A lot of One Piece goods are still mainly produced in Japan for the Japanese market. Then the other countries of the Chinese cultural sphere get their own fair share. Eventually, the Occident replenishes its stocks through the gray market, taking over a consequent volume that was initially provided for Asia. A situation that should change in the near future...
This FAQ is intended to this third audience. Its goal is to get rightful answers to several common subjects that fill forums with heated debates. Although the subjects are mainly related to the figure markets, some are easily generalizable to the more global Japanese animation market.
|Sorry for the mess, this section needs to be cleaned up due to some parts being irrelevant or wrong.|
For more information on spotting bootleg figurines see Fake Vs Real
Toei Official StickerEdit
The famous Toei sticker is put on products deriving from Toei animated productions and distributed by Bandai. A lot of bootlegs are produced mainly by Chinese/HK counterfeiters. So, one reliable way to recognize official products is by spotting the little Toei sticker put on boxes. However, collectors that got their goods from untrusted sources must still be vigilant as sticker faking activity is known to be true since late 2009 / early 2010.
|| Fake stickers used to be easily recognizable because of their poor print quality. But forgery techniques have evolved. In early 2011, print quality has become really close to genuine stickers but:
Those stickers come in several variations:
- A golden or silver sticker with Japanese lettering shows that the figure was originally designed for the Japanese domestic market.
- A silver sticker with English lettering indicates that the figure has been exported by Bandai for international markets (be it for remaining Asia, Europe or America).
The general consensus among fans is that stickers put on products designed for the Japanese domestic market should all have a golden background. That's why, although several kinds of stickers are put on official products, collectors prefer to search for goods with golden ones.
However, Toei stickers for the Japanese domestic market seem to appear following these rules:
- For products below ¥5,499, stickers should have a golden background with black lettering.
- For products in the range of ¥5,500-6,499, stickers should have a silver background with black lettering.
- For products above ¥6,500, stickers should have a silver background with red lettering.
Despite these general rules, some scarce cases can prove otherwise. Sometimes, stickers show a number on their top right corner. It mainly hold true for products under the ¥4,000 mark, so with the golden sticker. It seems to be a way to indicate price ranges further without having to rely on a more complex color code.
The same kind of rules should be applied for stickers on products for international markets. In this case, they all retain a silver background but with several letters coloring, as black, blue, red or even green.
Moreover, genuine stickers have a Toei logo watermark on the reverse side. But to check this, you would have to peel the sticker off of the box.
|Toei golden sticker with Japanese lettering.||Silver version with English lettering.||Toei sticker backside.||Fake Toei sticker.|
Finally, it should be noted that products exported from Japan by different companies than Bandai may not have the Toei sticker at all. It's generally replaced by other stickers (see Merchandise FAQ#Japanese Ver. Versus The World). For books or the video game market, where a professional work of translation / adaptation is required, a fully worldwide distribution system is already in place, so no stickers are applied on this kinds of products.
Japanese Ver. Versus The WorldEdit
A widespread rumor says that Japanese producers reserve the best batches of their production to their domestic market and then export their lesser polished products to the remaining world.
While this rumor probably started because of all the bootlegs found in remaining Asia and maybe maintains by some resellers thinking of making bigger profits, those who understands how the merchandising industry works and the costs involved in the production process would find this rumor to be unlikely true.
For any kind of industry, the key to make big revenues is to be able to manufacture high volumes with homogeneous defined quality. High-scale production allows to reduce costs, reliable automation is search after to reduce the percentage of defects that cannot be sold. Setting up a specialized quality grading process in manufacturing plants completely defeats the purpose of mounting an industry. For instance, in the case of figures, the criteria this figure is more refined than this one cannot be automated, so the related quality check would inefficiently require to hire more people, leading to a waste of space and time, inconsistency and reduced profits. Moreover, most of the goods are made in the same Chinese factories.
The only differences can come from distribution circuits used and conditioning during shipping. To save costs, goods can be not wrapped in tissue paper, or the wrapping can partially be ripped off after putting distributor stickers on. Those stickers, like the Toei stickers used by Bandai subsidiaries, aren't put in Chinese factories but in stores and distributors warehouses. Stickers aren't meant for quality differences but meant to denote regional distribution rights. So, it's basically possible to have genuine goods without any sticker applied on them.
The known One Piece figure distributors are:
- Bandai Japan
- Bandai Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines)
- Bandai Trading Shanghai (China)
- Bandai Taiwan
- Abyss Corp (Europe)
- Kolektakon LLC (North America)
- AAA Anime Distribution (North America)
- Navito World (Canada)
Distributor stickers can be recognized as the following:
- Goods exported to Asia by Bandai subsidiaries should have Toei stickers (see Merchandise FAQ#Toei Official Sticker).
- Goods exported to North America by AAA Anime Distribution should have both FUNimation and AAA stickers.
- Goods exported to Europe by Abyss Corp should only have an Abyss Corp sticker, sometimes no sticker at all.
|FUNimation sticker||AAA Anime Distribution sticker||Abysse Corp sticker||Bandai-Asia Philippines|
For further information, also refers to this thread of SaintSeiyaFan.com forums.
Prize Machines BusinessEdit
While video arcades nearly disappeared in Occident, they are still kicking in Asia, particularly in Japan, where they are called game centers. [To be completed]
The main producers of prize items are:
- Banpresto, holding Toei licenses
- Sega, with Disney and Gainax licenses
- Eikoh, with Sanrio licenses, including Hello Kitty
- Furyu, also holding the Hello Kitty license, the Smurfs and old American shows
- System Service, dealing with animals themed prizes