Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is My Disney Pin a Fake?

Fake Disney Scrapper Pin
This "scrapper" Disney Pin has an obvious typo on the back.

Disney pin trading and collecting is a fun Disney hobby. But unfortunately there are a lot of counterfeit Disney pins coming from China and making it into the Parks. When Disney pins are manufactured in China (most real and fake pins are manufactured there), the factories use a mold. Once the factory is done with the mold, these molds are often used to create counterfeit pins. Because the same molds are used, the fake pins actually look pretty good, but the quality is usually sub-par. So if you are used to handling legitimate Disney pins, you should be able to pick out a fake pin much easier than someone who is relatively new to pin trading. These counterfeit pins are called “Scrappers” because they are pins that Disney would reject (due to manufacturing mistakes, such as a wrong-colored eye). These pins should be “scrapped” (thrown out), but they are often saved and sold as real pins.

Many newbie collectors and traders get these scrappers not realizing that they’re fake. They trade them at the parks and get them into circulation. The most common origin of scrappers is eBay. Be very careful when purchasing pins on eBay. If it seems too good to be true (i.e., really cheap), then it probably is too good to be true. Don’t purchase a “lot” of 50 pins for $25 because they’re no doubt scrappers, and do not purchase any pins that come directly from China.

Telltale Signs of a Counterfeit Disney Pin
Because the quality of pins coming out of China is getting much better, it is sometimes difficult to tell which pins are scrappers. But there are telltale signs of a scrapper. When determining whether or not a pin is real look at the back. The back will give you the most information about the pin. What follows are general guidelines and can only help you make an informed guess as to whether or not a pin is real or counterfeit.

Nubs. Most (not all) Disney pins have two raised bumps or nubs next to the pin that attaches to the pin back. Scrappers are often missing these nubs.

Mickey patterns. Some pins (especially Vinylmation pins) have a Mickey head pattern on the back. This pattern will extend off the edge and not have a border. A scrapper will have a border at the edge of the pin.

Fake Disney Scrapper Pin
The real Community Watch Disney Pin
should say "See Something? Say Something!"
But this pin has an "F" where the "T"
in "something" should be.
Incomplete information. If a pin has an individual number, the number is not filled in. It will say “45/500” on a real pin, while it will be “___/500” on a scrapper. Some “Official Pin Trading” logos will have no information where the year usually goes.

Obvious mistakes. Sometimes you can tell a scrapper right away by looking at it. There is one scrapper Tinkerbell pin that has flesh-colored eyes instead of blue eyes. Others have one eye a different color than the other or some other obvious problem. The worst scrapper I have ever seen is a “Community Watch” pin (pictured). The real pin says “See something? Say something!” on the back. But the scrapper says “See somefhing? Say somefhing!”

Colors, texture and glossiness. Some scrappers are perfectly copied except they have a dull color rather than glossy. The back’s texture on a certain pin should be sandy or have raised type, but the scrapper version will not have these features.

Weight. Scrapper pins are usually lighter than real pins. You can especially tell the difference when you hold two pins from the same collection or set. A fake pin will be a lot lighter than the legitimate pin. Once you are familiar with the feel of real pins, you should be able to feel the difference once you pick up a fake pin.

Know the common scrappers. has a scrapper catalog where you can look at pictures of common counterfeit pins, and a site called has users that will list the differences between real pins and any scrapper pins they’ve picked up.

Use PinPics and Dizpins. Visit these sites to see what information should be printed on the back of your traded pins. I have seen scrappers that look legitimate to the naked eye, but PinPics confirms that the real Hidden Mickey Pin should say Pin 4 out of 5 on the back, and mine has Pin 5 out of 5. Due to that one small error, I know I have a scrapper.

Good luck determining if you have a scrapper or not. If you receive a scrapper, please report it on PinPics and take it out of circulation. It’s unfortunate to trade a real pin and receive a scrapper! Some people are also writing to Disneyland and calling out sellers on eBay who are suspected of selling scrapper pins.

Because of all of the counterfeit pins in circulation, odds are that every trader has at least a couple of scrapper pins in his or her collection. The only way you can be sure (unless you’re an expert) to have all authentic Disney pins is to purchase the pins yourself and never trade them. But what’s the fun in that? Although counterfeit pins may ruin some of the magic, don’t let it spoil your fun, and keep up the trading!

Disney Pin Trading Etiquette
Trading Locations at the Disneyland Resort
Trading Locations at the Walt Disney World Resort


  1. I bought some pins on Ebay for my daughter for an upcoming trip to Disney World-- and then I read this and other material on the net. I had no idea. Of course this is a problem for kids who will try to trade these pins. But it is more of an indication of poor quality control on the part of Disney. You get what you pay for. And if you're going to have the pins manufactured cheaply in China, you kinda gave up on quality control. It seems to me that Disney QC should be done at the factory -- and not in the parks by the Cast Members.
    My daughter won't be trading pins this year.

    1. Duh, you can't blame Disney because companies are counterfeiting their pins! For crying out loud. They could be manufactured in Orlando, in Disney World under close tight scrutiny of Disney and any company that manufactures pins could create fake ones and there would still be the problem of fake pins! It has nothing to do with the fact that they are manufactured in China.