I completely understand the point you're making P-E and it makes perfect sense.
However in my personal situation in regard to considering replicas, it's a better bet for me to just buy the replica plates because I honestly just can't justify shelling out $400+ for real-deal SAPI plates for a vest that will more likely than not never be worn again and only kept on display as part of my collection.
Unless of course the evil communist zombie apocalypse comes, then I might have a use for it.
I really understand your opinion...but guy, it's always possible to find items at good prices.... There's some plates and body armor in europe (for great price). By example, in one year I bought around 10 lots of OTV (including SAPI plates !!!) for around €120 to €170 shipping price include for Belgium ! And they are already in Europe, si no custom fees. In one year, I bought around 10 OTVs at this price and resale them to others collectors to make me some money. And I'm really serious guy, it's not a joke !
The last OTV I bought(in acu camo with soft armor and a pair of sapi plates, all in medium size and manufactured by point blank), I paid it €150 shipping price include. And I usually resell plates for around €150 to 180 by pair, and around €170-200 for the OTV... so you can imagine I make me some money with that !
But well, there's another solution if you won't pay too more and need original one : buy training plates from Point Blank ! It's always better than made in china plates
But well, it's only my opinion (and I just try to help you),