Since the reintroduction of Tamagotchi virtual pets in 2004, Counterfeit Tamagotchi toys have been circulating the online market. They are fake Tamagotchis which retain similar appearances to modern Tamagotchi pets, though they contain inferior programming that does not resemble the original toy. They cannot interact with official Tamagotchi toys, are made with cheaper materials, and are not suitable as a Tamagotchi alternative.
In July 2004, Bandai began a full-scale investigation on the production of the counterfeit toys. However, despite their efforts, counterfeits continued rapid production. Bandai has since put out press releases to help consumers identify the differences between the official pets and the counterfeits. Counterfeit models were produced and distributed based on new designs of Tamagotchi Connection and Tamagotchi Plus models, but new designs tapered off severely following the release of the Tamagotchi Plus Color.
Despite significant difference in the appearance and shape between models over the years, the programming has not changed since 2004. As of 2019, several counterfeit models have appeared in retail stores, such as Hot Topic and Target. Auctions and third party sites are heavily sponsored on Google and eBay, pushing them to the top of search results and, as a result, burying authentic Tamagotchi results below them.
Identifying a Counterfeit
A counterfeit toy will contain one or more of the following discrepancies:
- Counterfeits are generally modeled after the 2004-2009 era of Tamagotchi pets. They are most likely to have the "egg with antenna" shape used for the Tamagotchi Connection Version 3, Keitai Kaitsuu Tamagotchi Plus, Akai, and Hanerutchi 1, except they have four buttons, a deeply recessed screen, an offset logo, and the key ring between the infrared port and antenna instead of on the right side.
- 2004 counterfeits are likely to look identical to a Japanese shell, with the exception of minor color differences, including buttons, printed graphics, and body color. Shell lists for a particular version may be used to identify a fake.
- For versions after the Tamagotchi Plus, the shell is most likely to have the incorrect printed background for that version (for example, a Ura Jinsei Enjoy Tamagotchi Plus shell with a Tamagotchi Plus background).
- The Infrared port may have a different color from the norm; official Tamagotchi toys' infrared port will be one of two shades of red (but can be black on some limited edition shells).
- Counterfeit models typically have four buttons on the front, while some may have five. The buttons will likely be labeled, either with a letter (A, B, C) or with a function (Status, Decide, Cancel, Reset).
- It is most likely to be in unusual packaging, typically plastic on a card.
- The packaging is most likely to be in broken English.
- The packaging is not likely to have any trademark information or the Bandai logo.
- The Bandai logo may sometimes be present, but put on as a sticker instead of printed on the packaging.
- The name "Tamagotchi" is most likely to either be missing or misspelled.
- The packaging is most likely to have the letters "JD" on it.
- It is most likely to have phrases such as "50 in 1", "Touchscreen", or "Spanish Edition".
- It may sometimes come bundled with random accessories, such as a laser pen, lanyard, stylus, or case.
- It is most likely to be named as a version (anywhere between Version 3 through Version 9).
- The programming on the toy will not resemble an authentic Tamagotchi in any way.
- The characters include counterfeit sprites taken from Tamagotchi, Digimon, and other video game franchises, as well as animals and original characters.
- If the packaging claims the toy is Version 3 through Version 6, the programming will not resemble that version.
- It will have much larger pixels on the LCD with no visible icons.
- Often, the labels over the buttons will not match the function of the button.
- It may not be able to communicate with other Tamagotchi toys, legitimate or counterfeit.
- JiDan models do not go through death. Only one official release, the My Tamagotchi Forever app, has this.