This is the AG Astumete! Happy Mascot Absol Plush (from part 3 of the Happy Mascot series). These tiny strap plushes were released by TOMY, most likely in 2003 (though the tags do not indicate a year). I have only seen these plushes being sold on their own, but I believe they originally came in a small green box - though the photos appear to be broken for me, I know this post by rentorar had a picture of the box. These guys are certainly a bit difficult to track down, being some of the more rare absol items. I won mine for around 3,500 yen at auction on Y!J.
Since then, I've talked to several owners of this plush who were unsure of whether theirs was authentic or not. One of those people was sui_kune, owner of this collection site. The listing for it on their site says that many rejects and bootlegs exist, and that they have only ever seen one authentic one for sale. It didn't occur to me that "authentic" ones were so hard to find when I bought mine, and though I feel confident in items bought from Y!J, I still couldn't say for sure whether mine was the real deal or not. However, this last summer, I snagged another one for a good price on the comm, and found that the new arrival had some very stark differences from my original one.
(Feel free to click on the photos to enlarge them.)
On the left is my older absol from Y!J, and the right is the newer one. I'm sure you could tell from the very first photo before the cut that the two aren't quite the same. So, why not? Is one "real" while the other is a bootleg, or a factory reject? Let's take a look!
One of the biggest differences between the two are the legs. As you can see below, the newer absol's walkers are extremely askew in comparison to the older one's. They stick out much farther, while the leftmosts' are straight and much more stable. While both plush have a slight lean, the newer one has a far more "wobbly" look to him.
The heads are also pretty different. The newer absol has a much more wide, plump face. One eye is ever so slightly lower than the ever.
The newer absol also has a little chunk taken out of his head, revealing some inner glue and stuffing. This could be wear-and-tear from life off the shelf, or it could be the result of faulty construction - I can't say for sure. At any rate, my older absol does not have this flaw.
Despite these points, however, the absols still share many similarities.
- The type of fabric used for both the grey and blue fur are the exact same texture and color.
- Both absols' tails and horns are "splitting." (Mine has been put back together with super glue, but it had the same problem when I first bought it. You might be able to tell in my photos).
- The appliqued eyes are exactly the same (except for placement).
- The straps are exactly the same.
- They are the same size - which, btw, is about 2.5" tall and 3" long.
- Both have one or two spots where white thread is poking out.
The tags are nearly exactly the same. They have the exact same text, same font, same color, same identification numbers. The text on my newer absol is slightly more faded, but I believe this is due to age and wear. The only difference between the tags is the distance between where the booty ends and the text begins. The text is a tad closer to the former on the older absol. The distance between the text and the end of the tag on the other side appears to be the same to me. The other side of the tag reads: "TOMY (c) Made in China G03", and it looks identical on both tags.
So, what's the verdict?
I have faith that my older absol is authentic, considering it came straight from Japan and has a much more "normal" look to it. The newer absol is definitely more wacky in construction. However, I still can't say for certain whether the older absol is a bootleg or if it's simply a factory reject.
As Sui_Kun says on their site, bootlegs of this guy were common. But did the bootlegs look so similar? I guess the traits these two share in common make me think that it's not a case of bootification, but I know that some bootlegs, such as canvas plushes, can look frustratingly close to the real thing. Without pictures of what the "common" bootlegs of these guys looked like, I'm not really sure what to think. The similarities between them lead me to believe that the newer absol is just a factory reject, but now that I've seen multiple of these guys with the same attributes, I have doubts. Or did the original factory really churn out that many mess-ups? If so, how did so many of them end up circulating?
Here are more pictures of happy mascots from the web. The images link to their larger counterparts from the original sources:
The first two have the same wonky legs as my newer one. The third and fourth appear to have normal legs, and stand up straighter. The last image appears to be a stock photo (it's from the PokePlushProject - too bad we don't have a source on the photo). (clicky797, I wish I'd taken a photo of yours when I was middlemanning it!! :P)
For good measure, here are more photos of my guy from Y!J. This plush was one of the first items I bought using FromJapan, and one of my favorite pieces in general. I love obscure little items and he's just so tiny and cute.
So what do you think? Bootleg or factory reject? Do you consider factory rejects to be on par with bootlegs? Any other thoughts?
As always, please check out my sales with *cough* lowered prices. I might even be willing to trade for flats or art. I just want to clear space, especially since I have some big things coming from Y!J pretty soon, which I can't wait to share. :>