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Don’t Get Stuck with a Fakey Fakey!

February 17, 2020

It has recently come to our attention that counterfeit Makey Makey kits are cropping up for sale even from what might appear to be “real” online storefronts. (Here at JoyLabz, we call them Fakey Fakeys.) These aren’t just boards with features similar to a genuine Makey Makey; they are fakes pretending to be Makey Makeys. They violate our trademark, and they’re being sold illegally.

Genuine Makey Makeys go through a rigorous quality screening process before we put them out there for our community to buy and use. The quality of these counterfeit Fakeys is not up to our standards. Nowhere near! From folks who accidently bought cheap Fakeys, we’ve heard that the boards have malfunctioned, and even that the USB cables don’t fit the USB plug! Since we’re not the manufacturers of these Fakeys, we’re unable to support customers who may encounter problems with them. 

Our goal is to make sure everyone has a great experience with Makey Makey. When you buy a genuine Makey Makey from JoyLabz, you’re supporting our small but mighty team’s ability to support our community, to keep the project ideas and the instructional content flowing, and to keep spreading the Makey Makey love.

The crazy world of global online commerce is super convenient, but it can be hard on all of us. We’re not the only ones battling counterfeiters, as is clear in this recent press coverage by Wirecutter.

Please shop carefully. If the price looks too good to be true, it is probably a fake. It can be hard to tell online, so we wanted to share as much as we know about what a counterfeit Fakey Fakey might look like so you don’t accidentally purchase one. 

Makey Makeys are made by JoyLabz. The best way to know you’re definitely getting our genuine product is by purchasing through our Makey Makey shop or through one of our authorized resellers. There are plenty of other legitimate stores that sell genuine Makey Makeys. If you have a question about one, reach out to the store you’re shopping from or to us directly at: support@joylabz.com.

We’ll update this post as we learn more.


Quick Ways to spot a Fakey Fakey in the wild….

USB Cable

The color of the USB cable is probably the most obvious way to tell if a product is counterfeit. We’ve seen Fakey USB cables that are white or black. The genuine Makey Makey USB cable is red. So if you look at a listing and see a USB cable that is any color other than red, you’re looking at a Fakey. 

Alligator Clips

Another way to spot a Fakey is by the color of the alligator clips (aka crocodile clips). Genuine Makey Makey alligator clips are made specifically for us in unique custom colors like lime green, banana yellow, light gray, and orange. If you see alligator clips in saturated colors (including dark green and black) like those pictured below on the right, you’re looking at a Fakey. [Be aware that some online retailers sell extra parts (copper tape, for example, and sometimes extra alligator clips) bundled along with a genuine Makey Makey kit. Those extra clips could look different from the ones that come inside the genuine Makey Makey kit.]

Jumper Wires

The six thin white connector wires (also known as jumper wires) that come in a genuine Makey Makey kit are all white and are not attached to one another. (They can be used to connect into the headers on the back of a Makey Makey board.) We’ve seen some Fakeys packaged with a ribbon of multicolored jumper wires. If you see a ribbon of colored jumper wires or jumpers that are any color other than white, you’ve spotted a Fakey. Our STEM kit does come with a ribbon strip of jumper wires, but our single kits come with white wires. 

The Packaging

Sometimes it can be hard to tell a Fakey just from the packaging. But the box that this counterfeit Fakey comes in made us cringe! It’s a cheaper folded box, where the genuine Makey Makey box is constructed in two pieces and the lid lifts off. The color and the printed graphics make this counterfeit packaging look like a Makey Makey box, but the graphic on the front of the Fakey box is wrong. The genuine Makey Makey box has the banana graphic on the front of the lower half. In that spot on this Fakey packaging there is – inexplicably – a graphic showing how to remap the board.

Shop carefully, and watch out for suspicious looking product listings online.

  • If the price is too good to be true, it is probably fake.
  • If the USB cable is white or black, it’s fake.
  • If the alligator clips are not our custom Makey Makey colors (including lime green, banana yellow, light gray, and orange), it is a fake.

When in doubt, you can always email us at support@joylabz.com

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