Is Your Pokémon Coloring Book Fake? How to Spot a Knockoff!
Do you have kids that love Pokémon? Maybe love is too mild of a word. How about obsessed with Pokémon? I get it. They want Pokémon everything, from cards to books to hats and clothes to coloring books. But before you hit up Amazon for a Pokémon coloring book and start loading up your cart, there’s something you should know.
There are knockoff Pokémon coloring books and activity books for sale on Amazon.
Yes, right alongside legitimate Pokémon coloring merch you’ll find some less-than-savory characters who are infringing upon the Pokémon trademark. They didn’t create Pokémon, but they want to make money off of it. We’ll talk more about how and why this happens later on.
Now, I’m all for jumping on a trend and helping supply the market with what it demands. But I support people who do it with innovation, creativity, and their own personal flair. Not people who take advantage of someone else’s imagination and hard work by ripping it off. (I’ve had my writing stolen and re-sold, so yes, I do take it a bit personally.)
But here’s the good news: legitimate Pokémon official branded coloring books all have great reviews, will please any Pokémon fan, and still offer great value for your money. The counterfeit Pokémon books don’t offer that much of a discount, and there are so many reasons why you shouldn’t buy them. I’ll go over those reasons in a bit, along with how you can easily spot Pokémon knockoffs as you shop.
But first, let’s go over the real thing: authentic Pokémon coloring book products that your kids will enjoy. I’ll go over three broad categories of standard coloring books, activity books, and the how-to-draw series and make recommendations for which books are best for which kids. I’ll also note knock-offs I found in each category so you can see what I mean.
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At nearly 100 pages, this traditional Pokémon coloring book features all your favorite Pokémon characters. This one is good for a broad age range, as it includes simpler Pokémon characters for younger kids and more advanced backgrounds to color for older children. So if you’re shopping for a coloring product that will make more than one kid happy, this one is your best bet. This Pokémon coloring book is rated for ages 6+, but seems to have a broader range of age appeal than #2, which is up next, so younger kids will like to color in this one as much as the older kids. Check Amazon pricing for this coloring book here.
This coloring book is rated for ages 6+, and while the drawings and art could appeal to young children, it does seem more geared to older kids as it includes more details. At nearly 100 pages, it features creatures including Latios, Suicune, Entei, Regirock, Ho-Oh and more so your artists can be free to color page after page of all their favorite Pokémon. When kids are done coloring in the first one, this is a great next-level coloring project for them to enjoy. Shop on Amazon for this coloring book here
While this book shows all immediate appearances of being of legit Pokémon status and its lower price may be attractive, it is not an authentic Pokémon product. That means it’s a trademark violation. It’s also currently at 4 stars, lower than official Pokémon books. There is even a typo in the headline for the product, a dead giveaway. Amazon will eventually pull this coloring book down due to the legal infringement. See below to get more information on how to spot fakes like this one.
How to Draw
This 32 page guide shows kids how to get started drawing their favorite Pokémon. It’s rated for art lovers aged 6 to 9 and that seems fair. It’s available in paperback, spiral bound, and library binding, but it’s probably easiest to work with in spiral bound so the pages will lay flat while little artists are busy following the direction. Review the “See Inside” feature to view a page or two before you buy. Check Amazon pricing for this book here.
This step-by-step book covers how to draw over 65 Pokémon and includes two sheets of stickers, which is always a fun bonus! It’s rated for kids aged 6 to 9, and some drawings are clearly easier than others. But for most kids it will be best for the higher end of that age range. (Or a very talented 5 or 6 year old – we all have our unique strengths!) This book comes in paperback and spiral-bound. Spiral bound is probably best as the page will lay flat and let kids see the steps easily. Check Amazon pricing for this book here.
In this book, kids learn to draw over 40 Pokémon. It’s rated for 7 to 10 year olds, but despite the older age range, these Pokémon seem a bit simpler to draw. There are some duplicates in this book that were in the first book. Also, note that it’s a how to draw Pokémon book – as in just the characters. The Pokémon are not depicted adventuring, despite the title. Shop on Amazon for this book here.
I have to admit, they did a pretty decent job on the cover art for this one. However, based on the word cluster description, lack of descriptive reviews, multi-brand characters, and grammar errors and typos in the “see inside” images, you’ve got all the information you need to tell that this is not an authentic Pokémon coloring product.
Best Activity Book for Younger Kids: Pokémon Comictivity: Galar Games: Activity book with comics, stencils, stickers, and more!
It’s a little disappointing that you can’t “look inside” on Amazon for this one, but here’s the rundown. This activity book features code puzzles, mazes, drawing exercises, Pokémon comics, trivia questions, counting and “which picture is different” games, coloring pages, tic-tac-toe, matching, word scrambles and searches, and more featuring Pokémon from Sword & Shield Nintendo Switch games. It says ages 7 to 10, but from what I see younger kids would enjoy this book just as much as the older ones. It’s 48 pages long, includes two pages of stickers (which you can use with some of the puzzles and games) and stencils that are also used in the activities. Check Amazon pricing on this book here.
At 96 pages, this Pokémon activity book is packed with puzzles, games, trivia, reading, drawing, word searches and scrambles, code games, and more that will really challenge your Pokémon fanatic’s knowledge. The listing states this book is good for ages 4+ but honestly I think a 4 to 6 year old would be overwhelmed by the complexity of many of the activities as well as the reading level required for the instructions and the trivia questions, puzzles and games. I believe they got it wrong and this product is better suited for an older age group, probably 8 or even older based on the vocabulary and critical thinking skills needed. I would recommend having your Pokémon lovers go through the Comictivity book above and if they loved it and didn’t have many struggles, then spring for this one as they get older. Shop on Amazon for this book here
Here’s another knockoff alert for you. First, the title says it’s for toddlers, then indicates it’s for ages 8 and over. Clearly this person is unsure what a toddler is. When you click the “look inside” you can see right away that this is a low-quality non-branded counterfeit. The author’s name is even spelled differently between the listed author name under the title and what is shown inside on the laughable and ironic copyright page. Again, Amazon will eventually pull down this listing, but you can get a feel for spotting a knockoff by taking a look.
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Why are There Fake Products on Amazon?
You might be wondering how these knockoff products end up on Amazon in the first place. Isn’t Amazon a reputable seller? Yes, but Amazon is primarily a platform for all different types of sellers to distribute their products, including coloring books. That means that all a vendor has to do is list their products and boom – they are for sale. Amazon does not vet every new item that gets listed. It’s up to the consumer to investigate the product, read the reviews, and report problematic products to Amazon. Once Amazon is alerted to a fake product that violates a trademark or copyright, they will remove the listing. But many counterfeit products are listed every day (not just for Pokémon, but sooo many others), so it is hard for them to keep up.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s look at how we as consumers can spot these fakes and learn to avoid them.
How to Recognize a Knockoff Book
Knockoff artists don’t try to fake characters that are not popular. Counterfeit products will feature famous trademarked characters, sometimes blending various similar but unrelated trademarks into one product to get broader appeal. But you’ll see that these uses in violation of trademark and copyright are rarely well-executed. They also won’t include the exact character name in the title, letting them escape detection for longer.
The interior pages of knockoff coloring books may look “cheap” meaning the lines are either too thin or too thick, and may even look pixilated. They might have unprofessional looking art or borders on the pages, and the art may be overly simplistic or overly complicated. Always check the “Look Inside” feature to see ahead of time what you’re in for.
Don’t be fooled if you see a high star rating. Often counterfeiters will use multiple fake Amazon accounts to leave new reviews for their product, or they will hijack real accounts to leave fake reviews. Look for repetitive wording in reviews, star reviews with no written review, and clusters of reviews all on the same day. They may be clues that the reviews aren’t even genuine, and they’re just loading up their fake products with fake reviews.
Don’t get me wrong, I love indie publishing! And independently published only means the work did not go through a traditional publisher, not that it is a fake product. But because no traditional publisher would print a book involving clear trademark infringement, knockoffs may show “Independently published” in the Product Details section below the product description. This is just a piece of information to use in your overall determination.
Another clue that you could be looking at a knockoff is a brand new or recent publication date, meaning generally less than a year. It will typically also have a lower number of reviews and probably lower stars than authentic books. You’ll find the publication date in the listing title at the top of the page and also next to the publisher in the Product Details section further down on the page.
Why You Should Avoid Buying Knockoffs
Buying knock-off or counterfeit products may seem like an attractive option for those who want to save money, but there are several reasons why it’s not a good idea, even when it comes down to something as simple as Pokémon coloring books. Here are a few of the most important reasons why buying knockoffs in general is not a great idea.
If you needed just one reason, here it is. Buying knock-off products can have legal consequences. It is illegal to sell counterfeit products, and it is also illegal to purchase them. If you are caught buying counterfeit products, you could face legal action, including fines and even imprisonment. While your risk of getting in trouble buying knockoff Pokémon coloring books while you shop on Amazon is pretty low, you’re still supporting illegal activity. If you can tell it’s a knockoff product (and after reviewing the previous section, you now know how to spot them) just say no thank you.
Knock-off products are often made with cheaper materials and may not be built to the same quality standards as the original products. This means that they may break or wear out more quickly, have off-brand color palettes or fonts, or they may not work as well as the original product. This can end up costing you more money in the long run, as you’ll need to replace the knock-off product more frequently than you would the original.
When you buy knock-off products, you are not supporting the original creators of the product. This means that you are not contributing to the development of new products and new technologies. By buying the authentic product, you are supporting innovation and helping to ensure that new and better products will continue to be developed, even if that’s just more fun pages to color!
Some creators of fake coloring books will offer something for free in exchange for your email address. While this is a common and perfectly acceptable marketing practice, if you’re giving your information to people who are already committing fraud, they may be compiling email addresses to sell to other fraudsters. That means a lot of spam or phishing emails heading your way in exchange for the free extras. The best policy is to only give out your email to legitimate sources.
Go for the Real Pokémon!
While knockoff Pokémon coloring products are out there, they are fairly easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for (and now you’ve got all the information to point out fakes like a pro!). You don’t save that much money compared to authentic Pokémon coloring books, and if the quality is low the Pokémon fans in your house may be sorely disappointed with the fake. So go ahead and spring for the real thing, and don’t support the illegal activities of Pokémon counterfeiters!
Want more authentic goods? It’s not Pokémon, but Belle Green books are popular, especially among kids who love robots! Check out the Belle Green books page here.