See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo-based Uridoki, an online shopping mall comprising of shops buying unused goods from owners, announced a cross-border character figure trading platform called 4real today. For individuals, it allows you to sell and buy character figures, principally unused ones only. The startup authenticates every item prior to listing it for sale and issues a certificate so that buyers don’t need to worry about being scammed with fake or pirate products.
Product authenticity is a serious problem in the trading market of character figures. In Akihabara, the Tokyo district known for high-tech electronics and Japanese anime / manga culture, 8 out of 15 shops dedicated in buying figures said they have seen more than a few counterfeit items in response to Uridoki’s recent survey. In addition, some respondents said more people come sell fake or pirate ones while others say counterfeit items are distinguishable for professionals only but not for amateurs because of high reproducibility.
Uridoki has been brokering deals of character figures with resale shops on the existing platform. Leveraging partnership with them, the company decided to launch the marketplace giving buyers authenticity guarantee as making themselves different from others. Authenticity judgements are primarily based on copyright seal, facial expression of figure, color irregularity, what’s printed on a package, smell and elasticity. While Japan-made character figures are earning good reputation at home and abroad, the spillover impact of such popularity induces more piracy cases as we saw a large pirate factory in Shanghai exposed by the local police. In response to the potential global remand, the marketplace is available in multiple languages and can be checked out with PayPal (Users outside Japan can purchase listed items but are not yet allowed to submit their items for sale at the time of launch).
US-based StockX is best known as one of the startups giving an authenticity guarantee for secondhand purchasers. Their greatest strength is dealing with sneakers while they list many character figures in the Collectibles category. In addition, we’ve seen other startups like Goat (US), Monokabu (Japan), Kckc (pronounced as ‘kikcy’, Japan), Novelship (Southeast Asia) and Poizon (China) are being emerged but all of these mainly deal with sneakers. Focused on character figures, 4real can better promote themselves to the global market while emphasizing their competitiveness in the Cool Japan concept.
Launched as a price comparison site allowing users to see how much they can sell their unused items to a series of reuse shops, Uridoki later pivoted to a shopping mall of reuse shops. In 2018, the company launched a mobile app called Picol, whiich allows users to sell their unused item just by scanning its barcode (the app already shut down). The company has raised 330 million yen to date, recently partnered with the Japanese subsidiary of eBay.com to share actual market prices of secondhand items in the overseas with reuse shops in Japan.