At first glance, Amazon seems like a treasure trove of Pokemon merchandise. Pokedolls! Banpresto Plush! TOMYs! All from a big-name company we know and trust! However, unfortunately the bootleg environment on Amazon is no better than eBay -- and arguably it's worse these days.
The number one thing to keep in mind when buying from Amazon, like any other place online, is buyer beware.
How can you avoid buying bootlegs on Amazon? Utilize our community resources! Our guides and tips for avoiding bootlegs on eBay are applicable to Amazon as well. Check the location of the seller and look through reviews. Often times the most telling sign is the price -- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. A Pokedoll under $10-12 (retail price) is nearly guaranteed to be a bootleg, as well as any items located in Hong Kong and China.
What if the listing is "Fulfilled by Amazon"?
Unfortunately, most listings "fulfilled by Amazon" are still bootlegs. "Fulfilled by Amazon" only means that the seller has paid Amazon a fee to handle their shipping, customer service, and returns. Thankfully, Amazon has excellent customer service and will allow you to return an item if it is a bootleg (I have yet to hear of them denying a bootleg refund). The bad news is that generally you will have to pay return shipping, plus you wasted your time and energy to get nothing in return.
Items sold directly from Amazon (will say "Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.") are hit-and-miss. Amazon itself usually gets its stock from reputable importers, but there is no way of telling where they got their stock from for a particular item. Again, their customer service is good and you can always return, but know you are taking a risk because there is no way to confirm beforehand.
**HELPFUL HINT: If the listing mentions the manufacturer "Sole Trader" -- either in the title or directly underneath the heading -- the item is a bootleg. Sole Trader is a well-known bootleg manufacturer in Hong Kong.
Known Bootleg Sellers:
The following third-party Amazon sellers have been confirmed to sell bootlegs. We do not recommend making purchases from these sellers.
MP COLLECT LLC
Honey & Sunshine
Sunning Co., Ltd.
Known Legitimate Sellers:
The following third-party Amazon sellers are reputable merchants with legitimate merchandise.
Toys and Games Outlet
Japan Video Games
Video Game Plush
Anime 'N Games
These lists are not comprehensive and there are many, many other third-party sellers on Amazon. Please let us know if a new name should be added to either list.
Comment if you have any questions about buying from Amazon or have any helpful tips you think should be added to this guide!
(Please also note that this guide does not apply to Amazon.co.jp -- which is much more reliable but requires a deputy service to purchase from)