Recast dolls = Counterfeits

I’d like to take a moment to address a growing problem in the hobby: counterfeit dolls. They are widely known as recasts, but that word doesn’t quite have the right emphasis to it. You can also call them bootlegs, fakes, knock-offs or copies. But no matter what you call them doesn’t change the fact that they are illegal copies made by a third party and sold for their profit.
What makes them such a big problem is that they are cheap and readily available from ebay, aliexpress, taobao and independent sites that will pop-up on google when you search for general BJD shops. They are an easy purchase to make if you are not aware of what they are, or if you are purposedly buying them. There are many reasons for buying bootlegged dolls, but it doesn’t change the fact that by purchasing them, you are supporting unethical and illegal business practises, instead of the artists that make these dolls and deserve our love and respect.

Even the biggest BJD companies are not big by any stretch of imagination (max.10-20 people) and you cannot compare them to companies like Mattel, that push out thousands of dolls a day. These dolls are hand-crafted in small workshops (many in a workroom at home), and every purchased counterfeit doll is a hit to the original creator. Most doll makers spend weeks to months on one doll and then send them out to be cast by professional factories. While the doll is being made, they support themselves through preorders that have to make enough profit to get them through the months where they don’t get any pay. Which is why every single bootleg purchase hurts the artist that much more.

An important point to remember here is that whatever your reasons are for buying a bootleg, the money goes to the bootlegger who is profiting from you with illegal methods. You are helping the recaster (not the actual artist) to continue to be in business, get more dolls to copy and sell, and even sabotage the original creators. As seen recently, the recaster Luo Ligui has been buying trademarks for dozens of original companies in order to ban them from business in certain areas (mostly China, which comprises about 30% of the BJD market) and to have complete monopoly with his counterfeit dolls.


TL:DR of this whole massive wall of text if you don’t feel like reading it:
– Recasts are bootlegs, but they’re not the same as a knock-off Barbie for example, as BJDs are made to order and in a much, much, much smaller scale of production.
– Purchase of bootlegs funds not only the bootlegger, but also the whole industry behind it.
– Original dolls are handcrafted, made with care and of a good quality material.
– You do not know what material recasts are made out of. In worst case scenario your doll could be toxic.
– You do not know where they’re made in and by whom. (Likely in a sweatshop with a worker that is not getting a living wage.)
– To avoid purchasing a bootleg you should always find the original company, compare the price and/or see if the seller is an official reseller of that brand.
– There are more affordable legit dolls available, you aren’t limited to that $500 minifee.
– Recast owners will not be accepted into most of the community and unfortunately people can be very harsh about this even if the purchase was a mistake/done unknowingly.
– Please, always support the original artist!


So, what are “recasts” exactly?
Recast is a doll (or doll part) that has already been casted once and then used to make a new mold to cast more copies of it. This can be done for personal use (which is not illegal) or for business (which is). A bootlegger typically buys a doll they want for their selection, makes molds of it and then uses the molds to cast as many copies as they can until the mold wears out, and then they will rinse and repeat. The original doll suffers from this method as well and the finer details get lost in the recasts. The recast versions also get smaller and thinner the more they are re-casted resulting in quality issues.
Another type of a recast is one where the original mold has been taken as a base and then modified and casted again. They are harder to identify as these types of thieves will try to pass them as their own products. But these are a topic of their own.


Okay, why are they bad?
For a multitude of reasons. The two biggest ones are 1) It’s a loss for the original artist/company: every doll purchased elsewhere hurts them. They don’t profit from dolls as much as you’d think. 2) The counterfeiter makes money off of the originals and uses it to not only pay themselves but also to buy more dolls to copy, and to sabotage the original companies’ sales.
You should also note that importing counterfeit goods is illegal in most countries. It varies by country but for example in Finland importing and selling bootlegs is illegal and if customs catches you in the act you will be fined and the package will be destroyed. You also are not allowed to sell counterfeit good in most online-market based platforms. In some countries it’s also illegal to own and buy them.
To go back to the second point: Counterfeiting is a giant business in China and it has been linked to a lot of different illegal activities including but not limited to theft, drugs and prostitution. Even if a doll bootlegger wasn’t involved in all of it you are still supporting their unethical methods that certainly include stolen intellectual property, underpaid workers, no work safety and who knows what else. With bootleg BJDs you have no way of knowing what they’re made out of and by whom. Likely from the cheapest resin they could find that looks right mixed with chemicals to make it as cheap as possible. There are some people in this hobby that say they can not handle bootleg dolls from certain manufacturers because they will get a rash from them. This is a clear sign that there are chemicals in their resin that should not be in it. You do not have the guarrantee of a safe product that will last you decades -and because even knock-off BJDs aren’t cheap, that’s a big risk to take.


Why are original dolls so expensive then? If recasters can sell them for so cheap, why can’t the original artists?
True, most dolls are very expensive. But original artists are businesses too and running a business is not just about gaining back the materials from a product. I already adressed the cheaper material but there’s a lot more to selling a doll than that. Sculpting a doll from head to toe can take from a few weeks to years or more, depending on how much they fine-tune the product. After the doll is finally complete, the artist/company will have to style the doll and market it in order for the customers to find it. When you buy an original doll, you also pay the artist for their time and experience, as well as expenses needed to run the business. Taxation is very harsh for artist businesses in many countries and despite the high price, there’s not much money that is left over and goes into the original pocket.
A counterfeiter uses all of this to their advantage: the doll already has a name, people know how to find it and it’s also already finished. The recaster didn’t have to sculpt the doll with no pay (without guarrantee that it will even sell), they just bought the final product and copied it. They can also produce these dolls at a much faster rate because they don’t have the same kind of quality control or safety protocols. Resin is a very toxic material before it’s cured, and a shady sweatshop is not the right kind of place to make these dolls: the workers have to be underpaid and not properly educated to be able to sell the dolls for such low prices.

Just as a point to note: the origin of the artist makes a huge difference in the price. I’m located in Finland and if I were a small business owner selling BJDs, I’d likely have to price a 45cm doll at 700-800 Euros to make any sort of profit. Our taxes are high, our cost of living is high, businesses get all sorts of extra bills for insurance and pension, dolls are very labor intensive etc. After all the money that goes elsewhere, that price might cover the hourly wage that it takes to cast and pack the doll up, but not the doll making itself and there would be barely any profit left for the business itself. (I’d actually love to look into it more and and get actual price quotes, but I don’t have the time.)


How do I know if a site is selling counterfeits?
Price is usually a good indicator. Also, if the site is selling dolls from multiple companies, it’s a good idea to google the company name and the doll to find the original company and compare the price: if they differ by a lot, the site you were on sells fakes. Official dealers may have deals or taxes already incorporated into the prices (in Europe), so the price may vary, but they are never over 50% cheaper than the original dolls. You can also always ask the company if a certain seller is an official dealer.


Where can I find more info on the counterfeits?
Searching the #recast tags on any social media will bring up a lot of info and opinions on them. Also something to read is this announcement on DoA and the related discussion thread. These can be read without a DoA account.


Reasons and justifications for buying fake dolls I’ve heard most often:

  • I didn’t know any better, so I bought a recast
  • A family member bought me a doll and it was a recast
    1. Everyone makes mistakes and that’s fine. But once you’ve realized your mistake, I hope your next purchases are legit dolls. And if you talk about dolls to your family members, you should always mention that there are also bootlegs around, so it’s important to buy from the actual companies.


  • I want to practise face-upping/modding, but don’t want to ruin a legit doll
    1. There are a plethora of really cheap legit dolls you can practise modding on as well (even recasts aren’t that cheap). I also don’t understand this argument: I bought my very first dolls straight from the company and those poor things went through so so many experiments and face ups and mods it’s not even funny. But that just made me love them more. They were not ruined.


  • Company X doesn’t sell doll Y anymore, so I got it as a recast
  • The original company doesn’t sell doll Z in colour X but a recaster did
    1. This is not a good reason to buy a bootleg. The 2nd hand market is full of dolls and if you just have a little patience, the one you are looking for usually eventually pops up and you can even get great deals this way. People sell their pre-owned dolls on forums, FB groups, instagram etc. I have gotten several sold out limited this way and for very good prices too. As for the colour: it’s the artists choice to sell or not to sell the dolls in that colour: if you are not happy with your options you could look for a similar doll or try dyeing. In any case, we should respect the artist for their choices, be it the colour or the availability of the doll.


  • The company is so big, they won’t suffer just because I bought one
  • I wouldn’t buy the doll from the original company anyway, so they wouldn’t have gotten my money anyway
  • I buy my dolls 2nd hand anyway, so I might as well buy recasts
    1. There is no such thing as a big BJD company, even the biggest ones are small businesses. Even though they have a professional company look and a name, most have a maximum of 5 workers. Every recast hurts them both financially and emotionally. You are stealing from them. Also supporting recasters just makes the problem bigger, you are supporting illegal activity that will slowly but surely put these companies out of business. Even buying second hand is better, because oftentimes the money the seller receives goes towards their hobby and thus helps the artists in that way.


  • The secondhand market is just as harmful as counterfeits because the money doesn’t go to the original artist.
    1. No. I hear this a lot recently and it’s just not true. A healthy second hand market is vital for the hobby: it ensures that dolls are kept in circulation and the seller also gets funds to buy new dolls/goods (often straight from the artists). While the original artist/company doesn’t get money from second hand sales, they have been paid for that doll already. You can also look at it as promotion and way for buyers to find new artists they didn’t know existed. Some independent artist even promote their customer’s second hand sales to ensure legitimacy of the dolls, this would not be happening if artists thought it was bad form to sell dolls 2nd hand. The difference with a counterfeiter is that they create new items in the originals image and the original artist was never paid for that. They’re saturating the market that would belong to the artist if the counterfeits weren’t there.


  • It’s my money, I can do whatever I want with it
  • I can’t afford a legit doll
  • I don’t want to spend that much money on a doll
  • Who cares, it’s just a doll
    1. So much of this is just selfishness. I’m sorry, but no matter how you put this it sounds like you are saying “I want nice things but I don’t want to pay for them”. None of us need these dolls, and if you’re not willing to pay the price, don’t buy it. It’s that simple. If it’s “just a doll” go to your local store’s toy section and buy a doll off the shelf, since it’s all the same to you. Even I have certain dolls I want but will never get because I can not justify the price. Either they’re sold out and the second hand price is insane, or the artist/company has valued the doll so high that I just don’t want to pay that much. And that is okay, if I don’t want to pay it, I don’t have to. I will buy another doll instead. There are hundreds, if not thousands of dolls to choose from. Nobody needs that One. The act of not buying a doll from an artist is okay, but buying the same doll from a recaster is hurtful, selfish and harmful to everyone else in the hobby.
      Many recasts aren’t that cheap either, so saving up just a little bit more will get you that legit doll instead. There are also a lot of companies with dolls that are cheaper or just a little bit more expensive than many recasts, such as 5Star Doll, Akagi Doll, Angel of Dream, Bobobie, Doll Family-A, Doll Family-H, Doll Leaves, Doll Love, Hujoo, Impldoll, Island Doll, MYou Doll, Resinsoul and many more. (You can also check out this list)


  • All my friends have recasts so I bought one too
    1. You should be the example to your friends and get a legit doll. “Everyone does it, so I did it too” is never a valid reason for anything. Show that you’re original and do what you think is right.


  • Pro-artist/anti-recast people are bullies so I bought one to spite them
    1. So, just because there are a some asshats (like there are in every community), you chose to support another bully? That’s what recasters are: they blatantly steal from the artists and even try to prevent them from selling their own products. They care about nothing but money. “That’ll show the pro-artists” is a flawed way of thinking because buying a recast out of spite for a vocal minory is not going to show them anything, all it does is hurt the original artist/company and everyone in the hobby. Emotions on both sides of this argument run high and people on both sides can be extremely immature about it. If a pro-artist attacks you, please be the mature person and just block them instead of resorting to just as immature behaviour that is also hurting people that had nothing to do with the situation.

      You may feel that the pro-recast community is nicer and more accepting and, but the actual BJD community (aka pro-artist/anti-recast) as a whole is just as accepting. We just do not condone supporting thieves, as we love our art and our artists. How would you feel if you worked hard on something for months, and when you finally finished it and showed the world; someone else came, made exact copies of it and sold it all over the place without giving you a dime? It doesn’t matter what it is, if someone steals it and profits from it without permission, it’s a punch in the gut.



    Common stance in the hobby
    Fake dolls are generally not accepted into the community. This hobby is based on the artists; the creators. They are what keeps this hobby going, and without them, there would be no new dolls. So, we in the community, show our appreciation to them by buying their products. Most of us do not consider counterfeits as a part of the hobby at all. They are not company X dolls, they are copies of company X dolls, and thus not accepted. Fakes are not welcome on most forums or even physical meet ups. I know there are people that can be very harsh about it, but it’s just the reality that bootlegs are not wanted in the community due to the way they hurt the artists and everyone else.

    I don’t want to be mean about this to spite anyone, but to raise awareness of the fact that you (general you!) are condoning thievery, shady ethics and illegal activity by supporting recasters. Sometimes being blunt is the only way to open people’s eyes to these issues and it should not be taken personally. Everyone has a choice to make: either support the artists or don’t. Nobody is forcing anyone to buy any doll, be it legit or bootleg, but if you choose bootlegs, you will be alienated from the majority of the community. That is just how bad the situation has gotten. And unfortunately, that can happen even if you do it by accident because like I said: emotions on both sides run very high. Just please don’t let it sully your experience with your dolls if this happens. Just state things as they are: you made a mistake, it won’t happen again. And most people will commend you for it -if someone doesn’t, block them and move on.

    Please always be respectful of other people, educate new hobbyists on the negatives of bootlegs and keep supporting the artists. It’s the only way for this hobby to keep going.