Dragonballtoys.com Guide to Bootleg Action Figures

One of the constant fears in toy collecting, especially in a time when online stores and auctions are so prevalent, is the threat of bootleg toys. A "bootleg" (fake, imitation, etc), is generally created from a mold made from the original action figure, then recast, repainted, and repackaged, generally using materials of much lesser quality than the original.

Bootlegs come in all shapes and sizes. Often, the mold the bootleggers use is manipulated or changed to make the figures larger or smaller than the originals, and generally, any special features or actions are left out.

Dragonball toys are one of the most often bootlegged figures, especially in Asia. For every official Bandai figure, there seem to be ten different bootleg versions of it. Here are some tips to help you avoid purchasing these phony figures rather than the real ones:

1. Always look for an official Bandai (or whatever company holds the rights for the figures you're looking for) logo. Also, any authentic Dragonball Z product, no matter what country it was made in, will have a copyright registered to Bird Studios/Shueisha/Toei Animation.


2. Furthermore, many bootleg toys try to pull a fast one by slightly varying the name on the package. Bootleg DBZ figures have been marketed under the names DRAGOONBALL, DRAGONPEARL, and many other similar variations.

For all kinds of examples of these figures, go to the excellent DBZ section at Bootleg Toys: The Undiscovered Playthings.

Those are the major indications that mark bootleg toys. Sometimes, however, the bootleggers throw caution to the wind, and go ahead and add the Bandai logo and the copyright information, which makes their actions a much greater crime in terms of copyright law. For this reason, research dealers before you buy from them, there are many topics in the message board on reputable and disreputable dealers.

A note: Bootlegs aren't necessarily evil. I've gotten many reports from folks that buy bootlegs on purpose in order to use them for custom figures; they're cheaper, and who cares about destroying a bootleg figure? However, if you are looking for quality toys to display or play with, I recommend you stick to the real thing--they're worth the few extra dollars.

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