Bootleg merchandise are a huge problem here in Southeast Asia, and that also extends to fake anime merchandise. One of the countries which have a problem with these fake anime merchandise is Thailand, as bootleggers not only sell fake goods there, but also make them. To help promote awareness about this issue, the Japan Merchandising Rights Association (JAMRA) set up a booth during C3 AFA Bangkok last weekend.

During the event, We had a little chat with the staff and talked about bootleg merchandise. While differentiating between fake and originals may seem obvious to avid collectors such as myself, I recently found out that other people don’t really know the difference. It may be because most people, particularly those new at collecting, aren’t really aware of the matter. For many of them, bootlegs and originals look pretty much the same, and that’s why JAMRA set up shop during C3 AFA Bangkok.

We’ve also talked to the JAMRA booth staff about how to easily know if it’s a fake or not, so here are some ways to know if one is original:

  • Quality: Let’s face it, bootleg merchandise don’t look as good as originals. Heck, some of them look pretty goofy.
  • Is the store reputable or not?: Know if the store you’re buying from is known to sell fakes. Some stores have a reputation for selling fakes, while others are officially-recognised distributors of original goods.
  • Price: If the price is well below what reputable stores are selling, it may be fake. As they say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
  • Packaging art: Sometimes, the packaging in bootleg merchandise are a bit different from originals. Most of the time, the colors of the packaging in originals are more crisp and flashy, while fakes tend to be a little more flat. Sometimes, fakes also change the packaging to make it look like a different product from the original.
  • Name of product: Sometimes, bootleggers change the name of the character and product that they are copying. This is more prevalent in GunPla, where a certain well-known bootleg company changes the name “Gundam” into “Fighter”.
  • Name of Company: Sometimes, the name of big manufacturers like Bandai and Kotobukiya are changed. Most bootleg companies replace them with their own logo, which tend to sound more Chinese than Japanese. And sometimes, the names of the companies producing the product don’t appear at all.

Left: Original, Right: Fake



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We also talked about the other reasons why people buy bootlegs, and the reasons are mostly financial. Some people actually know they’re buying fakes but don’t really mind. They often say it’s because originals are too expensive or are too difficult to find.

However, as we talked to the people at the booth, we learned that most of the people who bought fakes shifted to originals later in their lives. This may be because they now have more means to buy originals, or have more information to differentiate between the two.

But why buy originals in the first place? First of all, fake merchandise doesn’t help the anime industry. How can you show off your fandom with fake merchandise knowing it doesn’t help the series you love? Secondly, fake merchandise have poor quality, and may easily break. Finally, fake goods don’t have collector’s value, so their prices won’t really increase in the future. This means that you can’t really invest your money in fake goods since its value won’t grow, unlike originals.

The Japan Merchandising Rights Association aims to spread more information about original goods. They also hope that through their booth at C3 AFA Bangkok, more people would buy originals.