Merchandise is a significant part of the commercial arm of the pokemon plush market. Pokémon plush collecting remains a favourite past-time, with active communities on Livejournal, Reddit, and other social media platforms. This has generated, of course, a stream of counterfeit merchandise. That fake Espeon might be cute, but it does have negative impacts on the broader fan base, as PokeVault.com’s Brian Grabow explains: “When someone buys a knock-off,” he reported earlier this year, “it hurts the pokemon plush” Pokémon Center and Nintendo’s sales, so they end up raising prices to make up for lost revenue. Due to the increased number of imitations, they’ve also raised prices. Some items have more than doubled in price.”
If you’re a collector, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re buying authentic plush, and thereby supporting the creators.
Here is an example;
1.Fake Pokemon plush fall into 4 categories;
When you buy plush it generally falls in the following categories:
- licensed merchandise,
- factory reject, or
- fan made.
Under the terms of a merchandise license, the owner of the image or text (the licensee) is usually paid an advance and a royalty based on a percentage of income from sales. The company selling the merchandise (the licensee) must meet certain obligations including payments, quality control and enforcement of rights. Quality can vary greatly, with Target and BigW selling mass-produced plush that are often made of harsher fabrics. However plush sold at official pokemon plush in Pokémon Centers tend to have ultra-soft material, high-quality stitching, and extreme attention to detail. Take this “Liberty Pikachu” plush, which was part of the 2016-2017 Around the World campaign:
The torch is in the shape of a Litwick, the tablet she holds is emblazoned with Unwon, and her tail is heart-shaped, indicating that we’re specifically looking at a female Pikachu. This is a level of detail rarely seen in fake products.
If you bought a suspiciously cheap plush from eBay, however, you may have purchased a counterfeit.
This second category is, unfortunately, extremely common on sites like Amazon and eBay. They’re adorable, yes, but they’re also illegal, and there’s no guarantee they’ve passed through safety protocols. South Korea alleges that half a million counterfeit pokemon plush seized at customs were contaminated with harmful chemicals.
These plush look authentic, but have small defects that made them fail quality control procedures.
An example would be this Alolan Marowak, which has an elongated neck, an incorrectly cut tag, and discolored fabric on its tail.
Finally, fan made toys are in a class all their own. Type any Pokémon character’s name into Etsy.com, and you’ll find these. Fan creators are bona fide artists, and they’re dedicated to enriching the Pokémon fan base. These individuals aren’t flooding eBay with knock-off toys in a large-scale money grab. Rather, they’re creating a one-of-a-kind piece of art, such as the work of Guardian Earth Plush.
Large Pokemon Plush
The Pokemon Center and other famous brands of large Pokemon plushies are for sale. These large size or jumbo size plushies are very popular and usually sell out very fast. This category is for all the Life Size, Giant, Big More and 1:1 size plushies. There are many different types of life-size or huge plush toys of all your favorite characters like Eevee, Mew and many others are sold. These fall victim to imitation pluash.
2. Authentic plush normally sit upright.
Consider how the plush “sits.” Most of the time, officially-licensed toys will sit upright on their own. This isn’t always true, as with the 2017 Halloween campaign Mimikyu, but they are designed with balance in mind. Ears, fins, and spikes should stand up straight.
3. Authentic plush has high quality stitching.
Consider the quality of the stitching. Are all the lines even? Do all the seams fit together neatly? Are details painted on and cracking due to wear, or are they actually sewn into the fabric?
These two Vaporeon are a perfect example of quality stitching and “sit.” Can you tell which is counterfeit?
The Vaporeo on the left have fake’s droopy fins, absence of toes, and lines painted (rather than stitched) onto its neck fin. These are tell-tale signs that the product is counterfeit.
4. Authentic plush have original authentic swing tag.
Examine the swing tag. During production, every factory is given a set number of swing tags (attached with that funny “T”-shaped plastic) for the plush. Warning signs include dull, faded colors, misspelled words, and a circular tag, which is very easy to replicate.
5. Copyright tags are stitched to the bottom.
Examine the copyright tag stitched to the bottom. Just because it says “Pokémon Center” doesn’t mean the item you’re holding is legitimate. Is the text faded or lopsided? Does it contain spelling errors? Is one side in Japanese and the other side in Chinese? These are all warning signs that you may have a counterfeit plush.
6. Fake plush have faults in design & appearance.
Beware sloppy overall design. This pokemom has several loose strings and an off-center nose.
On the back of the plush, there’s visible hot glue. This gives a sloppy appearance that would have gotten it pulled from store shelves.
The Eeveelutions, such as Espeon, are among the most commonly counterfeited characters.
7. Factory seconds bleed cotton stuffing.
Don’t purchase anything that’s bleeding cotton stuffing. Rips and tears suggest that the item you’ve purchased is a factory reject. Sure, they might be from the same production line as genuine merch, but many of these plush were illegally stolen out of the trash.
8. Pokemon Tags are often copied.
Now that the “Poképlush tag” is the most commonly copied. South Korea’s arcades are flooded with knock-off merchandise that boast this tag, which actually hasn’t been in use since 2007. Often, the pennant-style tag will be off-color, slightly faded, and bent.
9. Patterns are commonly copied from China, Hong Kong and Korea.
If you’re buying a plush online, check which country the seller is registered in. In 2017, many Pokémon Center plush were manufactured in the Philippines or Vietnam, but sold only in Japan. Pop-up stores in South Korea sold them as well, but with a Korean-language sticker on the tags. PokeVault.com explains that most knock-offs originate from China or Hong Kong, where counterfeiters have easy access to design patterns or defective product.
10. Do a google comparison with PokemonCentre.com before buying.
Before buying a plush, do a Google search. There are plenty of collecting communities present online, so use them! A quick Google search of the character’s name and “plush” should bring fourth several results. Does your plush look extremely similar to the ones found on PokemonCenter.com, or is it closer to a suspiciously cheap one on eBay? A quick comparison can save you anywhere from $10 to $100.