For some collectors, these are the subject of what they collect, for others the cause of much financial and emotional pain. In particular new collectors are often taken for a ride and if your collecting theme is popular with some high-ticket items then it is imperative that you learn about the different types of hustles that you might come across. So here are the “Bad Boyz” of collecting –
- Repaints / Repairs
- Not Licensed
And here is a quick overview of what each of these categories are –
Until the 1970s, it was quite customary to copy other brands’ products with some companies doing nothing else. This entailed buying a toy, taking it apart and using the parts as a negative for a new mold. Here is a typical example of that, in this case, a Matchbox copy. The plastic Morris Minor by Hong Kong’s Blue Box is a copy of a Matchbox model –
In fact, there is a copy of the copy. The Commer Van by Blue Bow is a copy of the Commer Van by Blue Box which in turn is a copy of the same model from Matchbox! The new model could even be in a different scale, for example, Playart collectors know how the brand famously copied a Yamada kit to make its Mazda Rotary Coupe and copied the wrong bit of text off the kit box, marking the Playart model as the “Yamada Super Discmatic Rotary Coupe” where “Yamada Super Discmatic” was actually the model kit range.
2. Passing off as another Brand
Copies have now been mostly replaced by the Pass-off. Here, for example, Hot Wheel (note, not Hot Wheels!) –
These products are generally not available in Western markets (one of our members spotted Hot Wheel in Georgia, the former Soviet republic and not the home of Coca-Cola collectibles). And another Argentina-based member shared Popipo vinyl figures with us –
They are clearly based on branded products (not sure why this one is called Freddsde versus say Freddy Fazbear) but fool nobody and are picked up by parents that either want to save money or when the original item is just not available.
These come in different forms such as Repaints, Restickered, Recards and a combination of the other three forms – the Made-up item.
3.1 Repaints / Repairs
Here is a Dinky Toys Fire Engine 25H offered for sale as a rare (and much more valuable) pre-war version of this model –
It is actually a post-war version and has the following issues –
- It has been repainted
- The ladder is unpainted, making it a 1950s ladder (1)
- Post-war axles have longer and sharper crimps (2)
- The wheels are ridged and thus post-war wheels
- The tires are possible more modern tires aged in tea
Probably some of the easiest fakes are sticker variants.
Corgi Toys sold a number of its normal production Minis to a Danish company called Jensen. The only distinguishing feature is a paper decal with the logo of the company. These stickers are easily recreated making it very hard to know if you get the original promo model.
With Funko, it is even easier as you can buy almost all of their stickers on eBay and Etsy (but not on hobbyDB!). Here is a current eBay listing (it is even Sponsored!).
It is obviously very easy to change a shared exclusive (value $29) into an SDCC 2015 Exclusive (value of $55). And that is the only reason why people buy these stickers – shame on these other sites to support this kind of fraud.
This Hot Wheels Redlines VW Bug from 1968 is actually a genuine model and so is the card. But the combination is not, it is a Recard. Somebody created it. We allow hobbyDB users to share this information with detailed information on how to spot them.
You can only see this item at the same time as the genuine products (i.e. you have to click on the overview of Subvariants) –
3.4 Made Ups
Often old forms are bought by other companies. A good example is Brinquedos Rei in Brazil that re-made Majorette and Schuco models. Another example is Michael Mordaunt-Smith who bought some of the forms of Timpo Toys and now makes parts and sells them. Brinquedos Rei made models in different colors and put its name on the baseplate and Michael is changing the colors so that his parts can be spotted as remanufactured items (these parts were originally produced in silver).
These are fine as long as they are marked accordingly. The problem is if unscrupulous folks repackage, age or otherwise manipulate these items or just preys on new collectors that just don’t know.
Perfectly fine is an instance where a dealer, manufacturer or distributor finds a stockpile or old merchandise or parts and sells them. For example, the Salacious Crumb that came in the 1983 Kenner’s Jabba the Hutt Playset
It used to sell for good money as the Crumb could easily get lost.
The almost $700 were always ambitious (the set sells for around $400) but has now become ever more so as recently one of the distributors found a large stash of these and is now reselling them in new trade packs of 40 each to retailers –
Here is an explanation from their website –
Another example is the Rosebud Factory find where a collector found 1,000s of very early Hot Wheels buttons –
And while these are perfectly legit it helps collectors to know about these finds as it often influences market prices for items (simple economics with significantly more supply). Generally, there is a collector site that provides the relevant information (for this find it is the excellent RedlineButtons site that reports about this fascinating find here).
6. Not Licensed
Some figures, models and other toys are made but not licensed by their respective IP owners (i.e. no payment has been made). When Christian met Marcel van Cleemput, Corgi Toys’ Chief Designer for over 30 years Marcel explained that no royalties were paid until well in the late 80s. Since then it has become part of the business to pay between 5 and 25% of the wholesale costs in license fees when making a figure of a pop culture character, a plane model or diecast car. Licensors have won lawsuits in most advanced economies (the exception to this is Opel and VW losing lawsuits against model car brands in Germany). Collectors sometimes speculate about this but have no way of knowing if an item is licensed or not.
Here is an example of a business that was not licensed (the Hard Rock Cafe in Heidelberg, Germany operated for more than 35 years before it closed down after many years of litigation). The restaurant produced a large number of pins –
This next pin does it twice! It is neither licensed by Hard Rock Cafe nor by Disney –
Sometimes these types of items have specific terms, not licensed pins are called Fantasy pins (and pins for Hard Rock locations that are not licensed but that had an actual restaurant under that name are called Renegade pins).
How do we document all of these on hobbyDB
We are working hard to expose or explain all of this on hobbyDB. For example, we have a production status for fakes, explain how to spot them and co-operate with our contributors, curators, champions and other users to share as much of this important part of the hobby with the public. Avoid falling for the scams as there is no good way out once you did (do not sell the item on without full disclosure)!
Please help us with this (we still have some work documenting every collectible ever made… 😉 and/or share your stories or tips and tricks in the comments.