Rilakkuma Licensing!

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately…

Basically, licensing concerns products that feature Rilakkuma designs with the official permission/blessings of San-X, but are not made directly by San-X themselves.

For example, if you were a tech accessories company and you wanted to produce and sell Rilakkuma laptop covers, you would have to get the Rilakkuma license from San-X in order to legally use Rilakkuma’s design on your merchandise, and the license would be different depending on whether you were based in Japan or not.

To clarify a bit more: for me, there are 4 basic categories of Rilakkuma goods:

  • Direct from San-X Goods
  • Campaigns/Collaboration Goods
  • Licensed Goods
  • Inauthentic/Fake Goods

For reference, the vast majority of plushies in my collection (and featured on this blog) are made directly by San-X, and my authenticity and quality guide is based around the San-X plushies.

Additionally, licensed goods differ from the campaign/collaboration goods because licensed goods generally come from other toy companies themselves: campaign/collaboration goods are generally a seasonal offering with a non-toy related company.

As the name implies, campaign/collaboration items are often focused on the joint nature of the two companies, like buy a Pizza Hut pizza and get a Rilakkuma pizza cutter … or a promotional campaign like buy a bunch of Lawson food and get a Rilakkuma plate – while licensed goods generally just feature Rilakkuma with little input in design from the company producing it. Other examples of campaign/collaboration goods include Mister Donut, KFC, and Pancake Days.

Licensing is a significant part of San-X: they have a HUGE booth at most licensing expos:

Rilakkuma Licensing - 2012 Licensing Expo

From the 2012 Licensing Expo

Some of my favorite Rilakkuma plushies – like my Fansclub UFO Catcher plushies – are made under license, not directly from San-X!

Most recently, my Nara Rilakkuma was a product of HNA with a Rilakkuma license. I also have Rilakkuma furikake from Nagatanien, a combination lock from Bestin (Korea), and angpau (紅包) from Sun Hing (Hong Kong). They are all wonderful and I can’t imagine my collection without them.

Rilakkuma Licensing - mine

Some of my Rilakkuma licensed goods!

When I started collecting Rilakkuma, I used to get confused with how Fansclub fit in with the San-X world, but fortunately, Fansclub plushies have a pretty consistent look and format to them, and they are cataloged by Fansclub meticulously. At first, I wasn’t sure if my Nara Rilakkuma was legitimate or not because he had such a different look, but this got cleared up as I started looking into Rilakkuma licensing.

However, I think things do start to get a little confusing when other other plush toy companies receive a Rilakkuma license.

For example, Dream International, a Hong Kong based plush toy company, recently got a Rilakkuma license. They showed off their line at 2013 New York International Toy Fair:

From ToyDirectory

In addition, Sun Hing Toys, the company that produced my angpau, also has a licensed Rilakkuma plushie line, and there are probably several more companies out there I haven’t mentioned, too.

I don’t really know how I feel about these because they seem somewhat inconsistent with the other San-X Rilakkuma plushies (e.g. the tag is on the ear??), but your mileage may vary.

How to tell

Basically, companies holding official Rilakkuma licenses are all over the place in terms of quality and design, so it’s really hard to apply all the authentication guidelines that we’ve worked so hard to craft as a community, but the good news is that it is rather easy to tell which ones have the official seal of approval from San-X.

Licensed goods are required to display their license seal in some way, and licenses differ between domestic (Japan) and overseas (not Japan) products. Most products do so with a holographic sticker, but some just print it directly on their packaging – I took some photos, but it’s kind of difficult to capture holographic images so bear with me:

Rilakkuma Licensing - domestic stickers

Two domestic stickers from HNA Nara Rilakkuma (left) and Fansclub Kabob Rilakkuma (right)

Rilakkuma Licensing - overseas sticker

Overseas sticker on Bestin Rilakkuma combination lock

Rilakkuma Licensing - printed

Printed licenses from Sun Hing (left) and Nagatanien (right)

Rilakkuma Licensing - RM tags

Licensing text from Sun Hing (top) and Bestin (bottom)

Generally, the circular holographic sticker (if used) will have:

  • San-X logo with clover X
  • “© San-X Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved”
  • San-X clover logo repeating diagonally in the background
  • License ID printed in black
  • Text on the bottom that says “TRADEMARK” or “OVERSEAS” for domestic and overseas products, respectively
  • Small holo circle above the TRADEMARK/OVERSEAS text

The printed licenses follow a similar format, but without the fancy holographic stuff. They’re not as consistent as the stickers, but generally most of the information is still there.

In addition, overseas items will print a line that says “A Licensing Programme of RM”. RM Enterprises is a character licensing company that deals with international licensing (mainly in Asia). As far as I know, this line isn’t printed on the domestic products, but then again, I can’t read Japanese T^T

As a complete disclaimer, the licensed goods I’m looking at have been released in the past 3 years – I think the designs might differ slightly in earlier licenses.

If you’re unsure about a company’s license status, it is pretty easy to look up the company online – they usually list their license information there.

After that, it’s up to you whether the quality of the product is up to snuff, I guess haha.

As an additional note, I think the San-X Rilakkuma Blog only posts about the domestic licensed stuff occasionally, not the overseas licensed products. Also, Rilakkuma Stores stock domestic licensed goods (I’ve seen HNA, Re-Ment, Nanoblock, and a bunch of food products and more), while I don’t think they do with the overseas ones.

What do y’all think about licensed Rilakkuma goods? Do you have any, and if so, which ones/brands?

Personally, I love my licensed goods – most of mine are domestic products, and I think their Rilakkuma goods are very diverse and well-developed! However, I’m not sure if I’d buy a licensed plush outside the Fansclubs, but I guess I’ll have to assess them when I see one in person.

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22 thoughts on “Rilakkuma Licensing!

  1. Thanks for the concise update – my guide for authenticity etc is slightly outdated and frankly I’m a bit too lazy to fix it at the moment. In theory – yes, licensed goods are diff from fakes but I’m a bit lazy so actually some that I’ve called fakes are probably licensed – just not the conventional san-x ones that I like to collect. Naughty me! XD

    • Hahaha actually, I’m quite guilty of that too – people have sent me emails asking about whether something is fake or not, and looking back on some that I’ve said were complete fakes, I see the little holographic license sticker now, ah…

      The conventional San-X ones are usually so consistent and detailed – they’re just on a completely different level, quality-wise. Even though the licensed companies do get approval from San-X, some of the goods are just meh :/

  2. Intelligent and beautifully articulated blog as always! Thanks for taking time to post this! I’m with you, I’m not sure I’d buy (win?>.<) outside of Fansclub unless I assessed it in person. Who are we kidding though, these days San-X official is too much for our wallets to keep up with! ^.-

  3. Great info. I was so in awe of your research! It’s nice to know other companies have licenses~
    I’m probably the same and won’t buy outside of fansclub…I just like the look and the traditional placement of the tag best. Plus no risk just in case >.<

  4. Amazing article on the topic!

    I really like licensed Rilakkuma goods! I can’t imagine being without my Rila Re-ments. I am a big collector of Rila Re-ments. Also, nanoblocks, tiny figures of rilakkuma, or mascot pone straps. I like mostly toys more than plushies though for licensed goods. The plushies are really meh, and like you mentioned, the tags are attached in the ear :( a big no no!!

    Oh, and food lol, if Rila’s face is slapped on a bag of chips, I’ll likely buy it… I know there’s a lot more rilakkuma food in Japan, but in the states, it’s pretty rare, so if I see it, I will buy it hehehe.

  5. Very great article! Thanks for sharing the knowledgement :)

    I guess san-x give their licensed for rilakkuma stationary for Korean company since I’ve seen a lot of them. But then again just like everyone else, the fansclub plush is still one of the top for me :D

    • Yeah, I actually don’t encounter overseas licensed stuff often because the majority of my Rilakkuma shopping I do online through buyers (except for my recent Japan trip). I think though, that many of the licensed San-X stores in the US (http://www.san-x.jp/SHOP_LIST.html) have started selling the licensed plushes in addition to the San-X plushes, so a lot of people are concerned about the legitimacy.

      I really wish San-X would promote it’s own plushies abroad instead of giving licenses to other plush toy companies, but I guess they make a bunch of money off licensing haha.

  6. Pingback: Is Rilakkuma Ready For His US Debut? | All About Rilakkuma

    • Yes! It is still an authentic plush since they are using an official license from San-X, but it just won’t look exactly the same as the ones coming straight from San-X in Japan since they use different patterns, fabric, and designs!

  7. I thought this was very helpful! Thank you. I was getting interested in what a San-X license can do for you. Do you think you are able to create limited edition plushies if you have the license? Thanks! :)

    • Thanks so much for reading my blog! I’m actually not sure how the plushie licenses work in terms of exclusivity – for example, I know Aliquantum has the license for producing their own North American plushies, but not sure how it would work if another independent company wanted to make exclusive plushies on their turf. But I’m sure if it’s cleared by San-X, it would be possible. I am always for new Rilakkuma designs though!

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