Fake or Real? 5 Outrageously Bad Fakes Found in Underground Chinese Markets

Jul 15

Written by: admin
7/15/2013 

For the tens of millions of tourists that visit China every year, shopping tends to be high on the travel agenda. With its megacities home to thousands of unique outdoor markets packed with a massive selection of inexpensive locally produced goods, China is a budget shopping paradise, offering almost everything a shopaholic could imagine – and plenty of things they couldn't!

But given the country's status as the world's largest manufacturer, it's no surprise that not everything is built with attention to detail. From electronics to clothing, the products bought at cheap Chinese markets aren't exactly renowned for their quality and staying power. Some break almost right away, within minutes of being sold, while others simply show tell-tale signs of rushed workmanship.

Add in a culture that's largely indifferent to intellectual property rights and you get one thing – a sea of hilariously bad counterfeit goods. From poorly dubbed movies to 'designer' brand names, China's reputation for fake products isn't exactly undeserved. We've sought high and low for the worst of the worst and found the five most outrageously bad fakes from China's underground markets.


1. The 'Polystation' Game Console

Polystation at just $40 a piece, it's certainly affordable.
Polystation at just $40 a piece, it's certainly affordable. Photo by ekonon

Can you imagine a child's disappointment upon receiving this for Christmas? The Polystation is a game console that might look slightly familiar. Although it has the design of the 1990s Playstation, it's built using technology that would have been out of date in the early 1980s. Underneath the CD tray lid, there's no CD tray, only a small slot for inserting games stored on ancient cartridges.

What's great about the Polystation – or horrible, depending on your sense or irony – is its funny mix of terrible technology and a complete disregard for intellectual property laws. Found all throughout China and in select flea markets overseas (we've heard of them popping up in Brazil and Thailand), the Polystation has been preying on games-ignorant parents and disappointing your children on birthdays and Christmas day for years.


2. Fake Eggs

Artificial eggs, typically created manually, are becoming a major health issue in China.
Artificial eggs, typically created manually, are becoming a major health issue in China. Photo by Scorpions and Centaurs

Fake eggs have been appearing in Chinese markets for close to a decade now, although they've only become a major health issue in the last few years. Unlike poorly made video game consoles, which are funny, these imitation eggs are seriously cause for concern. Made using flour and a mix of nasty chemicals, they're being passed off as real eggs, tricking Chinese residents and tourists alike.

Thankfully, they're rarely found in major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai. However, if you find yourself shopping for a protein-rich snack in a small market elsewhere in China, it might pay to avoid the eggs. Chinese authorities have suggested sniffing the eggs to see if they're real or not after cooking – a quick way to tell if you're going to eat something organic or loaded with chemicals.


3. Rolax, Louis Vuitten, and Other Funny Fashion Fakes

Want a Louis Vuitton or Prada bag for under $20? Don't expect it to last.
Want a Louis Vuitton or Prada bag for under $20? Don't expect it to last. Photo by Simon A

Amazingly, there's a market of genuinely aware shoppers that are interested in these low quality fake handbags. Shoppers, typically located in Western countries where fakes are few and very far between, order fake Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and other high fashion bags for a few hundred dollars each, cutting a huge margin off of the price they're bought for in retail boutiques.

There are only two problems. The first is that the bags tend to fall apart, as anyone who's bought one in a market will attest to. These second is that they cost as little as ten dollars a piece in many markets throughout China. Backpackers in inner China have reported seeing these poorly made fakes for as little as two dollars each when bought in quantity – a nice margin for the salesperson.

From Versace to Issey Miyake, finding fake fashion in China's many outdoor markets isn't a matter of searching – it's a matter of simply arriving. As soon as you step foot in most Chinese markets, a barrage of offers for low-cost bags, broaches, and wallets is pretty normal. Your best option – ignore it, unless you'd like one for the irony.


4. ePhones, BlockBerrys, and Other Disastrous Technology Fakes

This N97 is a pretty good fake, aside from the bizarre iPhone interface.
This N97 is a pretty good fake, aside from the bizarre iPhone interface. Photo by Andrew Currie

Apple's iPhone, RIM's Blackberry, and a whole list of other phones are all produced in China, as are thousands of laughably bad fakes. From ePhones to iPed touchpads (seriously), most Chinese markets have at least one stand selling a litany of poorly copied electronic gadgets. Most are styled after today's top accessories, albeit with spelling errors, poor operating systems, and other glitches.

Our personal favorite? This bizarre Nokia N97 copy from Taiwan. While the phone itself is pretty well copied, with no visible spelling errors or strange design flaws, the operating system looks just a little out of place. Why? It's the operating system for Nokia's chief competitor – the Apple iPhone.


5. Prescription Medicine

No Fakes? That's certainly reassuring.
No Fakes? That's certainly reassuring. Photo by Jonas Hansel

Ever felt sick while abroad? From stomach illnesses to the common cold, it's far from uncommon for travelers to pick up a disease or temporary illness while overseas. In counterfeit-friendly places, however, seeking medicinal help can often leave you in a worse place than before. Alongside fake shoes, watches, and handbags, fake medicine is a booming industry in China.

From heart medication to viagra, illegal steroids to common dietary supplements, fake medicine is an unfortunate occurrence in many Chinese markets. While some examples are funny, most can be major health risks, particularly for people without the medical knowledge to tell fake from real. If you're ever sick in a counterfeit-friendly country always visit a safe, certified pharmacy for help.


Tags: China , Shopping
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6 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Fake or Real? 5 Outrageously Bad Fakes Found in Underground Chinese Markets

The fake gaming consoles, handbags and phones are to be expected. I'd be suspicious of most any inexpensive luxury item, honestly. What's really scary are the bogus prescription drugs! I had no idea that was so commonplace.

By Anna M. on   9/28/2013
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Re: Fake or Real? 5 Outrageously Bad Fakes Found in Underground Chinese Markets

I almost want a Polystation just for the novelty of it. I don't think I have any games that are compatible with it but that's beside the point. It's so useless and tacky but there's something really comical about it.

By Mark on   9/29/2013
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Re: Fake or Real? 5 Outrageously Bad Fakes Found in Underground Chinese Markets

That picture of the fake eggs look an awful lot like Easter eggs, haha.
So, do the people in China buy this fake trash as well or is most of this just made for tourists and overseas markets?
I agree with a previous poster- the fake prescription drugs are very alarming.

By SamuraiSally on   10/2/2013
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Re: Fake or Real? 5 Outrageously Bad Fakes Found in Underground Chinese Markets

The Polystation is awesome!! I would be very leery of the drugs though, especially in a foreign country!

By valyenko on   10/4/2013
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Re: Fake or Real? 5 Outrageously Bad Fakes Found in Underground Chinese Markets

I will admit I probably would buy one of those knockoff purses if the price is right. GUILTY!!! I would never take those electronics seriously but I would buy them for conversation pieces. I would not touch those medications, although I think the medical practices in China are more natural than American practices. I would only mess with natural remedies or all natural herbal teas.

By Tracy Smith on   10/22/2013
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Re: Fake or Real? 5 Outrageously Bad Fakes Found in Underground Chinese Markets

Most of the fake phones are just useless and tacky but the good thing about them is they are really comical.

By Vicky on   10/22/2013

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