The Portrait of Pirates line of One Piece statues is not only one of the most expensive lines of merchandise for the series, it is also one of the most fiercely bootlegged. It’s terrifying to even consider buying a P.O.P. when you know that the market is flooded with fake merchandise that is as expensive as the real stuff. As a buyer, I searched the Internet for tips on how to determine the authenticity of the figures, with little success. Some tips and tips turned out to be true, some partially true, and some completely false. So Western Otaku is here to help, with what I hope to be a complete guide to weeding out the Chinese fakes.
Buying online or in person: Buying in person has the advantage here by a long shot. On the Internet, there is absolutely no way to determine whether or not you are buying a legitimate figure or not. Stick to buying your figures in person unless you are willing to take a risk on the internet, or you can find a seller that only deals in legitimate merchandise.
Now that you have decided that you are going to buy one and from where you are gong to buy it, there are thee things that you should check out before putting your cash on the line.
Stickers: I got into collecting while still under the assumption that pieces without an official Toei animation sticker were fakes. This is false. While an official Gold/Silver Toei sticker on the package is a pretty good indicator as to whether or not a figure is real, the lack of one is not a surefire way to identify bootleg merchandise. Figures that are designated for export will not have a Toei sticker, and will instead have stickers that correspond to their intended sale location (Funimation stickers for the USA, Abysse Corp. stickers for Europe). Bootlegs won’t have any stickers, or will have fake stickers. In my experience, it is the former.
Paint job: You should be able to check out the paint in the high-detail areas while the figure is still inside of the package. Real figures will have pretty stellar paintjobs, while fakes will have some off-color areas and some pretty noticeable flaws in high detail areas. The X on Bootleg Chopper’s hat is not only pink instead of white, it is also off center. His tie, which should be completely pink, has some black paint on it, as well as some areas where the pink paint has rubbed off. Finally, (and this is one that I only noticed while going through the pictures for the article) Chopper’s neckline is blue instead of fur colored.
Sculpt: It may be difficult to tell from within the box, but bootlegs will often have bad sculpts, and parts that aren’t supposed to be removable may easily pop off. Comparing Luffy’s gun to Chopper’s is perhaps the best way to illustrate it, as Chopper’s overall sculpt is pretty spot-on. The butt of Luffy’s gun is quite detailed, whereas Chopper’s (note the comparatively awful paint job, especially on the buckle) is only faintly so.
In the end all three of these factors should be considered before spending your hard earned cash on one of these bad boys. Does it have the right stickers? If so, check out the paint job and sculpt just in case. If not, put that figure down and go on your merry way.