Sunday, July 10

Attention Online Tape Buyers: Beware of Very Clever Japanese VHS Bootlegs...

which is real and which fake...?

Well, this is a new one. After randomly popping in on the Horror VHS listings on eBay last week, this sought-after Tokuma Video VHS of The Devils (Xie Mo, 1981) was staring back for $20 shipped as a Buy It Now. That's chump change for this particular tape as its one of those "certain titles" that seems to be on every Japanese VHS collector's priority want list. The stateside big box from Video City Productions, titled simply "Devil", under their Chop 'Em Ups Video line-up is also extremely hard-to-find, easily more so than the Japanese cassette. Too good to be true?

Pretty damn much. It's not only a bootleg, but one hell of a bootleg. If such a copy fell into the hands of a novice, it's a good bet they'd probably not realize they've been had. I'm unsure even the seller knows for sure. The clarity and color of the properly sized and untrimmed cover sleeve is great, the tape has a full color face label, and the black plastic case matches "real" Japanese cases with a rounded spine. The black cassette even has a tan brown flap just the real deal. The color on the spine is faded, but as I've said before this issue is par the course with most Japanese ex-rentals, like postal markings on stamps.

So what gave it away? The quality of the cover's paper. Although that's not to say the paper is your average cheap copy paper. It's almost of the same standard, just a little more "waxy" looking compared to the usual flat glossy appearance of the real paper. It's difficult to see this without slipping the cover out of case and virtually impossible to tell from a picture online. Also if you really look hard, you can see some fine dotting around edges from a high DPI, but not professional, printer. Again, you literally have to place the cover within inches of your eyes to see the difference. That's the danger, many could easily be fooled if they found such quality fakes online.

At least a portion of these dubious tapes appear to be coming out of Japan, if the experience of one reputable eBay dealer is any measure. Ed McHale, a.k.a. terror-fantastic on eBay, relayed a story involving an assortment of tapes purchased from Yahoo Auctions Japan. After beginning to sell them through eBay, he realized all of them were deceivingly well crafted bootlegs, and promptly refunded the buyers of any from this particular lot. So buyer beware, I can only assume more high value Japanese tapes will show up as bootlegs online there and eBay. I'm not going to divulge the eBay seller I bought this from yet because I haven't contacted him about this tape. I'll update the comments section after that's settled and any findings upon actually watching the tape (probably tonight).


REAL COVER, from Backyard Asia's entry: THE DEVIL (Taiwan, 1981)


Unknown said...

Wow if there is money to be made some people will always try to make a quick buck. Great catch and great info to have.

Craig Edwards said...

What an eye you have! If I collected these I'd probably have a cabinet full of them and never realize. Thanks for the info, Dr. J!

CiNEZiLLA said...

Amazing post.
Thanks for the heads up. Not that I'm collecting Japanese VHS, but this was a fascinating piece.

Keep up the great work!


Explosive Action said...

Wow, that's depressing. Still 90% of my Jap tapes come from spiralheadcase and I trust his stuff is legit.

Anonymous said...

I know tht one notorious American bootleg tape dealer, monstermonkeyhead, has been selling bootleg tapes of The Devil. I did find a seller in Japan earlier this year who I had some idea was selling bootlegs but they seemed to look pretty legit. The name was something like lawwsenron. Am I getting close?

Anonymous said...

I wonder who the jerk is that paid $31.00 for cy-warrior from spiralheadcase this past week, it doesnt look metallic and the spine is fuzzy, probably a dupe....I just got a real cy-warrior, Bronx executioner, final executioner, 2020 texas gladiators, exterminators of the year 3000, urban warriors, hands of steel, blastfighter, rush the assassin, 2019 fall of new york, mines of kilimandjaro, kiss of the cobra, secret of the incas empire, ark of the sun god, AND treasure of the four crowns for 30.00 bucks in total from a certain resource. Ebay= Japanese vhs buying hell, people need to stop outrageously over bidding on these tapes. These amateurs are ruining my hobby and making sellers in Japan think that their not rare at all tapes are worth 30+ dollars. Damn fools, have fun on ebay, Ill be getting the awesome deals elsewhere.

Explosive Action said...

That was me, thank you very much. And if you read Spiral's description he states the cover is far better in person with shiny gold lettering. I've not had a single boot from Spiral. I've also rarely gone past $10 with his auctions; this was an exception. But with the current AUD>USD exchange rate, I'm laughing anyway.

If you wish to share your resource instead of keeping it from us 'damn amateurs', it would be appreciated. I have bought direct from Japanese websites as well which are indeed far cheaper, but I've never found a Cy Warrior before, one of my most wanted tapes.

Jayson Kennedy said...

I was about to say that Cy Warrior was real, scanning shiny foil results in weird, dark highlights. I won a few of Spiral's last round of tapes myself ;)

Explosive Action said...

Nice one Jayson, hope you got some good titles! Did you win the Trident Force, I lost out there. I'm more than happy with the prices I get on his auctions, especially as I get local Australian VHS for as low as 10c when I hunt around enough. It all balances out.

Beta said...
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Explosive Action said...

I guess that can be said about many things. There's plenty of Australian-only DVDs that I've sent to people in the US because Amazon sellers up the price ten fold of something I can get for a fiver at a Newsagent (Blood Hands, For Hire, Perfect Weapon come to mind).

I've only been at the Japanese VHS game for eighteen months and have paid anywhere from $3 to $40 for tapes (the most expensive being Jungle Heat) but I take into account the best exchange rate Australia has had against US$ since 1980 ($1 US is about 92c AUD now) plus also that shipping a tape from Japan to me is $3-4 as the countries are relatively close.

I'll definitely check out your ioffer auctions. Happy to explore shopping alternatives as my Yahoo Japan experience via an intermediate website was pretty average in the end. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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