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How to Tell if Your Toy is a Fake

I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about counterfeit and knockoff toys. I sell toys, and I even sell toys that are knockoffs. I routinely go through my distributors and prune out the obvious fakes, and once a year I purchase inventory to check items in person. It can be tough for both small businesses like myself as well as customers trying to save money. You want a good deal, but you don’t want crap.

Here are some things I’ve learned:


Sites like Alibaba and eBay are full of knockoffs (full disclosure, I sell on eBay and I use sites like Alibaba to source inventory). Some being sold intentionally, some not. But not everything on Alibaba and eBay (for example) are fakes. But when you go to those site, you should be prepared. It’s not as transparent as going to a brick and mortar store in Butte, Montana.

It’s the nature of the beats that buying things you can’t touch and eyeball is a bit of a risk Like I said, I’m constantly working towards removing fakes from my inventory. And in my case, I try to be as transparent as possible. I put items I source from Chinese distributors in my “Import” collection. Sometimes it’s a good deal if you’re willing to wait a little longer.

Sometimes it’s something someone printed on their home 3D Printer.


There are two parts of packaging that you needto pay attention to. The first is quality. If things are misspelled, it’s probably fake. Often the source doesn’t have anyone fluent in English, so you might get a “SIAR WARS” instead of “STAR WARS.”

The other huge warning sign is if you have the option to buy an item in the box or in a bag. If the source has a bunch of $90 action figures in a bag for $40, they’re almost certainly fakes. It’s easy to do. Get a real one, copy it, and print it yourself for a fraction of the cost. It’s also cheaper when you aren’t paying licensing fees. But the quality is usually pretty bad, and…well…pirates.


Finally, if you’re able to look at the item up close, you’ll see quality issues. Take this guy, for example.

He came from a Chinese distributor. Under $10. His head doesn’t stay on, something rattles inside the body, and some of the coloring is a little sloppy. You can probably find these in a hundred tourist trap stores in Orlando, and Disney isn’t getting a dime. But if you bought it thinking you were getting original high quality Stitch, well, that’s not what you got.

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself if the purchase is worth it. But forewarned is forearmed. Let the buyer beware.

To see some of my probably not fake inventory, visit Captain Midnight’s Fantastic Emporium.

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