(((NOTE: Many photos in this section are not mine because I do not own a recast. If you would like your photo removed, please contact me and I will take it down.)))
What is a Recast?
A recast is an unauthorized copy; a counterfeit, a copy, a fake. Original creations that artists worked on for months (sometimes years!) are copied and reproduced in large scale by recasters. Most (if not all) recasters are based in China, where lax intellectual property rules allow them to flourish and even steal artists' trademarks for their own use.
Why are they cheaper?
The short answer is dual; theft and quality. Recasters use lower quality silicone, resin and fillers to make cheap copies and undercut original artists. They are often around 1/3 the price of legit BJDs because they have not put any time or money into designing the doll, the packaging or even promotion. They don't put as much into quality control, so waste, wages and replacing defective dolls don't cut into their profits.
Why is it bad to buy recast?
Recasts are toxic for BJD artists & the BJD community. When recasters steal an original design from a BJD artist, they are taking money from that artist. Without money, BJD artists can not create new designs and innovate new jointing systems, new styles and new faces for us to fall in love with. Several artists have stopped producing due to recasters and some have even become ill when faced with recasting of their original work. Aspiring artists shy away from selling their work for fear of their creation being recasted. Buying from recasters allows them the money to trademark BJD artists' work and even prevent the artist from selling their own work in certain countries.
But I want a cheap doll!
If you buy a recast, that is exactly what you will get: a CHEAP doll made with inferior supplies whose design was stolen from someone who worked hard to create it. Recasts are lower quality but if what you are looking for is a less expensive doll, there are loads of less expensive legit companies and I've even compiled a list here for you.
I already bought a doll, how do I know if Its a recast?
There is no one absolute way to see if a doll is a recast. The best way is to compare it in person, to a legit version of the doll. If you cannot find someone with the same exact doll, at least try to find one from the same company; better yet, same size AND company. Compare the following aspects and you'll have a good idea whether or not your doll is a recast.
The most obvious detail is skin tone. Recasters will copy a doll in any color you want so if the original company doesn't have that skin tone, you have a recast. (Note: this is not about the tone of the color, that changes over time with any company. What I mean is, if that company has never sold tan or blue or green dolls, and yours is tan or blue or green; it's a fake.)
Because of the shrinkage, recasts *might* not be quite as tall as the original doll. Joints may not sit flush. This is not always the case but it can be a tipoff that your doll is not legit. Research the company: Do many legit owners complain about the same details you've noticed? Have they changed their default body style to one that might be a different height? If not, you might have a recast.
Look INSIDE the doll. Are the stringing holes clean and straight? Are they the same in number, size and placement?Because recasts are pumped out so quickly and have almost no quality control or customer service, the insides of dolls often are messy (see below) and look different from legit dolls. (Note: some cheaper companies can have these issues as well.)
Recast dolls do NOT come with Certificate of Authenticity or company doll boxes. (updated: SOME recasters do send COA's but they usually do not match the doll and the number is the same for every doll they sell. I.e.. you bought a Soom Vesuvia but it came with a Soom Migma card instead; or you bought two different dolls but the COAs are identical.)
Some dolls come with headplates. Recasts *usually* don't have these, but legit owners can easily lose them when the glue wears off so this is not a definite sign. (Note: Some Volks recasts DO have headplates, but like COAs, they do not match the doll.)
((Updated: It's confirmed that at least one recaster is reproducing more than just Volks headplates now. Confirmed: Little Monica, CrobiDoll, IpleHouse. Others are entirely possible.))
Unremoved gates or flashing. Gates are little tubes filled with resin that are attached to the doll parts where the resin was poured in the mold. Finished, legit dolls do not have gates, but they may have small areas where gates were removed and possibly sanded. Flashing is small extra bits of resin in detail areas like eyes or hands. If the gates or flashing from the molding process have not been removed, you probably have a recast. (UNLESS you bought a kit doll (like Unoa), or some artist dolls.)
Very noticeable or jagged seams; although this can also happen with legit dolls, it's more common with recasts.
Marbling. Marbling is marks or obvious changes (sometimes "swirling") in the resin color in a specific area; It is where the color did not get sufficiently mixed in when the doll was being made and is permanent. While marbling occurs in legit dolls as well, it is more likely in recasts. Marbling is easier to see the darker the resin color is.
Thin Resin. Although legit dolls can have thin resin too, it's more common with recasts. Because legits also have thin resin, this is easiest to tell when compared to a legit of the same sculpt. Thin resin is easiest to see when held up in bright light, as shown here. ->
Loss of detail. This is another one that you will need a legit to confirm.
Air Bubbles. While small air bubbles do occur in legit dolls as well, it is more likely in recasts. Legit quality control will not allow air bubbles that impede joints (or on the face) to pass along to a customer. Recasters don't really have quality control.
These are really EXTREME air bubbles pictured; you will more likely encounter small ones like the one on the back of the ear. These types of extreme air bubbles may be present in artist casts, B or C grade kits or really low quality recasts. They are a result of not compressing the air bubbles out during casting.
Extra parts. Is it supposed to come with extra parts, like faceplates, fantasy parts, high heel feet, etc? While some owners may sell off or keep parts of legit dolls, missing parts IN CONJUNCTION with other factors can help confirm a recast.
Resin Quality: The weight and texture of recasts IS different. This can be really hard to tell until compared to a legit. Recasters use lower quality resin or more fillers to lower their overhead and maximize profit, so their dolls DO feel and weigh differently; these differences are very subtle and still may not be that noticeable compared to a legit.
Brittle Resin: As previously mentioned, recasters use lower quality resins or more fillers; this leads to chipping and cracking more often than legit dolls. Look especially at wrists and ankles as these are the places that are damaged most frequently. Chips or cracks alone do not confirm recast, since legits can chip or crack as well.
Locking mechanisms, KIPS, etc: Some dolls have tabs, extra interior parts or installed silicone pads as part of their standing or sitting features. SOME recasters sand these extra tabs, don't reproduce interior parts or don't install silicone pieces. If your doll doesn't have their KIPS, sitting mechanisms, installed silicone pads or other specific features that legit versions come with...it might be a recast. (KIPS can easily be removed, but previous owner *should* still have them to send along with doll.)
How do I avoid buying a REcast?
Buy directly from the doll company that makes the doll you like.
When buying secondhand, ask for: Certificate of Authenticity and/or original box.
If buying secondhand, ask for all the photos you need. Don't be shy.
Avoid Known Recasters on AliExpress, TaoBao and Ebay*.
Because the BJD community depends so much on feedback, you can often trace a doll back to the original owner who bought it from the company.
Only buy from people with good feedback! There is a reason we have threads upon threads and forum upon forum of feedback. Use it.
Use Paypal and be sure to use "Goods/Services", NEVER "Family/Friends". This may be the only avenue of recourse if you are swindled, so don't hand it over.
Some people keep screenshots of their order from when they originally purchased the doll OR can log into the company's site and screenshot their order history. It never hurts to ask if they have a screenshot to verify that it is legit.
*If you are not sure, take a look at their shop: Do they have dolls from multiple companies? Are some of them labeled wrong? Are they WAY cheaper than the original company? Then they are probably a Recaster.