Pokemon Plush Header

At least 530,000 fake Pokémon plush toys or more to see.

Thanks to a recent bust of counterfeit Pokémon plush toys, “gotta catch ’em all!” takes on a whole new meaning.

On June 9th, South Korean news agency Yonhap News broke the story that approximately 530,000 fake Pokémon plush toys were smuggled into the country. It’s believed the large quantity of Pokémon plush toys started entering circulation around April 25th, and the operation persisted until June 2nd. The toys were primarily used as crane game prizes.

Some of the counterfeit plush toys were unrelated to Pokémon, including characters like Studio Ghibli’s Totoro. However, the Pokémon plush toys made up the grand majority of the loot. The net worth of all this phony merchandise is estimated to be around $6 million!

This may seem like relatively old news, which is partially true. We’re only hearing about it now because the news didn’t start circulating at large in English until July. That said, there’s an important lesson that bears repeating in response to this story.

Pokemon Plush Display

As many Pokémon fans know, fake Pokémon stuff is a booming business. It always has been, and it probably always will be. We touched on this with our list of 8 hilarious bootleg Pokémon games, but that only scratches the surface of bootleg games, let alone the entirety of fake Pokémon merchandise. Though this bust occurred in South Korea, it’s something all collectors should be aware of, regardless of where they live.

Though these fake Pokémon plush toys may look good enough, the real problems are under the surface. Fake toys, for one, don’t have to meet the standards that official toys do, and can thereby be poorly made. This is especially alarming with these toys, as the materials used could cause allergic reactions in susceptible people. Never mind the sturdiness or integrity of the toys, they could potentially be harmful.

In other words, when buying any Pokémon products, make sure to verify their legitimacy first. Pokémon fans can read more about identifying fake plush toys here, but generally speaking, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Always be vigilant with your collecting purchases, even if you aren’t a Pokémon collector.

Written by TimM
Tim is a video game aficionado who is fascinated by pop culture. He built his first collection in 1999 by catching all 151 monsters in Pokemon Red, and he hasn't stopped collecting since. His work has been featured multiple times on Destructoid.com.