This particular figure was a user request, but also one I’m personally interested in as the bootleg seemed fairly similar to the original item.
Let’s see how close it really is, and how to tell these two apart.
MSRP (without tax): ¥8,800
Price I paid for the official (inc shipping): €43 (£38.12)
Price I paid for the bootleg (inc shipping): $21.67 (£17.82)
The official I bought secondhand from another MFC user.
Wow, looking very similar here – the bootleggers haven’t edited out any logos for this one. We do have a lower-quality print with some different colouring – the Sword Art Online logo at the top has ended up pretty much the same blue as the background design. Looking closely at the cutout, there is a variation by her head – the curve around the right of her face has been smoothed out.
Again, pretty similar. The cutouts aren’t quite the same, but a decently close approximation of the official’s and the logo has poor shading.
The print quality I think is noticeably worse here – looking at the back of her cape shows print artefacts that could raise suspicions. Looking at the “Sculpted by Hiritoshi Nakamura” text we can see where the lack of colour depth on the bootleg box has pretty much hidden the design that should be present here.
Again, the poor print quality shows through here. And this time the bootleg has an extra curvy part in the cutout by her hair strands.
Plus we have the reason why my official box doesn’t have Genco sticker on it – it was a unit destined for international sale. For Genco-licensed stuff, you will generally find there’s a plain sticker stating it is for international/outside of Japan sale if it didn’t come from a Japanese shop originally. One reason that a missing authenticity sticker isn’t a sure sign of a bootleg.
Here the poor print quality is on full display – the trees in the background have gone quite bluey, and the figure photo looks generally awful to me. Definitely not something Kotobukiya would have on their boxes.
Just a poorly-printed replica here.
Mostly a duplicate… but there is a difference if you look closely. No, I’m not referring to the heo sticker. For some reason that I cannot fathom, they’ve just changed the barcode numbers, but not the barcodes themselves – if you scan them they’ll come up as per the numbers on the left box, but for some reason they’ve changed the written numbers.
(heo is a wholesaler for pop culture stuff, as per their tagline. By law, they need to put their details on stuff they import, so that’s why these stickers get placed on EU boxes).
Fun little squiggly with the glue on the bootleg, but not exactly practical for keeping the plastic attached. The cardboard is also a bit darker.
Pretty similar – definitely feels like a poorly-printed photocopy.
Box inner bottom:
Here is where the poor print quality is the most obvious in my opinion – lots of the ground detail has been lost into a brown, murky mess.
The blister for the bootleg is noticeably worse for wear despite it having been less in the wars than my official’s box. The blister plastic is noticeably thin and cheap and easily crumples. Also seems to be marginally smaller, though some of that is due to it trying to collapse in on itself.
Face in the blister:
The official we have a cutout so we can see her face clearly within the box. The bootleg is a bit ashamed of itself, and is fully encased in the blister.
The official also has this bit of packaging:
Due to repacking her, it’s slightly out of place, but this holds both her foot and the pillar in place – stops things rattling around in transit, as well as keeping separation between the figure parts.
Overall the box is quite a close copy to the official, with very little in the way of edits to give itself away. The poor print quality is fairly evident, with the miscoloured logo being probably the easiest thing to spot if you can’t see the bottom of the box. Even in a poor photo, the logo on an official box should look differently-coloured to the rest of the blue parts.
OK, time to break open these blisters and see what we get!
Let’s start with an official-exclusive item:
This is actually a useful item – it tells you how the sword should go, which the bootleg doesn’t give you any favours in helping you understand how to place it properly in her hand.
Also useful telling you to do the rings first, instead of rushing to place the figure on the stand. The ring placement can be understood from the box though, but does help to have a handy reminder here.
Rings and base, as packaged:
Official: here’s some bits, packaged so they don’t bump each other (the rings are in a 2-section bag)
Bootleg: Erm, here’s some stuff. Good luck!
The official has some of a texture to it to give it a stony/metallic texture, not quite sure which. The bootleg is a singular colour, so it doesn’t really look like much. And has a couple of scrapes on it out of the box.
Underside of the bases:
The official has some ridges to reinforce it. The bootleg just has some… dirt.
The official is more of a yellowy gold colour than the bootleg. We’ve also got some shading detail on a few parts of the official ring, whilst the bootleg is a singular colour. The bottom side of the bootleg ring has some missing chunks of paint, leaving it look a little silvery in places.
The peg on the official hasn’t been painted, which allows the peg to slot in easily to the base part.
Similar story for the smaller ring,, though we also have a bit of a dent in the top of the peg instead of the ridges to help hold it in place.
A couple of the small holes on the outer edge of the bootleg ring haven’t been put in the right place, making them into notches on the outer edge instead of holes.
Let’s look at these rings from the side:
Oh dear, no mistaking them from this angle! The bootleg ones are both badly warped, especially the larger upper ring. Whilst it would be possible to fix this, there is a good chance they’ll just warp again over time. The official figure has been on display for some months prior to this photoshoot and show none of the warping issue of the bootleg’s rings.
First thing that stands out is the bootleg sheath is a much darker colour than the official. Looking at the details on the outer side of the sheath, the band at the top lacks the white part on the bootleg, and some of the silver detail just above it is missing. The tip isn’t painted too precisely on the official, but the cross part is missing from the bootleg.
Looking at the back, it’s a similar story. Here we can see a bit clearer that the official does have some paint shading in the brown – the sheath is darker at both the top and the bottom. The official there is no paint in the peg hole, but the bootleg is painted all over.
Looking at the blade, the moulding is poor on the bootleg and is not very sharp and defined. This poor moulding extends to the bottom of the sword where most of the smaller mould details are missing and we have distinct mould lines on the hand guard. They’ve attempted to replicate the mint green details, but only approximately. The paint on the underside is particularly poor.
The handle of the sword didn’t come out too badly, but we are still missing some fine moulding details.
Disassembling the sword:
The official comes apart well, though the peg on mine is bent – this happened prior to me owning it, so not sure how this happened.
The bootleg, however, was not very willing to come apart as the bits had been painted together. We don’t get much of a peg to work with, but not even sure it pulled apart correctly anyway. With no instructions and the sword handle being hard to remove a bootleg owner would likely have trouble getting the sword into her hand.
Overall, we’re not looking good on the accessory front – from poor painting and moulding to warped parts. The sword is also already presenting issues with not disassembling correctly. Let’s see how assembly goes…
Firstly, the rings need to be inserted into the pillar:
The official pegs slide in easily enough, but the bootleg’s were NOT cooperative. This was the best I could do – the holes are the wrong shape and the paint on the pegs don’t help the shapes match. The bootleg rings will fairly easily fall out if knocked.
First thing of note with the pillar was the pegs that go into the base:
The official’s are unpainted, whilst the bootleg’s are painted the same colour as the pillar. Now to demonstrate the issue with painted pegs.
This was about as far as I got with a minute or so of shoving her into the base. The pegs have become far too fat with the paint, making it very difficult to get them into the holes.
A close-up of the peg progress:
You know you want to go, you stupid pegs!
Let’s take it apart and assess the damage:
Due to my efforts, some of the paint has now transferred itself to the base. You can see some other paint transfers caused by the pillar pegs not going into the holes and slipping across the base. This really was a pain to assemble, and I was contemplating either scraping the pegs or just doing this article with her at a jaunty angle.
Thankfully, my second attempt went better and I got her into the base without breaking it. Bonus!
Ugh, after that ordeal, let’s move onto looking at the figures.
Well, those warped rings don’t stand out at all, do they…? She still isn’t fully pegged into the base, giving the bootleg a really jaunty appearance overall.
The missing line on her skirt and the absolute mess of the paint on her stockings really stands out to me, as well as the almost-neon orange hair.
Yep, not liking this one from the outset!
Let’s see how bad this gets if we look up close.
First thing to stand out is that jelly hair… feeling that’s going to get a fair amount of mentions in this comparison. Her fringe is nicely shaded in the official and the bootleg is mostly the same colour. Looking at the hair by the bootleg’s chin, we can see a big chunk of missing paint.
The bootleg’s eyes seem to be an attempted recreation of the official’s but the colours are wrong and she has some strange white bits underneath her pupils. The bootleg also looks like she has four eyebrows – the lower lines are too thick, giving her a multibrow look.
Moving to the mouth, we have a subtle paint highlight on the official, which has translated to peach-coloured ice cream on the bootleg – the sloppiness of the paint make it look like she’s eaten something but not cleaned up the mess.
A further look at the hair next to her face:
The missing paint isn’t the only defect on the bootleg here – we’ve also got a weird orange stripe on one of the hair tips. Whilst the marred tip is pointy, the others are more rounded than they should be.
Now for a detail you may have seen in the first close-up photo:
Not sure if this is warehouse dirt or mould… whichever way, I’m not touching it and definitely not licking it. Whatever it is, it’s not pleasant and not a feature an official figure would have. And yes, I do wash my hands after doing the photos.
Side of her head:
Here we can see the lack of paint detail in the bootleg’s hair – we have some basic shading on the official, and not much to speak of on the bootleg.
The bootleg’s hair isn’t assembled properly – the main parts aren’t fully inserted into each other, and the ponytail is at a funny angle.
Ignoring the rest of the figure, the top of the bootleg’s hair really looks like some kind of moulded jelly (Jell-O) to me. But given the potentially mouldy nature, I’m not going to eat it.
Hair from above:
I think this angle captures the weirdness of the bootleg hair in full. The official’s hair is OK, though I think a little strange in texture and not too much in terms of paint detail.
The bootleg’s we can see there is some shading, but none of that good. The strange plastic they’ve chosen to do her hair with doesn’t work, and neither does the colour. We can also see some more dirt on the top of her fringe and on the left edge of her hair.
Some of the bootleg’s strands have slightly different curves to them, but look fine from this angle.
Back of the hair:
Here we can see where some of the bootleg’s hair is off in shape – the lower left clump points up more, whilst most of the middle and right points down lower than it should, giving her hair a slightly less dynamic appearance.
Get outta the way, hair.
The painting on the official’s collar could do with some work, but the bootleg’s feels very rushed compared. The crosses just beneath her neck are slightly less detailed, but look fine.
For the actual chest plate, it’s almost as if the poor printing on the box has made it to the figure – the grey gradient of the official is missing and replaced with a mottled grey appearance that doesn’t look very good.
The bootleg arm straps are missing all of the gold paint. Well, suppose that saves a fair amount of time in the painting department.
Here we get a better look at one of the bands around her arm – yeah, the colour is off, lacking all paint detail and a terrible seam line.
The bootleg’s shoulder is very shiny and would give most prize figures a run for their money in shininess.
The paint on her cape is very sloppy and messy on the bootleg – a lot of the silver lines are missing and what’s there isn’t even on the mould lines.
The red lines near the top, some paint was… thrust at the bootleg. The chest line isn’t much better, and going to the bottom, it’s better, but still runs off. The official manages to have the red trim surrounded evenly by the thinner inner line. The bootleg you can see where they continued the lines instead of terminating, as it would be easier.
Let’s have a look at a bit more of the trim:
Some of the official’s trim is slightly rough, which is why Kotobukiya isn’t everyone’s favourite manufacturer. However, it’s far better than the bootleg, where the line thicknesses change, paint has blobbed out and there’s bits of the line missing.
Now to put her sheath back on:
The official sheath hangs on at a better angle and is less prone to being knocked off.
I think you have a case of melty hand there, bootleg Asuna. The hand part hasn’t been properly inserted, leaving her with mutant hand. The red line paint is awful here on the bootleg, along with her shiny skin. We can also see seam lines on the bootleg’s thumb and index finger.
Neither seem to have painted nails, so no points for either on that front.
You seem to be missing something there, bootleg Asuna – the sword was being a pain in the arse, so now she only has the handle to hold.
Again, the bootleg’s hand has been poorly assembled, super shiny and has mould lines. We’ve also got the hair intruding the shot, due to the fact most of it is lower down on the bootleg compared to the official.
The linework is mostly decent on the official, but the red lines are very much a mess on the bootleg – not the worst linework I’ve seen on a bootleg, but definitely not good.
This angle may actually reveal what the strange mark is in her hair – looks like they may have been going in to paint the red lines and missed – with bootlegs they seem to assemble then paint them, which leads to a lot of paint flaws.
The bootleg’s skirt is very different colour, lacks shading and the white line detail. The sculpt is also a bit rough, which can be seen if you look closely at the pleats. The official’s skirt looks much nicer and the shading is quite nice on it.
The top of the bootleg’s right stocking is so badly painted it looks like she’s bleeding to me. Not a very pretty look for a heroic figure…
The lines aren’t so bad on the bootleg from this angle, but we can see where the lines have failed to join. The white paint is also somewhat more lumpy than the official’s and lacking the grey shading.
Yep, they’ve been painted on both. Though the bootleg’s have a bonus seam running through the middle.
Top of cape:
The official’s is shaded nicely and the bootleg’s is.. shiny. The moulding mostly went well for the bootleg cape, but the edge is a bit rough.
The lack of shading and different shade of white on the bootleg is quite noticeable when you have both figures side-by-side. The lower legs on the bootleg have the strange sprayed shading similar to the chestplate. The silver lines on the shoes are also a lot less distinct and thick. Much prefer the official’s shoes and stockings.
Bottom of shoes:
There’s a lot more paint shading going on with the official’s shoes than the bootleg’s, even on the soles. The official has a glossy finish on her clothes, but the bootleg is matte.
Side of pillar:
Here we can get a feeling of how different the pillars are – the official is a much more grey colour and has a weathering effect. The bootleg’s is kind of green and just looks sorta dirty.
For the soles of the bootleg’s boots it seems they just went over them with the same colour paint, instead of differentiating them like the official. The official’s shoes are glossy, and the bootleg’s are a lumpy, matte-ish white paint, and we have a seam. Pose-wise, there isn’t any difference in their legs.
Back of pillar:
Here we can see where the weathering is all around the official pillar, and we have some paint detail to add to the broken and cracked parts to give them a more lifelike look.
No effort was expended on the bootleg version – it’s all a solid greenish colour. Maybe this is the colour of the walls of the factory or something?
Here we can also see why it was such a pain to to assemble the bootleg’s rings – we have paint seeping into the poorly-cast holes, neither aspects making it easy to get the ring lugs in.
Whew, that was a fair bit to get through. Hope you enjoyed this tour!
In terms of telling the boxed Asuna apart – the boxes are very similar, but close inspection will reveal the poor printing and the incorrect barcode numbers on the bottom of the box. Definitely sufficient to hoodwink a novice collector.
Looking at the box contents however… it becomes quickly apparent the contents aren’t what they should be – a lot of parts lack shading details on the bootleg, the hair looks weird and the rings will likely come warped. Assembly for this bootleg was quite difficult and a definite clue to its lack of authenticity as parts won’t go in or simply fall off.
Looking at small sections of the figure largely don’t make it look too bad, but the thing as a whole is just a mess. It might pass as a prize figure, but not as a scale.
The amount of dirt on this one was pretty disgusting, which makes it a pretty non-recommendable bootleg, as far as bootlegs go.
Excuse me as I go dunk this bootleg in some cleaner, and thanks for reading!