At the time of writing this I had already written a specific article about spotting a fake Captain Spaulding Funko pop and it has apparently been quite useful, so I thought I would do a more in depth version which can be applied to any Funko pop. If you want specific examples I will still be including a list at the end of this document of all of those specific examples.
Hope this helps, and happy pop hunting!
Simple check list!
Just a quick-look check list for things to look out for – just in case you really can’t be bothered to read the whole article, but don’t blame me if anything doesn’t make sense!
- Does an online seller advertise the item in one location but their profile says that they are in another (often China or Hong Kong)?
- Is the online seller showing a photo of the actual pop or just a stock photo (mainly applies for private sellers)
- Does an online seller in a public marketplace / forum have good reviews / feedback?
- Is the seller a reputable business / person in the Funko pop community or an authorised Funko stockist?
- Does the Funko pop figure have a serial number on the back underside of the head or foot?
- If it does have a serial number does it match the serial number on the bottom of the box? (although this may not be as accurate as you might hope – see more later)
- Is the paint on the figure crisp, clean, detailed and accurate?
- Does the figure have excess plastic left from the molding?
- Does the design of the box match the design of the pop (colours, hairstyles etc.) if it is not a chase figure?
Want to know more? Read on!
A lot of people think that just because an item retails at £14.99 or so brand new, that they won’t be worth faking, however that’s not the case, especially when you take in to consideration things like special edition and vaulted products amongst the ranks of Funko Pops. Don’t make the assumption that just because it’s a small plastic toy that people won’t make and sell fake ones – it’s potentially more widespread than you think. Also, companies producing these fakes have little shame about the fact.
I was interested in the process of making vinyl toys and the costs involved in small scale independent releases and of course the cheapest place to have them made is in Asia, more specifically China. Just a quick search showed not only companies advertising what looked to be Funko pops, but even putting in their sale title that they will produce Funko pop figures.
You need to buy a lot of them to bring the price down, and if you wanted to sell them from the UK or USA then thankfully the price of shipping and taxes would make the process completely unfeasible from a price perspective, but not so for Asian sellers. The vast majority of fakes come from China and Hong Kong, so let’s get right in to discussing how to avoid fake Funko pops!
Purchase your Funko pops from an approved or trusted source
This is not so much the case with brand new common pops as the price is often too low to make it worthwhile, however that’s not always the case with exclusives and special editions, especially if you live outside the USA (where most exclusives are). This seems to be especially the case with Funko shop exclusives, which by the time they hit the UK for example have at least usually doubled in price, without factoring in the shipping and sometimes import tax. So now, all of a sudden, the payoff is a little higher, so be dubious of those online private sales of exclusives. I really think Funko could help curb this exploitation of their own exclusives by opening their online store to international sales – I really have no idea why they don’t.
A few instances where this is especially true are if those figures (exclusives, special editions, chases etc.) which have come from the USA or France or UK etc are suddenly being sold in China or Hong Kong… Especially if there are multiple sellers with them or they have a large number in stock. Be careful of things advertised on eBay in your country or maybe somewhere else in Europe which might not seem quite right. Just because the product says it’s in the UK that doesn’t mean that the seller is! I once purchased a pop from Dublin, but it turned out that it came from Hong Kong… It was fake.
Check the sellers profile for their location and while you’re there don’t get too hung up on their rating. If you get a fake pop and go through the resolution center and manage to get your money back (which with good evidence you will), you won’t be able to give bad feedback, which I think is an absolutely terrible decision by eBay. Also just because no one before you noticed that a big batch of pops are fake, that doesn’t mean that they’re real. Remember a lot of people buy pops as presents! I couldn’t tell you if a baseball card was fake so why would someone who collects baseball cards and buys me a pop as a present know that the pop is fake.
Another giveaway is if these items (which might usually by now be £30 for the UK, or in the case of some vaulted items, in excess of £100) are suddenly available for the original cost of $15 again…
Your biggest giveaway (unless in very rare exceptions where someone genuinely doesn’t know what they have), if a price is far too good to be true – it is! That pop will most likely be fake or have something very wrong with it. Don’t take that risk!
Sadly a time which you need to be very careful with this is when someone connected to a certain pop passes away and demand spikes, so do copies.
So what is an approved or trusted source?
When you’re talking exclusives, of course the trusted source will be the company who has that exclusive, be it Walmart, Target, EMP, Pop in a Box etc. or in the case of commons, you’re again very lucky if you’re in the USA as the Funko website has a very handy search tool for finding your nearest official stockists:
In Europe and other parts of the world you need to use a bit more savvy than that. The official European distributor of those Funko exclusives is EMP, but beyond that you have to use your gut with the big companies you know; Pop in a Box, HMV, Primark, MenKind, the Entertainer, Game, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Zavvi and so on. When it comes to smaller stores like your local comic book shops, you need to just see what sort of vibe you get from them, or if you know them, you’ll have a better idea anyway. To be honest most of these smaller shops are generally a good source if they’re buying their stock new. If they buy and sell second-hand pops, then you need to put a lot more faith in to that shop owners knowledge and integrity. The good thing about a physical location is that you can grab that pop and have a good look at it.
This is something you cannot do online. Whilst there are many legitimate pop sellers on places like eBay and Amazon, there are also plenty who are not. I have sold pops on ebay which I know were real, they came direct from places like Pop in a Box, but I have also been screwed over with fake pops. Generally speaking, if the person is selling a pop using a stock image rather than a real photo of that pop, especially in the case of a vaulted pop, I’d recommend that they are not likely to be an authorised or trusted seller.
The final way to buy pops of course are events – so we’re talking Funko meets, special sales events (the only one I know of in the UK for example are the London Pop Market events organised by Showmasters) and comic cons.
With these you have to just take in to consideration the same things as the independent comic shops, who may well be selling fake items without even knowing it… Some of them are pretty well made! But again the positive about these events is that you can physically check out the product, and anyone who refuses to let you have a close up look at their product in one of these events I personally wouldn’t buy from anyway!
What to look for on the product itself
Every Funko pop figure has a serial number which can be found at the bottom of the head at the back, or underneath one of the feet, and that is without exception. So if your pop does not have a serial number at all, then it is not a genuine product. Also this serial number will be on the base of the box and the two of them should match.
However I am currently in discussion with a company as to whether this also applies to Funko Pocket Pops, which do have a serial number but it is currently unclear to me as to whether it always matches the box, although I’ll update this as soon as I hear back from them or Funko on the matter.
Check out my article about the fake Thanos Funko pop pockets here for more details – especially as I have so far not received an official answer from Funko, and have lost hope of doing so!
That’s a really simple check, although its not fool proof!
If someone is sophisticated enough to copy the whole pop figure, then a serial number (which is on the figure they took their mould from) isn’t exactly the toughest part of the figure. So just because it has the number and it matches that doesn’t mean its 100% genuine. It is often one of those things which forgers overlook, especially putting a serial number on the underside of the box, or for some reason putting them on as a sticker rather than printing on the box – but the more people forge these things, the more sophisticated they seem to be getting.
Another area where people making fake pops seem to struggle with and where you can some times see mistakes and flaws is in the packaging. Often they will take a box, dismantle it, scan or photograph it and then print out a new box shape using that lower resolution image.
What this means first and foremost is 2 things –
- Especially on small boxes and parts of the box with small detailed print (such as the contact details), quality will be lost and the print quality may not be as sharp.
- Colours might be off (although you’d likely not know this if you didn’t have a real comparison).
However there are a couple of other little things which might not be quite right about the box, such as cut lines not being straight, or the white between the edge of the pop graphic on the front and the box window being extraordinarily thick or thin.
Finally, the boxes are often also made of a cheaper material just like the pops themselves, so you may well find that the box itself just doesn’t feel quite right… flimsy and weak even.
I’m afraid however that a lot of this does also come down to a gut feeling. There might be certain pops which have known fakes where a certain thing is glaringly wrong.
The biggest advice I can give is that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is – and if you’re in doubt, be very reluctant to part which big cash, as there is a good chance that once the sale is done, your money is gone.