A Collector's Guide to Collecting Pokemon Collectibles

Jun 14, 2017
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Hey hi hello! Welcome to the Pokémon TCG & Collectibles section. This thread will be your one-stop-shop about everything you need to know about buying Pokémon cards or other general Pokémon merchandise. There’s a few important points that we’ll need to go over, so let’s get stuck in!

Where do I buy Authentic Pokémon Goods?

There’s quite a few places where you can best find authentic Pokémon goods. Your best bets outside of Japan will be GameStop, EB Games (AU, CA, NZ), Zing Pop Culture, and the Pokémon Center (US, Japan).

There are of course other places, and some of the more unknown/online stores are:

There are also quite a few eBay sellers that do sell authentic Pokémon goods. There are, of course, at your own risk, and should only be used if you’re comfortable with eBay but the site in itself does not constitute a scam.

Here are a few sellers that we recommend:

However, you should definitely be aware of the following:

  • If your item is being shipped from Japan, shipping may be pricey, even for small items! It may also take 1-3 weeks to get to you depending on what kind of shipping you use. Depending on what country you live in, you may also have to pay a custom fee.
  • Prices vary from site to site. Be sure to read the descriptions carefully so you know exactly what you are buying before you go through with your order. Many Pokémon plushes end up being smaller than you may have originally thought!
  • You are obviously not limited to these sellers! There are countless other ones out there, some have more stock than others. There are also those that may casually sell Pokémon Center items from Japan but do not do it exclusively.

This leads us into our next point:

How do I spot a bootleg Pokémon product?

I’m so glad you asked! But first, what is a bootleg?

Besides being illegal, bootlegs are:
  • poor quality/easily breakable
  • often off model and often sometimes discolored
  • often lacking parts
  • some have been reported to be foul smelling, and some have even found stray needles in them
  • You might support illegal actions by purchasing from bootleg sellers
  • While factory rejects are not stricly bootleg items, they often have errors and lack parts. Official items are quality and look better!

Let’s do a small case study on bootlegs, we’ll use a pretty Umbreon plushie!

This is the original release, note the red Pikachu tag.

These are both re-releases. Note the tag that has a picture of the Pokémon it represents.

Now we come across this eBay auction. It looks similar, yes? Here’s how we know it’s a fake.

  1. Takara Tomy is not the manufacturer of PokeDolls. Takara Tomy DOES in fact make official Pokémon merchandise, but PokeDolls are exclusive to the Pokémon Centers in Japan. Bootleggers are getting craftier in putting brand names in descriptions to fool people.
  2. The price. Sorry, but you're not going to get any legit PokeDolls for about $3, especially not an Umbreon one.
  3. Shipping from China. This is personally the first thing I look at when looking at eBay auctions. 95% of the time, things that are shipped from China or Hong Kong are bootleg or factory rejects. Not EVERYTHING is, but if you are not 100% sure, it's better to be safe than sorry. The plush that are available in Japan are manufactured in China, and often times factory rejects are stolen from the factory and resold on eBay, passed off as legitimate plushes from the Center. This is what looks to be happening here.
  4. The plush itself. First, there's only one image. This should ring a bell. Another thing is note is that often times bootleg sellers often use stock images of said item. Most legitimate sellers use actual photos of the item and will provide more upon request.

Let's take a closer look at the plush:

  • Obviously messy sewing. Not all sewing on PokeDolls is perfect, but it is much more careful than this.
  • Face is a bit lumpy
  • Its legs should be together, here they appear to be apart.

But, wait! This seller has perfect feedback! Surely they aren't selling illegal merchandise!

No. Check through their feedback, especially the negatives and neutrals. If you are apprehensive, read through and see if anyone has said anything about "seems fake", "didn't have any tags", "fell apart easily", etc. Often times the people who purchase bootlegs are parents who buy them for their kids, who certainly aren't going to pay $50 for a PokeDoll when they can find a much cheaper one for $4 on eBay.

Obviously, if you have doubts, do not buy it! You’re much better off erring on the side of caution then getting scammed by a bootlegger.

Another product that is often bootlegged are figures. However, these are often hilariously easy to pick out. The Pokémon are often the wrong color and shape.

These are legit. They’re the right colour, they look correct.

I didn’t know Ash moonlighted as Sailor Moon? Wait a minute.. That Pikachu looks nothing like the picture! Bamboozled!

Just to reiterate, if you are not sure don’t buy it. A lot of these bootlegs will be obvious, and you more often than not won’t be fooled. But as you saw with the Umbreon they can sometimes be very convincing.

Finally, we move on to our last point.

How do I identify Pokémon TCG cards?

I am so very glad you asked. TCG cards are often bootlegged and there is a lot of fakes out there on the market. It’s okay, though. I’m here to help you out!

  • Use the internet. There are many helpful websites on the Internet such as Bulbapedia and PokéBeach that can help you identify cards.
  • Most cards have set symbols, which are helpful in identifying a card. The set symbols are on the center right for everything up to the Neo era (aka everything made in the first and second generation of Pokémon except for e-cards) and in the bottom right for everything else (this includes all modern cards). Note that Base Set cards and many energy cards lack set symbols. Here's a list of all the expansions, with set symbols: List of Pokémon Trading Card Game expansions - Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia
  • If you want to identify a fake card, look at the back of it. Real cards have a deep blue border on the back of them. If the border appears faded, the card's fake. Similarly, though not as common if the border's purple, then it's also fake. Every fake I've seen so far can be identified with that method. The image in the spoiler shows the more common faded back of a fake card.

Those are the basics of how to spot bootlegs and where to find the good stuff. If you have any questions, or have something to add, just chuck them into a reply! Thanks so much for bearing with me throughout this, and credit to @Araragi-hakase who did most of the work.
Game Designer, Artist, Programmer
Feb 15, 2018
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As a note for the TCGs a couple of things I've come across are:
  • If you hold them up to a regular light, you can clearly see through them
  • If you look closely at the sides, there should be a small sliver of black between the two faces of the cards.
  • Typos
  • The font. Pokemon is super specific with the type face, weight, and size of font they use on all of their cards.
  • Thickness: If you just slightly bend the card, not enough to damage it, you can tell if it's good or not by how easy it bends
  • Going off of that, the weight will be slightly off as well because they usually aren't as thick.
  • You can also tell if it's just ridiculously done. For example, a Gardevoir card has to have 4 energy, to use its only attack and they aren't even energy related to the type of the card. Absurd amounts of hp, high costs of resistance, etc.
I've learned these tricks from older cards so they may not apply to newer sets as much since I don't know how crafty bootleggers have gotten since then. My biggest rule of thumb is not to buy from flea markets. I've gotten sealed packages of cards full of fakes. It's not hard now a days to carefully heat the glue on a package, remove the real cards, and then reseal the package with fakes inside. It's really easy to be suspicious of people who have large boxes just full of the packages too instead of nicely packed and taken care of like someone who knew what they were selling had.
Genesis' soul twin
Jul 24, 2009
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How legit is, well, anything on the Wish app? A friend of mine recommended it to me, but the low prices are setting off “too good to be true” vibes and the idea of buying anything that isn’t craft supplies on the app makes me uneasy.
Never Giving Up.
Jun 16, 2010
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How legit is, well, anything on the Wish app? A friend of mine recommended it to me, but the low prices are setting off “too good to be true” vibes and the idea of buying anything that isn’t craft supplies on the app makes me uneasy.
For myself, if anything is "too good to be true", I usually ignore it and move on, unless the person is extremely motivated to sell and is explicit about it, or literally has no clue (Usually happens with cards). I've never used Wish, but I'm assuming bootlegs have found their way into the app/site as they have on almost everything now. If there is something specific, we could possible help identifying if it is a bootleg or not (Or unofficial plush, since those like to get pushed out a lot now also).