If you’re looking to build a collection of high quality WWE figures, stay far away from bootlegs!

There are hundreds, if not thousands of different wrestling action figures out there, so it was inevitable that unscrupulous toy makers would try to make a quick buck by selling cheap knockoffs. It happens to the best of us; there are bootlegs for everything from Pokemon to Disney. With any franchise that gets big enough to have a following, bootlegs with appear. While some of these unofficial toys might make you laugh, you certainly wouldn’t want one showing up in your mailbox when you’re expecting a special edition John Cena collectible instead. No one wants that. We want to help you avoid this fate, so we compiled our top tips for spotting bootleg WWE figures!

1: Make sure you recognize the brand


The WWE is a massive multimedia empire, but they don’t license their name to just anyone. If a figure is made by a company you’ve never heard of, you might want to make sure they’re a legit business. A lot of unscrupulous companies will create a name that sounds legit, but if you squint you will quickly realize it’s not a legitmate name. Pay attention to the brand on the packaging. If you can’t see a brand. It’s not legit.

For modern WWE action figures, you can rest easy if you see Mattel or Jakks Pacific on the box. For older figures, Hasbro and LJN were the notable WWE toy makers of the time. If the brand name isn’t any of these– it’s likely you’re considering a fake. Move on. It’s not worth it. If you’re still worried, we recommend shopping at a reputable website such as RingsideCollectibles. Remember: when in doubt, research whatever is making you apprehensive!

2: If the price is too low, there’s probably a reason why


More often than not, bootleg figures are sold for cheap and made even cheaper. When you see a boxed WWE figure on sale for only a couple dollars, you should take that as a red flag.

The last thing you’ll want is a carelessly made collectible that will crumble after a week.

3: Check if they’re actually WWE figures


One technically-legal-but-unethical trick bootleg toymakers use is implying their figures are official WWE merchandise, but stopping short of making the claim.

For instance, what you might think to be a Stone Cold Steve Austin collectible may turn out to be a “Scott Austin” toy instead. You know, because the two are clearly different people. Some shameless bootleg producers may even use photos of real WWE stars on the box while curiously omitting the WWE label. Don’t be fooled!


4: Ask yourself whether the accessories make sense or not


A fraudulent producer of WWE figures may not necessarily be a fan of wrestling. It’s possible they don’t even know what the WWE is! Sometimes, this lack of knowledge is plainly exhibited through their figures.

As an example, if a wrestler comes packed with a chair that’s as big as they are, you can assume you’re not looking at legitimate merchandise. In other cases, when you see figures wielding weapons like chainsaws, be assured there wasn’t a WrestleMania packing the brutality of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that you just aren’t remembering.


5: The devil is in the details

Not only can bootleg figures reflect a poor knowledge of the WWE, they may also vary from a wrestler’s iconic design for the purpose of cutting costs.

If you see anything from a toy’s hairstyle being wildly inaccurate to a figure’s uniform sporting incorrect colors, you may want to think again about parting with your cash. Even if these facets seem minuscule to you, they’re still the kind of details that wouldn’t pass inspection at a major company.

6: Use your intuition

If you see WWE memorabilia that passes the above tests but still seems off, you shouldn’t ignore your instincts. After all, bootlegs can be crazy and unpredictable.

Wrestlers work hard to establish their personas both in and out of the ring, so if Andre the Giant’s face sprinkled around a flowery design strikes you as out of place, it’s probably because it is. Always use your best judgment when purchasing new additions for your collection, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have the opportunity to do so.

It may take a few minutes to do your research before a transaction, but the satisfaction of outsmarting a producer of bootleg figures lasts forever.

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.