Fakes and Frauds

The Gippsland Collection

Saturday 03 May 2008

About a week ago I received an email from a collector in Australia wanting to sell part of his collection. He had read my article on the Matchbox #13D Dodge Wrecker Reverse Colours and he claimed to have one. That night he rang me and I asked him to describe the model. It appeared to be one of the pirate models made in 1970 with crimped axles. After a few emails and phone calls we came to a price for it subject to my inspection to confirm it was real. He also had a few unusual Yesteryear models. These didn't interest me much but I did refer him to Mick Flack in Sydney. Mick is the Yesteryear guru and has an awesome web site called Matchbox Memories.

This morning we fueled up the Mercedes and set off on the 400 kilometer round journey to appraise and hopefully bring home the elusive reverse colour wrecker.

We arrived at our destination and immediately I was given the reverse coloured wrecker to inspect. The instant I saw it I knew it was a fake. For a starter the box it was in, was, perhaps one of the worst reproduction boxes I have ever seen. Then I looked at the axles of the model and was so disappointed.

I didn't know how to tell the gentleman that his pride and joy was a fake. However, I had to explain it so that he could understand why I wasn't buying it. After explaining, showing and comparing to other models I thought he understood until he said he would have to get a second opinion! Oh well, I guess it takes a little time to sink in when you thought you had the real deal and some stranger comes along and deflates your world!

I asked to see some of this other models and again I was shocked and disappointed to find so many fakes in his collection. He had a nice number 11a Petrol Tanker in green that had the axle ends virtually mutilated, yet the paint was perfect. Obviously a lovely repaint! His yellow 11a Petrol Tanker and number 28a Bedford Compressor Truck had both been repainted a nice pale primrose yellow. He claimed those were genuine and original also.

Then out came his rare Models of Yesteryears. I don't claim to be an expert on MOY but I do have a reasonable knowledge on them and can certainly spot a fake! The first one he showed me was a Y3 Benz in Orange and Green. Again, as soon as I spotted the axles I knew it wasn't genuine. Next was a Y16 Spyker in Maroon. Yep, you guessed it - a fake. And so it went on.

In some ways I feel sorry for this collector but then I believe he has only himself to blame. He commented that he has "all the bibles" on Matchbox toys but got them after he got his models! Fat lot of good that does!

Education is the only solution to learning how to spot fakes. Once you know what tell tale signs to look for, it is very easy to spot most fakes. As a collector and/or investor you owe it to yourself not just to buy the collector books on Matchbox Toys BUT REFER TO AND STUDY THEM! Sitting the books on a shelf and not opening them will not help you identify whether a model is in the correct box, has the right wheel and axle combination and so on. I don't know all this by heart but I do refer to the books constantly especially my own Definitive Guide to Matchbox Toys 1-75 Series 1953 - 1969. Buy it and read it, you will learn something!

All because of a lack of education and knowledge on the part of the collector, "The Gippsland Collection" has gone from having a potential value of $20-30,000 for the "rare" models to about $200 for repainted and restored toys. And to top it off, the collector has paid out thousands and thousands of dollars for a collection that is worthless.

All in all a very disappointing weekend for all concerned but certainly an education!


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The number 13d Dodge Wrecker in reverse colours. Unfortunately it turned out to be a fake.
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Base of the Wrecker. Notice the poorly shaped "rivets". A sure sign of tampering.

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Left front wheel with a poorly "crimped" axle end. The left wheels were actually glued to the axle. Glue residue can be seen around the axle.
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The left rear wheel and axle. you can see the ground and filed axle end. Looks nothing like a genuine crimped axle.
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Model of yesteryear Y3 Benz. This is the genuine article in orange and green. It is a pre production model. There is NO number on the base. This photo was kindly supplied to me by Ricardo Cortez - Montoy of Switzerland via Mick Flack. Many thanks guys!
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Photo of the Y3 Benz from the Gippsland Collection. As you can see the green roof is a completely different colour and the orange is lighter.
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Right front wheel and axle. This should have a domed effect to the end but this one is filed flat. As a rule axle ends are the easiest way of picking fakes. There are exceptions of course but most con artists can not get the axle ends right. A good magnifying glass is a wonderful tool for checking these.
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The right rear wheel and axle end. The wheel centre hub shows signs of damage on it and the axle end is again flat like the front one.
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A nice rare Maroon Y16 Spyker in mint condition. Just check out the axle ends in the next photos.
Front wheel axle end shows signs of filing giving it the unround shape. As a comparison I have shown a photo of an original axle end. You will note hoe rounded it is compared to the angular shape on the fake.
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Rear axle end again shows signs of filing and is poorly shaped. A definite fake!
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Apparently. making these Thomas Flyabouts is bog business! They have a "new" radiator insert and both front seats molded in soft yellow. It is alleged that the person who manufactured all these fakes made many thousands of dollars in a very short time just from a few Thomas Flyabouts.


© 2008 Moko Lesney Matchbox
Many thanks to Mick Flack (www.matchboxmemories.com) for his help in identifying these fakes.