HOW TO SPOT FAKE DISNEY PINS & AVOID BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF

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With Disney pins, unfortunately there are a TON of sellers on eBay that sell essentially "fake" pins.  Some do so unwittingly, while there are plenty that know exactly what they are selling and do so intentionally to make a buck. 
 
I will try to explain what fake pins are, where they come from, and how they are made, and some tips on how to spot them.  These "fake" pins come from a variety of sources in China (I know....big surprise).  One form of these pins comes in what you will hear people describe as "scrappers".  These are essentially pins that got rejected at quality control when the pins were originally made.  Rather than destroying these "scrap" pins, the company sells them in bulk to various people here in the USA.  The buyers then re-sell them as authentic pins (typically on eBay).  Another form of fakes are exactly that...100% fake.  Companies in China try to replicate the original pins and sell them in bulk to people here and they resell them to unsuspecting collectors. 
 
Sometimes, the differences between an "authentic" pin and a "fake" pin are very hard to tell.  Luckily, more often than not, it's actually pretty easy to tell the difference (especially if you're willing to do just a little investigating).  The most common faked pins that you will find on the market are Hidden Mickey & Cast Lanyard pins.  That's not to say that other pins don't fall into that category too, because there are plenty of "limited edition" pins and just plain rack pins that have scrappers or fakes too.  The most common way to tell the difference is quality.  Luckily most fakes are easy to spot because they have what I consider a sort of "melted" look, or dimples where it looks like there wasn't enough material put into a section of the pin before it cooled and became solid.  Another very common problem with fakes is that they don't have the same glossy coat that authentic pins do.  Even when you hold them up to a light source, they have a flat appearance as though the gloss was rubbed of.  Sometimes, the back of the pins are very telling.  You may come across pins that are stamped "Disnoy" or some other tale-tell mis-stamp (wrong #, etc).
 
As I said before, with a little investigating, you can save yourself some heartache.  It's fairly easy to tell dishonest sellers apart with a little looking.  Check out these easy tale-tell signs that someone is a crook.  1) Does the seller keep offering the exact same pins (and I don't mean 2 or 3, I mean 10-20 or more).  You can easily check this by looking a seller's past auctions.  2)  Does the seller offer LOT after LOT after LOT of "grab bag" pins?    Don't you find it suspicious when someone sells mystery lots of 100+ pins (5+ a day, every day of the week??).  Those lots sell for under a dollar a pin too???  How on Earth can anyone afford to do that when Disney pins cost around $10 each at the parks?  It's easier to understand if you assume their cost is minimal (because they are selling fake pins). They are purchasing these pins for around 30 cents each!  Again, check a seller's past auctions for this.  These sellers buy fake pins by the 10's of thousands!  3)  Does a seller have a bunch of pins with a fixed price that are way below what that pin usually sells for?  That's a good indication that a particular pin is newly being faked (if that makes sense).  I'll give you a great example....up until several years ago, the "Cast Lanyard Kite" pins sold for about $50 per pin.    All of the sudden I noticed someone selling them with a "buy it now" price of $15 per pin, and that seller had like 10 of each pin for sell.  I though "Oh great, another one bites the dust".  Now, those pins sell for about $1-$2 per pin.  There are differences between the real pins and the fake pins, but new collectors (and some old) either don't know or don't care.  4)  Are there currently 50 of a pin for sell on eBay that only has a limited edition size of 100?  That's a great indication that it's faked.  Usually someone intentionally selling fake pins will fall into more than one, or ALL of the clues I've listed above. Some of these sellers have 10,000+ feedback, but if you take a closer look and see that they have 20+ negative feedback for selling fakes....that's a good indication that many of their buyers don't know fakes from authentic pins (or don't care), and that the ones that do know weren't "duped".
 
Almost any seller that refers to their pins by stating "they have the correct, authentic markings on the back" rings a loud warning bell to me.  Fake Rolex watches have the "correct markings" too.  You could xerox a $20 bill and your copy would have "authentic markings" too.  Disney pins are the same way.  Some fake Rolex watches and counterfeited bills are easy to spot, and some are done very well and would fool the average person.  Would you buy a Rolex from someone that goes out of their way to tell you it has the correct markings?  Would sell you car to someone that wanted to hand you a stack of $100 bills that they went out of the way to tell you had the correct markings of an authentic $100 bill?  As with anything that requires you to spend money, if it sounds too good to be true.........
 
As for those that don't understand why fakes are bad, I use this example.  Let's say that you bought a couple of those Cast Lanyard Kite pins that I referred to earlier, and you got a great deal at the time.  Let's say you only paid $25 per pin while they were selling for $50, and in fact, that's why you decided to purchase them (because you got a deal).   Now, the pins are $1 each, and the fake to authentic ratio is probably 500-1.  Now, imagine if that happened to another 20 pins in your collection.  I know many people that just quit collecting because they were tired of getting burned (and lost lots of money). For some people, just plugging new pins into a pin book is good enough for them.  And for other people it's more about quality than quantity.  It's been my experience that newer collectors just want to increase their pin total, and collectors that have been doing it for a while care far less about the most common pins and try to get the harder to find ones in whatever niche they are collecting.  For people that start their collection off with a bunch of fake pins, the problem becomes what to do with their fakes once they realize that they are fake!  Do you knowingly dupe the next guy just to get some of your money back, or do you decided to just eat them?  You can't trade them to anyone that knows better.  Most people trade them at the parks with Cast Members.  The problem with that is that then Cast Members have lanyards FULL of fake pins too!  Plus, I've seen Cast Members tell Disney patrons that they know the pins they are trying to trade are "not authentic"....how would you like that to happen in front of your child (or to you child)!  Just because you traded for your pin with a Cast Member does NOT mean it's authentic! Most likely, someone has already traded with that Cast Member before you and now you're just trading for someone else's junk with the Cast Member acting as the middle man.
 
My best advice would be to start by collecting like you care about what you are spending your money on.  Check out a seller's past auctions and look for some of the warning signs.  If you stay away from those guys, you will be better off.  Next, you will find that the "good guys" are really pleasant people.  You can build a nice reputation with people and feel confident about your dealings.  If you deal with someone that just seems like they want into your wallet, I'd say that's a good sign to stay away.
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