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I’ve got really into looking at wrestling belts in detail during this downtime.  Some of the copies look really good, but come at a cost.  
 

Some guys I’ve seen like Orm Belts seem to do great work and have good reviews, but come at a cost and a very long waiting time. While others like Zees Belts seem to be at a fraction of the cost.  He seems to offer them in zinc, brass and gold.  Would the difference in those materials be really noticeable to anyone other than a hardcore collector?

 

Does anyone have any experience in this and / or advice on where to look.  And what price you paid for them if you don’t mind?

 

My favourite would be the winged eagle but I’m not breaking any new ground there.


cheers

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3 hours ago, PunkStep said:

@Rule One is a bit of a belt expert on here if I recall

Cheers, not an expert but I do love my belts.

@mim731 Cheers for linking the thread.

 

4 hours ago, TheDFA said:

I’ve got really into looking at wrestling belts in detail during this downtime.  Some of the copies look really good, but come at a cost.  
 

Some guys I’ve seen like Orm Belts seem to do great work and have good reviews, but come at a cost and a very long waiting time. While others like Zees Belts seem to be at a fraction of the cost.  He seems to offer them in zinc, brass and gold.  Would the difference in those materials be really noticeable to anyone other than a hardcore collector?

 

Does anyone have any experience in this and / or advice on where to look.  And what price you paid for them if you don’t mind?

 

My favourite would be the winged eagle but I’m not breaking any new ground there.


cheers

 

Real collectors belts are an expensive hobbies, even for low tier bootlegged belts it's still going to cost a fair bit of money. Quality will always cost money regardless of what sector you're in and if you can get real licensed belts from the makers you're are looking at thousands of pounds easily. 

ORM belts and ZEE belts are bootleggers pure and simple. They source their belts from Pakistan (ORM are based in Pakistan.) Most bootlegs come from Sialkot in Pakistan and there is about 10 different operations pumping out plates/belts to varying degrees. Some have been in business for years and have steadily improved but none from Pakistan stand up to the quality of the original makers. 

Most of the leather is outsourced to other people, mostly in Europe and the United States. I can state that I have never seen a decent leather job/production out of the Sialkot producers.

The problems with these belts is that copies of these are in abundance due to supply/demand and cost circumstances. Go on ebay and there will be vary degrees of belts, some will look as intended, others will be way off the mark. I'd explain further about how this all came to be but that's for another day. 

The belts made in Pakistan are usually made from pot metal, a mixture of scrap or a less solid product compared to Europe or the US. Brass and Zinc are what most belt plates are made from they are the foundation layer plate and are etched via acid bathing. Zinc is most common and etches the best, brass is cheaper but heavier and if the process is not done right leads to problems down the line. Bolts that hold everything together (Plates and leather.) are applied mainly by welding before bronze, copper, silver, nickel, gold/etc plating is applied. This happens after the plates are etched by various means. 

Leather is all about quality, cheap leather is very stiff and fatty/spotty, it cracks very easily when handled often. Floppy leather is too soft and and won't hold the weight of the plates. A decent leatherer will have sunk time and money to get to a standard of mid range quality. There's a million and one things in between that they have to do before a strap is ready to have the plates put on. Pakistani/low quality bootleggers miss most of these steps out which leads to an inferior product which is susceptible to damage easier.

Unfortunately for the belts most people want, bootleggers are the only option they have whether it's due to cost, makers unable to produce them due to trademarks or the makers don't exist anymore/have an extensive blacklist that most collectors who have ordered will be lucky to see.

When dealing with ORM or the likes of, their promotional pictures will always be eye catching but the product you receive may not be as good.

Things to look out for:

Location, if they're from Pakistan, China or around that area. They are most likely to be bootleggers. 

Payment methods: A few makers will ask for payment via PayPal in the form of a gift to avoid paying taxes but be wary it would be hard to claim anything back via this method. PayPal is the safest route but not listed as a gift payment unless they are 100% legitimate, have a traceable address and have been going for years with mostly positive customer comments. 

Bootleggers from Pakistan will usually ask for a Western Union transfer. You are at a major risk of losing your money and receiving no product from this. Its a gamble a lot of people have taken. Read up on customer comments about payments etc if you can. Some people get stuff, others don't.

Customer comments: Most negative comments will usually be deleted but search Google, forums, and posts from a good while back to get an overall picture of how a maker operates. Ask around if can/want to put the effort in. 

Customers belts compared to the ones marketed: This is a big giveaway to what sort of quality you may receive compared to the one advertised. 

If you have a mid range bootleg, most people won't see/notice the difference but a good percentage of hardcore collectors will be able to tell in an instant. 

I myself don't have a massive problem with people owning bootlegs but  has destroyed an already crumbling industry. A big problem is that people are getting bootlegs are trying to pass them off as original maker made or flipping them on ebay for profit. That's pretty much killed a legitimate and small market turning it into a massive sinkhole where unsuspecting people are getting low quality belts.

I hope this helps in some way. 

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1 hour ago, Rule One said:

Cheers, not an expert but I do love my belts.

@mim731 Cheers for linking the thread.

 

 

Real collectors belts are an expensive hobbies, even for low tier bootlegged belts it's still going to cost a fair bit of money. Quality will always cost money regardless of what sector you're in and if you can get real licensed belts from the makers you're are looking at thousands of pounds easily. 

ORM belts and ZEE belts are bootleggers pure and simple. They source their belts from Pakistan (ORM are based in Pakistan.) Most bootlegs come from Sialkot in Pakistan and there is about 10 different operations pumping out plates/belts to varying degrees. Some have been in business for years and have steadily improved but none from Pakistan stand up to the quality of the original makers. 

Most of the leather is outsourced to other people, mostly in Europe and the United States. I can state that I have never seen a decent leather job/production out of the Sialkot producers.

The problems with these belts is that copies of these are in abundance due to supply/demand and cost circumstances. Go on ebay and there will be vary degrees of belts, some will look as intended, others will be way off the mark. I'd explain further about how this all came to be but that's for another day. 

The belts made in Pakistan are usually made from pot metal, a mixture of scrap or a less solid product compared to Europe or the US. Brass and Zinc are what most belt plates are made from they are the foundation layer plate and are etched via acid bathing. Zinc is most common and etches the best, brass is cheaper but heavier and if the process is not done right leads to problems down the line. Bolts that hold everything together (Plates and leather.) are applied mainly by welding before bronze, copper, silver, nickel, gold/etc plating is applied. This happens after the plates are etched by various means. 

Leather is all about quality, cheap leather is very stiff and fatty/spotty, it cracks very easily when handled often. Floppy leather is too soft and and won't hold the weight of the plates. A decent leatherer will have sunk time and money to get to a standard of mid range quality. There's a million and one things in between that they have to do before a strap is ready to have the plates put on. Pakistani/low quality bootleggers miss most of these steps out which leads to an inferior product which is susceptible to damage easier.

Unfortunately for the belts most people want, bootleggers are the only option they have whether it's due to cost, makers unable to produce them due to trademarks or the makers don't exist anymore/have an extensive blacklist that most collectors who have ordered will be lucky to see.

When dealing with ORM or the likes of, their promotional pictures will always be eye catching but the product you receive may not be as good.

Things to look out for:

Location, if they're from Pakistan, China or around that area. They are most likely to be bootleggers. 

Payment methods: A few makers will ask for payment via PayPal in the form of a gift to avoid paying taxes but be wary it would be hard to claim anything back via this method. PayPal is the safest route but not listed as a gift payment unless they are 100% legitimate, have a traceable address and have been going for years with mostly positive customer comments. 

Bootleggers from Pakistan will usually ask for a Western Union transfer. You are at a major risk of losing your money and receiving no product from this. Its a gamble a lot of people have taken. Read up on customer comments about payments etc if you can. Some people get stuff, others don't.

Customer comments: Most negative comments will usually be deleted but search Google, forums, and posts from a good while back to get an overall picture of how a maker operates. Ask around if can/want to put the effort in. 

Customers belts compared to the ones marketed: This is a big giveaway to what sort of quality you may receive compared to the one advertised. 

If you have a mid range bootleg, most people won't see/notice the difference but a good percentage of hardcore collectors will be able to tell in an instant. 

I myself don't have a massive problem with people owning bootlegs but  has destroyed an already crumbling industry. A big problem is that people are getting bootlegs are trying to pass them off as original maker made or flipping them on ebay for profit. That's pretty much killed a legitimate and small market turning it into a massive sinkhole where unsuspecting people are getting low quality belts.

I hope this helps in some way. 

As always, that's a really interesting post from you on the subject! I hope you will expand on how the Pakistan bootleg situation came to be!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for that @Rule One , very informative.  You’re right about the pictures on their websites  being really convincing.  I’ll do a bit of further research before I ever dip into the market.  Knowing me I’d be the one who got shafted 😂

Edited by TheDFA
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18 hours ago, Cod Eye said:

As always, that's a really interesting post from you on the subject! I hope you will expand on how the Pakistan bootleg situation came to be!

As far as I know Bootleg belts have been around since the 80's slowly increasing in the 90's and early 2000's. Back then you had to know a maker who would do it or a guy who knew a guy to get something.

Most of the time a bootleg is wanted because you can't get a copy from the maker due to copyrights/etc, the mass produced WWE shop replicas are crap (Although are better than they used to be.) and one of the main issues that has been the focus is point is cost. Why pay around £4000—5000 for a second hand Reggie Parks licensed copy in today's market when you can get on ebay and get one that looks similar for anything from £300 to a £1000. You're not going to a Reggie Parks belt anymore because people have been waiting years to get theirs. Second hand or bootlegs are the only options really available. 

Around 2005/6 as forums were more prominent people started enquiring about how belts were made but were largely met with a wall of silence, those who knew didn't want just anybody knowing how/what they did after it had taken them years to do. 

Bootlegs continued to be on the down low until 2008/9 when more information could be found about the process of making a belt became easier via technology and forums. A few people tested the waters and found it was a costly process but persevered with it. A lot of US based plate etchers knew their base and often knocked back new trade due to copyright/loyalty reasons which made it harder and more frustrating for people to make bootlegs. A few people started sourcing plates from round the world but Pakistan was the cheapest place found that delivered on semi regular basis but it was a massive gamble for anyone sending money. 

The problem for bootleggers was that belt making is a costly and time consuming process. You rush and you end with a bust product. Also there were things in the process that weren't as well known as they are now such as proper plate etching, how to properly plate copper, zinc, gold/etc. How to roll a plate to add a curve without snapping a plate. How to cut and tool leather as well as necessary means to dye and protect/seal the dye. This process costs a lot of money regardless of what level you operate.

On top of all that was art. Most belt makers drew their works or used clip art scrapbooks to piece everything together. As time past it moved to computer based but given the lack of quality full on pictures people had to rely on what they had so bootlegs were never at the same quality level as the original. There was and in a lot of cases small details that hardcore collectors notice. Fonts and logos were big giveaways back then as well as positional details like banner placements, tooling on leather and makers marks. 

In 2012, quality we're more available, information about how to make a belt was all over the Internet if you knew where to look. Facebook groups grew, forums were at their peak so more people were inquisitive which opened up a whole new market. High quality pictures were more available than ever before so those with dedication and skill set about crafting artwork and sourcing means to get it done. Again Pakistan were the place producing bootlegs on a low level so people teamed up with them to trade better artwork for plates/made belts. This went on until they sourced their own art producers and went full pelt with bootlegging anything that a customer wanted. In 2012 early production of the better artwork belts cost around £200-250 and that was with shipping on top. The results were low quality made plates with errors in abundance but it was still significantly cheaper than an original or other sourced bootleg maker. Pictures started circulating and market demand for these belts boomed. The Pakistani makers couldn't cope with the demand so some people got belts, others didn't. That caused people to shop around for different makers in Pakistan and it went from one/two makers to ten plus in around six months. 

This saturated the market and varying qualities flooded eBay/Internet market places like never before. A lot of makers continued on the same path as low quality, low priced options where others invested time and money into upgrading their production facilities as well as listening to the complaints its customers had/has. 

Bootlegs are illegal copies no matter whether its made by original maker when they shouldn't or someone half the world away. Belt collecting as a hobby came off as an elite snobby cult for a long time because of how it operated but the market for real original maker copies was and still is small and costly. There is no massive money to be made unless you have a contract with a company/a decent customer stream or are able to license artwork on mass productions. Ring used belts and second hand real original makers copies can make money but they are few and far between. The bootleg boom from 2012 onwards has overwhelmingly crushed the market to nothing and has altered the hobby. 

Again, I have no problem with bootlegs but it has stolen a living from some original makers. It's a discussion I have no energy to get to the pits of because its a head fuck trying to fully explain it. If you really want a belt, nothing is going to stop you from getting one. If you're happy/proud of your belt and enjoy it then that's great but selling off a belt as an original or trying to charge a significant amount more than you ever paid for it is what grinds my gears.

Again I hope this helps in some way. 

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@Rule One thanks for that. Lots of information in there that I did not know.  The Pakistan link is a complete revelation. Belt making has always been an artisan profession and wrestling belts has to have been the peak of this type of artisans undertaking. The wrestling belts have always been better looking than their contemporary belts in boxing and other combat sports. With the pinnacle for me being the Million Dollar belt. In the storyline they went with it being produced by a jeweller. Now the Diamonds element of that belt and the jeweller connection makes sense. How would that connection work for the belts structure.  From memory the Million Dollar belt is not a leather strap. It's more of a supersized bracelet/watch.  With the wrap around pieces being "gold" dollar symbols. It's a fantastic looking if somewhat garish piece of waist jewellery. And often looked best when cradled in one hand. Is it revered or reviled in collector circles? 

I've seen up close a couple of regional old school British titles.  The construction on those is pretty crude. They would have been from the 60s or earlier. Literally constructed from very soft and thin leather with some form of overly heavy metal plates hand riveted to the inadequate leather. 

Undoubtedly the WWF has influenced peoples idea of what a wrestling belt should look like. With the belts form the 80s/90s being my favourites. Of belts that I've actually handled.  The LDN title was pretty impressive in it's design and construction. 

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14 hours ago, BigJag said:

@Rule One thanks for that. Lots of information in there that I did not know.  The Pakistan link is a complete revelation. Belt making has always been an artisan profession and wrestling belts has to have been the peak of this type of artisans undertaking. The wrestling belts have always been better looking than their contemporary belts in boxing and other combat sports. With the pinnacle for me being the Million Dollar belt. In the storyline they went with it being produced by a jeweller. Now the Diamonds element of that belt and the jeweller connection makes sense. How would that connection work for the belts structure.  From memory the Million Dollar belt is not a leather strap. It's more of a supersized bracelet/watch.  With the wrap around pieces being "gold" dollar symbols. It's a fantastic looking if somewhat garish piece of waist jewellery. And often looked best when cradled in one hand. Is it revered or reviled in collector circles? 

I've seen up close a couple of regional old school British titles.  The construction on those is pretty crude. They would have been from the 60s or earlier. Literally constructed from very soft and thin leather with some form of overly heavy metal plates hand riveted to the inadequate leather. 

Undoubtedly the WWF has influenced peoples idea of what a wrestling belt should look like. With the belts form the 80s/90s being my favourites. Of belts that I've actually handled.  The LDN title was pretty impressive in it's design and construction. 

This video can answer your Million Dollar belt questions better than I can put in words. They're kayfabing a few things as its a WWE produced video but you can see how they made it and how it all is attached. One rumour with it is that Vince wanted it to be an actual million dollar title and had three diamonds put in the back which you can clearly see in the video. The actual worth of the stones is another matter, however it does give a little more proof to the pudding of the rumour. The WWE shop replica is not a bad for what it is but people have had broken links, stones missing and plating issues with them. Overall it is liked by most collectors as it is unique and a few of them have replated and restoned their replicas to get/make it closer to the original.

A lot of earlier British titles tended to be made from trophy plates and thin leather because it was easier to manipulate, etch/engrave and the cost was relatively low compared to what we have these days. The leather was cheap but not inadequate, it served its purpose and you don't need a thicker leather for trophy shop plates as they are lighter. Some promotions carried on that tradition but its few and far between and looks low rent to the average onlooker. There wasn't as much emphasis on being a champion or holding a title compared to other parts of the world. American belts used fancier trophy plates/pieces as it was glamorised more over there and were multiple markets in the US all vying to be have thee World's Heavyweight title or the equivalent of having the best champion. Before all that belts were made by silversmiths or engravers who used malleable metals like sterling silver to etch, engrave or mold. As years passed different methods were found and used, today there's casting/moulding, sand casting/moulding, 3D milling, acid etching, engraving, laser engraving, 3D printing as well as the old methods that served over the years.

The WWF's mass reach in the 80's, its marketing as the No 1 company in the World and the memories made with the belts is what put the quality over compared to others, after that companies had to have something just as good. However they didn't start using more modern style belts until 1984/5.

Which LDN title did you hold? The one that looked like Bob Backlunds in the late 70's/early 80's or the gold and black title with the LDN logo in the middle? If I remember rightly, they were both Pakistani plates produced and finished by an Australian company called Championship Gold. For the price they are solid enough but the leather is of lower quality.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks again  for all the information and that video. From memory. I believe that the LDN title I had my hands on was the one that had two facing Lions near the top of the centre plate. Would that be like the Backlund one? I've only managed to find a shot of the central LDN logo one. That one does not look familiar. 

How the hell did this collaboration come about? I mean I know that OCC built a bike for WWE in the past. How does that then transition into OCC making the new WWE title belt. I've been a fan of tbe OCC Discovery show since its inception. It wasn't until stumbling across this video that I found out that OCC produced that belt. 

 

Edited by BigJag
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