Counterfeits, Fakes, Junk, Scrappers, Unauthorized... these are all terms of which problem pins go by. Whether you've been trading with Cast Members/Person to Person for awhile or just starting out, more likely then not you may have run across a few of these so called "pins". Lately the pin trading hobby has seen a surge of them which makes trading for authentic pins more time consuming and more expensive. While it may be impossible to not run across these problem pins, there are a few things to you can be made aware so you can save yourself some time and money.

We can't move forward with out knowing terms so lets start there. Unauthorized pins are pins that Disney themselves did not commission for, this is a catch all phrase for these types of pins. Scrappers are leftover "scraps" of the authentic pin process, usually these have a slight imperfection ranging from missing colors to rough spots on edges. These are supposed to be destroyed but sometimes the scraps are put aside rather than discarded. Counterfeits are unauthorized productions using the same molds as real ones but past the production period, usually made with lesser materials. These pins will usually have much more defects with backing and paint. All of these types are sold in the black market where they make their way to us through sellers online and locally. If you would like to find more information about how to tell the difference between authentic & unauthorized pins, refer to IamDisneyDan's guide to scrappers/counterfeits. You can also put up a post a thread in the "Fake vs Real" folder so that more experienced members can help you.

Unauthorized pins might seem like a nuisance at first, but it can get aggravating if it turns out the rare pin you payed $XXX.00 real pins turns out to be fake. You may think that backer cards might be a way of telling that its real but counterfeiters are getting sneakier in slipping unauthorized pins on generic backer cards. The only sure way of telling if a pin is real is if you bought it directly from Disney. When shopping for pins secondhand whether online(Ebay/Craigslist/forums) or locally, beware of pins that may seem inexpensive but plenty of the same pins and the multi pin "lots." Most of these threads usually have a stock photo of pins without disclosing what you'll actually be recieving, though some may also give a set shopping list and promise to sell you many dupicates of a certain pin if inquired. Be wary of selling points that seem too good to be true. These can be sayings such as "Uber-Rare Pins for Cheap!!!" or the phrase "all pins are tradeble in the parks,"(definitely be wary). Don't let this discourage you though. If you do plan to buy secondhand pins online, look very carefully at auction descriptions, photos, and seller feedback to be sure you are getting authentic Disney pins. You may also use online forums and sites such as "" to research what pins have been known to show up with unauthorized versions.

When you're trading with Cast Members, an issue you might come across may be that you see a lot of the same type of seemingly good pins throughout every CM's lanyard. You want to trade for it but at the same time you don't know if the value of that pin makes it worth trading for or even if that pin is authentic. Don't fret, a lot of times authentic pins will be sold on clearance at local Disney Outlets/Disney Stores. One particular instance occured in early 2010, select WDW 35th Anniversary and High School Musical Pins were being sold for a whopping low cost of $0.25 each. Other pins such as the The Millennium Dancers, the blue Kodak pins, and the Cuties (babyish versions of Disney characters) were just as excessive that unless you want them in your collection, you should hold off on trading for them, especially if you can just buy them later. Check out the local Disney outlets/stores to see what pins maybe on sale, you just might find good deals on trader pins and collection pins alike. While I would use Ebay and other online sites sparingly, it is a good reference if you want to check the current market value of older pins.

Here's a check list of things that can help you from aquiring any problem pins.

1) Do your research on unauthorized pins:
  • Read IamDisneyDan's guide to Scrappers/Counterfeits
  • Use Online Site's such as Pinpics to see what types of pins have been found to have unauthorized versions of them.
  • If you have any other questions, post a thread in the "Real vs. Fake" area of the forum detailing your inquiry

2) Use Caution when buying/trading secondhand pins Online or locally.
  • Inspect auction/sales/trade descriptions, photos, and seller/trader feedback closely to be sure that the pin you want is authentic.
  • Be wary of :

  1. deals that seem too good to be true
  2. multi-pin "lots" that don't disclose what they send other then whats on the same stock photo.
  3. sales pitches such as "Uber-rare/trader pins for cheap" and "all pins tradable in the parks".
  4. sellers that have very inexpensive pins and can promise alot of duplicates.

3) Be on the lookout for very common pin types
  • Check local Disney outlets/stores to find good deals on trader/collection pins.
  • Use online sources to see if there are a lot of sales/trades of a particular pin.

Pin Trading is supposed to be fun, don't let unauthorized pins ruin your experience.
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