How to spot a Bootleg / Counterfeit Figures

Spotting pirated or unlicensed figures is not always easy and even experienced collectors can make this mistake on occasion – especially if buying online.

There are however, some useful tell-tale signs that indicate when an item is not official. We will go into more detail in the following sections.

A few weeks ago statistics were released by Xinhau, a state-run Chinese news agency, showing that 40% of goods sold online in China last year were either counterfeit or of poor quality.

According to the UN, from 2008 to 2010 almost 70% of all counterfeit goods seized worldwide were from China.

How to spot counterfeit and bootleg figures

Without further ado, the following picture displays two Miku Hatsune figures. One of them is real, and one is fake.

Can you spot which one is fake?

If you guessed the one on the left, then you are correct!

If you can’t tell the difference, don’t worry, there are a few things you should look for. We’ll focus on the box for now as that’s the first thing you’ll probably see.

The Sticker of Authenticity

Most boxes from a series will have a sticker, either holographic or plain, on the front which contains the name of the licensing company.

Now, if you have a keen eye, you might have looked at the picture in the beginning of this post again and said “Hey wait a minute, there isn’t a sticker on either of the boxes above! What gives?”.

Well, as you just found out, not all companies add a sticker of authenticity on them. But despair not, there are plenty more red flags to look for.

Product Quality

There is a significant difference in quality between a Bootleg product and a real one.

Characteristics of fakes include a faulty paint job, overly shiny faces and/or clothes, parts falling off, parts broken, poorly packaged and damaged box.

The Box

Sometimes, just by looking through the plastic window of the box, it’s hard to tell if you’re dealing with a fake figure, but sometimes you can tell without even looking at the figure itself.

Counterfeit figure Boxes will most likely be damaged and have dark photography. It looks quite bad to be bluntly honest. You can see how the shading in Miku’s hair is completely black.

Paint Job

Another huge thing to look at, as mentioned above, is the paint job. Look at the small details, see if there are any smudges.

It also helps a lot if you know the character you are looking to buy. Most of the times there will be unusual characteristics, related with that specific character, that will raise a red flag.

Left is Real, right is Fake

The Joints

Bootlegs are terrible when it comes to their joints. Most of the time due to poor quality PVC/Plastic or just having wrong fitting sizes.

Parts often fall off without even being touched. If its in a box with one of its arms off, it’s almost certainly a bootleg. I’ve seen bootlegs in the box with parts completely broken in half!

The joints on the real figures are much tougher and stay in the position you desire them to be.

The fake ones are the complete opposite they are slouchy and keep falling, they cant hold position without your help or some extra glue 😛

Left is Real , right is Fake

The Stand

Usually fake figure stands just say ‘MADE IN CHINA’ where the real figures stand have the company’s name on it.

It’s hard to notice the stand when looking at a boxed figure, but it’s just something extra you should be aware of.

Most fake figures come with the generic round stand in the first pic, whether it actually fits or not.

Tips for Online Purchases

If you have done your research on your much sought after figure and you’re ready to take the big step and buy it, always contact the seller before you make the payment.
Tell them about your concern, request a picture, not a stock picture that every merchant has, but a real picture of the item as the seller has it.

The truth is a lot of figures are cheaper online than in stores or conventions. Try to avoid websites that display low information on their products and that do not reply to customers email.

If you enjoy online shopping like I do, make sure you choose your websites wisely and purchase only from places noted for their legit products.

The following image is a bootleg that was displayed on eBay.

This Miku Sakura Figure was a LIMITED EDITION only available in Japan. For 1.99? Coming from China? No. That is clearly a fake figure.

Why should I buy from Animegami?

We guarantee that all our items are original. If you, the customer, thinks that you have been sold a fake item we provide clear ways to return your items.

We do not compromise on the price, because after all, quality needs to be paid for and we know our customers are looking for that.

At Animegami our main focus is you, our customer, and for that we always keep customer service at the top of our priority list.

We aim to reply to your emails as quickly as possible, most of the times within 30 minutes of email arrival.

If you have any questions regarding any of the items we have in stock, do not hesitate to drop us an email or use the in-store chat.

We’re always here to help and clear any doubts/questions you might have!

Carlos Airosa

3 thoughts on “How to spot a Bootleg / Counterfeit Figures

  1. Pinky and the Brain says:

    This guy has no idea what he’s talking about I bought 2 chinese versions and they are both authentic both are well made. Just because the clothes are falling off dosent mean it’s a fake. It could also mean it’s a much older statue that has seen a lot off shelf time and that study is a load of crap if the japanese are the authentic then why is 99% of toys made in China I’ve also read somewhere that Japan has been making fakes for years remeber the early 2000’s transformers reissues they were all made by Japan and they were all fakes. But yet people still think the chinese are all fake not true do your buyer research because there are fakes in every genre of merchandise. Its just sad that some criminals end up switching the real ones for fakes. I wouldn’t even doubt that the japanese versions are all fakes and the chinese are the real ones just be aware of what you purchase when buying online!

    • José Airosa says:


      Thank you for your comment on this. Altough the vast majority of toys/statues/figures are produced in china, there’s a big difference between a fake item produced in china and an original product produced in chine. This is where licensing comes into play. If a company is producing a product for which it does not have a license that’s a criminal ofense. There’s also the huge impact that these fake product have in the collectables ecosystem.
      We are oficial partners with some of the biggest manufacturers and we only sell original licensed products.
      You’re 100% correct that not all chinese products are fake, but the truth is that the vast majority is. We work with companies like Fake is Sad which are currently in the forefront of the fight against fake products.
      This post is intended as a guideline, not a black & white guide. Common sense and proper investigation is always required when purchasing online 🙂

  2. Hearty says:

    Hey, I am just wondering, I bought a few figures and found them later to be fake. I checked the box and different from the actual that was posted, and another figure whose box has yet to come, but wouldn’t show it as it will look like. I am trying to collect certain figures at good prices, as well as going more towards Amazon, however, that is where I bought these. If I find them to be fake, and bootlegged (Even showing the real in pictures), can I somehow shut down the seller and get a refund (while not giving the figures back as to help others see fake from real while keeping it from being resold)?

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