[Guide] Buying Figures from Amazon and Avoiding Bootlegs

At this point, over 10 boxes full of anime figurines in the past two year. These boxes are packed with Tetris expertise (slowly, but surely I am unpacking and displaying my beautiful figures). I purchased enough to know the basics of online Waifu shopping. I have full confidence in the authenticity of each figurine and I paid accordingly. Roughly half my figurine collection is purchased on Amazon. I will outline a general guide below to help first-timers and second-guessers avoid bootlegs when Amazon shopping for figurines, as well as some general advice.

General tips

Whether you’re buying your Waifu from Amazon or any other method, there are a couple of pretty universal advice given to every newcomer in the hobby.

  • Research
    • Doing a bit of research before your purchase can save you from the headache caused by bootlegs. Not only will you have enough time to put that credit card back in your pocket, you familiarize yourself with the facts: scale, maker, origin, character name, release date, and box art. These pieces of information don’t change. If a listing gets any of the information wrong, you’ll know to put them dukes up. You’ll also run across amazing resources, such as MyFigureCollection, where collectors will post figurine pictures (both authentic and counterfeit correctly labeled) for the good of mankind. Additionally, its a good database for official promotional pictures. Definitely take a look at some of the pictures, at least for the box art. Many bootlegs have fake boxes so recognizing a counterfeit box can save you a lot of trouble in the future. This might not be as useful before you make your purchase because most online listings are stock photos. At least you’ll have a peace of mind when the figure is in hand.
  • Sleep on it
    • Buying a Waifu is a lifelong commitment, until you want to liquidate one. At that point you would have to deal with making listings, finding buyers, and all the hassles included in shipping your ex-Waifu to her new home. The two most limiting factors to figure collecting are money and display space. Keep that in mind when making your purchases. The worst feeling comes after putting in an order and having regret give you a wet willie because you had a change of heart. There’s no reason to spend money and space on a figurine you don’t love 100%. You see a figure you like? Good. Look up the character on MyFigureCollection and see all the other figures released, then decide if you want to buy. I blue balls myself all the time adding and removing figurines from my shopping cart. But when I do blow my load, both figuratively and monetarily, I feel no shame or regret in my purchases.
  • Budget
    • As with other aspects in life, budgeting will take out some randomness life can throw at you. Now I won’t go into detail on how you should live your life; how much you should spend on necessities, how much should you save, etc. BUT! You need to budget for preorders! Preorders are a different beast entirely because sites like Amiami, Good Smile, and my boys at NiS America (JRPGs OP), will not charge you until your preorder is close to release date or the day of in some cases. Unless you budget properly, these bills will sneak up on you with your pants down. At that point, you will have to either scramble the money together or request to cancel. Canceling might become a problem in some cases. I know Good Smile pretty much acts in a make to order kind of fashion where you cannot cancel an order after a certain point, maybe even once the order is placed. In some extreme cases, canceling might get you in trouble. I heard Amiami will shut down repeated offenders’ accounts. So to avoid any of the ill consequences and headaches, you need to have a firm grasp of your budget for preorders.

Why Amazon?

Amazon, like eBay, is a huge marketplace for buyers and seller alike. In fact, Amazon is so big that Japanese sellers would create accounts on both Japanese Amazon and English Amazon sites to sell their stocks. Because of this, the prices are very competitive. A combination of Amazon.com and Amazon.co.jp pretty much ensures you find exactly what you’re looking for. The only thing Amazon doesn’t really have is a used/secondhand market (think Mandarake). At the same time, if you manage to find yourself with a bootleg accidentally, you can most likely contact Amazon and have everything resolved in your favor. I never personally experienced returning a bootleg, but all other return experiences on Amazon have been positive.

Amazon isn’t better than any other place out there like Amiami, Tokyo Otaku Mode, Crunchyroll, or wherever else you procure your Waifus. I just hear a lot of uncertainty in the online communities in regards to Amazon. I think Amazon is a perfectly safe place to add to your list of websites when searching for the best deal. Like every other site, sometimes Amazon will have the cheapest price for a figure, sometimes not. The more legitimate sites you add to your research list, the higher chance for you to find the lowest price. If nothing else, Amazon is a great place to window shop for hours on end.

What am I looking for?

Shopping online is a little different than shopping at a physical store or at an anime convention. You lose the ability to pick up a figurine and take a really close look into the figurine’s soul to ensure authenticity. Most of your verification work becomes checking the figurine description, figurine reviews, seller reviews, and seller ratings. There are a couple of steps you should take to minimize the chances of receiving a bootleg.

Red Flags to Avoid

  • “China Version” or “Chinese Version”
    • From memory, I remember seeing this twice on Amazon. I actually had to try and look for these listings and it took me longer than I would like to admit. Maybe I just don’t have the imagination. Usually in the title or description, the posting will describe a figurine as a Chinese Version. You’re not buying a Chinese version, you’re buying yourself a fancy dinner and wine because you’re getting screwed. Chinese version is euphemism for bootleg, doesn’t sound as bad, almost legitimate. The seller will try to argue when buyers cry foul. They will probably offer a small compensation to settle the matter, but you should definitely shoot for a full refund and report them.

  • Number of sellers
    • From the picture above, most bootlegs have their own separate listing and contains a low amount of sellers for the item. I’m not exactly sure how it works, but be extra careful when you see a low amount of sellers for a figure. Sometimes it might be because a figure is extremely rare, but most of the time, its a bootleg.
  • If it looks like a steal, check your kidneys because you’re getting robbed.
    • This year, I bought a nendoroid at an anime convention for 30+% cheaper than any Amazon listing. That purchase was a great deal for both parties. The seller frees up inventory for newer products and I got an authentic figure for less than what I was ready to throw down. I’m not talking about a reasonable discount like getting a $150.00 figurine for $120.00. I’m talking buy one get one free with a complementary pack of gum. These great steals usually accompanies the Chinese Version description.

Extra Precaution

  • Seller Location
    • Personally, I choose to have my Waifus shipped from a Japanese seller if available. Of course, it takes a couple of weeks for my mail order brides to arrive, but I feel this step reduces the chances of bootlegs significantly. If the seller is based in Japan, it makes much more sense to ship a legitimate product over the hassle of distributing bootlegs. This is just my personal preference when purchasing online. Sellers outside Japan can be perfectly legitimate as well (see next tip)! I did buy one nendoroid shipped within the United States, I couldn’t wait, and everything turned out great, legitimate figurine at a great price and fast shipping. Just do your homework.
  • Seller Reputation
    • Just like the last point. A seller with no ratings or a low amount of ratings isn’t guaranteed to be a scum of the earth. There are those who just started their store or a variety of other reasons outside of shady business. However, a high amount of good ratings certainly commands credibility. At that point, I assume the seller is more interested in keeping their reputation for long term sales, than throw it away to make a quick buck

How Should I pay?

With the growing popularity of online shopping and aggressive marketing from financial institutions, consumers can take advantage of great reward programs when purchasing figures on Amazon. Credit cards (when used responsibly) is absolutely necessary in this day and age for any kind of shopping. There is no reason to pay directly with debit/cash when you can pay with a credit card and pay off the balance later. Your payments take one extra step but you have so much to gain; extra time to budget purchases, fraud protection, cashback/reward points, and build credit history. With Amazon, you have a choice from a couple of credit cards for that sweet, delicious cashback bonus.

I only recommend this if you pay your balances off by the end of each billing month, meaning no interest paid at all. Otherwise, please pay with cash or a debit card. If you are paying interest, you are losing and I don’t want that to happen to anyone.

  • Sallie Mae Mastercard This card is now dead. RIP sweet prince.
    • 5% cashback on the first $250.00 spent each month on groceries and gas (total $500.00) and first $750.00 spent on bookstores.
      • No annual fee and a $25.00 sign up bonus after you make your first purchase.
      • Most purchases directly from Amazon count as bookstore purchases. Everything else, including third-party sellers, will not code as bookstore purchases. However, you can buy Amazon gift cards first, redeem, and then purchase your third-party merchandise, also known as Waifus, and have them count for the full 5% cash back.
      • The 5% cashback caps out at $450.00 each year if you can somehow spend $750.00 each month for a whole year (totaling $9,000.00). That’s a lot of Waifus.
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
    • 5% cashback on all your Amazon purchases, no spending limit.
      • No annual fee (you must have subscription to Amazon Prime which does have annual fee) and $70.00 sign up bonus upon application approval.
      • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores. Not amazing, but makes it usable outside of Amazon.
      • Crazy fast shipping if you order a figure fulfilled by Amazon.
      • Its metal (doesn’t do much for me, but some people like it)?!
  • Discover it
    • 5% cashback on rotating categories every quarter up to $1,500.00 spending. At least one quarter includes Amazon.
      • No annual fee, $50.00 gift card bonus to Amazon after you make at least $50.00 purchase on Amazon within 3 months of opening credit card (must apply for card through Amazon portal for this bonus).
      • Double cash back after 13th billing cycle for new card holders, effectively making June-September 10% cash back on Amazon. Double cash back is only valid for the first year of activation.
      • 10% (with end of the year double points) cashback caps out at $150.00, however you would only need to spend $1,500.00 as opposed to $3,000.00 with Chase Freedom.
  • Chase Freedom
    • 5% cashback on rotating categories every quarter up to $1,500.00 spending. At least one quarter includes Amazon.
      • No annual fee, some for of sign-up bonus equivalent to $150.00 or $200.00, required minimum spending of $500.00 within 3 months

Personally, I have the Discover it, Chase Freedom, and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. I would recommend either Discover it or Chase Freedom for the first year. They are essentially the same card with the rotating categories that sometimes will include Amazon purchases, but their sign-up bonuses differ slightly. Personal choice there.

For an all year right, no thinking necessary type of card, you have only the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. It’s a pretty good credit card if you plan to make most of your purchases on Amazon. From what I can tell, the 5% has an uncapped spending limit as long as you’re shopping on Amazon. You are required to have an Amazon prime subscription in order to access the 5% cashback feature. This pins on an annual fee of $99.00 or $49.00, I think, for students. I guess if you already have a Prime subscription it doesn’t really matter. However, I rarely take advantage of Prime shipping when purchasing figurines due to shipping from Japan.

Example Situations

 I got Enju here a little while ago. I guess a seller within the United States binned her and I got her for $68.95. The cheapest I see on MyFigureCollection, from the three available sellers, is about $101.00 including shipping. The other two starts off lower, but would be higher than $101.00 including shipping. From this example, you can see I got a pretty good deal. Not to mention 2-day shipping, 5% cashback from the Amazon Prime Card, 3% converted into Jetblue points (have not credited yet, usually six months delay).

 I bought this Senhime near the end of January this year for $100.13. Now, I fucked up here. I got too excited when I saw the price drop from Amazon, she was hovering around $130-150 the months prior. I just added her to cart and checked out without thinking. Later, I checked MyFigureCollection and realized I overpaid (of course some time has passes since then so I can’t be completely sure like I was with Enju). The cheapest is around mid $80.00 after accounting for shipping. Even if I take into account the 5% cashback from my credit card, I would still be losing in this case.


Remember guys, you are never just comparing sticker price to sticker price. Amazon will have the shipping cost priced in most of the time. When comparing, you have to factor in exchange rate, possible transaction fee, shipping, cash back bonus (although you shouldn’t spend to chase this), and delivery time.


Amazon can be a great place for buying figurines once you familiarize yourself with the layout and pitfalls. Personally, I don’t see myself straying away from Amazon in the foreseeable future. I take advantage of my credit cards for the cashback and the ability to dispute charges (haven’t had to use this feature for figurines yet). At the same time, Amazon is pretty good when it comes to compensations and refunds from what I’ve heard. In my mind, there is no reason to fear buying figurines on Amazon.

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