I am just starting to get a little into figure collecting, with my first purchase being Ghostbuster Lucy by Kotobukiya. It’s a pretty expensive hobby, and many collectors out there love finding deals. Sometimes, one may come across a deal that seems too good to be true. Most of the time, it is a bootleg. Last month at Anime Conji, I attended the Avoiding Bootlegs & Figure Collecting panel. It was a great panel to attend for the type who’s getting in to figure collecting, but doesn’t want to end up with an illegitimate item. Frances Delgado from Howagirlfigures.com gave a very informative presentation on how to avoid purchasing a bootleg.
For those who don’t know Frances Delgado, she is a figure collector, and has been one since mid-2006. She has a vast collection of over 240 figures. She believes for any collector, the #1 priority is choosing quality over quantity. On her website HowAGirlFigures.com, she blogs about figures, writes reviews of figures and retailers, has a retailer blacklist (definitely look at these), and showcases her handmade plush dolls that she sells online. It has pretty much everything you’d need to learn about figures. Now, onto the panel.
Frances starts with why figures are just so expensive. The companies that manufacture the figures go through a hefty process. This includes getting licensing rights for production, sculpting, making molds, hand painting, getting the licensing company’s approval, and choosing the method for mass production. This long process, plus the details of the figure, is the reason for the high price.
She went on to explain how to easily spot a bootleg. There were definitely a lot of things to look out for. Just by looking at the quality of the figure (paying close attention to the face) and accessories, and shaking the box for loose pieces can give away the fact if it’s fake or not. On the projector screen, she showed an example of an awful figure with “derpy” looking eyes. The crowd laughed at the abomination. Another detail to look for is a holographic sticker right on the box, and a lot of bootlegs don’t have that sticker (although some legitimate figures don’t have this sticker at all). Throughout the panel, she did figure giveaways. The first and last ones were done by playing rock, paper, scissors, and the second one was done by giving the prize to the person who asked the best question. The attendees gladly accepted the challenge in anticipation of winning high quality figures. Sadly, I did not win any of the challenges.
For looking for online retailers, she listed a significant amount to shop around in. These included AmiAmi, Hobby Search, Hobby Link Japan, J-List, OtaCute, Otaku Fuel, Toylet, and Play-Asia. Along with recommended sites to shop on, she mentioned vendors that should be avoided. She went through her blacklist from her website. The shop that stood out was Anime-Haus. They sell many bootlegs, and they go to conventions such as Sakura Con and Anime LA. She personally told Anime Conji to not allow them to be a vendor at this convention.
To end the panel, she had a final giveaway for three people. The prizes were two gift certificates and a Homura figure made by Figma. If she ever has a panel in the future, I recommend attending it whether you’re new to the hobby or have been collecting figures for a long time. I learned many ways on how to be a smart shopper. Not only that, I can help my friends that plan on buying a figure or two in the future. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend her Friday and Sunday panel, but this one seemed most important to me. I will anticipate her presence next year, and hopefully she will do more giveaways so I can have another chance at winning a figure.
Please check out her website howagirlfigures.com, plus two websites she recommends which are myfigurecollection.net and figure.fm.
Photos courtesy of: Hobby Search