Official vs Bootleg: Max Factory “Death by Embracing”

This is a bootleg I almost bought a few years ago when trying to find this figure for a reasonable price. In the end, I found it for a price I was willing to pay, and forgot about the bootleg.
So did I buy the right thing? How disappointed would I have been if I did buy the bootleg?

Is she Death by Embracing or Death by Embarrassment?

Pricing

MSRP (without tax): ¥10,286
Price I paid for the official (inc shipping): ¥10,430 (£73.11)
Price I paid for the bootleg (inc shipping): $30.88 (£24.93)

The official I bought secondhand via Solaris Japan.

This blog is a long one – if you want to skip sections, the sections are as follows:

  • Box
  • Blister
  • Base
  • Kuroyukihime (3 parts)
  • Black Lotus
  • Black Lotus & Kuroyukihime (2 parts)
  • Conclusion

Box

Front:
https://i.ibb.co/mrK2Jcf/box-front-fail.jpg
The official box we can see the figure, and the bootleg box, it seems not. We have an interesting collection of shapes and minifigs.

Side:
https://i.ibb.co/S3ZZTB6/box-side-fail.jpg
Looks like a similar story for the side… Super Heroes… waitwaitwait… let’s open this and start again.

Box, for real

Upon receiving the bootleg, I thought they’d possibly stiffed me on the box, but turns out the not-Lego box was just repurposed to protect the bootleg box. It was an incredibly tight fit, so didn’t do a huge amount to protect the box. It still got dented, but suppose that’s better than being caved in.

Front:
https://i.ibb.co/1GWHz6x/box-front.jpg
The front box design has been simplified from the original – the window is now mostly square instead of the multiple cuts of the official. The bottom of the box’s design has been repurposed and moved over to the left, and a new, plainer background put behind it to add contrast.
We still have the Accel World logo at the top left of the box, but not the Max Factory logo or the authenticity sticker.
Despite the larger window space in the bootleg box, we have a less clear view of the figure – we can see the crossed sword arms of Black Lotus, but not much of Kuroyukihime. The official box we get a good look at the swords and Kuroyukihime, with Black Lotus’s head peeking out in the background.

Sides:
https://i.ibb.co/pKdCpnp/box-right.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/dJ8f4M2/box-left.jpg
The side box art has been switched, and the windows removed from the darker side.
The print quality is noticeably worse on the bootleg, with the colours merging into each other to some extent. We also have some fuzziness from the artwork being shrank down to fit the smaller box.

Back:
https://i.ibb.co/PCTCnb1/box-back.jpg
The artwork on the back of the bootleg box has been shrunk down to fit, but not quite enough to avoid being lopped off at the top, likely owing to different proportions in the box shape. It works, but it is obviously sloppy.
The bottom area has entirely been reworked with an entirely different set of information, including a new barcode. This information arrangement seems to be the “signature” for some bootlegger, and this barcode number seems to be associated with a variety of bootlegs with a similar information box.

Top:
https://i.ibb.co/n391T2P/box-top.jpg
The official has the same artwork as the front of the box, and a window to see into the box. Not sure what the purpose of this box window is, but it’s there.
The bootleg also copies the front of its box, but does not include the window.

Bottom:
https://i.ibb.co/Sw8mL23/box-bottom.jpg
The official repeats the “logo” for the figure, as well as having Max Factory. The bootleg is about as boring as you can get, with some overprint from the sides of the box.

Opening the bootleg box:
https://i.ibb.co/C7bfmDj/box-broken-bit.jpg
Well, we’re off to a good start here…

Lids:
https://i.ibb.co/Gx09hq1/box-lids.jpg
For the official, we can see the glued-on window for the top of the box and the whiteish cardboard that the box is made of.
The bootleg box they’ve decided to go fancy and print images on the inside of the box. Interesting.

Box insides:
https://i.ibb.co/9nxxnRb/box-inside.jpg
The official has an orange patterned liner, with a cut-out for the box side window.
The bootleg… has the various box images tiled in a complete mess. Interesting idea, poor execution.

Let’s look at the glue quality of the bootleg box:
https://i.ibb.co/9ZHthcP/box-bootleg-window-fail.jpg
Womp-womp. Barely hanging on. And this box wasn’t even flattened for transit!

These boxes are easy to tell apart if you’re familiar with the official. The bootleg box has a few weirdnesses of its own which could also potentially give it away – the front looks overly plain in a way, and the information banner on the back is off. From the banner, the “MADE IN CHINA 2019” part stands out the most to me, though if someone’s familiar with JANs, the barcode starting with a 6 is a clue that things are amiss.

Blister

Front:
https://i.ibb.co/41V2pvY/blister-front.jpg
The bootleg blister is smaller and much more dinged up that the official, and not just due to the transit. The plastic of the bootleg’s blister has a lot less clarity to it, pretty much hiding the back blister. As my official figure was secondhand, I can’t guarantee that the base was the correct way around on release, but I suspect it was. What I can confirm is the bootleg’s was packed backwards.

Back:
https://i.ibb.co/QCTSS51/blister-back.jpg
Ah yep, here’s the logo on the bootleg base. Here we can see the bootleg comes with the same blister arrangement as the official. And we can also see where the fin part has gotten snapped off, presumably in transit. Though I do half-wonder if it actually snapped off in the factory and was just tossed into the box where I found it.

Front of the smaller blister:
https://i.ibb.co/WcCBN7Y/blister-small.jpg
Whilst this part has been packed the same for the bootleg, it is noticeably different at this stage, without even having to take the parts out.

Bootleg blister “feature”:
https://i.ibb.co/2MBtLgz/bootleg-ahoge-escaping.jpg
Due to Kuroyukihime’s stray hair pointing in the wrong direction on the bootleg, they’ve cut a hole in the blister to accommodate it.
Here is a closeup of the hole after she’s been taken out of the box:
https://i.ibb.co/4N601dC/bootleg-ahoge-hole.jpg

Base

Front:
https://i.ibb.co/Jjdsh0Z/base-front-water.jpg
The first noticeable thing is the messy paint on the motif on the front of the base – the bootleg painting is fairly sloppy. The official base is a shiny black, whilst the bootleg base is matte.
Looking at the water, the official’s fits in the recess provided, but the bootleg one sits proud.

Let’s look closer as to why:
https://i.ibb.co/RYtBR6Z/base-bootleg-nosit.jpg
The bootleg has an extra lug here, but no extra indentation to go with it, so it won’t sit in the hole properly.
The official only has one lug at the back:
https://i.ibb.co/QDH8MZc/base-lug-official.jpg

The water:
https://i.ibb.co/Vp0b8gm/water-top.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/f4d47rT/water-bottom.jpg
The bootleg’s water has less subtle shading and is more orangey in tone. The bootleg lacks the indent(s) required to sit neatly within the rim of the base.

Base from the top, with the water:
https://i.ibb.co/7KH2Xkj/base-top-water.jpg
The bases look fairly similar from the top – the main difference is the orange parts are different colours. Both the water and the inner of the bootleg are more orangey.

Base top without the water:
https://i.ibb.co/YcJzfyn/base-top-nowater.jpg
Here we can see the bootleg base inexplicably has four lugs. Guess they wanted things even?
For the official base, the supports and the bottom of the base match in colour whilst the bootleg’s support is more flesh-toned than the bottom.
The bootleg base also looks scuffed-up on the top despite being bought new.

Close up of the inside:
https://i.ibb.co/xgQV1Gz/base-inside.jpg
The bases have the same support structure on the inside. Looking closely at where the bottom of the base joins the sides, the bootleg isn’t quite as well joined.

Back:
https://i.ibb.co/7jpbLfD/base-back.jpg
Here we can see where the back of the official base attracts all of the dust. Anyone else remember the piano black device fad? Yeah.
The bootleg is a much more matte black, and we have some scrapes along the top corner.

Bottom:
https://i.ibb.co/C92DdBk/base-bottom.jpg
The bootleg base misses out on the copyright text, and has some extra holes which I guess were supposed to tie up with the internal supports.
The official base is much cleaner in terms of smoothness of the plastic. Please excuse the fingerprints!

If you want to just display Black Lotus, you can cover the water up where Kuroyukihime kneels:
https://i.ibb.co/s2NcfSj/base-water-cover.jpg
Both match their respective waters and look fine. Personally not a fan of this piece as it can’t look seamless.

Tap test:
https://i.ibb.co/jfJbFBp/base-water-splash.jpg
The bootleg is actually a bit of a looser fit and easier to dislodge out of place, especially with the water disc not sitting properly within the base.

Overall, the bootleg base is reasonably similar, but falls down in functionality. The water part doesn’t sit right which spoils its look and means the water shifts about.

Kuroyukihime accessories

Kuroyukihime can be displayed separately or as part of the diorama. As such, her legs are an acccessory.

So let’s take a look at them:
https://i.ibb.co/dM9rW8G/legs.jpg
The official legs have some shading – mostly visible by her toes and the back of her thighs. The bootleg legs are one paler flat colour and have a slightly shiny finish.

Leg peg holes:
https://i.ibb.co/DkjSc02/kuro-leg-holes.jpg
The tops of the legs interestingly are differently-shaped between the bootleg and the official – the bootleg’s are rounder and chunkier than their official counterparts. They also lack the “L” and “R” markings that the official has.

Kuroyukihime spin-around

https://i.ibb.co/DKjLz5w/spin-kuro-legs-front.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/Fbj9BBM/spin-kuro-legs-right.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/R66zR4y/spin-kuro-legs-back.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/37ZS1PL/spin-kuro-legs-leftxcf.jpg
The bootleg’s hair is noticeably darker, and her skink has a more reddish tone. We can also see her stray hairs point upwards instead of downwards towards the front.

Kuroyukihime close-ups

Hair strands:
https://i.ibb.co/Kzn4fv7/hair-strands.jpg
An oof for the bootleg here – the hair strands have been attached by squeezing out a blob of glue then jamming them on there. Looks awful, especially coupled with the excess plastic.

Top of her hair:
https://i.ibb.co/0mMHm9y/kuro-hair-above.jpg
The official has a subtle hair shine, which adds depth to the hair whilst the bootleg is just a flat black. With the main hair seam, it has been minimised on the official but the bootleg has a large gap on this side which give the hair a strange shape. The cast of the bootleg’s hair has lost the strand details in the main body of the hair too.

Hand:
https://i.ibb.co/Jd0dF2C/kuro-hand.jpg
The bootleg forgoes the nail polish, and looks much paler than the official. The sculpting is OK from this angle on the bootleg though.

Face:
https://i.ibb.co/9vnDqFC/kuro-face.jpg
The eye decal on the bootleg has lighter colours and less contrast. The brown line that should be above her eye has been moved to be closer to her eyebrows on the bootleg.
Looking at her mouth, the official’s has been painted to emphasise her expression and the bootleg’s looks like she’s wearing lipstick, which doesn’t really suit the scene.

Back of her hair:
https://i.ibb.co/PTjvGMT/kuro-hair-back.jpg
The difference in hair colour is quite apparent back here – I like the subtle shade of blue the official has been painted with. The official’s hair also has a highlight towards the bottom.
The bootleg feels more like a prize figure, with the flat black and slightly shiny finish.

Hair tips & bum:
https://i.ibb.co/SV0Q6WX/kuro-butt.jpg
With the hair, the bootleg’s is less defined and has bits of excess plastic.
However, the real show-stopper is the panties – the official’s have been put in a position of slightly pulled down, but the bootleg’s… is just weird. Her ass cheeks are shaped strangely, which makes it look like the panties are inflicting serious damage on her legs, which is also producing a strange gap that makes it look like she’s got a huge hole in her butt.

Body:
https://i.ibb.co/2jJLfgN/kuro-body.jpg
Looking at the tips of her hair, the bootleg’s are a fair bit messier than the official’s. If we look underneath the bootleg’s hair tip, we can see some glue spilled onto the body – not so good.
The body sculpt is actually decent and looks OK on the bootleg. Some of the panty paint has gone onto the bootleg’s body though, and the legs don’t attach quite as neatly as their official counterparts.

Feet:
https://i.ibb.co/ZSTc51W/kuro-feet.jpg
The bootleg’s feet are noticeably more pallid, mostly due to the lack of paint detail. The plastic is also thinner, leading to a small amount of translucency in the toes.

Now to take Kuroyukihime’s legs off and see how she looks assembled to the base.

Leg pegs:
https://i.ibb.co/N68PFqK/kuro-leg-stumps.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/XFRPQT2/kuro-leg-stumps-tops.jpg
The official’s leg pegs aren’t painted and cast in a milky-white plastic which differentiates the pegs from her knickers.
The bootleg went ham on the paint making this area look awful. Coupled with the poor casting, her nether regions looks strange and lumpy. The paint isn’t going to help with the fit, but they have added some channels to the pegs for some reason. Not sure why.

Attaching to the base:
https://i.ibb.co/hMN8xCY/bootleg-kuro-base-assembly.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/n0LpLZt/bootleg-kuro-base.jpg
The bootleg was a pain to attach to the base – the pegs aren’t the right shape and size, so wouldn’t assemble correctly. I did get it in a bit more than this, but it won’t assemble into the holes properly without modification of the pegs. The water disc does not do much to hide the poor assembly of the bootleg.

Here are some photos of later on during the shoot where I made a bit more of an attempt to assemble her:
https://i.ibb.co/vv1t0jC/kuro-gappage.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/0MSdPXq/kuro-lotus-assemble-fail.jpg
Yeah, still not great, especially comparing to the official which attaches pretty much seamlessly.

Kuroyukihime alone on the stand:
https://i.ibb.co/RgXDNVq/kuro-stand-front.jpg
She looks strange without Black Lotus in my opinion, but hey, this display option exists if you want… As the bootleg won’t assemble properly, the water hole looks strange as it doesn’t match up with her body at all.
To me, the official looks sad and resigned, the bootleg, with her painted mouth and sticky-up hair looks a bit surprised instead.

Black Lotus

Black Lotus comes as three parts – two arms and the main body. The main body slots into the base behind Kuroyukihime. The arms need to be separate pieces so you can assemble her around Kuroyukihime.
The official gives you some instructions on how to do this, and warning to be careful with Kuroyukihime’s hair:
https://i.ibb.co/CHBppJ0/instructions.jpg

Outside of arm:
https://i.ibb.co/h9SDH1s/lotus-arm-outside.jpg
Looking at the overall appearance, the bootleg is shinier than the official. The orange-red parts are more of a dark terracotta colour on the bootleg.
Looking at the blade itself, the bootleg is a bit irregularly-shaped, especially towards the tip. At the top end of the arm part, we also have one less piece, which can be seen just underneath the wing-shaped bit at the top.

Inside of the arm:
https://i.ibb.co/RQzJyZm/lotus-arm-inside.jpg
Here we can see that the arms attach with different peg styles – the official has two round pegs and the bootleg has just the one square peg.
The paint tries to be similar to the official, but misses quite significantly in my opinion.

Closer look at the pegs:
https://i.ibb.co/JyXXZs9/lotus-arm-pegs.jpg
Yep, quite different attachment systems here. The official has the the curved piece and its attaching block on the arm – this is on the main body for the bootleg. Looks like the bootleggers didn’t realise which was the peg for gluing and which was for user assembly.
The bootleg part also has a bunch of scratches and what looks like excess glue.
With the paint, the orange isn’t blended well, causing a less subtle shading effect. We’ve also got the lower blocky part in the middle painted incorrectly.

Shoulder:
https://i.ibb.co/wCCzhBs/lotus-arm-top.jpg
Here the “missing” piece on the bootleg is more obvious. The purple “glass” isn’t as nice on the bootleg and doesn’t have the strong colour of the official. We’ve also got some bad seaming on the bit just below, with a mould mark that hasn’t been sanded off.
The edge parts that are painted the orangey colour on the official haven’t been painted the same on the bootleg, which gives it a less striking appearance.

Elbow:
https://i.ibb.co/PxjyHTf/lotus-arm-shoulder.jpg
Again the paint isn’t as precisely done on the bootleg and we have the shiny finish. The moulding isn’t showing much in the way of defects either, which is a change from usual.

Tip:
https://i.ibb.co/2k3x8Jz/lotus-arm-tip.jpg
Oh, found the defects! The bootleg sword tip is bent and not pointy. The underside of the blade also doesn’t have the same sharp shape as the official either .

OK, that’s the arms looked at – let’s look at the main body.
Starting with the head, the closest thing we have to a face:
https://i.ibb.co/pRdr4cW/head.jpg
Going straight to the “face”, the bootleg misses out on the orange-brown paint on the visor. The purple plastic is more see-through, not properly obscuring the silver possibly-face behind.
Moving to the top of her helmet, the black is darker than the official’s and also doesn’t have paint accents.
Moving to her fins and lower helmet, the bootleg is bright orange, which is a stark contrast to the official. The bootleg’s chest also suffers from too high contrast – the orange is very bright and there isn’t any shading on her breast armour, making it look odd. Ordinarily, Black Lotus is, well, black, so the bootleg’s painting doesn’t capture that the orange-brownish parts are supposed to be due to the lighting from the pool below.

Fins:
https://i.ibb.co/PC9Jv2b/lotus-broken-antenna.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/1nKgCQ5/fin-inside.jpg
And here we get to see the missing fin part again. This part can’t be easily repaired as the plastic is quite thin here. No idea why the bootleg is just orange plastic here – looks so odd. I guess they didn’t realise that these parts were partially painted and not orange.
For the purple parts of the fins, the bootleg’s is overly pale again, same as the other purple parts on it.
Looking at the inside of the fins, the official’s is black as this part doesn’t get the uplight, but the bootleg is stupid-orange.

Shoulder:
https://i.ibb.co/cwfx0F5/shoulder-inside.jpg
The bootleg has quite a bit of stray spray, making her shoulder look spattered. We also seem to have a gluey fingerprint too. The official has no such problems, and looks quite smart.

Arm connectors:
https://i.ibb.co/vzPks86/arm-holes.jpg
Here we see the “missing” part on the bootleg that should be attached to the arm part instead. The official has been designed so the arm pegs go snugly into this deep hole so that the arms attach securely but are still removable. The bootleg’s incorrect attachment means that the bootleg figure’s arms are quite easy to accidentally knock off.

Neck:
https://i.ibb.co/jvwSn1s/lotus-body-upper.jpg
Here, the bootleggers have gone ham on the paint, leaving her too orange. The bootleg’s diamond detail is very different – for some reason they’ve decided the surround should be silver and the gem should be a reddish colour. Black Lotus has two colours – black and purple – silver doesn’t enter the equation, so not sure what spurred this decision.

Back:
https://i.ibb.co/yNvVQTJ/lotus-upper-back.jpg
I like the stark shading of the official, and the bootleg entirely misses out on this. Instead we’re treated to a vista of orange plus a bunch of scratches and marks in the paint. The difference in finish is pretty noticeable back here. At the top-middle of the bootleg’s back we have a noticeable seam line that seems to have collected some paint.

Base peg:
https://i.ibb.co/7ny0Tcn/lotus-peg.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/3vTJkkh/lotus-peg-bottom.jpg
The official’s is unpainted skin-coloured plastic, to match the inside of the base. The bootleggers have decided the peg should also be shaded… despite this bit being firmly out of view when assembled.
The pegs are close to the same shape, but the bootleg’s has thinner edges and isn’t in quite the same position relative to the bottom of the figure.

Let’s get her plugged into the base so we can have a closer look at her:
https://i.ibb.co/6Fqcq5d/lotus-main-peg.jpg
The official slots in nicely, with maybe a bit of fiddling to get it into place. The bootleg doesn’t assemble right, meaning both the bootleg Lotus and Kuroyukihime don’t go into this base right.

What we have now:
https://i.ibb.co/GHmvDCb/lotus-noarms-front.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/7RWkqCm/lotus-noarms-back.jpg
Yeah, that bootleg is looking pretty sad already with its ill-fitting parts and broken fin.

Front of the wires:
https://i.ibb.co/J2fs194/lotus-wires.jpg
For a bootleg, the casting came out well here and the gaps in the wires are still present and distinct. What’s lacking is the paint job – the wires are just painted lightly orange here, and have no gradient like the official’s.
The lower diamond on the bootleg also has a silver frame, but the diamond itself seems to be more purple.

Back of the wires:
https://i.ibb.co/02grGCV/lotus-wires-back.jpg
Much more thought has gone into the official’s paint and has been done to better reflect the intended lighting of the scene. The bootleg’s is… mostly sprayed from the right. Doesn’t look terrible, but doesn’t look great either.

Black Lotus spin-around

Before we look at the figure fully assembled, let’s take a look at Black Lotus on her own. I should’ve put the blanking piece on for this… but I didn’t. So you’ll just have to imagine it.
https://i.ibb.co/tsFRCpk/lotus-spin-front.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/v3FTs3f/lotus-spin-right.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/QpfnQKF/lotus-spin-back.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/crggMmW/lotus-spin-left.jpg
From the front and side shots, we can see the bootleg’s arms don’t sit perfectly, and sort of lean on each other to stay attached. The official has no such problems, and are rigidly attached and take a bit of force to get back out. Almost thought this spin-around was going to be a fail with the bootleg falling apart.
Other than the arm issue and the broken fin, the bootleg does look broadly similar to the official. However, the bootleg’s paint doesn’t make it quite as clear where the orangey light is coming from and does somewhat detract from its appearance.

Black Lotus & Kuroyukihime spin-around

OK, now let’s look at these fully assembled!
https://i.ibb.co/DDCz9zv/lotus-kuro-spin-front.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/Pz98cCD/lotus-kuro-spin-right.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/LSc0TXV/lotus-kuro-spin-back.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/kcR75yD/lotus-kuro-spin-left.jpg
I think the official looks significantly better than the bootleg – the poor fit of the bootleg’s parts doesn’t allow the two figures to pose correctly as well as being a pain to assemble. From the side, these assembly issues are even more apparent as we can see parts of the figure that should be hidden by the base.
When put side-by-side, the lacking elements of the bootleg’s paintwork become painfully apparent and the orange fins look extra-ridiculous.

Black Lotus & Kuroyukihime close-ups

Just a couple of images here, to highlight the issues of the fully-assembled figure.

Upper shot:
https://i.ibb.co/Qk4gLxR/lotus-kuro-embrace-top.jpg
Kuroyukihime is supposed to be grabbing at Black Lotus, but her hands are too high on the bootleg, making it look like she’s entirely failing to do so. We’ve also got the painfully-obvious hair seam here.

Front:
https://i.ibb.co/j59DQ5Z/kuro-embraced.jpg
The framing of her face doesn’t work as well on the bootleg, and her expression is off. The official has a sad resignation and the bootleg looks… sort of concentrating?
The hair strands on the official hang over the arm blade, but the bootleg’s hair strands are nowhere to be seen here, and sticking up strangely instead. I like the way the official has the hair strands over the blade, adding more depth to the figure as a 3D object, even if it makes assembly a bit more of a pain to ensure you don’t damage these strands (they do have some flex to them, but don’t want to pull at them or rub them against the blade, lest they do eventually mark each other).

Conclusion

Telling the boxes apart is pretty easy – with the different window, it’s easy to spot that it isn’t the same. There’s several clues on the bootleg box that it isn’t the real thing – enough to have vaguely suspicious people question it.
Telling the figures apart is also relatively easy – the paint on Black Lotus gives the most clues that the bootleg isn’t official – the shading is poor and we have incorrect colours – chiefly the orange fins and the silver diamond parts. With Kuroyukihime, it’s harder to tell at a glance, but the poor hair gives it away.
In the case of someone taking this bootleg monstrosity home, it’d become quickly apparent that all was not well when none of the pieces fit together as they should.
In terms of a bootleg, I find this one pretty bad – poor colouration, poor fit and just… poor. You could possibly mod some of the bits into something, but I don’t think it would look good to display. Someone familiar with Black Lotus would likely find the fins silly… or at least I do. Doesn’t fit her at all! The visor is also pretty disappointing and doesn’t uphold the mystique that all the other Black Lotus figures have.
The parts could be interesting for custom figure projects, but as a whole, wouldn’t recommend. Save up for the official one!

And to conclude: The bootleg is indeed Death by Embarrassment!

For those who are already familiar with Accel World (plot spoiler):

I am aware that these two characters are the same person – chose to write the article not acknowledging this, for anyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled

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