How To Avoid

Phony Merchandise

Stupid Shirt Tails
More things to avoid Page 2 * Fakery on Page 3 * Fake Sonic Merch 4 * Bootlegs 5* Bootlegs 6 * Bootlegs 7 * Bootlegs 8 * Bootlegs 12
Avoiding Bootlegs & Phony Merchandise

What is a bootleg?

It is an unofficial or unlicensed product being sold to the fans- by NON FANS. These can be home-made or made in a factory. They are not approved by the company who holds the license and are NOT made to any standard.

Phony Merchandise is not to be confused with fan made items.

Fan made items are made one at a time, usually for the benefit of the maker. Fan made items usually fall into places where the company did not make certain things people wanted. If a certain character was neglected, for example, someone might make items relating to that person. Fan made items usually also SAY that they are. If you make a tribute to something, you should not be afraid to call it out. Bootlegers do the opposite, they crank out hundreds of things under the table hoping to make a buck.

This guide will help you avoid phony Sonic Merchandise. Many of these bogus items are found on Ebay, where it is sometimes hard to tell what's what. Ebay is flooded from time to time with these annoying non-fans.

Big Mistake


If the tag does not appear in the photo, write the seller and ask to see a photo of it *Before You Bid*. Tell them you won't bid until you see it. This can be the paper tag, if the shirt is new, or a close-up of the cloth tag found at the back of the collar/waistband/etc. The tag should say something in relation to "Sega" "Copyright" "Sonic Project" Sonic X" or something official. DO NOT buy if they won't let you see this and you are at all suspicious! All Real Sega/Sonic goods will say so on the tag. T-Shirts are attractive to bootleggers because they are so cheap and easy to make. It's also easy to fool people into buying them.

A Big Mistake?

**If enough people demand to see the official tag or don't buy, they won't make any money and will stop.

How they do it & what you will get if you fall for it:

People are buying the cheapest shirts they can get, then ironing on various Sonic designs. These can be made right on your home PC! If you really want a design for yourself, just print one out after buying the special paper. But beware....

  • The shirt cloth may be of poor quality
  • The design will look shiny all over like a lame decal
  • The design will fade easily and wash off
  • It is easy to scratch the design
  • The item can wear out very quicky and look ugly

How to tell if the item in question is a fake:

  • They won't take a photo of the tag, or it doesnt say anything Sonic related
  • It claims "Any size you want"
  • Things that are "personalized" with your name or other info

I was even taken in by one of these offers. I got the "Eat My Dust" Hot Topic Sonic shirt off of ebay after someone claimed it wasn't the right size. (Bootleggers love to make up bogus stories to get you to believe they are for real) I had it bought and shipped for less than it would of cost in the Hot Topic store. But...the design on the front was just an iron-on copy of the original! I didn't ask for a photo of the tag, and now I'm stuck with a sub-standard shirt I can't wear or wash! Why? The design is so flimsy and it's just ironed on...

Things which are usually bootlegs:

-Analog wall clocks. (the kind with hands) Someone buys a clock for 50 cents, then prints out a Sonic design for the backing, snaps the hands in, and sells it to you at a huge markup!

-"Bogus Bills" or "Gag Money" A dollar/euro/hundred dollar with Sonic on it. It's only worth the paper it's printed on, but they will mark it up

-Mugs these things are cheap and easy to put decals on (Again, ASK to see Sega copyrights somewhere on the item)

- "Tag Style" keychains. This is a small usually white plastic rectangle with the beaded keyring chain through it. It will have a picture of Sonic or some other character on the tag. Again, this is another home-made decal which lacks durability.

Horrible Clock
5 O'clock Shadow Anyone?
Common sense is your best defence against ending up with bootleg merchandise. Keep in mind that if it looks like a decal, it probably is. Good luck in finding the right official items!
ugly shirt A real bootleg item!

Look at this terrible shirt so you can see what nasty things make up some bogus items:
Wrong color Sonic with red gloves, blue accents and messed up shoes.
Skateboard wall-eye rabbit in hideous color!
A 'flicky bird' that's badly drawn
Sonic is standing on a pile of spoiled mayo!
The bad copy of the "Sonic" font
The plain tag and thin quality of the cloth

All these combine to form an ugly fake shirt no one would wear! It makes no sense and is super tacky. Bootleggers must be stopped!

Color-Inversion Photo Shirt This is an interesting concept. Look what happens when you use "Color Invert" on the above shirt. The colors attempt to go closer to normal, but Sonic still doesn't have green shoes, or a green rabbit. The mayonaise doesn't look any better in blue than it does yellow.
The rabbit is somewhat similar to Johnny Lightfoot from the Fleetway UK, or a rabbit which you let out of the container at the end of the level. Still, someone couldn't draw it very well at all. The flicky bird just turns blue.
Unfortunately items like this are sometimes common at conventions. Badly done and mis-colored but not 100% illegal. Color inversion & additional info by: Canus Minoris
uh oh! Stereotypes aren't nice! oooh a closeup!
Not all bootleg items are 3rd rate garbage. Some, have quite a bit of effort put into the design...but they manage to go wrong somewhere!
In this example, Sonic the hedgehog has been transformed into a negative racial stereotype! And has gotten very...yikes in the process. Let's take a look at what went wrong....
First of all, stereotypes are not cool, and they try to fit all people in under a certain precieved image, when it just isn't so. Everyone needs to judge people by their character on an individual basis. They also need to judge when something is gaudy! And this is.
-What happened to Sonic's spikes! They're supposed to be some kind of 'braids' but they look like shag carpet gone awry!
-Is he a vampire beaver with tiny shovels instead of teeth? He's a buck-tooth monstrosity!

Notice though, that this is a decent quality design, and that the rings are real beads sewn to the shirt. They also paid attention to his money and bracelet. However...when asked to see the tag, the seller couldn't produce anything official, and their sale dried up. You don't need this site telling you this is a bootleg, but it serves as a good reminder that not all bootlegs are shabby quality.

RK Design Cycle Here's an odd item. It's half-bootleg half-wannabe.
The company "RK Design Cycle" apparently really liked Sonic and wanted to use him on their stuff. So they did. The question remains "Did they get permission from Sega" to make up a whole bunch of these bicycle racing shirts with Sonic on them? It seems unlikely, but...

The shirt itself is fine, and as you can see, Sonic appears as a tiny icon in various places. The round spot in the green square is him spinning, and you can find the standing stock-art in black and white at the bottom in the purple. He's likely elsewhere on it. Various inspirational words like Vision, Engineering and Prototype appear in the design.

Sterling Sonic Charm Copy
This charm may claim that it is made of Sterling Silver...
But it can't claim to be official Sonic merchandise. Yes, it is identical (or nearly so) to the Sonic Earrings on the fan page, but whoever is making this apparently churned out tons of them at one point to try and sell on Ebay. While it is interesting that someone has created a die cut that also stamps's still not any good because it's not official.
What about the quality of the metal? IS it really silver? Could it contain lead? Is it so thin that it will bend up if you wear it? Remember: With bogus items there's no telling what sort of quality it may be.
Guyana Headphones Fake Sonic This item is 100% NON-Sonic!
Here's a photo of a pair of ordinary headphones from Guyana. The company couldn't sell just normal headphones, so they stole "Soccer Sonic" the stock art and slapped him all over the package. They're NOT by Sega, they're NOT approved, and the device inside has nothing at all Sonic about it--only the package has Sonic.

This is what is so bogus about bootleg junk, they're using Sonic's popularity to try and trick people into buying ordinary stuff! Photo credit to: mAtt

Bogus Hershy Kisses Stickers Are the cheapskate fakers running out of ideas? Here, they're trying to get you to pay up for bogus stickers to decorate the bottom of...Hershy Kiss candies! Yes, you've got to buy your own, they'll only supply you with distorted, stolen stock art stickers that likely no one will notice as they hork down the candy. Whee.
This might be a bit cute if it wasn't so...random.
Happy Tails is the main focus of this curious towel. But look carefully at the Tails. Where is he? In the wheel-barrow? Behind it? You can't really tell...because they just slapped him on there. Then, they've stuck on a little stock Sonic in the corner, out of proportion to everything else, but too big to be a logo! Keep looking...and you'll see that his shoes are GREEN! All the other colors in the photo are accurate so...And one more detail is also missing: Sonic's mouth!
This is somewhat typical of fake items, they leave off details, or change colors for some reason. This leaves you with semi-abstract re-colors of your favorite characters on sub-standard goods. Don't buy bootleg stuff!

Also to note: there IS an official version of this towel, with all the correct details, good art and proper coloring. Always inspect items before you buy.

Fake Sonic Picture Watch
If you have all the ingredients, a fake watch is not hard to do.
They are basically like little clocks, if you get the analog kind. Simply snap in some print out of Sonic, and you're ready to try and swindle the fans! Remember to always inspect the item for Sega logos or copyrights. If you don't see it, and it's on ebay ASK the seller before you bid. You don't want to end up with something that breaks or isn't safe.
More things to avoid on Page 2