Disney characters, Avengers' super heroes to Harry Potter series, if there is a successful franchise in the toy or cartoon or video games industry, rest assured, there is a Chinese knock-off flooding the market. Counterfeit Frozen Dolls, Legos, Barbies, Star Wars toys are all across the continents. But the knock-off toys are anything but low profile as the stakes are high and the industry runs into billions and its implications are very significant.
Chinese toy industry once again found itself under the scanner, when a user highlighted the both clever, funny and sad play of words on the labels. Starting from the well-known space based characters from the Space Wars to popular Japanese video-game character Mario. By the way, he becomes Supreme Maori on the label. Moving on, Harry Potter is Justice Magician, while the super popular Avengers become Revenger, in the same font. Talking of the same font, L.O.L dolls are passed off as O.M.O dolls. While the knock-offs are all pervasive, but the labelling formula remains constant, move one letter up or down. So Disney is Discern and Lego character Rio Ferdinand is Ferimd. Dolls from the successful series Frozen become Fashion and it goes on and on. These fake toy rip-offs flood the markets across the world and especially in countries like India, Pakistan, and even some from the Middle East.
Chinese toys & Indian toy industry
Back in 2009, the Government of India even considered extending the six-month ban on the import of cheap Chinese toys into a permanent one. The plastic toys, even suspected of containing toxic substances, have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, on and off now.
The debate goes on...
A lot many of the consumers are well-aware of the status of a product being fake, but don't mind since the seemingly same product comes at a much cheaper price. "Most of these products are so expensive and out of the reach of middle class parents and their children. In such a scenario, they fill an important space," opines a user. While another one debate, "Even if one were to overlook the unethical part of copying creatives, many of these toys are full of carcinogenic materials and are being given to small children." The debate truly goes on.
Inarguably, the Chinese toy market is the largest in the world. Reportedly, the China toys market was worth US$14.9 billion in 2020. The figures more than point towards the export figures of Chinese toys, giving competition to biggest manufacturers and snuffling out local industries of many developing countries.
Around twenty years ago Rachel Jones experienced the effect of Chinese counterfeits first hand. She invented a product called Totseat, a washable, squishable high chair for babies that suddenly started selling at a fraction of the price on several sites. It took Jones 18 months to remove all the knock-off products that had flooded the market. If one were to keep aside the long term damage that knock-offs cause by profiteering off the intellectual property of others, one cannot overlook the quality. Says Jones in an interview to Fatherly.com, "Fake goods are often dangerous. Ghastly accidents happen with fake toys and nursery products."