DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AUTHENTIC AND FAKE / SCRAPPER PINS
It can be hard to determine the authenticity of a Disney pin and those that are scrappers or faked. With experience and always following a few basic guidelines is always a great way to make sure you’re getting real Disney pins.
Basic Definitions of “Scrapper” and “Fake” Pins
The terms “scrapper” and “fake” represent different types of non-authorized Disney pins. It is important to understand the basic differences between each term to correctly describe them.
A scrapper is a pin created for Disney that has flaws that prevent it from being packaged for sale by the company. These pins are destined to be scrapped by the manufacturer for failing to meet Disney’s quality standards but are sold anyways directly by the factory without permission. These “scrapper” pins are generally sold at greatly reduced prices to third parties or directly to customers using online sales and auction websites.
Fake pins are made without Disney permission and are made to look like genuine pins. Fake pins will have the Disney copyright and may be used from old molds for authentic Disney pins. These pins are often made with inferior resources and are lower in quality than the ones made for Disney. You will often see these pins sold in large quantities at extremely low prices on sales and auction websites as “tradeable” pins and come in small resealable plastic bags.
Scrapper and fake pins are sometimes sold as rack pins or limited-edition pins which are often identified by multiple sales of the same pin at artificially low prices (such as $1 or $2 with free shipping). For instance, on popular sales and auction websites, you may see the same pin listing multiple times one after another from the same seller at $2.00.
Ways to Identify Fake and Scrapper Pins
Although there are no consistent ways to identify fake and scrapper pins, there are some common traits of authentic pins you can use.
Waffle Backs on Newer Pins
Newer authentic Disney pins will often have a waffle back pattern (DSSH pins have ice cream cones, Disney Parks pins have a Mickey shape, etc.). The waffle pattern on the back of the pin will often go the entire surface on authentic pins, with only some (such as hidden Disney pins) having a small border. That said, older pins and Disney Store pins have a sand blast pattern.
Letters and Numbers are Evenly Spaced and No Spelling Errors
Letters and numbers are evenly spaced on authentic Disney pins and they are not sold with any spelling errors on the pin. If the back of the pin has uneven letter or number spacing, or there are clear spelling errors on the pin, it is likely not an authentic one.
The Quality and Weight of the Pin Seem Off
With experience, you will begin to recognize the weight and thickness of authentic Disney pins. Real Disney pins usually are high-quality with consistent enamel covering the surface of the pin, with smooth edges, consistent thickness, and sharp nubs on the back. If there are issues with inconsistency of the enamel surface, rough edges, or the weight and thickness of the pin seems off, it may be a sign that the pin is not genuine.
Price of the Pin
Pins that are sold well below their value are also usually a good sign they may be fake. For instance, if you see multiple listings of a pin by the same seller at a low price compared to its actual value (i.e. an older rack pin with multiple $2.00 listings in a row with free shipping), there is a good chance the pin may be a fake or scrapper. An experienced trader or seller understands the market value of the pin and will price it accordingly.
Marketing of the Pin
Another good way of helping to decide whether you trust the authenticity of a pin is how it is advertised. For instance, if a pin is described as “tradeable” or “obtained from a Cast Member”, that does not mean it is authentic. A Disney copyright on the back of the pin meets the definition of “tradeable” but does not mean it is authentic. Similarly, “obtained from a Cast Member” only means that it was traded with a Cast Member, not necessarily an endorsement of its authenticity, since many pins on Cast Member lanyards are fakes or scrappers other guests have used to trade.
A pin advertised as a “fantasy” pin is not an authentic pin, but one that is inspired by Disney pins and often has unauthorized use of a Disney character or attraction on it. These fantasy pins are made by people who share a love of Disney pins and design one that they would like to collect.
How to Make Sure Your Pins are Authentic
There is usually only one way with 100% certainty to guarantee the authenticity of your Disney pins and that is to buy it directly from Disney. Clearly purchasing a pin directly from Disney itself ensures that you are getting a genuine pin.
That does not mean that you can only buy pins directly from Disney. There are several other ways to ensure that you are trading or buying a genuine pin.
Look for Well-Known Authentic Pin Traders and Sellers
First, you can buy or trade from collectors that are well known to sell and trade in authentic Disney pins. There are several people and groups that you can rely on to offer authentic pins. Joining a large, reputable pin group on Facebook or similar sites is a great way to protect yourself against fake or scrapper pin sellers. These groups typically have people in them that recognize real pins and make sure that they only buy, sell, or trade genuine pins. A trader or seller will often offer photos of the front and back of the pin for inspection and may require you to provide the same in the case of a trade. Often, they can also tell you information on the pin such as where it was purchased and if you are buying a pin from a mystery pack or box, they may have posted a YouTube video where you can see them opening the pin you are interested in.
Buying Sealed Mystery Pin Bags and Boxes
Buying a mystery pin bag or mystery pin box is often another way of protecting yourself against fake pins. A sealed mystery pin bag or box is often not worth the efforts of a counterfeiter to replicate and so, buying one of these sealed bags or boxes is often a good way of making sure your pins are real.
Do Your Research
A third way to protect yourself from purchasing fake or scrapper pins is to do research on the pin. There are many good pin databases and YouTubers that show you what to look for on a genuine pin and how to check for a fake or scrapper version of that pin. In fact, there are too many resources to list here. However, a search online will provide a list of YouTube videos and other blog posts and web databases you can use to find the pin you are interested in and what a genuine pin should look like.
Experience is Your Best Bet
The last and final tip is to gain experience with Disney pin trading and, although this seems strange to new pin traders, having a good “feel” about what makes that pin look genuine. Most experienced pin traders will tell you that there is a certain look, weight, and feel of a real pin that scrapper and fakes simply don’t have. Over time, you will begin to recognize that “feel” of a pin’s authenticity and you’ll start to see the warning signs right away that a pin may not be authentic. This is learned over time, so patience and practice will help you to become a more knowledgeable pin trader.