We continue our look at how to spot bootleg merchandise with something a bit harder to spot, and that’s PlaMo. Plastic Model kits are one of the most common items which get knock-off variants. In fact, companies have spent tons of money going after these bootleggers.
The most active of these companies is of course, Bandai, as it suffers from constantly getting its GunPla copied and sold online. Though they’ve shut down a few companies through copyright infringement suits, they still have a long way to go. Aside from actively seeking legal resolutions, Bandai has also released ad campaigns against fake Gundam kits, such as this one:
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Much like knock-off figures, fake GunPla also tend to have a different packaging from the originals. Mostly, they tend to change the name of the kit and change Bandai into their own company’s. A few infamous brands you should stay away from are TT Hongli and Daban. They tend to keep the boxart and name, but change the logo.
Some PlaMo bootleggers go to great lengths at making their fake products as accurate as possible. Often times, it’s hard to tell the fake from the original once they’ve built it. While it’s very easy to spot a fake figure from an original, it’s hard to tell a completely built fake kit from a completely built original. Both pictures below are bootlegs. However, if you look at both of them, they look a bit more like the originals rather than the shoddily-painted fake figures.
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However, many who have built fake models have also reported that the quality is very different. One of the reasons is that they may have accurately copied the molds, but they never copied the plastic used. Often, bootleg plastic is a lot more brittle, and is more prone to bending and breaking. There’s also the issue of pegs not fitting into the holes they’re supposed to go. Sometimes it’s too tight, and sometimes it’s too loose. These problems often leave wide gaps between the kits or make parts fall off easily, thereby making building harder.
And while the above-mentioned companies outright copy the plastic model kits, a few tend to “innovate” and “create” their own designs. These companies include Super Nova and the recently-shut down Dragon Momoko. And while they’re claiming it’s their “own” design, it’s important to remember that Bandai owns the copyright to Gundam. The property includes several related terms, including GunPla itself. In other words, they’re still breaking the law and buying such items is still illegal. Even if they claim it’s a gray area, the fact that they’re still using the usual Gundam designs owned by Bandai still makes them knock-offs.
And it’s not just Bandai that has some bootleg problems, but Kotobukiya as well. One of the most notable is that Dragon Momoko also copied their M.S.G. weapon options originally for Frame Arms and Frame Arms Girls. However, they copied the kits for use with Gundams and the Valvrave. Yeah, they pretty much went there. So far, only Bandai has filed (and won) a lawsuit against them…
To get the original, remember to always look for that green KOTOBUKIYA logo in the packaging.
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And speaking of Frame Arms Girl, they have knock-offs too! A Chinese company has released kits they’re calling “Pretty Arms Girls”, which sound a bit too familiar…
While at first glance they look different, if you look closer at some parts, they look a bit more like modded Frame Arms Girl models. Basically, they look like they just took a few Frame Arms Girl models, slapped some M.S.G. parts to make them look “original,” and then added cat ears. Oh, and they changed the colors a bit so that it’s not gonna be too obvious…
Other notable franchises which got bootlegged is Zoids. Now, Kotobukiya has been producing the highly-detailed HMM 1/72 line of Zoids models alongside Takara Tomy. However, a few Chinese companies like BT and STK have copied their models. You can tell the fakes because you won’t see the green Kotobukiya logo or the blue Takara Tomy logo in the box. There’s also the fact that you can see the name of the bootleg company instead. So if you see the name BT or STK in place of Kotobukiya or Takara Tomy in the box, it’s fake.
So there you have it. Remember, if you want quality, always aim for the original!