Fakes and Frauds

Restorers, Restorations and Wheel Swaps

I love restoring old Matchbox toys. Sometimes I will make a "John Houghton Special" or restore an old beater to it's original condition. I have many of my recreations on my restorations and recreations page (click here).

I admire anyone that restores any old toy to give it a second chance at life! Many do as I do and create something quite different, while others create some extremely rare models. I have no objection to restorers creating rare models from an old toy BUT I do believe they should be responsible enough to mark the model in some way to show it is a recreation.

There have been far too many restored "rare" models offered on the likes of ebay as genuine items over the years. Some of the work done on these models is so good it is very hard for the average collector to tell it's not genuine. If a model is recreated for your own use, what harm does it do to mark it in some way to show it is not genuine.

This is an MGA number 19b that I have restored. There is nothing rare about this model, it's just a little cutie that I love!

The wheels have been replaced with reproduction ones and the axle ends have been filed as you can see in the photo.

The driver is original but taken from a number 18 Austin Taxi Cab.

I have re-attached the base plate using rivets. It looks very neat and doesn't detract from the model in any way, but certainly identifies it as a restored or modified model.

This, in my opinion is a responsible approach to restoring and rebuilding vintage toy cars.

This number 25 Bedford BP Tanker is the rare grey wheeled version which sells for about US$1500.

A normal black wheeled version fetches around US$50 for a perfect example. Other than the wheels, there is no difference.

This is a prime model for conmen to have a go at. The model to the left looks to be in near perfect condition, but, on close inspection it is easy to spot as a fake.

This is one that could easily pass normal scrutiny and be sold as genuine.

In this case, the faker has taken a nice run of the mill black wheeled version and swapped the wheels.

By studying the axle ends, it is easy to see they have been filed to allow the wheels to slide off and on easily. They have then been repreened in a fashion.

The main giveaway in this case is the larger head on the axles. In the top picture, two are fed through from the left hand side with the middle axle being threaded from the right hand side.

This is a possible sign of tampering.

In the factory, as a rule, the axles are threaded through from the same side. The other give away is the laziness of the faker. If you are going to fake a model, at least clean the wheels! A mint model with dirty wheels is a bit of a give away.

There are always some little signs that give the game away.

Replacement decals is another sign to look out for. A lot of purist collectors despise reproduction parts, yet it is important to know what the parts look like so we can tell if they have been used on a model.

I for one think it's great that there are dedicated people making reproduction parts so many old models can be resurrected. This does not just apply to Matchbox. There are lots of Dinky, Corgi and other model car brand restorers in the collecting fraternity.

This is a number 10c Sugar Container Truck. It has been nicely restored with replacement decals applied.

Although the decals look fine on the model, when compared to a genuine unrestored model, it is easy to see the differences in the decals.

This is what I mean by saying it's important to know what the parts look like, so you can tell them apart from the genuine items.

Below, we have a genuine original model. Can you spot the differences in the decals?

First of all, lets look at the "Crown".

On the original model, the "Crown is quite finely printed. This is not so on the reproduction version.

Next look at the wording. Again, on the original version it comes out a lot finer than on the reproduction version.

Thirdly, compare the colours of the two. The original one is quite vibrant where the reproduction version appears washed out.

Also, with age the original decal has darkened, where the reproduction decal "blends in" with the paint.

Although this is not a valuable model and certainly not worth restoring to rip off a collector, it is however a good example to show what to look for.

Here is a close up of the back wheels and axles. Notice how the axles have been ground away so the wheels can be taken off to paint the model.

Also, the front of the two wheels has not been mounted on the axle correctly so it appears as though it's half off. Another tell tale sign! Look how dirty the wheels are compared to the rest of the model.

Be vigilant and don't be fooled! I do not want to see any of my readers taken to the cleaners through lack of education on these issues. There have been some very serious collectors taken for tens of thousands of dollars due to fakes and fraudsters. If we are aware of what to look for, we will not be the fraudsters next victim!


© 2008 Moko Lesney Matchbox