Collecting Posts

What about Ethics on the Web?

Harry L. Rinker is a leading national expert and consultant on toys, antiques, and collectibles and the author of numerous books on collecting. He writes a weekly news column, hosts a radio call-in show, and has appeared as an expert on several national television shows.  You can read more about Harry on his website www.harryrinker.com.

The hobbyDB team is grateful to Harry to give us the permission to repost some of his posts here and hope to stimulate a debate.

Ethical issues are traditionally placed on the back burner when it comes to dealings in the antiques and collectibles trade.  The antiques and collectibles field has no standard code of business practices and ethics.  Each person sets his own standards.

As more and more individuals use the Internet to buy and sell antiques and collectibles, ethical issues are being raised.  I recently received an e-mail from Bob Culver, editor of Night Light, the publication of The Miniature Lamp Collectors Club, that read:

“On the Internet, the transaction is very public, open to all to see.  Do we have any responsibility if we see something amiss? Recently, I observed a reproduction Atterbury Log Cabin lamp offered as an original.  I first saw this a few days after the auction opened and already the bid had climbed to $200–a clear sign that the buyer was thinking this was a period lamp.  I e-mailed both the seller and high bidder with the facts and how to tell repros from the period example.  Repros have an applied handle typical of Victorian creamers, while period pieces have a molded-in handle.  A side view makes it easy to tell.

Real or Not?

 

The seller responded with a bit of a nastygram saying essentially ‘Keep out of my business,’ but agreed to check out my facts.  I suggested he call B&P Lamp Supply, the maker of the repro.  A day later, he closed the auction early with a public note saying that the lamp was indeed not old and that it was being withdrawn.  No note to me, no note from the high bidder.  Had this been at a show, it is possible the transaction would have been completed.

Do we have a responsibility to intercede in these cases?  Is my responsibility as an ‘expert’ in the field of mini-lamps any more than the average collector?  Or, should I be content to let it be buyer beware (caveat emptor)? Frankly, I think one of the unheralded benefits of online auctions is the public information afforded.  Countless auctions are updated as experts provide new information to the seller.  But if the seller ignores comments from experts, misinformation wins.”

I have had several experiences similar to those of Don.  Recently I checked out the jigsaw puzzle offerings on several Internet auction sites.  I found many puzzles falsely described.  An English advertising puzzle from the 1980s was listed as being from the 1930s.  In many instances, puzzles that were extremely common were listed as rare or scarce.  Sellers frequently had no clue as to the maker or correct title of the puzzles they listed.  Information about whether or not the puzzle was complete was often missing.

In order to contact a bidder or potential buyer, one has to register to bid on an Internet site.  After several days of just looking, I finally became so angry about the amount of false information I was encountering that I registered.

I e-mailed several sellers.  I only received one reply.  That individual thanked me for my input, said he was going to add the information I provided to his bid site, and did.  The others simply ignored my e-mail.  I did not contact any bidders.

In reviewing this article, Dana Morykan argued that I have an equal responsibility to contact the bidders as well as the seller.  If the seller is deceitful, I am wrong to think he will mend the error of his ways and contact the bidders.  She made a good point.  I have it under advisement.

Without becoming involved in the determination of what does or does not make someone an expert, I think everyone has an ethical obligation to point out to the Internet seller and any potential buyers the undocumented listing of a reproduction (exact copy), copycat (stylistic copy), or fantasy item (form, shape, or pattern that did not exist historically).  Misrepresenting something is fraud.  Hiding behind the “I did not know” excuse, it not an excuse.  The seller has an obligation to know what he is selling and to properly represent it.

Hot Wheels and not Hot Wheel (they have two or more wheels after all) –
but most fakes are much harder to spot than this!

 

The key is to avoid disparagement when noting problems with an object.  While everyone is entitled to his opinion, a person disparages an object when he has not examined the object in question and/or does not have the expertise to substantiate his claims.  It is a common practice at catalog and country auctions for a dealer to disparage a piece within the hearing of potential buyers so that he discourages them from bidding and buys it cheaply himself.

In the case of the Internet, it is impossible to physically examine the object.  As a result, there rests a strong burden of proof relative to substantiating any assertion made.  Don met this criteria when he provided detailed information on how to differentiate the modern reproduction from the period piece coupled with the name of the manufacturer of the example being offered for sale.  Hopefully, Don also listed in his e-mail his credentials, i.e., his role as collector and member of The Miniature Lamp Collectors Club.

Is it possible to regulate the Internet?  Many think the answer is no.  Because it is worldwide in scope, it is questionable if any government has the authority and power to regulate the Internet.

Since most sellers require payment in advance, the seller is in the driver’s seat when a dispute arises.  They have the money.  The buyers has the questionable object.  If the seller refuses to take it back because he disagrees with a buyer’s assertion that the object is not as represented, what recourse does the buyer have?  (Note: I like to stress that this does not pertain to marketplaces powered by hobbyDB due to their escrow-style service).  The good news is that most sellers ship objects to buyers via the United States Postal Service.  Misrepresenting anything shipped through the mail is a fraudulent act.  Do not hesitate to file a complaint with the Postal Service if the seller is intransigent.

While the antiques and collectibles barrel contains its fair share of rotten apples, they represent only a small minority of the whole.  Since it is unlikely that local, state, or national authorities will provide policing on the Internet, the burden falls upon private individuals with a strong moral and ethical conscience.  In other words, if the antiques and collectibles segment of the Internet is going to be policed, we must do it ourselves (and here on hobbyDB you could do this as a Curator or Champion).

Playing policeman is certainly not the route to take if one wants to win a popularity contest.  I know.  I am a regular recipient of nastygrams.  I am delighted to learn from Don that I am not the only one.

I grew up in a time period when speaking out against injustice was considered an obligation.  It was the American way.  I am not about to change.  I suspect I will find no end to the opportunities to put my principles to the test as I surf around other sites out there!  And in all honesty, I can use a little help.  How about it?

Please let me have your opinion (below in the comments).

Here are the 13 Most Valuable Watches Ever

worlds most expensive watchTo watch enthusiasts, these timepieces are not only an accessory but also as an engineering marvel. These watches prove that amazing things come in small packages. Some of these pieces are the most complicated watches in the world and took years to design and build. They may not be covered in diamonds, but their value most valuable watches ever is astonishing.

13. Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie — $2.5 Million

worlds most expensive watchAntoine LeCoultre founded the Switzerland based luxury watch brand, Jaeger LeCoultre, in 1833. The Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie was once the world’s most complicated timepiece. This watch contains Calibre 182 movement, 26 complications, and 1,300 parts, all contained in an 18-karat white gold case.

This timepiece took five years from the design through completion. The watch has 13 patents pending for its technical design and is valued at $2,500,000.

12. A. Lange & Sohne’s Grand Complication — $2.6 Million

worlds most expensive watchThis A. Lange & Sohne timepiece is so complicated that it took seven years to design. The German luxury watch brand, founded in 1845, only intends to create six of these watches, one per year beginning in 2014. In fact, it takes the watchmakers the entire year to complete just one of the 876 component Grand Complications. A. Lange & Sohne chooses to use a ‘double assembly’ technique which means that after each timepiece has been finished, it is taken apart, and reassembled to ensure each piece is working perfectly in harmony.

The timepiece features an enamel dial, solid rose gold case, gold hour and minute hands, a blued-steel second hand, and a hand-stitched crocodile leather strap. Every detail on this 50mm diameter face is hand-finished and hand-engraved.

The most complicated feature of this watch is the “sonnerie” which is a gong striking mechanism. The ‘grand strike’ occurs every hour, and the ‘small strike’ occurs every quarter-hour; both were tuned completely by hand. This is possibly one of the most complex functions for a watch ever.
The Grand Complication is valued between $2,490,000 and $2,600,000.

11. Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega 4 — $2.7 Million

worlds most expensive watchThe Aeternitas Mega 4 is the most complicated wristwatch ever made, in the entire world. This watch earned the title from its 36 distinct complications, and the 1,483 individual components. The watch also boasts a hand-sewn alligator strap and an 18-karat white gold case. The rectangular face measures 42mm wide and 61mm long.

This Frank Muller masterpiece features perpetual day, date, month, and moon calendars. The watch is so skillfully constructed that the lunar calendar has an error of only 6.8 seconds per lunar month. This type of accuracy means that there is a deviation of only one day every 1,000 years, compared to the traditional system where the error is once every four years. This detailed timepiece took over 5 years to design and create and was sold for $2,700,000 at a private event in Monaco in 2009.

10. Patek Philippe 1953 Heures Universelles Model 2523 — $2.9 Million

worlds most expensive watchPatek Philippe & Co is a Swiss ultra-luxury watch brand founded in 1851. Patek Philippe is known for their incredibly engineered timepieces that are not only technical marvels but beautiful pieces of art as well.

This Patek Philippe 1953 Heures Universelles Model 2523 features an 18-karat gold case and a hand-stitched crocodile leather strap. The hour and minute hands are also 18-karat gold and float above a map of North America. The 35.5mm face features the ability to tell time in 42 different cities worldwide.

This watch was sold in 2006 for $2,899,373.

9. Patek Philippe 1895/1927 Yellow Gold Minute Repeating — $3 Million

worlds most expensive watchThis vintage watch was part of the Henry Graves, Jr. collection; the watch even bears the coat of arms of the Graves family. The case of this watch also dates back to 1895, while the case is from 1927. The watch features blued-steel hands on a yellow gold face. The strap is hand-stitched crocodile leather.

This Patek Philippe is the most expensive watch ever sold at a Sotheby’s auction. The watch had a reserve price of only $600,000, but was sold for $2,994,000. The winning bid was five the reserve price.

8. Blancpain Le Brassus Tourbillon Carrousel — $3.85 Million

worlds most expensive watchThis Le Brassus Tourbillon Carrousel is a revolutionary watch, created by the Blancpain brand, founded in 1735 and currently owned by the Swatch Group. This timepiece is the first to use a combination of the two gravity-fighting methods: Tourbillion and Carrousel, as featured in the watch’s name. Blancpain is the first watchmaker in horological history to ever combine both Tourbillon and Carrousel. The combination of these two methods allows for impressive precision, along with a seven-day power reserve.

The watch face features a flying tourbillon at 12 o’clock, a flying carrousel at 6 o’clock, as well as a date display dial at 3 o’clock. The 379 parts are enclosed within the 44.6mm, 18 karat rose gold case. The strap is made of alligator leather with an alzavel lining.

This beautiful timepiece is priced at $3,850,000.

7. Patek Philippe ref. 5004T — $4 Million

worlds most expensive watchThis is a one of a kind Patek Philippe watch, custom made for a charity auction. The ref. 5004 series was officially discontinued, but the watchmakers produced a special version of series to auction off at the Only Watch event in 2013.

The watch was incredibly unique with its 36.7mm titanium case and sporty design. The engineering behind the watch mirrors that of a grand complication design. The features include 12-hour split second chronograph, moon phase dial, and a perpetual calendar.

In 2013 this watch was sold for $3,985,067 at auction. The auction was the Only Watch event in Monaco, which donates 100% of its proceeds to support the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy medical charity.

6. Patek Philippe 1939 Platinum World Time — $4 Million

worlds most expensive watchThis is one of the oldest Patek Philippe wristwatches in the world. The platinum face features the ability to tell the time in multiple different time zones worldwide. Besides the observable features of this vintage watch, other details remain unknown. It has been speculated that this is one of the only watches of its kind still in existence.

This timepiece did sell for $4,026,524 at Antiquorum in 2002.

5. Louis Moinet “Meteoris” Series — $4.6 Million

worlds most expensive watchLouis Moinet, the French watchmaking company founded in 1806, is credited with the invention of the chronograph. Because of this technical advance, watches were able to grow more complex while still providing their basic use, telling time.

This four watch series features 47mm faces, alligator leather bands, and cases constructed from about 50 different parts. The watch faces have sapphire crystals and one-minute tourbillon manually wound movements. There is also a partially skeletonized main spring barrel that works as a 72-hour power reserve indicator. Each one of the four watches boasts detailed faces featuring a different interstellar material. The materials include a meteorite from Mars, a meteorite from Mercury, an asteroid, and a meteorite from the moon.

The Mars watch features the material from a meteorite called “Jiddat al Haraiss 479”, which was found in Oman and was verified by the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. 56 baguette-cut diamonds surround the watch face, total weight equaling 3.46 carats.

The Rosetta Stone watch features material from the Sahara 99555 stone, which was nicknamed ‘Rosetta Stone’. The material was found on earth, but is thought to have originated from Mercury upon examination by the Institute for Planetology of Munster, Germany. The material is said to be 4.5662 billion years old, making this the oldest material ever found on earth. The dial is comprised of rose gold to help accent the meteorite material.

The next watch in the series is The Asteroid. The stone material is from an asteroid named Itqiy, found in the Western Sahara desert. University of Arizona, Tucson, worked to authenticate the material and believe that the asteroid originated near the sun. The material is complemented by the 18-karat white gold case, and diamond surrounding the face. The last watch in the series is The Moon watch. This watch features material from a meteorite, Dhofar 459, found on Earth, in Oman. The material was verified by UCLA, and is believed to be from the Moon.

The rarity of these watches is evident from their interstellar materials, as well as the craftsmanship and attention to detail poured into each of these timepieces by the 200-year old watchmaking company. The price for any of the four watches in the series is between $4,600,000 and $4,900,000.

4. Breguet & Fils, Paris, No. 2667 Precision — $4.7 Million

Breguet is a Swiss luxury watchmaker founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, however, the company is now a part of the Swatch Group. This Paris, No. 2667 Precision pocket watch sold for 5,000 francs back in 1814. The value of this elegant timepiece has skyrocketed over the past 200 years.

The 18-karat gold pocket watch features two movements and boasts a diameter of 63.7mm. The timepiece is now worth $4,700,000.

3. Patek Philippe 1943 Watch ref. 1527 — $5.7 Million

worlds most expensive watchThis vintage Patek Philippe was made between 1943 and 1944. The timepiece features many design aspects that preceded similar Patek design choices by at least a decade. The watch face measures 37.6mm, which is unusually large for that time period. Another unique feature are the elongated and slightly curved lugs.

The watch features an 18-karat yellow gold case, 23 jewels, a silvered matte dial, and applied gold Arabic numerals. There is also a chronograph, a perpetual calendar, a lunar phase display and a bimetallic compensation balance.

This timepiece is considered to be the most expensive wristwatch ever sold. The piece sold at auction in 2010, in Christie’s in Geneva for $5,708,885

2. Patek Philippe Caliber 89 Pocket Watch — $6 Million

worlds most expensive watchPatek Philippe broke its own record for the most complicated watch when the luxury brand created the Caliber 89 series. Fifty-six years after the company created the Graves Supercomplication (#1), Patek Philippe celebrated its 150th anniversary. To commemorate their anniversary, the company decided to create a series of four pocket watches, designed after the original Supercomplication.

The year 1989 brought the Caliber 89 series to life: four identical pocket watches, one in each yellow, pink, and white gold, as well a one in platinum. Each watch features 33 complications with 1,728 individual parts. The double dial pocket watches are 89mm in diameter, 41mm in thickness, and weigh 1,100 grams. The watches have 24 hands, which show the time, sunrise and sunset, astronomical and astrological function, as well as a perpetual calendar.

The four watch series took nine years to complete. Each of the watches was originally sold to collectors, however, one resurfaced for auction in 2009. The Antiquorum in Geneva sold the yellow gold Caliber 89 in November of 2009 for $5,120,000, although the watches are valued you $6,000,000.

1. Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication — $24.4 Million

worlds most expensive watchThis 1933 Patek Philippe made Supercomplication is truly one of a kind – this is the world’s most complicated watch of its time. This solid 18-karat gold timepiece contains 900 individual parts, making it the most advanced timepiece ever made without the assistance of computers.

This pocket watch took eight years to create, from its commission by banker Henry Graves in 1925, to its completion in 1933. Those eight years were spent on crafting the many dials and intricate complications. The watch not only tells the time but has the ability to measure sunrise and sunset, as well as displaying a perpetual calendar. This watch also boasts a celestial map that plots the stars in the NYC night sky just as Graves would have seen from his Fifth Avenue apartment. This is not only a very personal touch, but the celestial chart was quite the engineering feat for that time. Another unique feature of the watch is the sidereal time dial. This dial tracks the Earth’s rate of rotation, 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds, just as astronomers would.

This double dial pocket watch was last wound in 1969, though remains in perfect working order. This watch even inspired the 1989 Caliber watches that Patek Philippe created in honor of their 150th anniversary. This magnificent timepiece was auctioned off in November of 2014 at the Sotheby’s Auction House in Switzerland. Sotheby’s valued the watch at $15.6 million, however, the piece sold for $24.4 million to an anonymous buyer.

Bonus: The Breguet Marie Antoinette — Priceless?

worlds most expensive watchMarie-Antoinette was said to have been fascinated by Breguet’s watches. As a gift to the Queen, one of Marie-Antoinette’s admirers commissioned Breguet in 1783, to create a one of a kind timepiece without imposing time or financial limitations. The mysterious admirer specified that gold should be used wherever possible and that the fullest range of horological technique should be used.

Breguet himself designed the watch, though he passed four years before the project’s completion. Marie-Antoinette also passed before the completion of the watch, 34 years prior. The watch was completed in 1827; 44 years after Breguet accepted the commission. Because the watch was never in the possession of Marie-Antoinette, the timepiece took on her name.
The watch was stolen in 1983 from a museum in Jerusalem but was finally recovered in December of 2007. In the years between, Nicolas G. Hayek, CEO of the Swatch Group, challenged Breguet’s watchmakers to build an exact replica of the lost pocket watch. There were no detailed descriptions or documentation of the original watch.
Breguet’s team did not disappoint. The new version of the Marie-Antoinette watch was completed after the original had been recovered. This was quite the feat, as the watchmakers had little information to base the new version off of. The watch is self-winding, has a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, equation of time, jumping hour, 48-hour power reserve indicator, and a bimetallic thermometer. It houses 823 pieces.

The timepiece is solid gold, with accents of wood-polished pink gold, and screw of blued and polished steel. The friction point, as well as sink and bearings, are fitted with sapphires. Breguet even carved a custom wooden display and storage box from a royal tree that Marie-Antoinette used to sit beneath. There was a presentation at the Palace of Versailles, and Breguet was award a medal for their work.

The company has received many offers in the 8-digit range; however, they refuse to sell the timeless timepiece.

Todd Coopee, Easy-Bake Oven Expert, Lights Up hobbyDB Advisory Council

todd coupee easy bake overn easy bake oven 1970sSometimes a light bulb goes off in your head, and you just have to chase an idea. For Todd Coopee, that light bulb was inside an Easy-Bake Oven.

Coopee, who lives in Ottawa Canada, is the world’s leading expert on collecting Easy-Bake Ovens, the light-bulb-powered kitchen appliances from Kenner. “We had one in the family when I was a child. It was from 1972, sunshine yellow with flower stickers,” he said. “As an adult, I ended up purchasing my first EBO on the web in 2007.” From there, he started on a quest to get one of every variant of the ovens.

The toy had receded to the back of his memories until he saw an exhibit at the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY. If you don’t think there are enough different Easy-Bake Oven (EBO, to the insiders), you’re not the only one. “I wasn’t convinced there was enough material for an entire book, but the more I looked into the Easy-Bake Oven’s history, the more interesting it became,” Coopee said. “After some initial interviews with former employees of Kenner, I felt compelled to tell the story about how the Easy-Bake had become a pop culture icon.”

todd coupee light bulb bakingAccording to Coopee, there have been 11 different designs of the Easy-Bake Oven, plus variants in color and stickers. “Many of the models are simple cosmetic changes in color, sticker sets, etc., that occurred from year-to-year.” Anyone familiar with how we document collectibles on hobbyDB certainly understands the importance of such details.

There have also been changes to the engineering, utilizing different combinations of wattage to replicate a 350-degree oven. “The optimum wattage actually varied over the years,” he said.” At its initial release, the EBO was powered by two 100-watt light bulbs. Later models used two 60-watt light bulbs. A design change in the baking chamber in 1978 reduced the light bulb requirements to a single 100-watt bulb.”

While Kenner’s EBO dates back to 1963, the concept is even older. “Of course, it’s important to remember that working toy ovens were around for decades before the Easy-Bake Oven. Kenner just packaged and promoted the EBO in a way that made it appeal to a mass audience of consumers.”

As the Easy-Bake Oven grew in popularity, a slew of competing toy ovens also hit the market from companies like Argo Industries, Chieftain Products, Coleco, Peter-Austin, Topper Toys, and Tyco.

Of course, for Coopee it’s not all about baking at 100 watts. “I collect B-movies, mid-century modern memorabilia, and toys from the 60s & 70s, especially from Kenner Products. I’m drawn to toys that don’t have the ‘mass produced’ feeling you get from some of today’s toys.” To that end, he runs a website called Toy Tales, at toytales.ca. Articles are posted daily on a variety of toys, games, and other objects that were a big part of everyone’s childhood. His book is also available at lightbulbbaking.com.

toy timesSpeaking of books, Coopee is working on another book chronicling the entire history of Kenner Toys. The passion to research and write about a company that disappeared decades ago is the kind of thing that makes all our collecting community grateful to have him join the 70 other experts on the Advisory Council at hobbyDB. (It was Coopee who first reached out to hobbyDB for an interview with Christian Braun that got the whole ball rolling.)Kenner toys

His collection isn’t as big as it once was, however. “Initially, the main focus of my collection was to acquire all of the different Easy-Bake Ovens that were produced, so I could include them in my book. Since then, I’ve donated many of them to several different museums so they could be enjoyed by others.”

As for the best recipes, “Cakes and cookies are always the best places to start!” We’ll drink a tall, cold glass of milk to that!

Toy Hunter Phil Chapman Lends Tinplate Expertise to hobbyDB Advisory Council

Phil Chapman Toy HunterYou might not expect someone who was a child in the 1980s to be a serious collector of tinplate toys. Phil Chapman, aka “The Toy Hunter,” defies that idea. We at hobbyDB are glad to have his extensive expertise as a tinplate toy collector as a new member of our Advisory Council.

“The main focus on my collection is tinplate toys,” he said. “Any size, age or brand mainly focusing on vehicles like car, trucks, bikes & tractors. What appeals to me about tinplate toys is the cars & trucks are so well built just like miniatures of the real vehicles of the time, & with clockwork mechanisms to make the toys move is just fascinating.”

In the collecting world, he is known as the “The Toy Hunter.” He picked  up that monicker after being inteviewd by a newspaper and a TV station, both of whom referred to him by that nickname.’The name just stuck, and people at toy fairs that seen me on TV  said ‘you’re that toy hunting guy!’”

To that end, he can be found on Facebook as “Phil Chapman Toy Hunter

Phil, who lives in the small town of Liskeard in Cornwall U.K, started in collecting tinplate toys about twenty years ago. “After owning a full size vintage tractor & motorcycle & not really having the room to store them, I soon realized collecting tinplate toys was just as interesting,” he said. “So the tractor and motorcycle went, and collecting toys started.”

His childhood featured a different kind of favorite toy. “My favorites growing up in the 1980’s were my A-Team figures,” he said. “Every Saturday evening watching Hannibal & the team getting themselves out of another situation to save the day! And yes I still have all my original figures plus the baddies!” he laughed. “I also have alot of early plastic toy vehicles, as the age of plastic took over from tinplate & batteries replaced clockwork motors, Phil said. “It shows how times were changing.”

tinplate tractor

Chad Valley Fordson Tractor from Chapman’s collection

Phil Chapman Toy HunterPhil is willing to share his toys, although not to play with. “All my toys are on display in Liskeard Museum,” he said. “It is one of the largest tinplate toy displays on show in Cornwall. With twenty years experience specializing in tinplate toys, we get many visitors from all over the UK either just wanting to visit the museum or looking for help identify a tinplate toy.”

He is also in the process of sharing his collection via the database at hobbyDB. His collection and expertise are extensive, and his sense of enjoyment of the hobby is what we’re all about.

Hey, That’s Not Santa! Collectibles in Claus Costumes

santa claus lead

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One of the greatest, most mysterious super-spies in history is hitting his busy season. He’s been surveying you and everyone in the world ’round the clock, ’round the calendar. He’s been compiling notes on everyone’s behavior in order to exact his own special brand of justice. But on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus rolls up his sleeves and really gets down to business.

As Christmas approaches, he has a network of “helpers,” doppelgangers who pop up at malls and shopping centers and street corners all over the world in December to give the illusion that he’s close by. Of course, some of those Alt-Santas have other motives, many of them quite naughty indeed. Here at hobbyDB, we decided to compile a list of Santa’s subterfugers (is that a word?) from the benign to the sinister to the positively evil. And of course, we have our own intel on each one.

yoda darth vader santaHarmless Imitators

There is a long history of fictional characters donning the red suit mostly for good natured hijinks, or simply to sit in the chair at the mall. Generally affable characters such as Yoda, Mickey Mouse, and Freddy Funko have all gone red for non-canonical merchandising reasons. Which really fits the spirit of Christmas if you think about it. Heck, even Darth Vader can be found in Santa garb, but since it’s not in any of the movies, we have to assume he was just goofing around, right?

gizmo gremlinCuddly But Creepy

Anyone who doesn’t think of “Gremlins” as a Christmas movie really needs to have their spirit checked. The Gremlins start out cuddly, but (Spoiler alert for a 35 year old movie) if they get wet, or are fed after midnight, they turn into horrifying little monsters. So it’s tough to say which side of the fence Gizmo, seen here, falls on. Also, is he really impersonating Santa, or just wearing a hat to be festive? Intentions and consequences unclear.

jakc skellington droppoGood Intentions, Bad Ideas

Jack Skellington has to go here, right? Sure, he plotted to take over Christmas, and sure, he usurped the good name and costume of St. Nick, and sure, he actually hijacked the sled (Spoiler Alert for a 25 year old cartoon) and attempted to deliver the goods on his own… but he swears it was all in good fun. Okay, and a bit of jealousy. However you want to judge his intentions, he probably could have done some jail time for his malfeasance if he ever went to court.

funko psycho santaAlso in this category, we have Droppo, the lovable goofball from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, possibly one of the worst holiday movies ever. In any event, Droppo dons the suit to cover for Santa while he… look, I don’t want to spoil this one for you. You really should watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of it, though.

“Looks Kind of Scary, but Who Knows?

Psycho Santa’s main motive is… well, that’s hard to say. He’s a crazy goblin-looking creature, with wily eyes, a mischievous grin, and a creepy tongue dangling out of his gap toothed mouth. The Psycho Goblin character is an original Funko creation, so he’s still building his back story.

santa grinch

Your heart’s an empty hole, Your brain is full of spiders, You’ve got garlic in your soul

And of course, Santa’s most sinister imposter has to be the Grinch, right? His elaborate scheme to steal the spirit of Christmas by stealing the materialism of the holiday was diabolical. He didn’t just wear the suit, he mimicked the sled, the reindeer, the mannerisms. And of course, (Spoiler alert for a 50-year old cartoon) his diabolical plot could only be derailed by… his own heart. Now for a real mystery… in Who-ville, does the real Santa look human, or Who-man?

robot santaWhat if Santa is some kind of Robot?

Oh, wait, you thought the Grinch was the best of the worst? In the year 3000, Santa’s duties are relegated to a harmless four-ton robot from Neptune. Well, Futurama’s Robot Santa Claus would be harmless, except he was erroneously programmed to judge the naughty from the nice with extreme prejudice. (Spoiler Alert for a 20 year old cartoon) He deems just about everyone naughty and worthy of a death sentence. 

Speaking of robotic Santas, over the years, “Doctor Who” has ended many of their seasons with a Christmas special, some of them featuring Santa.  It makes sense: He doesn’t hop across dimensions, and he doesn’t travel in time, but Santa does manage to cover a heck of a lot of square miles in an absurdly short amount of time. So it figures he would know Doctor Who to some degree. But he’s the good guy. In most of those specials, anyway. One year did feature a super creepy Santa Robot, the kind who occupied the uncanny valley, so he was the stuff of nightmares.

eric cartman santa suitThe True Meaning of Christmas is Ham… no, Presents!

The very first five-minute South Park cartoon features Santa Claus battling Jesus to settle the true meaning of Christmas. As bad as that Santa might sound, (and in subsequent appearances he’s not the nicest guy) he’s not an imposter, so he doesn’t really count for this list. On the other hand, Eric Cartman has been spotted in a full Santa suit several times over the years. Whatever his specific motive might be at any time, we can assume that Cartman Claus must be the most truly evil imposter of all.

Regardless of intent, it’s clear that the spirit of Christmas lives inside all of us. So merry Christmas to all and to all… make sure you look closely at who actually slides down your chimney this year.

Do you have a favorite undercover Santa Costumed character? Let us know in the comments below!