Counterfeits, forgeries, copies and DIY:s

Before starting this, I want to impress that there is a difference between unknowingly buying a well made forgery and buying obvious counterfeit. The difference is mainly a legal difference, but can for some people also be of moral importance.

Killing Chinese babies

When it comes to contemporary counterfeits, some parts of China has the latest decades been an inofficial but strong actor. This blog typically deals with miniature models and, not so incidently, so too does this topic about counterfeits - I would like to impress you all that counterfeiting is a much wider business than what an uninformed individual might first believe; and no, you in particular are not uninformed, but sometimes when I read at certain forums - or listen to certain episodes of certain podcasts - one might get the idea that the miniature making company Games Workshop or Forgeworld are the only victims of counterfeiting in the world.

Games Wok-shop, producing Spezz Mehreens since 2014.*

Before we continue I would like to say this: Counterfeiting, which means that someone are copying copyrighted or pattern-protected material for the purposes of selling these copies, are typically a legal problem waiting to happen to the producer of the copies should he manage to move more than a few units off to a customer, or even a client - sometimes they slip through, and sometimes they can keep going because they have bigger monetary resources than the regional law operators, or they move their goods internationally, either to cheaper parts of Euroland or the outlet-look-alike markets[1] in Thailand and similar tourist countries, and hence are not as easy to deal with for national police forces. In Russia, black market goods have traditionally been a big part of the white economy and is not seen as problem by authorities, at least not inofficially[2].
      However, there are times when counterfeiting is a real problem, compared to the "first world problem" of counterfeited booklets and miniatures from Games Workshop and any of its affiliated companies, whatever they might be.
      Silver coins, small gold bars, jewelry, some collectibles and of course art - that's where the real problems start to come. We have reason to move back to the subject of art, but let's wait a few lines and continue with the more concrete problems of this matter.
     When it comes to things that have very large amounts of money involved - which of course Forgeworld products do have, but still not on the same scale as jewelry, investment art, wine (not that this is a particularly common forging market), precious metal bars and so on -  these products naturally all cost a lot to invest in. We can can now start talking about structural problems, real problems with, for example, economical trust which in a later step might affect household economy - not that it is especially popular to either save or invest, it seems, but it is still a problem - especially when it comes to valuable metals - and even more emphasis on the "especially" when we are in fact comparing against the importance of resin models. Or lack of importance.

Remember, we are not talking about scams here, like selling an empty Iphone 8 box after flashing a "real" Iphone 8 and then selling you the empty box, neatly packaged and bagged with a "receipt". A scam is where you sell your stuff and get the hell out of dodge (there are numerous exceptions, but let's just settle with that one-dimensioned description). 
     No, I am talking about prolonged business where the counterfeiter tries to mimick a product as best as he can for as long as it is economically sound versus the illegality and it's possible repercussions, but also due to general quality issues that a counterfeit company by its nature will disregard; as an example I will give you something I think most of us can relate to here: 
     When a small Chinese company is counterfeiting a number of resin products, it is natural to assume that the resin used will be the cheapest and, in the context, perhaps not optimal type of polyurethane for the product. It will not be of the same quality and it could in extremely rare cases prove hazardous to not only the workers but also the end user. The resin could bend if placed in certain temperatures, or start to sweat toxic materials if it was a bad batch of resin, to mention but a few potential problems with a counterfeiting company.
    The counterfeiter will have to balance some long term values - after all, it could take  some time to get the customers back after restarting under another name for the third or fourth time - against the will to make as much money as possible before being shut down. In this geo-political case - China - a lot of Europeans like to sandbag modern China in every aspect, which of course is fine, but regardless of their blatant corruption (the EU suffers from this as well but it is mostly in a more obscure form or dare I say a tad more sophisticated way?), they still clamp down on counterfeiters every day! As long as the companies that abide to the European laws as well as try to cram out the maximum amount of money, as is customary in our culture, we will always see Chinese, Taiwanese, Azerbadjani [3] - or wherever they are from - counterfeiters, it is just too easy to make big profits in poor countries with the prices that some companies keep.

The same goes for the consumers of these industry products that we are talking about in this instance, which is resin miniatures for collection and wargaming: Is it a good thing to buy counterfeit because you "make a big profit" or at least save potentially thousands of SEK? No, it is not a good thing for the original producer but it might be a good thing for your wallet. Perhaps not a good thing for your hobby in the long run, but then again, if you make stuff that caters to a smaller market and price it however you please, then you will get problems with counterfeiting and people buying it.

With that aside, we come closer to one of my three mainstay ideas for this post:.

Homemade copies

It is not legally wrong to make copies of your own models for your own use! It is not counterfeiting or breach of any imaginary copyright law to make homemade Legos or make a resin copy of your Forgeworld Titan. It might cost you more than it cost you to buy it, but it is certainly not illegal, despite what we are told by some of our gaming acquaintances and ditto forumites. Their opinions are based on nothing and a rotten tomato.
     Casting copies is especially fine if you're not making thousands of units. It is not even technically illegal to make thousands of copies, but it might prove difficult to motivate this abundant production should one of your friends ever tell on you and drag and drop the legal system over you.

What we as gamers, collectors, hobbyists and buyers need to remember is that the creativity shown from WWE, GW and other miniature companies is sadly not as uncommon as we might want to believe - Games Workshop is producing stuff that caters to a certain part of the population and thrives on other people's creativity and "borrows" ideas all the time. If Chinese companies take money from, let us say Forgeworld, it doesn't matter to me because I am not that impressed with the designs! I know that if Forgeworld or Games Workshop disappears, someone else will take up the reins, as is the case in ALL markets in the [still somewhat] free world. It still doesn't make it right, but it still isn't that big of a deal. We have reason to delve deeper into this rather paramount argument regarding creativity and novelty, but not today!

What is a big deal, however, are other types of counterfeiting:

Some counterfeits are downright dangerous, like certain medicines. And here we come to the crux of this whole post: Counterfeited drugs. Yep, you heard me right. Due to the elements, the people, involved in overseeing, producing, bulk-selling, shipping, and finally street selling or selling via mail-order, this is not as big a problem as one might expect, the companies producing the illegal drugs are typically armed and dangerous and typically do no lack either manpower nor legal muscle, should they ever go that way to prove their weight in a "copyright claim". 
      Despite this, the problem exists and is huge, especially in various illegal pills, for a lack of a better term. For some reason, this industry has sometimes been litterary plagued by fake pills, be it benzodiazepines, different opiates, or one of the worst examples: Fake or faulty steroids in every shape, form and purpose that has killed a lot of young men over the years. Not to mention the estimates of up to 700,000 of which most can be blamed on fake malaria-pills and tuberculosis medicines!

Of course, in 2004 some guys in China sold fake baby formula and in the aftermath, a few death sentences was given (perhaps not to the top names, but still, better than what Sweden would have given them) and more than 50 babies were still dead. I have even heard up to 300 dead Chinese babies. In 2008 another scandal similar to this one took place resulting in six dead infants and 54,000 hospitalized.

Poor ForgeWorld losing those 20,000-30,000 GBP annualy in counterfeits and copies.

It keeps the riff raff out
Now, you might think, why is he using emotional or irrelevant arguments? Who cares about Chinese babies? I am not using these sentences as arguments, I am merely trying to set things into a perspective. You could argue, like the [to me at least] famous quote on Games Workshop's prices being too high that "it keeps the riff-raff out". That is in fact the only valid argument I have ever heard in my entire life when it comes Games Workshop overpricing. No bullshit or roundabouts like "disposable income" or "they have huge overheads" or whatever it might be, just a simple: "Keeps the riff-raff out".

Good old British, or European, snobbism. A bit of a separation between them and those and you. No one cares about steroid users dying, no one cares about dead Chinese babies.

That is an attitude in humans that can be both good and bad, but regardless, it is an honest opinion. And it might also be a part of the sometimes heated debates I have witnessed in real life about this topic - far more heated than what to do with corruption in general in our society.
      The guy taking the plunge and buys cheap knock-offs of ugly War Hounds and super kitschy models - in general - from Forgeworld, is ultimately not paying what the other guy paid; that seems to be what it all comes down to. It is like the well known "shortcut to pussy" that goes via prison. How angry does this make most law abiding men? Very. But it is still a valid, though somewhat vulgar, route.
      A stuttering comparison, but still: Why bothering with counterfeit resin-crap when the original product is so bad and/or overpriced? This is not in line with the above example since the young lasses attracted to bad boys typically are the hottest, although I can not swear on their mental abilities or economics, but that doesn't really matter when it comes to women, does it? No, that's right, it does not.

Who cares about fake eggs and Chinese babies?
If a player shows up with homemade casts, would you ban him from playing in your store? If the answer is yes, then you are truly a square, in the most hippie-sense of all senses! You are a conformist square, and you are probably also some other bad adjectives.
       Why am I so passionate about this? Because many of us, the so called player base or consumer demographic or whatever corporate bullshit word that is being used at the moment, have indoctrinated ourselves to naturally shy away from counterfeit models or even homemade casts of originals - even going as far as shaming people from making their own super-legal copies of let say, an ugly Warhammer Finecast model.

This is the main reason for this post. For whatever cause a lot of persons look down on people taking the time to physically copy models from Warhammer, or in my case, Lord of the Rings, it still isn't illegal. No arguments can be made from a legal point of view - and why should and would we, even if it was possible?! When did we all become not only rules lawyers, lawyering our 80 GBP, badly written rules, but also copyright lawyers against ourselves? Is it really true love for the UK-based company that we keep mention everywhere, or is it just a lack of understanding that there are so many other stories and so much history, producers of various media of great quality and culture out there that this whole Stockholm-syndrome [with regards to the pricing by some companies] is the reason why it is generally discouraged to make your own copies of expensive models?
      It is not illegal to make casts in your own home for your personal use, just as it is not illegal to tape a song from the radio or tape a movie on your old VCR or digital recorder, as long as you don't sell your faked eggs as real eggs, you can make as many as you want. You can even make copies of deggs.

Why draw the line at copying parts for conversions? Why did the hobby and gaming community seemingly draw the line there? To answer this, we just have to look at the anxious human beings we have all become, everyone so afraid of laws and certain vocal individual's opinions, even going as far as hindering ourselves in what we do and how we act - even if it has nothing to do with legal shit - we are everyday censoring ourselves, and I am not talking about simple social skills (of the sort that you avoid answering truthfully when someone asks you about something mundane which you disagree on but care very little about), I am talking about heavy 1984-stuff, where we convince ourselves that we actually believe in what we know is false.

- - -

Value decided not on looks or material but by an institution.

Now, you might think I am sprawling out too much with regards to this topic, and maybe I am, and maybe I am also preaching to the choir... but let's follow this ramshackle train of thoughts by continuing with art:

Earlier, I mentioned art. Art has been forged for many years, I remember from an art class in mandatory school that even back in the 14th century art forgeries was made - and this was before the birth of modern art as a stock-market-like institution: People paid more back then for famous names, even if they still viewed most artists and their posse as nothing more than craftsmen (which, as we all know, however silly it might sound in our progressive ears, are worth less than the blue bloods, and still are - as the still valid argument of keeping "the riff raff out" proves).
     The funny thing with forged old art, art in the sense of "before Marcel Proust" and the birth of our Western progressive and seminal or "original" art, is that many of these forgeries in some instances are still valued almost as high as an original - if they ever will be exposed as forgeries. The same goes for certain well done forged stamps and not to mention forged coins [not bound by their metal in value] and in very few instances also famous and well forged paper bills.
      Taking this into account, why not see a nice and cheap knock-off of certain larger companies' products as not-so-unhealthy competition? If they are well made, why not give the "bad guys" your money?
     We all know the reasons why we shouldn't but still, some people will still buy them and I do not blame them. If I liked Forgeworld's products I would gladly buy most of my stuff from counterfeiters, even if it meant that Forgeworld lost its consumer base, closed its gates and the counterfeiters moved on forging other things leaving us with nothing, because that is how overpriced people buying counterfeit obviously thinks that, for example, Forgeworld or Wild West Exodus (if there is any cheap knock-offs for that line) are.
      They do not care enough about the designs or the hobby but still care enough to give a lot of time and still shell out a bunch of money, granted a smaller sum - but to the counterfeiters instead of the original source. Does that mean that the other side care too much about their hobby and their beloved "fluff" which is nothing - I repeat: Nothing, when compared to the fantastic amounts of stories and literature produced in Western society (I include Russia in this label today) these latest 250 years?
     I am not saying this, but I am vocalizing a weak thought: Might it be that the products from this British company aren't in fact that great? Could it be that when compared to investment products, some rare and expensive food-stuffs, gold and jewelry, the better literature as well as some of the simpler recreational stories and fine art that exists and that can be reproduced or counterfeited, that resin miniatures from this particular British company is kind of okay to copy or buy as cheap knock-offs?

(Remember that this comes from a person that is an obvious fanboy, just look at earlier posts where I praise a lot of the design choices from said company - take it for what it is and devil's advocate and devil's avocado and so on.)

- - -

As we are closing in on the ending notes I would like to make my second point in the form of a question: If you were to cast your own copies of, let say, a Mauler Fiend, and make a squadron of five of these, some converted and some not, would you still sell them, ten years later, for whatever price you decide your lovingly painted and well cast models deserve?
      If you have an answer to this last line, please make sure you have a moral answer, and do not place all your weight on the legal answer, because laws are in the end based on our morals, however warped they may be.

Finecast has nothing to do with this post. Just added it as a little nod to "warped".


[1] Thailand markets. Source:
[2] Russian white market vs black market. Source:
[3] Examples are based on nothing. They are just examples of countries.

*) No, this man is not a forger or counterfeiter. He is something else that has nothing to do with this text.

2 kommentarer:

  1. As I was scrolling through the blog I couldn't help but notice this massive post, and since noone bothered to comment I figured I would, mostly to answer your question.

    When selling the Mauler Fiends I'd check out the current GW prices, knock off some 50 SEK and add/detract depending on my paintjob, poor/good conversions etc, but ultimately I'd still SELL them, and I don't see why I shouldn't.

    1. Hear, hear! I appreciate your answer - my post was too long and meandering to have someone answer my question, I realized later :D

      Also, damned sorry for replying on this so late. I have been having some personal stuff to deal with and then the hobby had to step back!