Spotting Fake Disney Pins
20 things to look for to tell if your Disney pin is fake
Check the pin with a magnet
If you don't have magnets to hand, you can buy some from Amazon (affiliate link, we will earn some cash for the site if you buy using these links) Amazon US and Amazon UK.
Move the pin under a light source
Mickey Waffling needs to extend past the edge of the pin
We have an entire post dedicated to Waffling in Disney Pins, this is the design on the back of the pin.
Mickey Waffling needs to be complete
Edges should be smooth
Fake pins have a different sound
The weight of the pin
Two nubs by the pin post
The pin post quality
Big colour differences
Colours aren't always 100% identical between pins since pins come in different batches and from various locations; however, if there are significant colour differences that can point to the pin being fake.
Look for a high-gloss finish
A well defined hidden Mickey symbol
Dipping in the enamel
Misspelt words are a big giveaway
Mickey Pin Backs
If you're buying a pin and the price is incredibly low, either because it is in a job-lot or very cheap, this should raise a bit of a flag.
If a low edition popular pin is selling for $20 when it normally sells for $100 be very cautious.
Look at the fine detail
Look for the official Pin Trading logo
Some official Disney pins won't have a Pin Trading logo like the WDI or DSSH pins.
Third party companies can have licenses to make Disney pins and these will not have the pin trading logo but should have '©Disney' on the back.
Fake pins smell different
Practice makes perfect
Hidden Mickey pins are one of the most commonly faked pin, which is one of the reasons why you might see some groups on Facebook and other places actively forbid the discussion or trading of Hidden Mickey pins.
How to be 100% sure
The only way to be 100% sure it is official is to buy the pin from Disney, so either in the parks, in an official Disney store, or the official Disney websites.
Spotting fake Disney pins in the parks
In the parks there are two rules cast members are meant to follow which are essential for our discussion:
Spotting fake Disney pins online
Because I don't live near a Disney park, I get my pin trading fix from trading online. Trading online has some unique challenges when it comes to spotting fakes.
- Even when you ask for pictures, you can never be 100% they are the pictures of the pin you're receiving.
- Pictures don't always tell the whole story. It can be challenging to make out all defects or get a sense for the quality. Levels of light and picture quality can hide a multitude of sins.
- Trade with people you trust, if you have a long relationship with a pin trader, the chances are they aren't going to want to trade a fake pin with you.
- Always ask for photos of the back and the front. If you need more detail, ask for more pictures of precisely the bit you need. For example, you could ask to see a close up of the pin's post.
- If you aren’t convinced of the legitimacy of the images, you could ask the person to “timestamp” the photo by including a bit of writing with their username and date on a bit of paper.
- If you haven't traded with someone before, feel free to ask them to share some references, or use an external service. On Pin Trader Club we have a feature where you can leave a review for someone you've traded with, it appears publicly on their profile. There are also services like https://instagram.com/pin_alerts_resource who try and crowdsource recommendations on traders
- Avoid places where back and forth is nearly impossible, like eBay.
What to do with fake Disney pins
Ask people for help spotting fakes
Fakes and Scrappers
What our community has to say
No nibs, indentations in enamel, border on back / Mickey doesn't go to the edge.
I look for overstretched or too close/squished Mickey heads in the waffling, borders around the waffling (although sometimes that's not a true indicator) and 'off' colouring - muddy-looking or faded colours. Jagged edges on the metal can also be an indication of a scrapper or fake.
In person, the weight of the pin and thickness of the metal can give it away too - they can feel unusually light, or the metal base can look oddly thick
I've learnt that if it doesn't have any spokes either side of the actual pin spike, then it's probably fake
One thing to note, lately Disney's quality control has been lacking. So some pins will have dipped paint or odd Mickey waffling borders and still be official. If you bought it straight from the parks and it looks like that, then you're in the clear, and it's real. If you bought it 3rd party, I'd be cautious.
Small nubs, dipped enamel and if the Hidden Mickey pattern doesn't touch the end.
I think a big part of spotting fake pins is knowing what the common fakes are.
I was in merchandise for a year, so I got familiar with what kinds of pins were always fake.
Stuff like the family member pins, character footprints, puffles, etc.
It's something that gets a lot easier with experience.
Big tells are soft enamel with a wet paint look instead of hard enamel, enamel that doesn't meet the metal ridges, so you can feel them when you run your finger across, and the hidden Mickey waffling having a border.
I think a lot of times you can look closely at a pin and if you see really obvious quality issues, like sloppy lines and really off colours, you know it's fake.
What do you have to say about spotting fake Disney pins
Please share below any other tips or tricks you've picked up for detecting fake Disney pins. The more we can educate ourselves, the less profitable it will be for people to produce fakes and hopefully, the more we can stamp this out!
Written by tosbourn - Monday 21 October 2019
This article was last updated on Monday 07 November 2022.
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The magnet advice is brilliant. That is a fast and discreet way to check!
I just need to remember to not keep a magnet near my credit cards when going to the parks haha!
If it comes in an individual little baggie with a red line, it is most likely a fake.
Thanks for this, that’s a good one which we’ll add into the article. We were stung by this one when we started out pin trading!
I would like it if there was like a section on this website for people to post pictures to get feedback if a pin is fake or not. I have some that I’m not sure about because the back has like the authentic logo but there’s no FAC number and there’s no waffling; but the pin looks so good and the color isn’t faded etc. so they might be very good counterfeits...
I think for it to be truly official it has to have one of the FAC code/number. Right? All the ones I remember buying from Disney have that number.
We do have the ability to add a known fake against a real pin on the system, if you scroll down in the pin listing there is a button which leads to the report/view fake page.
Your suggestion of having the ability to upload a suspicious pin for community feedback is a great one and something that we will add to our backlog of features to work on.
I have seen some really good fakes before with colours being almost identical and waffling being good - it's so frustrating! Something I've done in the past for online sales listings is got a few different pictures of the pin up from Google and inspected the printed on elements (if there are any), some of the time the fake pin doesn't get these right.
A genuine pin doesn't always have an FAC code on it. For example the Cast lanyard and Hidden Mickey pins wouldn't have FAC codes on them as these are for retail items. I also have genuine limited edition and open edition pins which don't have FAC codes so that's not always a good way to tell either.
As the article says there is no sure fire way of telling a fake pin and often it's a combination of some of the things listed above.
The magnet test is not a way to tell a real pin from a scrapper pin at all. I have personally purchased pins from Disney and a magnet will stick to some and not to others. So I really wish people would stop giving out bad advice. Another piece of bad advice is if the Mickey waffle print doesn't go off the edge then the pin is fake. That is not true as I have pins that I bought from Disney and the Mickey print does not go off the edge but has a border. So that is another piece of bad advice. There are many other great ways to tell if a pin is a scrapper or not but those two are not and should stop being given as ways to tell.
Thanks for your feedback. The article does state that these tips are guidance rather than hard and fast rules. I have updated the article to try and make this more obvious with the two things that you've mentioned. Unfortunately we all know as pin traders that fakes are rife and a combination of some of these tips can help with identifying fake pins but unfortunately not always as fakes can be very convincing or official pins can have poor quality control (I have genuine pins with rough edges, poor posts etc.).
Thanks so much for being here and helping us to improve the site ✨
Just want to add that the rule of taking fakes off boards if you call them out is loosely taught and uncommonly enforced so don't expect all CMs to take them off if you ask them to.
Thanks, that is great to know!