Fakes and Frauds

Hmmm! - Judge for Yourself?

4 th February 2008

Over the last couple of days, I have been following an interesting yet extremely disturbing thread on a popular Matchbox Toy Collectors forum.

The thread was about a number 41c Ford GT with “wire wheels” that was offered on ebay for £1500 and eventually sold for a “Best Offer” of £1200. The genuineness of the model was up for discussion. This thread then led on to the topic of restoring and recreating rare Matchbox Toys, and the usual debate.

Now, I said this thread was disturbing to me, so I will use some quotes to explain what I mean.

Firstly, I will cover the model that started the thread, the number 41c Ford GT with wire wheels. This item had just sold to a collector for £1200. The photos supplied in the auction were of average quality and when I enlarged them (although pixelated), the axles ends did appear to look modified.

Below are quotes from the Matchbox forum. The first quote is from “Restorer A”. (for obvious reasons, I can not print names)

In the case of the Ford GT's buyer, I agree with comments already posted: The person is a complete idiot.

Yes, I just bashed a fellow collector (a site rule violation). However, someone needs to get this collector to wake up and smell the fake. Especially when he spends that kind of money for something I would sell him for 10 Pounds Sterling .

Yes, you just read right! He is admitting he will happily make this FAKE for £10 so someone can basically on-sell it for £1200! Notice also, that “bashing” a fellow collector is a “site rule violation”, but making fake rare Matchbox Toys - and not labeling them as such - is not???????

Now to be fair, he does state the following to justify his position.

I've made a few of this very model. The photo is too poor quality to even tell if it's mine. By the same token, one of mine would only fool someone by using such a crappy single photo. My creations have also been used to defraud others. When it happens, it bothers me on multiple levels. Yet I have no control over the actions of others who are out of my sphere of personal influence.

Yes, it bothers him on “multiple levels” when his fakes are used to defraud others! Surely, if he is that concerned, why not label the fake appropriately so it can't be sold as a genuine item and used to defraud us, his fellow collectors?

Well, this is his comment regarding this:

That's all well and fine, except 99% of the bidiots (that's idiot bidders – yep, that's what he thinks of us) buying them never ask for a pic of the base which would show drilled rivet(s), much less something ground into the base.

So how's that really going to help, in the big scheme of things?

How's it going to help in the big scheme of things????? Oh please! If a restoration is labeled (engraved) or if actual rivets are used to re-attach the base, it would deter the conmen from offering them as a genuine item. Simply put, the blindest collector will know the item is NOT GENUINE if a model is engraved on the base “Restored”, or actual rivets are used to replace the base. AND the con artist would not be able to sell such items as genuine.

The question to be asked is, does Restorer “A” really want collectors to know the model is restored or a fake? After all, there could be a conflict of interest here – it may affect his sales.

Interestingly, another restorer of fakes and recreations, we'll call him “Restorer B”, made this comment on the same thread.

People who buy and collect customs/restos and put them in their collection as fillers do not want any identifying markings on their cars - trust me. It's those who do not purchase customs who are all for marking the bases. I think I'd lose a lot of business if I marked my cars with my name (even on the inside).

Wow! Now what does this say? Label the model as a fake or restoration and he would lose business - don't mark the model as a fake (so others can use them to deceive) and business is good!

Getting back to the Ford GT in question, Restorer “B” said this about the buyer.

I don't feel sorry for these guys. $2,362.44 (£1200) is just plain STUPID - STUPID - STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! I can't stop shaking my head.

I'd say that anyone who can drop $2400.00(£1200) on a car like that, probably has too much mula anyway and wouldn't be devastated to learn it was a fake.

REALLY! What a dreadful attitude to have towards another human being, let alone a fellow collector! I believe anyone would be upset at being ripped off, regardless of the amount of money they spend or they have. Surely, just because you have a larger budget to spend on your hobby, doesn't mean you are an easy target and would simply accept being ripped off!

Okay, getting back to Restorer “A”

The people who do restorations, make recreations and customs are many and only a handful of them are members of (this forum). If our members never altered another casting, it would not even make a dent in the problem. What we can do is cease making customs and recreations for those who we identify as fraudsters and we can continue to educate and alert.

Now, isn't that interesting! Stop making the fakes for those identified as fraudsters! Okay, firstly, how do you really know who is a conman? Secondly, you may sell to someone who you are reasonably sure isn't a conman, but you don't know who they may sell to.

Restorer “B” is certainly taking the “Bull by the horns” in his approach to solving the problem! He says

I have made some custom restorations for the seller of the Ford GT, and I am currently working on five cars that he mailed me including a yellow prime mover, to mention. I think I may have to send the rest back to him unfinished.

Well, I guess that's a start! Stop making the fakes for the con artists!

To finish off, we refer to a couple of quotes from restorer “A”.

When you go back and look at every one of these auctions for a fake, there is really only one person to blame... the buyer. Without the buyer, there would be no profit in any fakes. The buyers are always guilty of the same things, failure to do any homework, complete lack of knowledge about the variation they seek and greed which leads them to get something for next to nothing.

That's right, he's not blaming the con artist or the person that made the fake. He blames the BUYER/COLLECTORS for wanting to collect Matchbox Toys and buy the model! Hmmmm…..Has it ever occurred to both "restorers A and B", that if they took responsibility and labeled their fakes/restorations accordingly, conmen would stop offering the models as genuine? Oh sorry, I forgot, if they started doing that, they would lose business!

I am a firm believer in educating collectors on spotting fakes. That is why I have this section on my web site. I am NOT against recreations of rare Matchbox Toys or restoring Matchbox Toys. I love doing that myself, but it is time for everyone doing this to take responsibility for there own models and label them accordingly.

All my recreations and restorations are clearly defined as such, either by engraving the base or by using rivets to hold the base in place. I have never found this to be a deterrent to buyers. Many of my recreations have sold on ebay for well over $100 each.

Sure, clever conmen could change the base on engraved models, however, this is not easy to do without leaving further evidence of tampering. Unfortunately, there isn't a 100% solution to this issue, but why are restorers' making it easy for conmen to rip people off – unless they are profiting themselves?

In my opinion, the people that make fakes/restorations of rare Matchbox Toys and don't label them accordingly are as much to blame for the high number of fraudulent models on the market as those that sell them as genuine items. They are committing a criminal act of deception and should be dealt with accordingly!

Let's work together to stamp out these criminals of the Matchbox Toy community. Don't be ripped off. Learn and educate yourselves about fakes and the conmen involved.

I have seen models that both “Restorer A and B” have made and in my opinion they are very talented artists. Lets encourage them to be proud of their works of art and label their work accordingly to help stamp out fraud in our community.

Happy Collecting!


© 2008 Moko Lesney Matchbox