of $200. If you spot a figure that is drastically cheaper and is a “Buy it Now” option, chances are it is a bootleg.
There are many great figure sites like Tsuki Boards that catalogue figures. If you are in doubt about the authenticity, visit these sites, search the figure and check availability, check if any bootlegs exist. Some of the larger figure forums even have lists of authentic ebay sellers and bootleg sellers. See below for reference websites.
A ebay sellers success is strongly influenced by customer feedback and is also a tell-tale sign if the seller is dishonest. Click on the sellers name and check the negative and neutral feedback and read it, it can be very enlightening and has spared me some bad sales. WARNING ratings are not always accurate, power sellers sell such vast volumes that negative and neutral feedbacks will not accurately show the extent of how bad the seller actually is do not trust the percentile given. Always look at negative and neutral feedback and be sure to check how recent the last bad feedbacks are.
It is not unusual for limited special colour editions of genuine figures to be released however under these reasons, some bootleggers attempt to pass off poor quality clones as “special colour versions”.
There are some sellers who hide behind certain auction loop holes. One of the most notorious tag lines being “Authentic *Name of item* box” in this particular case someone paid for just that, a box. While not as common these days, be aware that some boot leg sellers with intentionally not use the words authentic or the cite the origins. If you buy an item under this premise, the seller is almost infallibly in the right as he sold you just what was described. Be very aware of how an auction is described and look for written evidence of authenticity within the auction.
These are just a few guide lines to be aware of for collectors who have missed out on pre-orders or are tracking down rare and old items. It is a shame but where money can be made, crooks follow and while there are many genuine ebay sellers there are more sellers who are not. Below are some of the sites that I have used to background check sellers and authenticity of items that I purchased over the years.
Tsuki Boards: Excellent resource site that show collections and also tracks whether an item has been bootlegged.
Zero Type Forums: Dedicated sub forum to bootleg items, has plenty of photos comparisons between bootleg and genuine figures, and also has a list of genuine and bootleg ebay sellers.
Toys Logic Forum: As with Zero Type, has a section dedicated to comparing fakes and bootleg items.
Hobby Search: Great resource site which has of photos of figures and the packaging.
I hope readers and collectors find this article useful
Thanks for reading