Since writing my original Disney pin article on Counterfeit Disney pins, I have received dozens of questions and nearly 100,000 people have read the original guides. But I felt it good to go more in depth into the issues of scrapper pins to answer some of the questions that have been asked multiple times.
Just What is a Scrapper Pin?
A Scrapper Pin is a unauthorized pin overrun or pins "scrapped" off the discard piles of a run. The vast majority of these pins come from China, because the majority of real pins also come from China.
Here's what happens: When Disney contracts with a company to make a pin, a mold is made. Once the pin is manufactured, many times the mold is not destroyed but it's used again by Chinese companies to make "seconds." These pins are usually of a lesser quality than the originals, and are NOT AUTHORIZED by The Disney Company. It's like people making pirated DVDs...IT'S ILLEGAL, despite what scrapper sellers on eBay say.
If a Pin Says "Made In China" on the Back, is it Always a Scrapper?
No. As stated before, 95%+ of the pins Disney has manufactured come from China. It would make sense that the Scrappers would also come from there.
In addition, just because a pin doesn't have a Disney copyright on the back of it doesn't mean it's counterfeit. There was a period of time when businesses didn't feel the need to place copyrights on their products (1960s-1980s); sometimes The Disney Company did and sometimes not. In addition, you may see different copyrights, such as "WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS," "DISNEY," "DISNEY PROD.," "WD" and even "WDP."
How Can You Tell if a Pin is a Scrapper?
Unfortunately, it's not easy, but groups like Pinpics are working hard to educate collectors. But as more scrapper sellers have entered eBay, it has become more easier to spot trends and see who's marketing these illegal pins...face it: If you're seeing Disney pins selling for 50 cents, it's a pretty good indication that the sellers bought them from somewhere for 20-30 cents a piece. My bet: scrappers.
- Scrappers are "seconds" so the quality may not be quite as good...look ESPECIALLY on the back where the Disney trademark and official pin trading stamp may be there, but may be clouded...in addition, backstamps may be different than the original. (Note: A different backstamp by itself doesn't necessarily mean a pin is a Scrapper, as sometimes Disney Corp. will update their pin backs, if they use the same design from year-to-year. I know...it adds to the confusion. That's why checking out pin trading sites for education is so important.)
- One clue - especially on Vinylmation, Hidden Mickey and Mystery pins are that on the back, there's a Mickey pattern. On the real pins, the Mickey heads extend off the edge of pin back without any border; with scrappers, borders are many times seen at edges, even in the middle of the Mickey head.
- Pinpics is beginning to list where known Scrapper backstamps are different from the original...checking Pinpics on specific pins will give you a great weapon against Scrappers.
- Disney Cast Lanyard pins aren't sold on cards by Disney (only traded by the Cast Members in the park). Anyone selling Cast Lanyard pins on "Original Sale Cards" or on "original backing cards" (or any definition similar to that) should be considered suspect.
- Use commonsense. I saw a Limited Edition 15 pin sold on eBay in September 2006...a Pluto pin. But oddly enough, I had 10 of them myself I got in a large lot purchased years ago (they have since been disposed of). THINK. Surely between the two of us, we didn't have 11 of the 15 pins in the pins WHICH CAME FROM A FRAMED SET. My guess is that the pins I got were overruns that Disney had made, so they could pick the cream of the pins for their framed set. But I certainly would never sell them as being legitimately LE 15 pins!
- LOOK FOR PATTERNS. The absolutely BEST way to tell if someone is selling Scrapper Pins is to get to know what pins are Scrappers, then look for trends from Sellers. LOOK AT SELLERS' BULK SALES as well as their individual sales. If you're seeing these Scrapper pins being sold over and over and over by the same Seller, you have to wonder where they are getting the pins. Once you get to know these pins, it becomes easier, and you'll be SHOCKED at how many scrapper sellers there are on eBay. Try This: Do a search for "Disney Pin" on eBay; then list the pins "Price + Shipping: Highest First." You'll start to see all sorts of sellers who list the same auctions over and over and over again. And if you look carefully, many of them have mostly scrapper pin designs in their pictures. (They may throw in a few legitimate ones too, but look for patterns.)
- Just because a pin is on the Scrapper list doesn't mean that ALL pins of that design are Scrappers. To have a scrapper pin, there has to be a REAL one originally. Then, there's also bootleg pins, pins that have been designed and manufactured, stealing characters from Disney and creating new pins. People who call their pins "Fantasy" pins are really marketing bootlegs, if the Disney character is being shown fully on their pin. They are illegal. Pre-2000 pins are somewhat of a gray area, as Disney didn't produced many pins for trading...fans created Disney pins - that were accepted by the Disney community - and the Walt Disney Company didn't prosecute the creators. But post-2000 pins are a whole different ball game.
Common Phrases Used By Scrappers
I'm not saying that everyone who uses these phrases are Scrapper sellers; but what I AM saying is that many times scrapper sellers will use these phrases to make you think that their products are DISNEY-AUTHORIZED pins - ORIGINALLY SOLD AT A DISNEY PARK OR STORE - when in fact, they haven't been. Here are a few ploys used by Scrappers...
- "These pins can be traded in the parks." Unfortunately, this is probably true, as most Cast Members aren't going to study a pin close enough to know if it's a Scrapper. "So what's the deal, Mark...if I can trade them, why don't I buy them?" It's an ETHICAL issue. It's like buying pirated DVDs...yes, you can do it. No, it's not right...and ultimately, it will hurt Disney Pin Traders if you purchase and trade fake pins.
- "Read My Feedback" and "Look at My Satisfied Customers!" Just because there are lots of misinformed people doesn't bring legitimacy to a Scrapper Pin. P.T. Barnham said, "There's a sucker born every minute." Don't be one of them!
- "All my pins have a Disney Copyright." Big whoop. These are Scrapper pins. Anyone can slap at copyright on a pin...and remember: Many of the times these pins are coming from the same factories that made the original pins...these are just overruns and seconds. They have the stamp to put on the copyright.
- "Buy from me...I'm a United States seller!" I get catalogs from Chinese scrapper marketers all the time. Most scrapper sellers on eBay live in the USA...they buy their 1000s of pins from Hong Kong or China's mainland for pennies on the dollar, and then market them to you as legitimate Disney pins. THAT DOESN'T SOUND VERY AMERICAN TO ME!
- Deflecting the Issue. They may say, "My pins aren't Sedesma or ProPin" (which, by the way, are both able to be traded in the parks) or "My pins aren't Disney Store." Okay...that's fine. But are they fake pins you purchased directly from a factory in China? Don't be afraid to come straight out and ask Sellers, "Did you buy these from the park or did you buy these directly from China?" Many times, you'll get a response that doesn't answer the question (such as, "All my pins can be traded in the park."). That's not an answer... that's a deception.
Unless a Seller is willing to tell you WHERE they get their pins and HOW they get their pins, you have to ask yourself, "Why are they being so secretive?" Since creating my first article, some folks have asked where I get pins: Hard work, study and literally thousands of hours of research, going to sales, pin events and auctions, and buying private collections. If you are a legitimate Disney pin seller and sell in bulk, I would strongly urge you to condemn Scrapper sales in your auctions and explain in your auctions where you got your pins - from trading in the parks, from buying collections from someone stateside - whatever. If you are a legitimate Seller, you don't have to be hurt by Scrappers...JOIN THE FIGHT!
I Think I've Bought Scrapper Pins...What Do I Do?
If you've bought pins from a Scrapper seller, you have an ethical issue to deal with. Like Jiminy Cricket says "let your conscience be your guide..."
Obviously, you're dealing with illegal pins. Do you knowingly sell pins that you know to be fake? Scrapper pins hurt all of us. You can demand a refund from the seller...return the pins!
Why Doesn't The Disney Company Shut Down These Companies?
Good question. I've talked with management at Disney about this issue; the Walt Disney Company claims it's working on the problem, and if they find a business that is caught "scrapping," that relationship with them ends. But it's a huge problem, even for Disney. You can help them.
The louder pin collectors speak out about scrappers - to The Disney Company and to other collectors - the better chance we have to shut down this pathetic industry of counterfeit pins. Write Disney, report eBay Scrapper sellers to VerO (the copyright infringement organization, of which Disney is a member). If you've bought pins in bulk from someone and find they're scrappers, demand a refund. DON'T BUY FROM SELLERS OF SCRAPPER PINS! FIGHT BACK and preserve real Disney pin collecting for all the wonderful folks who have discovered the joy of this great hobby.
I've also been greatly encouraged by the reporting being done on pin sites such as Pinpics, and believe eBay is about to put into place some steps to curb the practice there as well. eBay buyers can report scrapper sellers directly to Disney's anti-piracy unit. You can leave Disney a detailed message (which may be anonymous if you desire) at (818) 560-3300.