How to Recognise if you are Buying Bootleg Merchandise

Final Fake-asy

Final Fantasy is one of the biggest franchises in the world and with that, comes a lot of merchandise. As with any massive franchise, there is always the one thing which bugs me more than most; bootleg items. Bootleggers are people who distribute, buy or sell rip-off items. Every convention I go to, there is always this one plush lurking amongst the stall of cheap plastic and fake material.

I want to vanquish the evil bootlegger while also providing people with the necessary tips and tools to work out what is real and fake. When looking online particularly, if it originates from China, it usually means it is a fake. Even if they are using pictures that show it, majority of the time it will be stolen images.

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo

If you’re a regular convention goer, you would have seen this fake floating around particularly more often than not. You might not always know it, but it is always there. The plush in question is from a lesser-known spin-off series within the Final Fantasy franchise; Final Fantasy Fables. All the Chocobo cuteness needed in one place, this could be the spin-off for you. And to be honest, who doesn’t love cute, fluffy Chocobos!?

This particular Plush is from the ‘White Label Play and Display’ line by Square Enix Products.

Straight off the back, you can almost instantly see the different colourisations present in both of the plushies in question. The real one has a quite strong yellow/orange colouring, which is the typical colours of a Chocobo we all know and love. The bootleg, however, comes across as a sort of off yellowish type of colour, nowhere near the same colour contrasting a high-quality official plush has. 

Finer Details

Along with distorted colouring, there are plenty of other ways to notice off-brand merchandise. If you look closely, you will notice the design on the book itself is a brighter yellow/orangy colour on the fake. Whereas the real one is a darker, creamier shade of yellow instead.

On the official merchandise, you also notice all the makeshift language and finer detailings on the Cactuar are present. While the bootleg lacks those finer details. When side by side, you can clearly see even the most minuscule of detail.

Bootleggers continue to astound me for their lack of attention to detail. The eye colour is the wrong shade of blue and the stitching itself has those minor imperfections where the real deal demonstrates perfect stitching. 

Bootleg of a Bootleg

This single biggest giveaway of a bootleg is when they are claiming copyright for a different company entirely. Granted, they might have originally been trying to pass it off as Kingdom Hearts. But if that were the case, wouldn’t they have added a Square Enix copyright. This plush originally came out in 2007 and had a re-run in 2010 and considering Kingdom Hearts II was released in 2005, it could be entirely likely.

Whilst researching about this quite notorious plush, I came across something which both surprised and amused me all at once. But, I will let the picture do the talking and then give some explanation afterwards.

If I am not mistaken, that is another bootleg. But it is a bootleg of a bootleg. They have not only made the initial bootleg look bad but what the heck did they do to the eyes. The blue colour has now been shifted to the outer ring of the eye. Looks like this poor little fake hasn’t slept in weeks. This variant, in particular, seems to have started its life on a notoriously known bootleg website (aliexpress, wish etc.) 

Final Advice

There are still plenty of things to look out for that weren’t covered. But some of my advice would be when buying online: Look for labels. If they don’t have a picture of a label, ask for one and if they can’t provide you with a picture of a label, this is an instant red flag. Or even when you’re at a convention. Pick it up, look for the tag. Make sure you pick it up and hold it to feel the fabric. These bootlegs are poorly made and the material just doesn’t feel right.

Always do your research if it is something you are wanting to add to your collection. Even a quick Google Search can usually provide you with all the answers you seek. Personally, I use MyFigureCollection as a great source for looking if bootlegs of a specific type of merchandise exist. Also if buying online, if it’s a low price, it’s usually almost too good to be true.

If you’re not sure, ask the seller, question them about a few things and never be afraid to question someone if they are potentially selling fake merchandise. You work hard for your money, you should at least be spending it on the real deal.

Thank you for joining me this small journey, it has ended now. Twas a thrilling adventure with you all and I hope you’ll join me on my next one, which’ll be very soon. I will leave some more images at the bottom for your viewing pleasure, from the real deal plush which I actually own and took the pictures of. 

I have added the pictures of the real Chocobo plush for your viewing pleasure.