Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Authentic vs Counterfeit Figures & Holo Stickers

Everyone who's been around here for awhile knows I HATE bootlegs. Well, I've been reading a lot of forum comments lately posted by so called 'expert' collectors regarding how to tell authentic Japanese Anime figures from counterfeits made in Hong Kong or China. Some folks seem to think that all Japanese figures without the little foil Holo stickers are counterfeits, but this is just not true - it's a little more complicated than that.

The foil holo stickers are not affixed to a figure as a certificate of authenticity, they are actually little Japanese tax stamps. You see, virtually no Japanese figures are actually made in Japan anymore, their manufacture is usually outsourced to China by the Japanese marketing companies (like Good Smile or Alter for instance - and no, the irony does not escape me), and then they are shipped into Japan often via Hong Kong. When they enter Japan they need to have the foil sticker affixed to show that the Japanese taxes have been paid, but this only applies to units originally destined to be sold on the Japanese market.

Figures that are allocated to the export market (i.e. - to us) can come two ways. First, we may get inventory that was left over or part of a batch originally intended to go to Japan (in which case they will almost always have the stickers), or we may get inventory that is specifically allocated to ship directly to the United States from the factory. These figure usually will not have the foil stickers, but are no less authentic than the ones that go to the Japanese market. In fact, they are exactly the same unless they are a specific series or variant exclusive to the export market.

So the manufacturer stickers or stamps depends on the point of origination, primary destination, and varies by manufacturer. For instance, Good Smile usually ships us inventory left over from Japanese destined production runs, while Megahouse usually allocates inventory directly into the export market that bypasses Japan. This explains, for example, why few of the One Piece figures we get have the foil stickers (well, at least the EX versions, the Bandai ones usually do). No matter if they do or don't, it's only a result of the where a particular product batch gets sourced by the manufacturer.

So the theory that the foil stickers automatically represent authenticity is a fallacy. Not only do many of the good counterfeits out there have the holo stickers (I've seen them), the presence of the stickers does not in any way influence the value or 'collectability' of an authentic release.

Remember, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. The best way to ensure that you are always getting a 100% authentic product, and not getting ripped off, is to only source your figures from a dealer that offers a 100% authentic guarantee. Someone like us for instance. :-)

1 comment:

ubu said...

My rule of thumb has been "stay the hell off eBay" for the last few years.