Welcome back to the blog! I uh… am very aware that I keep making “Happy New Year” posts and then disappearing, but I promise you, it was because I had to move ASAP, start a business course, start a business, plan a convention, get a job, and then catch COVID first LOL.
That’s right, it’s been a BUSY 8 months for me, and TBH for some of it I’m not even sure how I made it out with my sanity. SOMEHOW in all of that I planned a vendor hall for Animethon and got the lucky opportunity to host Edmonton Gunpla Builders beside our booths. For the weekend they held contests, workshops, and a wonderfully awesome Gunpla display! They put the call out in one of our meetings for kits made by Bandai, and I admittedly misheard but approached them about a Sailor Moon display for the 30th Anniversary. A Bandi display wouldn’t be THAT hard, right?
Well, it is once you start accounting for all of the smaller companies they own and that it ESPECIALLY will be when half of your collection is still in boxes and you left packing for the night before you leave for the hotel.
Thankfully everything turned out beautifully! Unfortunately, I was unable to print out a write-up on it because of how busy I was and some people mistook it for an official display, but nope! This is 100% my personal collection. But I’m flattered some people might have mistaken it for a Bandai display.
Despite being Vendor Coordinator for the event there wasn’t a whole lot of Sailor Moon in the hall that I didn’t already have, so I don’t really have a haul, but I did manage to snag the Sailor Mercury Q-Posket A version (Little Star Gifts), and some PVC magnets from Monogram (Star Cast Anime).
Hopefully, I’ll get to do more next year. The crew said everyone loved my display and invited me to display with them at other events. So check back for updates on that! Also check below for a new wallpaper if you have dual monitors 😉
Despite the endless situations surrounding Covid-19, I hope your Christmas or Holidays are able to be wonderful in the best way you can make them. I’ll be back in 2022 with new art, new reviews, and new over-analyzing that thing Sailor Moon fans keep talking about!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year, Pauline, aka MoonFigures
One of the most common questions I get in my “How to Spot Bootlegs” panel is “What is the difference between a ‘bootleg’ and ‘unlicensed’ merchandise?” The difference is massive, so I’m here to explain.
Throughout my time as a collector, I’ve noticed that “bootleg” is often used as an umbrella term for merchandise that is copied or created without a license. Regardless of the proper title, the merchandise is low quality and shares many common defects. Despite that, the term is actually a little more specific than the umbrella term it has become.
A bootleg is a fraudulent copy of a piece of existing merchandise made in mass production. This means that the licensing company has released or allowed a company to make a piece of merchandise and someone has created a copy of that item in an attempt to confuse the customer into buying theirs instead.
Some confusion created behind this is that sometimes bootlegs are made by the same factories hired to make the official versions. That is why some bootlegs are very convincing, but might not contain parts they do not manufacture like licensing company identification tags (holographic stickers) or the correct packaging. Bootlegs can also be made with stolen prototype moulds that are not destroyed when disposed of.
The manufacturers above do not have permission to create extra merchandise or use the disposed prototype moulds and are absolutely sneaky about the routes they take to sell this merchandise.
Common synonyms: knockoff, counterfeit, pirated (in reference to media with official releases that release copies)
So what about merchandise that does not fit the criteria above? Well, there are specific terms out there for that.
Unlicensed merchandise is an original product made in mass production based on an existing property that requires a license to sell or make merchandise. They have not gained permission from the person who owns the license to produce merchandise or paid the licensing fees, and therefore the merchandise is not official.
This can get a little confusing if a licensor allows a company to produce socks featuring approved artwork, and graphics, but another one creates unlicensed socks of their own design featuring original art. The unlicensed socks do not feature the same designs, therefore they are not copying the official socks and are not considered bootlegs.
Common synonyms: Unauthorized, Pirated (media with no official release/translation the unauthorized release takes the place of)
Where Do Fan Artists Fit?
Fanart can be a really big grey area when it comes to this conversation. The biggest difference is that most fan artists can not afford to mass-produce merchandise, therefore they are not typically viewed as unlicensed or bootleg. They are viewed as fanart. Mass production is typically considered to be around 10,000 pieces or more, and most artists can not afford or even store this much merchandise.
With that said, the creation of Print on Demand and Shop sites has somewhat changed licensors’ views on this. They do not provide much external view on how that item or artist sells, so it’s hard to tell if they do 1 sale per year or 1000 sales per month. So the overall view seems to be if you sell online you are fair game for a Cease & Desist.
Within the convention scene though, most licensors will consider an artist’s work a type of free advertising, except if they commit trademark infringement. That means situations in which an artist uses a logo, series name, or character name. There is definitely a little more to it, but these are the more common things event staff are asked to keep an eye out for. If you are an artist seeking legal advice I advise you to do your own research. This will not apply to all companies, and not many speak out about what they allow.
If you have any questions about specific words and what they actually mean vs how the community uses them feel free to drop them below. I’ll either tell you where they fit or include them in my post above.
My favourite places to buy official! (* include affiliate links)
There’s a new magical girl in town and for some reason everyone is talking about how cool it is that her new music video is animated to look like Sailor Moon. There’s just one problem. It’s not.
It’s no secret that Dua Lipa is a bit of a nerd. In 2019 she released “Swan Song” for the soundtrack of ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ and in 2020 the official music video for ‘Hallucinate‘ was animated with clear inspiration from the Golden age of American animation. Now that we have a music video for ‘Levitating’ that is animated, it’s time to get excited and dig for the inspirations!
Music video in question below:
It was exciting to hear this video had a lot of references, and I had a lot of fun watching, trying to spot them all, but then the social media posts went from “this video has stuff clearly inspired by Sailor Moon” to “This video LOOKS like Sailor Moon!” …and I just can’t let that sit. That would be an injustice to the Magical Girls who came before her who are the clear inspiration for the animation style in this video.
If you really want to find the true inspiration of the animation style used for Levitation you need to look to 80’s anime and magical girls. There you will find a world of bright colours, pastels, rounded cute faces, thick chunky hair, and blue eye shadow. While ‘Magical Angel Creamy Mami‘ has remained fairly iconic (and the clear inspiration I know best), others like Magical Emi, and Minky Momo have quietly settled in the background, mostly only known in North America by magical girl fans who have dived into the history of the genre. You can also find similar styles in the animation of well known series like Dragon Ball, and Bubblegum Crisis.
When you really get down to it, the style of animation is simply out of the wrong era to resemble the animation of Sailor Moon. It’s so PERFECTLY 80’s.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t similarities, and references throughout. I would even argue that there might be some pull from iconic North American cartoons like ‘Barbie and the Rockers’, and ‘Jem and the Holograms’– also straight out of the 80’s. But the entire video is ABSOLUTELY overloaded in crescent and full moon imagery. Every time I re-watch or pause it I find something else I missed the previous watch around.
Edit: NOSTALOOK, who animated the music video, has commented saying they were inspired by 80’s anime!
Below are my favourite comparisons of potential references to Sailor Moon in the music video.
As a Sailor Moon blog/site I just want to clarify that Naoko Takeuchi has NOT been outed as a problematic creator. In fact, she’s quite private, and it’s rare that even fans see her in public. If she is, it would be difficult for us to know. This post was initially created as a Facebook status in relation to THAT author and her problematic twitter account, and way of handling LGBT characters, or lack there of in-book.
We need to have a chat about buying official vs bootleg merchandise of a property created by a problematic creator. If you love a fandom, but have issues with the creator and don’t want to support them monetarily there are options, but the correct choice is not to stick it to them by buying bootlegs. Buying a bootleg seems like an easy choice. They’re cheaper if you buy them through certain routes, they’re often nearly the exact same product, the money doesn’t go to the creator… you CAN have your cake and eat it too!
…no, you can’t. Not that way.
Buying bootleg means you are buying from a manufacturer that does several problematic things.
1. Stole product designs.
2. They might have straight up stole a prototype mould that was not efficiently disposed of.
3. They might be the official manufacturer going behind the license holders back to manufacture cheaper product to sell under the table.
4. They’re willing to manufacture these products with subpar materials that don’t hold their desired shapes (warping/bending over time).
5. They’re sometimes willing to paint these products with unsafe paints that contain lead.
6. They’re willing to sell products with manufacturing issues such as breaking, short shots, dripping glue, bad paint, yellowing, flash, etc.
7. They’re willing to steal box designs or straight up make their own to trick the buyer into being convinced they’re purchasing official merchandise.
8. They’re willing to pass off what ever they’ve created from beginning to end as official to you.
9. In order to keep costs down you’re likely supporting a sweat shop and maybe even child labour.
10. They might be storing the product in a way that rats and mice have access and leave droppings or trace matter on your actual merchandise or boxes in a way that remains by the time it reaches your hands.
11. Depending on the product your merchandise may have human fecal matter or urine as an ingredient and not just trace matter.
12. The manufacture clearly doesn’t have safety standards for their employees at this point.
13. The CEO likely doesn’t have much in the way of care for human rights and freedoms if they’re willing to let all of this go.
If your response to “I love this fandom but the creator is problematic” is to buy bootlegs you are supporting people just as bad or worse than the person you’re trying to avoid. You may be supporting child labour and organized crime.
If you’re buying a $15 or even $35 official scarf for some random magical school the problematic person might only receive less than a penny for your singular purchase, but the designer of that scarf may have always been or felt pressure to switch to ethical manufacturing that may even be local within your country.
Alternatively, if you’re unconvinced or still feel icky about buying something official brand new I recommend keeping an eye on the second hand market. Often when new merchandise is purchased fans will quickly change their mind and resell. Your money goes to supporting THAT person, instead of the problematic person. Two people get to enjoy it, and maybe more if you pass it on when you’re done with it! There are plenty of ways to buy second hand. From eBay, to Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, Etsy, and thrift stores. I’ve often found brand new items I’ve wanted for forever because I had patience. This is also a great way to get a better price than retail. I easily spent 1/3 the value of the items in my 90’s merchandise collection simply because I waited for deals or found them in thrift stores.
Last, support an independent artist. There are thriving artist communities for nearly every fandom, and even if there isn’t you can definitely commission an artist to make something you’re looking for. This DOES get a little more expensive, but that’s because you’re not supporting fast fashion, or mass production. You’re helping an artist pay for rent, food, and life.
This eye catch inspired a great custom project, but in order to get to the end product we have to start WAAAAYYYY back at the start, with a damaged wand base that was donated by a friend. Hold on to your hats, friends. I’ve got a roller coaster for you. This wand was a TRIP.
Several months ago a friend contacted me and told me they had a Cutie Moon Rod in VERY poor condition. It belonged to an ex friend of ours that neither of us had contact with in years, and to be honest, it was one step away from a trash bag. He asked if I wanted it for a custom/restoration project, and I’m definitely not saying no to a challenge.
The wand looked like THIS:
It was dirty, sun damaged, worn, and no longer functioned. No big deal. If I could fix it I would, but I have plans to learn how to do that later. I will eventually come back to that.
When he dropped it off he commented that he had noticed it was dirty and had bleached it. Our conversation was a little uh… unsure, so I promised I’d wear gloves (and I did). My plan moving forward was to first, get that yellowed plastic back to as close to the original pink as I could. Clearly it wouldn’t stay pink as my intention was to paint it… uh… *checks notes* yellow, but I wanted to see how much Retro briting could benefit me. My tutorial was subtle in difference, but my friends, this changes EVERYTHING.
If you are unaware of how bad this wand is, the wand on top is my wand from my personal collection. It was in-box and new when I bought it. The wand on the bottom is our project wand. The top wand is also by Irwin, while the bottom is a Japanese Bandai wand, but they’re pretty identical inside and out.
In order to restore this wand I am going to pull it apart, clean it, retrobrite the handle, and then put it back together again.
The Tweet below links to a thread including a picture of the inside of the wand and a bit of the cleaning process. I warn you now. It is DISGUSTING. There’s a warning before the picture if you want to be cautious.
SOMEHOW I made it out of the hell hole that was disassembling this wand, and cleaning it. It took a week to crack open, and 24 hours to retro brite as far as I could push it. As a small assurance, this wand was sterilized in bleach, dish soap, and in the retro briting process. I wore gloves while handling it until I felt confident I wouldn’t get anything from it.
…And then I got a mysterious rash on my arm that no one could explain anyway, so LOL WHOOOPS. I contribute it to the wand because before I cleaned it and knew how disgusting it was inside I braced it under my arm while trying to remove a screw. Shortly after my arm in that exact area turned orange, began hurting when touched, and became textured in a way I’ve never seen before. Since no one knew what it was we left it for a while and it actually went away on it’s own. Somehow, my arm is still attached and no longer orange.
Fortunately, 24 hours of retro briting actually brought this wand a long way. Because it was sun bleached the final wand is lighter than the colour it should be. You can see in the top of the handle, where it was hidden behind the wings that it’s a little bit darker than where it was exposed. That shows me that the lighter handle is not from the RB process, but from the initial sun bleaching damage.
This was as far as I went in the restoration process. I wanted to see if I could at least fix the handle, and I definitely could to an extent. I couldn’t fix the reflective paint because there is a process to applying it that I don’t know yet, and actual reflective paints are hard to achieve. At this point my intention was to just paint over it.
On to the paint!
To paint this wand I took each piece, lightly sanded it with 1000 grit sand paper, and began layering. I regret not priming the handles. Every time I sanded down to the pink I had to work to cover it again. This happened a lot during sealing when I had some issues with the gloss coat cracking. But for a first custom wand I expect some mistakes.
I loved everything except how the gold looked on the blue bulbs. I bought a spray paint that matched the colour of the wand, but came out of the can a much darker gold. It’s actually kind of infuriating? The can says bright gold, the lid is similar to the wand, the colour sample in the picture looked like the yellow gold, but I still got THAT.
So I contemplated a fix, and decided to branch out and try something new.
Adding gold leaf was a great idea, but I decided quickly that I couldn’t just do those lines. Everything gold needed GOLD LEAF!
This was much easier than I expected it to be, and a little infuriating at times, but I think next time I’ll know what I’m doing a little better. I Did try to gold leaf the buttons, but it didn’t stick well.
The last picture shows when I tried to seal the paint and leafing in. The paint on the wings cracked down to the gold. I had to sand it all down and start over. To keep it from repeating I used a brushed on gloss sealant, and then I sprayed it again.
The final wand is not perfect, but it’s perfect enough for my shelf, and I LOVE how it came out. I took some artistic liberties, adding a gold ring above the buttons, and on the bottom piece. All of the buttons, lights, and gems have been polished. Overall I am very happy with how this came out.
Unfortunately, the wand does not work. If you saw the horror that was the inside of this wand, all of that gunk ate through the bottom battery terminal and wire. I need to learn some new skills to repair it first. That might actually be a goal for this summer.
It’s very likely I’ll accept a commission or two for these wands. Now that I know what I’m doing They’re going to be stunning.
I recently opened an Etsy Shop for selling both my own art and Sailor Moon collectibles. This is in ADDITION to my Redbubble and Spoonflower. I know. It might be a little much for now, but both places can offer items I won’t be able to carry due to cost and space at the moment. Plus Redbubble can offer me licensing on some work (My Adventure Time and Last Unicorn pieces are official!).
I’ve listed my Magical Moon Toys stickers and Acrylic charms, as well as a fruity sticker I made recently. Hopefully there will be more prints listed soon. In regards to Sailor Moon I’ve listed some advertising pieces as well as a VHS, but I’ve got lots more duplicates and extras from my sales bin to list for you guys <3. I also hope to use my skills in Retrobriting and restoration to get some cleaned up pieces there for you in the future. I’ll also be releasing information soon about offering services for those who don’t want to attempt it themselves.
These ROHTO Lycee eye drops are formulated for fatigued, tired eyes and treat redness. As far as I can tell this particular design released in early 2020, but it’s not the first time ROHTO has collaborated with Sailor Moon. There are lots of unique bottle designs available. Unfortunately they are disposable, and not refillable. This product also expires, so be sure it isn’t expired if you intend on using it (bottom of the box).
The box for these eye drops is quite pretty. It’s a really nice pink and orange-y tone, but it’s also covered in a holographic film. There is also a transparent sticker on top with Luna and the product bottle featured on it. It also comes with the info pamphlet below.
The bottle is one of their standards for this line, only printed with a Sailor Moon silhouette, with a crescent moon sticker behind her. I thought it might be darker than the items on the website I linked above, but it appears to be a trick of the eye as the product is darker to match Sailor Moon better, and the sticker in the background is red.
That’s right. These eye drops are PINK. That is NOT the bottle. The bottle is clear.
I absolutely questioned this initially, so I dropped 1 drop of the product onto some white paper and sure enough, it dried pink even. I am not sure how pink eye drops clear up red eyes… but I can’t imagine they don’t work if they have a whole product line geared towards women and a collaboration with TOEI for Sailor Moon.
But folks, hold on to your hat. That’s not the only non-traditional feature of these eye drops.
These eye drops are actually rose scented. I popped mine open and it definitely smells floral, but a little sweeter than your typical natural floral. It’s actually pretty pleasant, but it seems weird to me that eyedrops might be scented. My eyes don’t smell. If they did, maybe I could provide you with a sample. When I opened the bottle for the colour test that single drop was strong enough for me to smell a whole foot from my face. It’s now dry and if I put my nose to the paper it still has a slight scent.
While I am sure these eye drops are safe I did not test them on myself.
Because of the medical nature of this item bootlegs do not currently exist and will likely not be produced. (May 18, 2021)
Overall these eye drops are not a requirement in your collection, but if you collect cosmetic items it might be a nice unique addition. I particularly appreciate it for it’s box, but alone it’s mostly a nice space filler item on my cosmetic items shelf.
The sad reality of collecting vintage toys is that even if you take the BEST care of them they can turn yellow. For some items it can be a chemical reaction in the plastic due to heat or simply age, for others it can be sun fading from being left outside or in a window space for too long. Even exposure to cigarette smoke can yellow plastics.
Today I want to talk about a process called Retrobriting (RB) (aka Retr0brite, Retrobright). It’s a process that appears to have been created by the tech world for removing the yellowing from old electronics. If you google or youtube it you’ll find pages upon pages of content featuring old computers, keyboards, Gameboys, and consoles, most contributing the problem to heat from the electronics inside. Oddly, I see very little happening in the world of collectable toys hopping on this bandwagon. In fact, I can remember dozens of posts asking about the sun fading over the years with zero response outside of painting to fix it.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why I see so few Sailor Moon collectors jumping on RB. It might simply be an age thing that now we’re older and less afraid to try these sorts of things on our expensive toys, or it might be that simply no one thought to try it? I’m sure I am not the first Moonie to do it though, and absolutely not the first (non-tech) collector. During my research, I found a Star Wars collector who restored vintage figures with this method, as well as a Polly Pocket collector who used a related, but slightly different method.
What is Retrobriting exactly?
The general consensus with RB is that it uses a hydrogen peroxide formula in combination with exposure to UV light to create a chemical reaction with Bromine on or in the plastic to remove the yellowing it causes. It appears to have not actually have been studied though, and this may not be the case. That article also believes it may just bleach your item, though I’ve seen the process work on coloured plastic, and I am personally unsure if that is what is happening.
Is Retrobriting Permanent?
Retrobriting is NOT permanent, but as the original process of yellowing is slow it should not return for a while. Remember, it took about 14 years for my wand to reach the condition it was in in the pictures at the beginning. This video shows a test where the repaired item was reexposed to sunlight for a full year, and certain areas were protected with different topcoats. While you could see some changes, even after a full year of exposure the shift was not that big.
Can Retrobriting Damage My Toys?
RBing is usually safe as long as you do not overdo it. This wand sat for 24 hours in 3% H2O2 without issue, so I don’t believe it’s easy to damage your plastics. It MAY be more dangerous if your plastic is already weak. Over doing it can make your plastics brittle.
What is the Process for Retrobriting?
RBing can be done with a cream or liquid. Neither is better than the other overall, but might be a better process depending on your access to sunlight, supplies, or even just targeting a specific part of the item.
I will not be covering the cream formula in this article as I have not tried it yet, but there are plenty of resources online for it.
For this tutorial I practised on my clearly yellowed Sailor Mini Moon Pink Moon Stick from Irwin Toys in 2001. That wand is exactly 20 years old this year and the common complaint about it is that the soft pink handle often turns yellow. This happened to my wand, even though it has only been removed from the box a couple of times (I got it sealed even), and has lived most of its life in a basement. It was even pink when I bought it.
Clearly, the pictures are taken under different lighting and there’s some harshness to the second image that isn’t in the first, but the second picture above has been edited to pretty accurately shows the colour of the wand I started with this week, in comparison to the same wand on the left. These pictures were taken 4 years apart. The left picture was taken in 2011, while the picture on the right was taken in 2015. The pictures below will have been taken this week.
What you’ll need: *UV LED Lights [I used these] ($23 CAD) *Hydrogen Peroxide 32 fl. oz. – 3% – 12% ONLY ($4 CAD) *Aluminum Foil ($10 CAD) Duct Tape ($4 CAD) A clear container big enough for your item (Mine was $4 from Value village)
Total Cost: $45 CAD
*Cost will depend on the amount you need and the size of your container.
Safety Notes – IMPORTANT
When working with H2O2 please wear gloves and eye protection.
Do not use higher than 12% H2O2 for this project. Doing so risks damaging your item, and may be corrosive and too dangerious.
The UV light will heat up the H2O2. This is a part of the reaction, but should be monitored so that it doesn’t heat up enough to damage your plastic.
Always request and read the Safety Data Sheet of any chemicals you work with for the first time, especially if you are using it in a different way for the first time.
Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of building my system because I didn’t think I’d keep it, but it seems appropriately sized for most projects I’ll ever do for now.
For my container, I chose a tall, round glass vase I already owned and placed the completed set up in a plastic bin in case of leaks or spills.
Travelling the outside of the container I used Duct Tape to tape the LED lights in a spiral up to the top. I am still unsure whether this container will remain or not, so I didn’t trim off the light strip (they can be cut at specific points).
Once the lights are secure, wrap the aluminium foil shiny side facing in around the full container. Be sure to include enough to fold under the bottom, or cover it with a different piece later. Secure it all in place. For the top, I cut off a small section and just hand-folded it over to get the shape. The foil acts as a reflector for the UV light.
Pour your H2O2 into the container and plug in the lights to test it!
The rest of the images below have not been edited
Remove all of the screws and components from your item so that just the parts you want to RB are free from other parts. For this wand I just want to RB the handle pieces. The rest is actually in really good condition with the exception of the plastic backing for the holographic heart sticker. Unfortunately I don’t feel I can safely remove the sticker, but luckily that part is not visible, so it’s okay if I don’t treat it.
TIP: When I know I’ll be working on something like this for a while I bag all of the parts in a ziplock bag for safekeeping. I am absolutely the type of person to lose the screws.
Once the items are dropped into the H2O2 you can cover it with the lid and check back to see how it’s doing. This project took approximately 24 hours by the time I was happy with it and decided to say it was satisfactory. See some process updates below.
The 24 hours WAS broken up over 2 days. I didn’t want to let it sit overnight unattended until I had confidence in the lights as the plug kept getting very hot.
The final result looks BEAUTIFUL. I’ll be honest, I had to take it outside into natural light before I realized it WAS turning back to pink. If you compare the process pictures they don’t appear to have a lot of change until you see this one in the natural light.
Overall this was a relatively painless project and it did GREAT things for my original wand in a short couple of days. I’ve already started working on a couple of other pieces I own to improve my collection.
Moon Healing Escalation!
If you’re looking to remove damage from your collectible and afraid to do it yourself feel free to contact me.