How to spot fake Matchbox models

03 May 2013
imports_CCGB_54_19847.jpg How to spot fake Matchbox models
Auctioneer Keith Hartwell warns that fake Matchbox models could flood the market. ...
How to spot fake Matchbox models Images
There are concerns that swapmeets and auctions could be the target of a scam artist after it was discovered two Matchbox models had been purposely tampered with to deceive collectors. The models in question were a Matchbox/Lesney No. 18 Field Car with unusual green wheels and a Matchbox/Lesney No. 72 Fordson Major Tractor with orange wheels. Both were sold during the Toys & Militaria auction at Mullock’s on 6th March but when the buyer received the models and inspected them cloer it became apparent they weren’t the real thing.

“The actual bodies of the model are fine but it’s the wheels that are the problem,” explained Keith Hartwell from Mullock’s. “The price of Matchbox models can increase significantly if they have particularly rare coloured wheels, so in this case someone has replaced the standard wheels with more unusual ones in an effort to raise the price.”

Although these fakes were identified, Keith is now concerned there could be more on the market. “I would warn all auction houses and swapmeet dealers to check their stock and make sure that any rare Matchbox models are 100% genuine. This individual could have made dozens and sent them across the country.”

Keith went on to explain how the scam works. “It’s a very good deception because the person has crimped the drive shaft, removed the original wheels and then popped on these different ones. As a result from the outside the models look great but when you look inside the wheels, you realise they’ve been tampered with.

“The different coloured wheels could have come from another model which normally has them or they could have even been made in China as replacement parts. It doesn’t necessarily involve a great deal of skill to pull off the trick – the individual just has to have the right parts.

“I closely inspect all the models I get for auction but these were very well done because it’s only when you get them under a magnifying glass you see the problem. I’ve been doing this for 40 years and these cars even got past me!”

And the reason for all this trickery? Well, rather obviously it’s the possibility of profit. “With the Field Car and Fordson Major Tractor, you normally pay around £40 for them but because of the supposedly unusual tyres on the examples we sold they sold for £160 and £220.”

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