Looks like LEGO but Really Really Really Look Closer !! LEBQ? Don’t get caught by these dangerous fake toys this Christmas
While The Force Awakens for Star Wars fans across the globe this Christmas, some children may be in for a stocking full of dangerous counterfeit action figures.
Cashing in on the popularity of major movie franchises, dodgy retailers are flogging cheap rubbish to unsuspecting parents with no regard to safety standards.
In a single afternoon browsing Melbourne’s discount stores news.com.au found them awash with knock off Star Wars, Lego, Avengers, Minecraft, Superman, Pokemon, Nintendo, and Disney products.
Space Wars? May the fake be with you.
Just like Ninja Turtles, but dangerous.
There’s something vaguely creepy about that tagline.
The logo might be spelt correctly on these Frozen toys, but the quality suggests they’re probably not the real deal. It’s easy to see how parents can be tricked.
Turtles. Turtles. Turtles. Turtles. Some fakes are harder to spot, but if you’re not buying from a reputable retailer there’s a good chance you’re being ripped off.
Some of the fakes are quite convincing, like the Avengers Lego sets pictured above, featuring the The Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America. The packaging is shiny and they really look the part at first glance, but look a little closer at the logo. That’s not LEGO, it’s “LEBQ”.
In other cases, it’s the details inside the packaging that are off.
These “Space Wars” figures may have copied the Star Wars images and used the same font, but any fan will notice that they also for some reason have C3PO riding on a decidedly non-canon skateboard.
Likewise these “Justice Fighters” action figures have a familiar Teenage Mutant vibe. And while every 8-year-old on the playground will tell you at a glance that they seem a bit naff, they could also prove to be dangerous.
“Counterfeits are getting more sophisticated,” says Tom Godfrey, from consumer advocacy group CHOICE. “So in some cases the toys may well look good from the outside, but what we find is that they won’t meet any of the safety standards. Genuine toys will have all the materials tested, all using the types of plastic that are known to be safe. Counterfeit goods haven’t gone through any of these tests, and so they won’t have an approved mark on the back showing the suitable age range for the product.”
This squad of fake super heroes may have been lost in translation when they boldly claim to be “The Best Welcome Gifts For The Children”, whatever that means. They also appear to contain small sharp toothpick sized weapons that may breach safety rules.
“Genuine toys go through drop testing,” says Tom, “to see if it’s possible for them to splinter into small pieces, and then a sharps test to check if any of the items pose a danger. These requirements change by age, so you’d be looking at whether a small child can take a piece off and put it in their mouth. Counterfeit toys haven’t been put through any of this, so they’re really taking a child’s life into their hands.”
So what should you do if you’ve been stung? “If you think you’ve been duped or something isn’t as described,” says Tom, ”take it back to the shop as a first port of call. You can also report it to the office of Fair Trading. Certainly price can be a good guide as to whether something is the genuine article.”
So how should you make sure you’re getting real deal? We asked Hal Rosenburg, the owner of Just Collectables, Melbourne’s top genuine action figure shop for over 20 years. “The key thing is to buy from people that are reputable, places that you know and trust” says Hal, “in terms of the boxes you just gotta have a feel for it ... looking for insignia that’s wrong or something that’s missing. In my book it’s also the experience, the way it feels and smells.”
“If you do need to buy something from a website,” says Hal, “you want to look at how complete the descriptions are, and the level of communication. If you see something on eBay that’s listed as just a loose figure in a bag, you don’t always know what you’re going to get.”
In terms of making payment, says Hal, “make sure you use PayPal because you’ve got a layer of protection there. What they do is automatically hold your payment for a period of time so you have recourse straight away if something isn’t right and you can get your money back.”
Pictures: Matthias McGregor