10 Tips for Identifying Quality & Genuine Rilakkuma Plushies!

Disclaimer: these tips are specific to the smaller ~22 cm collectible plushies (like this, this, and this) sold in stores and events, not the UFO catchers, licensed goods, larger sizes, or extra-company collaborations (like Lawson plushies). These guidelines may be more applicable to recent releases and may not hold true for older ones. I am not affiliated with San-X; this list was compiled strictly from personal observation and experience.

1. Do your research

First, if you’re new to the scene, get acclimated to what genuine Rilakkuma plushies look like by browsing through the San-X website:

Net shop / Net shop timeline
Net shop blog (before March 2013 / Net shop blog (after March 2013) – for net shop exclusives, posts non-studio pictures occasionally, which may be better for comparison
Character timeline, by year / Rilakkuma timeline
Rilakkuma blog – for general products, limited editions, and caravan editions
Rilakkuma store blog – for more recent limited store-only editions

Once you have a specific plushie in mind, save the official San-X image for the product so you can compare listings to it.

2. Search thoroughly
I’ve made a longer post on this before, but briefly: searching for your plushie means you might have to scour different avenues of the web before you find listings for it, depending on its rarity. This may mean plugging the name of the plushie into the search bar of your favorite search engine, eBay, etc. a bunch of times depending on how rare the item is. It might be helpful to know different versions (like picnic, happy holiday picnic, happy picnic, and hamburger can all refer to the same series) or translations of the series you’re looking for. Or, perhaps using an agent for sites such as the Japanese auctions or Taobao – certainly not necessary, but may be helpful. Ideally, you will want to find a handful of listings to compare quality later on.

Once you’ve found a listing…

3. Assess listing quality broadly
Before getting into the specifics of genuine versus fake Rilakkuma plushies, just use your first impression and your gut instincts – you can easily weed out many fakes based on overall quality alone. Make sure the listing pictures are of the actual product, not just a reposting of the catalogue image. If it helps, use the following tips:

  • Body proportions: does the head size look expected compared to the body size? Rilakkuma has a pretty big head, but it should stay proportionately cute. Overall, what’s the size of the plushie? For the small collectible bears, they’re generally about 22-23 cm from foot to ear depending on their pose and costume.
  • Fabric/fur: how does it look? Rilakkuma’s fur should look very soft and fuzzy to the touch. It can generally be brushed in one direction. Check that the tone and shade look accurate – camera settings may vary (for example, catalogue photos tend to be a little washed out), but it shouldn’t be a vastly different color.
  • Construction: does the stuffing look even? Fakes tend to be asymmetric and lumpy, with a lot of puckering. Their stuffing is generally not well-distributed, creating a deflated or overinflated appearance. Like fake designer purses, the seaming on a counterfeit will be conspicuous and will likely not have the subtlety of a genuine plushie.

Now for specifics…

4. Nose/snout
For some reason, counterfeiters consistently mess the nose/snout area up, making it too large, too small, or simply the incorrect shape.

The mouth area should be pure black (#000000), and be embroidered (not printed) on. Because of the embroidery, the black part will dip in slightly from the rest of the white snout, so the white fur around may be visible; an immaculately smooth nose outline may indicate that it has been printed on. The bottom mouth part should flare out, but end with a rounded tip, not a point.

The snout should be a very smooth, fuzzy, and centered oval. Many counterfeiters get sloppy sewing the snout on, resulting in a lumpy amorphous shape.

Noses - real

Geniune Rilakkuma noses

Noses - fake

Fake Rilakkuma noses

5. Face
If the target Rilakkuma has a standard face, his eyes should be perfect circles the same black embroidery as the nose/mouth. The middle of the eyes (transversally) should be near level to the round top part of his black nose, with about a third to an eighth of the top above the white snout. Obviously, this may not apply to plushies with a different expression. Proportion is the key here, so this is where looking at how genuine plushies look beforehand will help. I find that even with genuine plushies, there is still a bit of variation, but for fakes, the difference is obvious.

There should also be Y-shaped seaming across the face that is noticeable, but not overbearingly heavy (an indicator of fine vs. crude detailing). There will also be two smaller seams that flare out from the base of the head, as well as a seam that begins at the top of the head, and goes down the back to the base of the head. These seams should be symmetric across the midsagittal plane.

Face - eyes

Genuine Rilakkuma eye location

Faces - seaming

Genuine Rilakkuma facial seaming

Faces - fake

Fake Rilakkuma faces

6. Tags
MaryRilakkuma has an extremely well-researched guide to sorting out the real plushies from the fakes, so definitely check it out. She extensively covers tag placement, content, and design. I urge you to look at her guide before confirming a purchase.

You can also try browsing through this website by Korichan, which has an assortment of swing tag scans.

7. Zippers
Rilakkuma’s trademark back zipper, like Korilakkuma’s red button, is essential to his character. For most series, the zipper itself is deep brown plastic, and the pull should be the same color brown: a simple rounded pull with a circular hole. The zipper should start at the base of the head seam down to just above the tail. It should unzip to reveal a white/baby blue polka dot pocket. One major exception is the Bonjour Series, which has red and blue polka dots. For the collectible size bears, the pocket fabric is quite generous.

However, there are some genuine Rilakkuma series that do not have a functioning zipper; they will instead have embroidered stitching with a zipper pull sewn to the top (mine has 8 notches). So if you see this stitching on an otherwise accurate plushie, don’t fear! There is a possibility that it is inherent to the design – check around collectors websites to confirm (many of them post back shots). So far, I know of the Happy Holiday Picnic series, Christmas 2012, and the Year of the Dragon 2012 plushies that have this alternate zipper look (though there are likely more). Korilakkuma should not have a zipper; she should have a red button in front instead.

Zippers - real

Genuine Rilakkuma zippers

Zippers - fake

Fake Rilakkuma zippers

8. Ears
Rilakkuma’s ears should be round, full, spherical, and in plane with the rest of his face (along the coronal plane). The yellow part of his ears, since it is only a front section, will tilt toward the face, but not laterally. Note that this is unlike the illustrations and character costumes San-X has for events, whose ears are rotated slightly outward. The yellow part of the ear should have a continuous round arc, not a lumpy one. The brown part of his ears may be slightly angular because of the pattern they use (it is sewn into an X in the back).

Ears - real

Genuine Rilakkuma ears

Ears - fake

Fake Rilakkuma ears

Rilakkuma’s ears (and paws and feet) should be a warm egg yolk yellow spongier fabric, while Korilakkuma’s will be the same material as the rest of her (furry, not spongy) but in a baby pink. Not sure why they chose to do this, but it happens.

9. Direct compare
The most important part! This is more up to your judgment – compare the listing to the official photo to make sure major and minor details are all accounted for: costume, props, bows, lining, fabric tags, etc. Don’t forget to check the back!

Here’s an example, with the Marine Series:

Example - real

Left: official release. Right: Genuine Marine Series Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma

Example - fakes

Fake Marine Series Rilakkumas

10. Finally, if unsure, ask the seller for more photographs!

Keep in mind that these are only guidelines, not rules; even genuine plushies may not look EXACTLY like the catalogue photos, but they should be pretty close! Genuine plushies will only have minor variations (for example, I’ve seen a lot of slightly rotated noses for whatever reason) especially if the series is several years old.

If your plushie does not match these guidelines – not to fear! It is possible that your plushie is from a licensed toy company instead of directly from San-X. Finding words such as Green Camel, Dream, or AQI on your tag might tip you in the direction of a licensed plushie. Learn more about licensed plushies here.

Happy shopping!

Got more tips to add? I’d love to hear! Email me at rilakkumalifestyle@gmail.com.

42 thoughts on “10 Tips for Identifying Quality & Genuine Rilakkuma Plushies!

  1. This is AMAZING and sucha good guide. Without some of your tips/notes I definitely would have thought that a good number of the ones in the marine series fakes were real! Wondering about the top-left one tho: what is it that makes it fake? that’s the one i can’t figure out. Is it the ears? and the sailor scarf?

    • Thanks so much! I’m so glad to hear that it helped!

      For the top-left one:
      – you’re right that the ears and scarf are wrong – the ears shouldn’t be turned out/in like that, and the scarf proportions are off (the tie is too short relative).
      – if you look at the plushie relative to the arms of the person holding it, the plushie is huuuuge! Way bigger than the 22 cm (~8.6 in) that it was released in.
      – the tag is on the ear: San-X generally puts the swing tag around the fabric tag on the side of the leg to prevent puncture holes. If you look even closer, the tag has hamburgers from the happy holiday picnic series, when this from the marine series.
      – the snout is a circle, when it should be an oval.
      – if you look reaaaaallllyyy close, the coin on the hat is only printed on! The real version has a sewn on plastic coin that should reflect light in photos.

      Hope that helped!

    • Yeah, I was thinking that too, but the proportions/asymmetry and lack of fabric tag on the side (the one that holds the paper tag) made me think this was fake (or all the tags were cut off for some reason?). Though the design/outfit is the same, if I saw that one for sale, I think I would still be uncomfortable buying it because of that – what do you think?

      • *Ok this is me, I used to be keojitmal but I just started off my own blog lol*

        Well yes you’re right, actually I found some place who sold rilakkuma fake fansclub though and they are very 100% look a like.
        The only thing who can make them different is the fake one doesn’t have tags but their manufacturer is perfect! >.<

    • Great point! This generally depends on what series it is from. Some Rilakkuma series are based around the Rilakkuma having different fur – for example, one of the most recent designs, “My Only Rilakkuma”, has a furrier texture than other Rilakkuma plushies. But generally, Rilakkuma fur will be about the same texture across series (with only a few exceptions). Fake Rilakkuma fur will generally be less soft.

  2. Nice guide! It really helped me to spot more fakes ^^

    I have a question, Is there really an official “Japanese Sweets Rilakkuma/Korilakkuma” plush? I was just browsing this website: http://list.qoo10.sg/g/401222887 whether on what Rilakkuma should I get, and I went to search more of the Japanese Sweets plushes and nothing shows, is it a authentic plush?

    Thank you! :D

    • So the “Japanese Sweets Rilakkuma/Korilakkuma” is an official Fansclub UFO Catcher plushie – I wrote about Fansclub plushies here. These plushies are genuine, but you (or someone else) has to win them from UFO catchers (crane machines), not San-X stores – so they’re a little different from the plushies featured on this guide. Here’s the official Fansclub website for that series: http://fansclub.jp/pc/goods/detail/SS6963. The official Japanese name for this set is “ほっこり和スイーツぬいぐるみXL” – you can plug that into any search engine if you would like to see more info/photos on this set!

      As for this particular seller/website: since they only posted the official photo (the one from the Fansclub website), I would ask for photos of the actual product before buying. I think I see a few fakes down the page though (where it says “Rilakkuma black hat”) :/ Hope that helps!

      • Oh my! Thanks! And I decided to get the “Rilakkuma Pink shirt plush zip pouch holder” (On that link) And I did research on google and I’ve seen fakes! Obvious fakes! Does the fakes have the pouch part at the back? >.<

        • I’m not super familiar with this series (since I usually only get the 22cm plushies, not keychains), but I did find the official San-X Net Shop page for it here: http://shop.san-x.co.jp/app/catalog/goods?gdsid=RLK2196 with no mention of a pouch at all.

          I’m not sure that San-X would give Rilakkuma a zipper/pouch on his head – Rilakkuma’s zipper almost always goes down his back. I couldn’t find any official San-X website that shows him having a pouch on his head either – so I would use caution with this seller!

          Just as a warning as well, the price at that site for this item (18.30 SGD) is almost twice the amount that San-X sells them for (840 JPY is ~10.34 SGD).

          • Weird..MaryRilakkuma’s Pom Pom army have pouch on their heads and $18.30 is probably the cheapest I could find.. there is a shop in Singapore which sells the one on San-x shop page for S$33 :/ I’ll check again tho, thank you :)

        • Ah, if MaryRilakkuma’s has the pouch, then it is probably legitimate – she is very picky about fakes. Like I said, I don’t know much about this series since I didn’t get it, I was just basing my assessment on how that seller had already displayed fakes on their page before (Rilakkuma black hat) T^T I usually don’t trust sellers that have sold fakes in the past, even if some of their stock is legitimate.

          • oh, It’s okay now, I’ve found a shop in Singapore which sells authentic plushies (But I will still definitely check whether the plushies are real before purchasing them) , They stocked the hoodie keychain rilakkuma plushie thingy and the “My only Rilakkuma” Series, thank you again! Sorry if my questions bothered you ^^”

    • Hey, thanks for making such a detailed post!

      For plushies 1-2 (Rilakkuma + Kiiroitori): These plushies definitely weren’t produced directly from San-X, but I think they may have been produced by a different plushie company under license. “Green Camel” is a licensing company that works as a middle man between San-X and other toy & merchandise companies who wish to use the Rilakkuma design in their products, you can check out their website here: http://www.greencamel.co.jp/property/property01_01.html

      I wrote a post about Rilakkuma licensing before here: https://rilakkumalifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/rilakkuma-licensing/ Plushies produced under license generally use their own patterns, fabrics, and styling – not to mention there are a bunch of companies with licenses now, so a lot of times it’s really hard to tell what’s legitimate and what’s not nowadays. Generally, licensed (but not directly from San-X) plushies are a little less sturdy than their San-X counterparts (the plushies I’ve described above in my guide), which could explain the inconsistencies you noticed with the squarer ears and loose threading. The quality is a lot harder to predict with the licensed plushies (exception being Fansclubs, in my opinion), but they can still be super cute!

      For plushie 3 (Bee Korilakkuma): I think this one is a legitimate Fansclub Rilakkuma plushie – they have their own style and don’t really follow the rules I’ve outlined in this guide since they’re made under license but not directly from San-X, but their plushies are generally pretty distinct, high quality, and consistent. It’s a little harder to determine authenticity without the original paper tag (which carries the sticker of authenticity), but the fabric tag and proportions look consistent; if the plushie is around 48-51 cm from foot to ear, it’s probably safe to say that plushie is a legitimate Fansclub – but again hard to know really for sure without feeling the fabric in person and without seeing the tag, but it’s a pretty good bet. It’s kind of strange that a store would sell it without the paper tag though :/ The original site for that plushie series is here: http://fansclub.jp/pc/goods/detail/SS6188

      Hope that helps, thanks for checking out my blog!

      • Thank you very much for answering me!! The place is actually a dream come true for me as I do not live in the US and my country is full of bootleg shops. When I saw this new shop open and these plushies I just about lost it lol! My Rilakkuma was from the one next door, but they shut for a very long time. The shop has My Melody stuff in it as well. But I think that is all real, since I do not know of MM stuff to be faked. (probably is, but I don’t know)

        I’m just glad to know they might not be actually bootlegs. I always thought something was up with my Rilakkuma, because the head just looks off and is very heavy. (I love the heart frame though, even though it is about to fall off). As long as it is in some way connected to san-x, I don’t mind. I actually really like the fleecy Kiiroitori. If it is a bootleg, it is really good. (you can’t see in the pictures, but Kii has the two little dots on her beak so they added those details)

        It just really puts me off buying Rilakkuma/Kii/Ko in the future because I really don’t want to spend so much money on a fake. There are guides but it is hard to get guides to work because there are thousands of different Rilakkuma plushies that keep being made. It is hard because ebay is pricey and there is no Rilakkuma store here or Tamaya so you just don’t know.

        • I agree, the fakes are really horrible to try to sort through, and it is really such a task to buy Rilakkuma conveniently! Even though there are stores in the US, I live in the southeast, so no stores stocking Rilakkuma in my region, sadly.

          But I hope all the fakes don’t deter you from buying Rilakkuma products in the future – if you ever need help authenticating Rilakkuma plushies, or if you need legitimate online seller recommendations, I would be happy to help! Feel free to shoot me an email at rilakkumalifestyle@gmail.com :)

  3. Thank you for this helpful ‘tutorial’ to find the right rilakkuma stuff :3
    I didn’t own any rilakkuma yet but I’m really in love with this bear and I really love your blog!
    Thank you for sharing your collection with us ♥

  4. Hello, I would like to ask concerning my Rilakkuma doll since it has all the details of being an original, except for one area wherein when I open its zipper, its inside is a simple brown and no polkadot design, so I’m wondering if its original or not. Thank you! :3

    • Hi, thanks for your checking out my blog! Usually the pattern of the fabric inside the zipper is the blue-on-white polka dot, or patterned variation (like red and blue for the Bonjour series, or the Holiday logo for the Holiday edition). I haven’t heard of one with just simple brown on the inside, but that doesn’t definitively mean its a fake! If you could send me a few photos of the Rilakkuma you’re talking about to rilakkumalifestyle@gmail.com, I might be able to do a little bit more research!

      Hope that helps!

    • Hi, sorry for the late response (I had a major school exam). I don’t think this bear is authentic San-X since the tag is on the ear, but it could be a licensed plush (one that San-X doesn’t make directly, but an overseas manufacturer does under approved license). Licensed Rilakkuma plushes are technically approved by San-X, but they don’t follow the same guidelines that I wrote about on this post, so authenticity is very difficult to determine!

      Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Rilakkumalifestyle! I REALLY love this post, because it’s helped me go through dozens of websites that sold fake ones that would’ve taken me WEEKS to ask around and figure out if it was real or not.This post is truly detailed to the finest bits and pieces, and the fake vs. genuine picture comparisons are GENIUS and so easy to understand! Just recently though, I bought a classic rilakkuma plushie, and was wondering if you could verify if it was real for me. Reading their website, they say it’s authentic, but I’m really scared because they might be lying. If they are, well… I guess I just wasted 40 bucks???

    Thank you so much for this post! ^.^

    • Hi, thank you so much for reading my blog and for sending in a question! I have purchased many Rilakkuma plushies from Mira Plush and can confirm that yes, all of their products are authentic. They are actually my go-to for limited edition releases due to the ease of ordering and their excellent customer service! Congrats on your new Rilakkuma plushie, I think the classics are amazing!! :D

  6. Hey! I am desperately trying to by an authentic Rilakkuma for my wife. She used to have one when she was younger and she loved it. It was one of the very large ones, either 100cm or 110cm. I know some Rilakkuma plushies are quite stiff and firm, her one wasn’t, it was quite soft and less stuffed, which made it nicer for her to cuddle. I am trying to buy a Rilakkuma like that for her. I have found one at this website: https://otakumode.com/shop/53e179daf848e2bc100015dd/Giant-Rilakkuma-Plush
    Could you please tell me if it is authentic and looks like the one I’m after. If it isn’t, or you’re unsure, could you please send me a website where I could find an authentic one please (preferably that ships to australia).

    Sincerely, Laughlan

    • Hi Laughlan, thank you so much for your message! Very sorry I was not able to reply to you until now, but I can confirm to you that the Rilakkuma products on Tokyo Otaku Mode are authentic! I’m sure your wife will love such a thoughtful gift!

  7. Hi, I was wondering where is rilakkuma plush dolls made in? Like manufactured I mean, Japan, china, etc.? I know it’s made by san-x but just curious where they make it from? My friend and I just bought a rilakkuma doll from a thrift store, and it looks very unique. On the tag it says it’s a 2013 10th anniversary edition rilakkuma. Also I checked the tag and it’s in the right place on the hand, even the head overall looks usual. The thing that catches me is that it’s an X-L size also on the tag it says that it’s made in china. Not to mention that it’s not soft at all, it’s very plain stiff. Also there’s no zipper/pocket back of it. Lol.

    • Hello! Sorry for the delay in reply, I accidentally missed your comment in the queue. Thanks so much for checking out my blog!

      The San-X Rilakkuma plush are manufactured in China (their tags will say “Made in China”), but they are designed in Japan.

      From your description, however, it sounds like you might have obtained a Fansclub Rilakkuma plush! Fanclub is the company that is officially licensed from San-X to make the Rilakkuma plush for crane machines across Asia. Those commonly come in XL sizes and feel a little stiffer/pricklier fur than expected (compared other San-X plush), and they likely have “fake” zipper in the back. Feel free to email me photos at rilakkumalifestyle@gmail.com if you want to verify with me though! :D

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