Disclaimer: I am no expert on this subject, heck I’ve never even opened up a Booster Box in my life. But I have an interest in fake items and a keen eye for what’s not legit, so I thought I’d make this guide. Also, following this guide will not guarantee you safety. Bootleggers are slimy, and my tips here don’t always apply.
Booster Boxes are a huge investment. The cheapest ones still cost a pretty penny, and when you get into the older sets you can be looking at boxes that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Of course, where there’s money to be made, there’s people who will try to trick you. So I’ve created this guide to hopefully help you from making any expensive mistakes.
1. Immediate Red Flags.
These are things to look out for if you’re on a site such as Ebay. It’s best to avoid any listings that have the following characteristics.
- If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
Like I said, booster boxes are expensive. An in print booster will cost you around $90-$100 USD, and as you get into older sets that price will quickly increase. Look at other sites and the sold listings for your box of choice in order to gauge a value. If the price is far below that value, you should proceed with caution.
- They use a stock photo.
If someone uses a stock photo for a very expensive item, 95% of the time something fishy is going on. They may also use someone else’s image, so use reverse image search to check where an image has been used if you’re feeling doubtful.
- Bad quality images.
This is a continuation of the photo issue. If you ask for pictures of an item and they give you something that looks like it was taken with a potato inside Dark Cave, you might want to stay away. Most legit sellers will have several good quality images of the box, as they have nothing to hide.
- They’re from China.
Unless you’re buying from PokemonChina, take any listings from China with about a pound of salt. China is the land of the bootlegs- no, it’s the king of the bootlegs. Most fake items originate from there. Unless you know for a fact that they are a legit seller, avoid items from China.
- The seller has sold a lot of them.
Now this is a bit more tricky, as many people do sell a good amount of real booster boxes. But if the seller manages to manifest a Base Set booster box every couple weeks, you should be suspicious. Also if the seller has multiple of the same vintage box for sale in a single listing or separate listings, that tends to smell of seafood. It’s exceedingly rare for a person to come across a large amount of old boxes, even store owners and hardcore collectors.
Feedback can be tricky, as it is not indicative of the legitimacy of their items. Looking at feedback can be helpful and you should avoid sellers with a lot of bad feedback, but high feedback is not always accurate. A seller can have 100% positive feedback and a high rating but still sell fake items. Buying from a verified, high feedback, well rated seller can give you peace of mind, just don’t base your purchase on that alone.
2. The Appearance of The Box
These are what you should look for in the appearance of the box, either in an online listing or if you’re suspicious that the box you just bought is fake.
- The Artwork
It’s difficult to replicate the appearance of a booster box. Many times, bootleggers will make mistakes when creating their fake boxes. A simple Google Images search of “Pokemon (insert set here) Booster Box” will give you plenty of images of real booster boxes to compare to. Sets have never had any variations in their booster box designs, other than the 1st edition stamps on older boxes, and Asian boxes which do differ.
- The Writing
The writing on booster boxes often has the same problem as the designs. Fake boxes may have incorrect fonts, typos in the set description, or even use the wrong set description entirely.
- The Plastic Wrap
Sounds stupid, but trust me. The plastic wrap should be tight around the box and be made of a thick saran wrap type of plastic, not the cheap crinkly kind. (If that even makes sense.) Except for 1st Edition Base Set, all boxes have white logos on the plastic wrap, being Wizards of the Coast for Skyridge and older, and The Pokemon Company from EX Ruby and Sapphire to present day. If a box doesn’t have that plastic wrap, DON’T BUY IT. There’s about 50 ways someone can tamper with a booster box when it’s opened, and all of them include ripping you off.
- The Packs
I may make a separate guide for fake packs, but that’s not what I’m covering here. The packs should all be neatly organized in the box, all facing forward and right side up. I’ve only ever seen one legit booster box where all the packs in one side were upside down. If the packs are every which way and just look like they were thrown in there, you probably got a fake or your box was tampered with.
So that’s some tips on how to tell if a booster box is fake. Now again, this is just a GUIDE. Following these tips won’t keep you totally safe from fake boxes, but they should help you avoid most fakes. Please don’t ask me if a box you found is real or fake, if you’re stumped even after reading this guide, please make a post in the Just a Question Board and plenty of people who are smarter than me will help you.
If I missed anything important or made a mistake in my facts, please let me know and I’ll fix it! Please don’t ask me to fix something based on your opinions, it has to be factual.
Also feel free to share or link this guide to anyone who needs help, it’s what I made it for! This isn’t the best guide in the world, but I hope it can help others.