Character and Series Details
Everybody loves Totoro – that big, fluffy ball of cuteness and positive vibes from Studio Ghibli’s seminal My Neighbor Totoro. He brings out the good-natured child in all of us, taking us back to simpler, more innocent times.
Sadly, it’s apparent Totoro also brings out the worst in some. Bootleggers have been profiting off My Neighbor Totoro’s popularity ever since that movie came out in 1988. And now that we live in the information age, where online shopping is just a click away, these thieves have only become bolder.
That isn’t to say fighting piracy is a hopeless enterprise. In fact, anti-piracy efforts are making headway. But as with all noble endeavors, those on the side of right need to work together. That’s why in this article, we’ll be discussing how to spot fakes, and why fakes are best avoided. Then we’ll tell you where you can buy official figures.
Origin of Fake
Bought on: Magic Toy Paradise, AliExpress
Distribution Area: Worldwide
Sender: Office building, Room 41, Er Li Gang St., Zhengzhou Post Electronic Commerce Industrial Park, Er Li Gang Jie Dao, China
Chinese online marketplaces such as AliExpress are known for selling large quantities of counterfeit items, so the simplest thing you can do to avoid fakes is to stay away from such sites.
For the purposes of this review, we purchased this set of Totoro minifigures from AliExpress. According to the store, the set’s manufacturer is gleeooy.
No evidence exists officially and legally linking gleeooy to Studio Ghibli. This is a huge red flag, as Studio Ghibli is known for giving the licensed manufacturers and distributors of its products proper acknowledgement.
You also won’t find any information on the net about gleeooy. It has no website and no social media presence whatsoever. This is extremely problematic, especially in today’s connected world where legit businesses strive to have all information about themselves readily available on the internet.
All this points to the Totoro minifigure set as a bootleg. But let’s not stop there. Let’s examine the minifigures themselves – we’re sure to find more things to pick apart.
Description of Fake
The fake Totoro minifigures came wrapped in a ratty plastic packet. This packet’s numerous holes and severely crumpled state prove it’s been used before. For what purposes? It’s impossible to say, but it’s probably best not to let our imaginations run too wild.
Even before opening the plastic, we could tell we were not going to be pleased with its contents.
A total of 10 Totoro minifigures make up the set. Each minifigure is tiny, with the tallest standing approximately an inch tall from foot to ear tip.
The fake minifigures are ugly. There’s just no getting around it. Yes, they resemble Totoro, but they’re chock full of issues, including crude paint applications and paint smudges; dull colors; unrefined sculpting leading to inexact details and stubby extremities; visible lines and blotches where the plastic was carelessly cut; and, worst of all, stomach-churning deformities. Overall, the minifigures also appear dirty, with corners slick with what could be dried glue, or dark with what look like accumulated dust.
The material used to create these fake minifigures is itself an unappealing, slimy-looking plastic.
The plastic gives off a weird stench that, while not overpowering, could mean cheap, dangerous substances were used in the production of these figures. Numerous studies have observed a number of Chinese-made toys contain toxic chemicals called phthalates, which are released into the air as vapor, and then inhaled into the body. These chemicals can also enter the body if you put the toy into your mouth, making them a potential health risk for babies and small children.
Another telltale sign that dangerous substances were used in the production of a plastic toy is the stickiness of its surface. This ickiness means the plastic’s possibly tainted plasticizer is vaporizing. The fake Totoro minifigures aren’t sticky (yet), but they do leave your fingers feeling grimy and oily. As we’ve dealt with similar counterfeit toys before, we can tell that over time, these minifigures will become extremely sticky.
Now let’s check out each fake Totoro minifigure.
The first minifigure suffers from the numerous issues mentioned above. Most noticeable are the black smudge on one ear; the long, white, hair-like strand coiling out of his left side; and the deformity on the bottom left side of the leaf basket.
The deformity is the most unpleasant of the minifigure’s flaws. It seems the plastic has been scraped off using a cheese grater, leaving behind an unsightly mess.
If you thought the first figure is bad, the second is much worse.
A huge chunk of the basket of berries Totoro is holding is severely damaged, almost as if tiny claws attempted to rip off the plastic fruits. The resulting wreck almost looks organic – complete with “fur” and fungus-like “growths” – multiplying its gross-out factor tenfold.
But wait, there’s more! Turn Totoro over, and you’ll find a yellowish blob in the most unfortunate of places (his crotch). The least offensive thing we can compare it to is dried nasal mucus. If you want to conjure up something worse in your head, be our guest.
Even more infuriating, fake Totoro minifigure #2 has trouble standing. Because his base is rounded, and the basket of berries shifts his center of gravity forward, this minifigure is always tipping forward.
Fake Totoro minifigure #3 isn’t as bad as the first two, but he does suffer from sculpting accidents and defects in the plastic. You can also find numerous smaller threads sticking out of the body.
While this fake Totoro can stand, his round bottom makes him wobble from side to side at the slightest touch.
Fake Totoro minifigure #4 seems to be leaking clear dried glue in the space where the yellow chest meets the chin and right shoulder. Totoro’s vomit, perhaps?
There’s also a white string popping out of the bottom.
This is another minifigure that can’t stand properly. Thanks to its non-flat bottom and a center of gravity situated towards the star, it has a tendency to topple forwards.
Rarely do plastic flowers end up this hideous. As if that wasn’t bad enough, fake Totoro minifigure #5 has dried goo on his chin.
This minifigure has one thing going for it, though; its bottom is flat, allowing it to stay stationary on a flat surface.
Thanks to the spatter of orange paint around his mouth, fake Totoro minifigure #6 looks like he’s (messily) eating his trumpet.
There’s also some repulsive sludge where the trumpet meets Totoro’s belly, and a furry “growth” on his left foot.
Like a majority of the minifigures in this set, this one also has a rounded bottom. The trumpet prevents him from folding forwards, but fake Totoro will always be rolling to one side or the other, giving him a lopsided stance.
Fake Totoro minifigure #7 might be the least offensive of the bunch. He can even stand. This doesn’t change the fact that he’s still pretty hard to look at.
Fake Totoro minifigure #8 has a tummy and chest riddled with scratches and smeared with grey stains. The umbrella shaft’s silver paint is leaking onto its surroundings, making it look like it’s melting into Totoro’s face and hands.
He also has more of that nasty, yellowish gunk on his left thigh and the left side of his tail.
Fake Totoro minifigure #9 is forever on its back, thanks to the round shape of the leaf hammock.
In addition to that, this fake Totoro boasts a ghastly ear deformity, some globs of excess plastic, and dried goo once more sandwiched between his chin and the top of his chest. He looks like a rabid animal frothing at the mouth. There are also repugnant stretches of dried glue connecting his back to the leaf.
Finally, we come to the last figure: fake Totoro minifigure #10.
Thanks to its design, this one is impossible to stand. Like the previous figure, this Totoro will always be lying down on his back. Unfortunately, he looks fairly stupid with a branch permanently attached to his butt.
The sculpting flaw on one ear isn’t terrible, but the white thread jutting out of his left side is bothersome.
Yes, the fake Totoro minifigure set is cheap. But as horrid as they are, you’ll never want to display them.
On the other hand, the officially licensed Totoro minifigures are beautiful and expertly crafted – true luxury items worthy of a place on your desktop or display case.
Where to Buy Real My Neighbor Totoro minifigures
The demand for Studio Ghibli merchandise is so strong in Japan that the esteemed company has partnered up with the Benelic group to give us the official Ghibli shop, Donguri. All sorts of character goods related to the brand can be bought from this store.
There’s nothing to worry about if you live elsewhere in the world. Ghibli merchandise is available in the Donguri online store. The website is in Japanese, however, so make sure you download the Google Translate app before commencing your minifigure hunt.
Below is just a sampling of the many Totoro figures you can purchase from the online store. Let’s start with what you’re here for: minifigures.
This $12 set includes 4 unique minifigures, including the fan-favorite Catbus. This $15 set consists of 5 minifigures, and comes with another Catbus as well as Mei. Both sets are packaged in a pretty case boasting a flowery and leafy motif.
The most expensive set costs $35, but contains 14 minifigures.
There are larger, more intricately detailed figures available, too. Of course, expect the toys to get more expensive the more complex the craftsmanship.
Browse Donguri’s My Neighbor Totoro products page for more.
You can even find Totoro figures outside Donguri. For instance, Amazon Japan is selling this gorgeous set from Nibariki and Ensky for around $18. Rakuten is selling the same item for around $28. The product boasts numerous accessories that can be attached to each and arranged any way you wish, allowing you to create your own unique display.
Other Totoro figures on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers. There’s a huge risk in buying from such sellers, as some of them peddle bootlegs. Avoid them as much as you can, unless you’ve garnered enough evidence that they’re legit.
These fake My Neighbor Totoro minifigures are, hands down, some of the worst figures we’ve come across here at Is-It-Fake. They’re hideously ugly, they smell funny, and they feel filthy to the touch. Some of them have disgusting deformities, while others can’t even stand, making displaying them a hassle. Whether you’re a devoted fan or someone with only a passing interest in Totoro, you deserve so much better than these fakes. We’re giving this set a rating of 99% terrible.