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How to Identify a Counterfeit LEGO Minifigure and Brick


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With the illegal reproduction of LEGO minifigures and bricks by counterfeiters on the rise, I thought it would be a help to the community as a whole to show how to identify fakes and frauds.  I am quite unfamiliar myself as to what to look for.  Photos would be appreciated as well.  Thanks...

So my question is this...How does a LEGO fan and collector identify a counterfeit LEGO minifigure or brick?  

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For minifigures, price is one way to tell.  At toy expos and comicons i go to, there is always a booth loaded with mini and maxifigures and its 5 for $20.   A real black widow minifig goes for a lot more online but they have 50 of them for $4  a piece.  I refuse to buy from them.  I have been trying to complete sets that my son lost or traded away minifigs and its been interesting doing the research and shopping for real minifigs and then seeing the prices at these booths.

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doesn't authentic Lego have the name "LEGO" branded on every piece?  For minifigures, you can see the logo inside the legs.  

I don't know.  That is why I am asking.  Do all torsos have a LEGO brand?  Legs?  Arms?  Do any knockoffs have LEGO brands on them?

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I don't know.  That is why I am asking.  Do all torsos have a LEGO brand?  Legs?  Arms?  Do any knockoffs have LEGO brands on them?

I've built about 23 sets of LEGO the past 3 months.  I'm quite sure every single piece I've come across has their logo on it.  The minifigures I've only noticed the logo in the hollow area of the legs, and its kinda hard to see.  I didn't see any other branding in arms/body/head.

The quality on LEGO is higher I find as well....especially compared to MegaBlocks.  All knock offs just look off (in colour/quality/texture).

Edited by Vader888
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I have bought many large lots and often run across fake minifigures that are often on eBay.  All the fakes are missing the Lego brand name between the two studs on the top of the legs. In addition, the hole of the top of the head is often different than real Lego.  

I have built 100's of sets and fake Legos have a different type of sheen to them.  I find them to more shiny. More transparent like - especially the white. 

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For Minifigs (new version)

Head has logo inside top stud and underneath it

Torso has logo on neck stud

Hips have logo in between leg studs

Legs have logo in hollow of feet

 

The previous version of the head that had the hollow stud with supports, I don't think had logos.

 

For pieces, yes virtually every piece has the Lego logo and part number on it.  I have found the rare part that does not have this, but they are very oddball parts that I had to scour Bricklink to find them to make sure they were, in fact, a lego part and I didn't throw it away.

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I don't have any experience with knockoffs but if the only thing missing is the word "Lego", that could pose a problem at some point.  It is not very difficult to add that into the mold.

I have to agree and disagree with you. When the counterfeiters fine tune the fit and finish of their knockoffs, having the lego embossed on the parts will make it very difficult to tell them apart and be a huge game changer. But to say it's not difficult to add "lego" to the mould couldn't be farther from the truth. It is possible but it would take a highly skilled machinist. I know this because I am one who has worked in a mould shop.

Im sure the knockoffs will get to this point sooner than later. When they do, probably the only way to differentiate between an authentic minifig to a fake is the type of plastic they use and how inconsistent the colouring is to a real minifigs. colour.

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I believe the minifig arms have LEGO printed on the inside bicep area iirc.

I checked a figure when I made my last post and did not see anything, but that's not to say it hasn't ever been done.  I have to think the biggest issue with counterfeit figures adding "Lego" to the mold is that they have crossed a threshold of copying a toy to blatant trademark infringement.  I'm honestly surprised we haven't heard of any litigation on these copies yet as many Lego intellectual properties such as Ninjago and Friends have been copied, but "Lego" hasn't been used yet in them.

At the end of the day, If your potential buyer is willing to put up serious money on a retired product, he/she is probably not in the market for counterfeit products in the first place.  Yes, it gives the consumer reason to pause on a purchase worrying that your figure is real, but for those that are more geared to set selling as opposed to Bricklink/part shops, I would think those will be mostly unscathed. 

If you're a seller of figures, taking better pictures showing Lego trademarks would be wise as long as that is a definite difference from the fakes.

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I have to agree and disagree with you. When the counterfeiters fine tune the fit and finish of their knockoffs, having the lego embossed on the parts will make it very difficult to tell them apart and be a huge game changer. But to say it's not difficult to add "lego" to the mould couldn't be farther from the truth. It is possible but it would take a highly skilled machinist. I know this because I am one who has worked in a mould shop.

Im sure the knockoffs will get to this point sooner than later. When they do, probably the only way to differentiate between an authentic minifig to a fake is the type of plastic they use and how inconsistent the colouring is to a real minifigs. colour.

I am quite certain they have CNC engraving machines now, but back in the day we used a pantograph machine.  There is a certain skill set required, but nothing too difficult to accomplish.

I believe they are testing the limits and by avoiding putting the lego logo, they are avoiding a war.

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I am quite certain they have CNC engraving machines now, but back in the day we used a pantograph machine.  There is a certain skill set required, but nothing too difficult to accomplish.

I believe they are testing the limits and by avoiding putting the lego logo, they are avoiding a war.

Yes they do. It doesn't really matter what CNC they use, engraver, vertical, horizontal etc., it's all in the skill set of the tradesman that is setting up that first piece. That's thousands of dollars in a lost mould and even more in lost production. They want to imitate lego so it needs to be in exactly the same spot, same text style, depth etc. then they can have a monkey load and unload the moulds at this point.

I've dealt with a lot of parts that come from China and 90% of them are crap due to cheap prices and poor quality control. In the end this will probably be Legos saving grace, their commitment to consistency and quality.

To reinforce Huskers post and your 2nd comment, I watched an episode of "Underworld inc." about counterfeiters. Apparently what they do isn't illegal until they brand it.

This is definitely the best method to ID a knock off for now, the lack of branding on each piece.

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I have to agree and disagree with you. When the counterfeiters fine tune the fit and finish of their knockoffs, having the lego embossed on the parts will make it very difficult to tell them apart and be a huge game changer. But to say it's not difficult to add "lego" to the mould couldn't be farther from the truth. It is possible but it would take a highly skilled machinist. I know this because I am one who has worked in a mould shop.

Im sure the knockoffs will get to this point sooner than later. When they do, probably the only way to differentiate between an authentic minifig to a fake is the type of plastic they use and how inconsistent the colouring is to a real minifigs. colour.

Well I will have to dissagree too, It is not difficult at all to brand the part with the Lego word, I does not require a skilled machinist, you just  need a die sink EDM or a good CNC milling machine.....  I own an injection mold facilty by the way.....

date dial.png

Edited by boliramirez
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With the illegal reproduction of LEGO minifigures and bricks by counterfeiters on the rise, I thought it would be a help to the community as a whole to show how to identify fakes and frauds.  I am quite unfamiliar myself as to what to look for.  Photos would be appreciated as well.  Thanks...

So my question is this...How does a LEGO fan and collector identify a counterfeit LEGO minifigure or brick?  

One aspect is knowing which minifigs LEGO have produced recently.  Take the DC Super Heroes line for example.  Up to today, LEGO only released Green Lantern and Yellow Lantern / Sinestro. So when you see Red, Blue, Orange, Black Lanterns, etc etc you know for sure those were not made by LEGO.  The same with red, grey, blue Hulks etc

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Well I will have to dissagree too, It is not difficult at all to brand the part with the Lego word, I does not require a skilled machinist, you just  need a die sink EDM or a good CNC milling machine.....  I own an injection mold facilty by the way.....

Looks like we've found our counterfeiter people!!

On a serious note, before this goes completely sideways, I'll be the polite Canadian and suggest that we agree to disagree here. I was just sharing my professional opinion and experiences.

With that said, if you have a website I can check out, shoot me a PM with it. It's not too often I meet people outside of my work place that work in the same industry as me.

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  • 7 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Weve been buying a lot of individual bricks lately and unfortunately, we've seen some pretty good knock-offs.  Yes, they use the LEGO imprint on it, but you'll notice that the letters will be part of the actual mold and not inset.  Some are using hot sets to put the name on bricks.  So feel them and make sure the letters stick out.  Also, if the stick out, make sure you don't see a ring around the stud, like someone pressed a hot iron to melt the stud and put the letters on.  Also, look for the occasional individual brick without the lettering.  We've seen them all with the lettering, but one.  That one can means that they missed one when changing the brick.  If they all match the look, feel, color of that faulty brick, then you can bet the whole batch are from these fake starter bricks.

In addition, look for warping, discoloration, any difference in size.  The Minifigs have been covered really well, but as far as the individual bricks, my bricklink purchases are becoming infected with them... just like counterfeit cash.  Chances are, if it doesn't feel right, it's probably not real LEGO.

use your common sense and spider senses...

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Edited by Eschdaddy
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