Ripoffs, Bootlegged Hardware, Faking - Your thoughts?


Wall of Text:
So I’d like to ask you guys your thoughts regarding bootlegs. I live in China, where the factories that make the authentic Madcatz TE cases sell unlicensed copies made in the same factory online. Shanzhai is a term that means bootlegged or copied, however nowadays we have an even greyer area where the product is simply made with a)cheaper materials or b)during off-work hours from the same production line and sold. What are your thoughts regarding buying these?

I have purchased Qanba products, where their Sanwa imitation buttons where almost as good as the real thing. The stick, too, was of great quality. The only shortcoming in my Qanba Q1 was that the spring in the stick was a little weak so it was not good at returning to neutral properly. I felt no guilt in this purchase, and was 100 percent satisfied. The Q1 Cut cost me about 65 bucks stock.

My next purchase (I am a broke mofo) was a bootlegged Viewlix case in the hitbox configuration. The selling party suggested I went to VLX size and opted for 30mm buttons all around as it was more comfortable. After using it for a year I can now say that the 24mm’s are most likely optimal. The stick came with a zero delay match plus pcb, all bootleg buttons. The PCB is not tourney legal for all button controllers, the buttons were perhaps the worst thing I’ve ever touched with my bare hands… ever. If you pressed the button down, held it to the side, and let go some of the buttons would remain depressed. I remained depressed. My guilt flared a little bit as I did feel that the layout perhaps still is new, and as such belongs mostly to the guys of the Hitbox team.

Finally, my most recent purchase: On May holiday the biggest online shopping website in the world was having a sale on all its items. I browsed around at the Qanba selection happily when I came across an acrylic board that looked AMAZING. I HAD to get my hands on it, especially when I would be getting a fully sanwa’d setup in gorgeous acrylic for 70 bucks. After purchasing it I couldn’t help but feel like the design reminded me of someone else’s: B15sdm. I was browsing around on the forums and decided to show my girlfriend how amazing his work is when I came across his X1 advert and realized an awful truth. The “S1” I had bought was literally a copy of his “X1” down to the last feature. The only difference is the kind of screws used, the way the acrylic is colored, and the screws used. When I forwarded the information B15SDM also found several other examples of design work that had been stolen. I felt awful. I haven’t received the product nor do I have the capability of comparing it outside of photos and hearsay to the original product. However this 70 dollars saved me a couple bucks but cost me a bit of my moral standing.

Where do you guys draw the line in bootlegs? I think for me this is a case of it’s okay to steal from wal-mart but you shouldn’t steal from a mom and pop store. I’d be happy to share links with you guys on where to get bootleg Viewlix and TE sticks/cases for 50 bucks (To someone who vets their background, I’m not gonna share it with the few madcatz employees here as it will cause a major loss in the local economy in one of the poorer regions of Canton, China) but I don’t feel right sharing the source for the B15sdm knockoffs. Is this hypocritical?


I should receive the acrylic stick in a few days and will give my thoughts regarding its operation. Meanwhile here is the stock Qanba and the All Button Controller.


Well if its just the case that’s an identical design, I don’t see what’s wrong with it… I’d totally buy a VLX designed case and make it look like a legit VLX.


Wait, there’s a Chinese company selling hitboxes? Those things aren’t even mass produced.


this is one of the most interesting posts i’ve read in awhile, thanks for that. i’ve seen alot of those TE clones you’re talking about on ebay. i was really tempted to buy one of those for my first stick since they had cooler artwork than licensed madcatz stick (i.e. alot of juri and cammy asses). this was before i learned about all of the stuff that madcatz does to support the FGC with sponsoring tournaments and players. if it wasn’t for them i think we mightve been stuck importing more expensive sticks and parts from japan. given your location though, i’d say you lie a good deal outside madcatz’ key demographics. the b15sdm sticks are art, seriously. and he like any other artist would know that design ideas get stolen all the time, it’s not a big deal. the functionality to the hitbox layout was very innovative but i’m sure their creators must’ve known how easy it would be to replicate. to really make a product thats unique to your brand you have to engineer the hell out of it, like honda and mazda have done with their motors. i’d like to think that any custom stick makers are not out to make a ton of money, but rather contribute to the community while doing something they really enjoy. i get that feel from TOs and and modders alot.

knockoffs and bootlegs are treated alot differently stateside. these products are usually sold on the streets and in swap-meet type places. the transactions are in cash and hardly charge taxes so there is little contribution made to local schools and welfare. the profit margins for them are so high that many crime syndicates taken over their distribution. the risk with getting involved with these operations is significantly low compared to drug or prostitution rings and yet yield similar profits. the laws involved with prosecuting the offenders are vague and hard to enforce, and it dosen’t help that the people peddling the stuff at the lowest levels are actually migrants and low income people with no criminal background.

i grew up playing with knockoff DBZ action figures and trading fake pokemon cards with my friends. when i was 11 i started hustling bootleg rap and pop CDs. the consoles i had in my teenage years were modded to play burned games. i’m in my 20s now and still don’t care much for copyright laws. it seems like they really fuck over the people in lower income brackets. if it wasn’t for bootlegs i would’ve missed out on alot of culture as i was growing up.

the made in china thing still gets to me though. i’ve watched some documentaries on chinese factories but they give conflicting views. there was one about EUPA providing housing and education for the employees and others going on about 14 hour work days and poor work environments. so what’s the dealio? also what are you doing in china? your english seems to good for you to be a chinese native.


Well people in the US are already making their own DIY “Hitboxes” it is a only matter of time till someone made bootleg hit boxes

@Husser_Brian‌ you really made it into the big time someone in China is bootlegging Hotboxes.


The thing is hitboxes are not revolutionary due to the cases themselves. They are simply just another layout like Noir. As a result this concept is REALLY easy to steal. I actually feel the same way about buying a hitbox from anyone other than the Hussers as I do with buying the bootleg X1. HOWEVER, when everyone is making their own and this small shop offers the same because they have laser cutters I don’t feel AS guilty. The X1 is a luxury product. It’s not just a simple case it’s “gucci gear” and as such falls under a different bracket in my moral views.

The people that bootleg these things are usually small scale factory workers that are somehow related to the OEM’s for Madcatz, Hori, Sanwa, etc. Shantou is the world’s largest plastic production city. One factory can make the same product and stamp it with 100 different brands. Competing companies sometimes even source from the same factories. I can tell you that the best sources for the bootleg VLX and TE’s still does not offer the same level of finish as a proper quality controlled TE. Some of the bootlegs are not bootlegs at all but rather products that did not meet the exacting standards of Madcatz.

The group that has stolen B15SDM’s work as well as various others has been doing so since 2007. They are a small laser cutting shop that offers their service to local businesses for cutting sign covers and the like. They make a side business by batch producing stolen designs and artwork. Although these guys are mom and pop, they have enough money to own a business and industrial equipment. If your business model doesn’t work liquidate your assets and start anew instead of using an illegal source to supplement your income. In contrast the bootlegged TE’s and VLX’s are from factory workers. These people own very little and when the factory shuts down they turn it back on and work on their own time to make the cases they sell online with machinery they don’t own. I don’t mind throwing these guys a few bucks.

Work conditions in China are not bad from a Chinese perspective. In Europe, work conditions in America are inhumane. Maternity leave is like 1/6th to 1/12th of what we get in America and some nations even allow for paternity leave. The concept of humane work conditions is too relative for me to discuss accurately. Many of these people are glad to be able to have those work hours and that little pay as otherwise there is NOTHING in their town or nothing for their level of education. The regrettable thing isn’t their work its the social condition that makes them find this kind of work desirable.

I am in China pursuing financial opportunity. I was born stateside in the Southeast. Anyhow, back to the topic at hand: it’s all a slippery slope. I feel like the people who worked at Madcatz to design these cases did a lot of research and spent a lot of time. Despite the company making good money it is wrong to just simply steal another man’s hard work. However only because they’ve made it big time and can ALMOST spare the loss, I don’t feel guilt whereas people like b15sdm are barely making profit.


It always makes me laugh when people knock off the Hit Box with 30 mm buttons. It makes it incredibly obvious immediately that they missed the point. They look at a Hit Box and go “Why are these 24 mm, I don’t get it, I’m gonna switch it to 30 mm because that’s arcade standard,” when practically the entire reason Hit Box was made in the first place was because Dustin and Shawn thought arcade standard was bad. Nice looking case though, if there’s metal on that thing I’d probably buy one just to swap out the parts for something not shit. I don’t know if I would make it my main Hit Box though as I love my solid metal black powder coat baby too much.


John, my hands are not OVERLY large but the 30mm’s AREN’T as bad as you’d think. For street fighter I was actually perfectly fine with the 30mm’s playing up to 3 hours at a time with only minor breaks in between (cig). The main reason I want the 24mm is actually cuz it comes in a TE size case (portability). That purchase will be awhile away, though. I’m going back to stick while I’m living in China as the only competition I can get is at a real arcade.


I’ve tried 30 mm, it feels stupid. 24 mm is like the perfect spacing for your fingers, the 30 mm spacing my ring finger will often be on the edge of the button which feels bad. If I didn’t need to have constant access to 3 buttons in a row at the same time or I could freely move my hand without disrupting my inputs it would be fine, but in fighting games you need to be able to walk back and forward for multiple things and the spacing just feels wrong with bigger buttons.


last time i checked bootlegs meant things trying to pass off as the real thing down to the finest detail like branding, packaging and eventually distro.

none of these chinese/ebay abs cases try to be repacked as “Madcatz” or “Qanba” or whatever. they are simply unbranded, and anyone with a good eye can spot that they have subtle differences which could possibly pass in court, sad to say.

as for fake/imitation parts, Qanba makes their own inhouse designed joysticks and buttons, i wouldnt call those bootlegs… the imitation parts i see, at least online, specifically state that they are imitation, usually having very different construction/molds too (for buttons).

im not defending the makers of these off-brand products (imitation TE and VLX’s). Im just saying theres enough common sense in people for them to have good reasoning and opt for the legitimate brands. Especially here in the US where importing bootlegs will cost much more than buying real authentic MadCatz, with warranty support.

its sad to hear about people making ripoffs of b15’s. if they have these great industrial resources, in an ideal world they would use this to make their own designs, but sadly, yeah.

if the quality is as ‘bad’ as you say it is, then its all up to the consumer to make the wrong decision.


Hibachi, thank you for the insight. That certainly is a new perspective on it. Also if I were to import these bootleg products in bulk it would be cheaper. If I buy a shipping container full, I could probably get an imitation TE (including pcb, stick and buttons) at 35 bucks a pop. The profit margin would be minor but I could do it. Also, for things like bootleg Hitboxes and the bootleg X1 (when it was on sale, as now the price has gone up to boutique levels again) even shipping by the singular unit would result in a cheaper product especially if non Sanwa buttons are acceptable.

I mean… you know how much a B15sdm custom costs an American, right? His X1 alone is like 140 bucks without shipping or extras. In the UK the pricing is not too bad, but to an American that plus shipping ends up being high above the norm. Considering if I negotiate I can get the case alone for 40 bucks, not on sale and by a singular purchase, shipping it to the states will still be cheaper than buying it from the official source.

I think quality is the only real factor aside from morality. And frankly I’m miserly to the point that I’d rather spend 50 bucks on a slightly rough around the edges case that has the legit internals than care for all that nice polished finish at a much higher price. Once again, the X1 is a different animal altogether just because it is “Gucci Gear”.


I would hope that any company who decides to outsource production to China realizes that their product is going to be bootlegged/copied very quickly- most likely they see it as a marginal additional cost added to what they’re saving on labor.


Another of my hobbies aside from sticks and arcade-stuff is robot toys and action figures, a lot of it used to be centered around Transformers.

That grey-area has popped up quite a bit in that fandom, being called “lunchtime specials” since they were rumored to be made on the same production machines, but during the workers’ lunch times. While wild and funky colors are notable for knock-off and these lunchtime specials, more and more replicas are coming closer to official releases’ quality in terms of materials and details. Consequently, in that hobby, there are more and more knockoffs being passed off as the real thing, complete with replica boxes and all, though mainly limited to older vintage releases.

I personally don’t care too much for knock-offs as long as they’re not used to mislead people into buying the fake instead of the real deal. The quality control and aftersales warranties should speak for themselves on the official product.

On the flipside, knocking-off B15’s designs is low. Or any small-operations’ designs or schematics, for all that matter. Nothing about that is acceptable in any way.


Right, and those companies, if they really know, knows Chinese law requires them to not only hold an applicable patent or copyright in their native land, but register with Chinese customs in order to protect their products from being bootlegged.

But in this case, we’re not talking about companies who are outsourcing to China getting bootlegged. We’re talking people like B15SDM and RoBoBOBR getting their stuff ripped off a bootlegged, when Sam does all his work in the UK, and Bob I think does his in the US. And sadly, because they didn’t patent their designs, there isn’t much they can do about it, and not much they can do even if they did.


Controlling your product source is a key aspect of business management. Companies worldwide are subject to corporate espionage. China is not the only place guilty of this. The biggest furniture companies in the US source a HUUUUUUUUGE percentage of their stuff from China without worry of bootlegging. Then again fucking with those furniture magnates is a death wish (literally, you may find a bullet or buckshot in your face)… Also the Huss boys and B15sdm don’t go through China. If I weren’t worried about giving this fucker more business I’d link you to the stuff he’s stolen and all the various people they’re from.


Missing, I heard you’re in China as well. You in Shanghai by any chance? What brings you here?

Freedom Gundam. If you didn’t notice in my photo earlier I’m a HUGEEEE Gunpla fan. Knockoffs are scary when it comes to those. Lunchtime special is EXACTLY the concept I was talking about in my earlier posts.


Yeah, I noticed the HG kit in the picture above and the Sinanju Stein avatar. I’m in a similar boat (I mean, look at the username and avatar here too). :smiley:

I haven’t had any experience with bootleg Gunpla; I’ve only gotten official kits from reputable online stores. I’ve heard that the plastic quality is lower and the fit is not as good; so they’re not entirely suitable for being a stand-in for an official kit entirely, but aren’t too bad when it comes to using them for kitbashing fodder.


Someone direct me to these replica VLX cases lol.


I though there only one legitimate distributor of Gunpla and similar items in North America, Blue Fin

That every North American dealer suposed to go through them
Those who go around them are Greymarket