Buying a mannequin online can be a little risky if you are a first time mannequin buyer and don’t know what differentiates one mannequin from another.

Before the internet, the main buyers of mannequins were retail stores and museums. This kept the demand for mannequins relatively small and the quality was high.

But now with the rise of online shopping and sites like Ebay, the demand for mannequins is high and the quality varies from outstanding to mediocre.

Think of it like this: Fifty years ago you probably could not find a counterfeit Luis Vuitton bag. But now there are all kinds of Luis Vuitton knock offs (some better than others) because so many people want one.

It is one thing if you know you are buying a knock off, quite another to pay top dollar only to find out that what you have is a knock off. Normally our blog posts have a lot of photos, but this one we have so much information to share on this, photos would have made it even longer. But we do have lots of hyperlinks so you can see examples.

Here are some things to look for to make sure you don’t pay top dollar for a mannequin and end up disappointed or cheated.

1 Do some competitive shopping. If the price of the mannequin from one vendor is significantly lower than others in the market, be wary. There are a lot of mannequin vendors who sell factory rejects.

Although the mannequin might look good in an online photograph, when you receive it the mannequin could have hands that are webbed, uneven paint finish, a wobbly stand and other imperfections. We’ve seen this and worse.

2 Look at the product reviews. While no vendor is ever going to have only five star reviews all the time, they should be more good reviews than bad. Some mannequin vendors do not even put reviews on their website – ever wonder why that is? You can read all of our reviews here.

NOTE: you will not see a lot of reviews about mannequins like you do for products such as clothing, makeup and electronics and restaurants. Not as many people buy mannequins compared to the those other items so the pool of people to review them is smaller and people don’t tend to review unless they are very unhappy.

A lot of the more unscrupulous vendors are on Amazon, for some reason, but fortunately you can see the product reviews. So you get unfiltered reviews like this.

And while product reviews are important, so are reviews regarding customer service. Sometimes you need to speak with a live person.

If you have an issue with your product you want to know that the seller will support you in resolving the problem. You can see our product and customer service reviews here.

3 If the shipping cost of a full size mannequin is super cheap — say $30 — here is why: Flimsy construction. Most likely the mannequin is made out of plastic, not fiberglass. Or it is made out of fiberglass with a very thin coating of fiberglass. The connector pieces for the arms, torso and shoulder will be made out of plastic instead of metal. (Sometimes plastic painted to look like metal). And the mannequin stand is a very thin aluminum.

A quality mannequin is made out of many layers of thick fiberglass to enable it to withstand lots of handling while dressing/undressing. Also, the stand and connectors pieces for the mannequin limbs will be made of out metal. As a result this means it is going to be heavy to ship. An item that is heavy and large is not going to cost $30 to ship. Instead it will be between $50-$70. And there won’t be any skimping on the packing material to reduce the chance of damage during shipping.

4 The higher end mannequins, the ones you find in major retail stores and luxury boutiques, are made by companies like Rootstein, Patina V, Goldsmith, Pucci and Schlappi. These mannequins start at $800 brand new.

These are the “Mercedes Benz” of mannequins versus the “Kia” style mannequins that have flooded the market. A lot of their construction is done by hand and with superior materials, versus the knock offs which are made by machine and with average grade materials. Not only do they look better but they much more sturdy and durable. And it is easier to get replacement parts for them if you break a hand or arm.

One way to have a high end mannequin is to buy a used version which you can find on Ebay (rarely on Amazon) or in the used section of our website. Retailers continually update their mannequins to match changing fashion trends. So they unload their old mannequins which are still in good condition to mannequin recycling companies.

We’ve been selling mannequins for over 10 years and we carry brands from a wide range of manufacturers to provide our customers with a range of options, styles and price points. At times we’ve had to drop certain manufacturers when the quality of their merchandise or service did not meet our standard of excellence. (Many of them sell on Amazon.)

Just know that you can buy from Mannequin Madness with confidence!