Tuesday, August 14, 2012

CheaterFest, Pt. II

There’s a gap between what’s legal - what is allowed within the law, and what is ethical - what is allowed within a person’s or society’s moral system. Law is basically an attempt to codify a generally accepted set of morals that can, and should, apply to everyone equally.

We get the sense that the legal system has failed us when what is allowed within the law does not match up with our moral system.

Most of the cheater-y type stuff that happened at BreyerFest this year - outside of the funny business at the Children/Youth Show - fell into that gray area. What some of these people did was technically legal, but ethically - to most of us, I presume - not quite right.

First up was some shenanigans that occurred at the Silent Auction, in regards to the "Vendor Pack" lot. A "Vendor Pack" is the lot of tent specials - one of each of the eight items - that is offered to vendors in the Covered Arena, who may not otherwise be able to leave their booths to stand in line for them.

The lot went for a relatively low amount - only $560, not much above the combined retail price for all eight pieces - and that seemed a little unusual. The prices for the auctions were lower than last year, true, but something definitely seemed off about the bid price for that particular item, since the Stoneleigh Surprises were already going for double their issue price.

Until it came out that the "last" bidder on the lot ‘ran out the clock’ by retracing over her name. Legal? Probably. Ethical? Not by my standards.

Another instance - that I haven’t been able to confirm, but that I got from a source I have always considered reliable in the past - involved the Best of British diorama contest. According to my source, one of the entries that won in the Adult division had won before - two years previously. Legal? According to the published rules, yes. Ethical? Why I can certainly see retooling an old entry that hadn’t won before, doing the same with an entry that already had? Not something I would do.

Then there was the Costume Contest, where both Reeves - and Hobbyists - made some questionable decisions. Instead of awarding prizes to each entry - be it a single person, or a group entry - as they had in the past three years, Reeves decided to award prices to each member of each winning entry. Within their right to do so? Yes. Ethical? Well, it depends on whether or not you consider the "omission" of that particular change in the rules to rise to the level of deception. I know if I had known about it, I would have drastically changed my entry (and dragged my friends and roommates into it!)

Hobbyists were not without sin in this contest, either. Last year, a baby - dressed in a Humpty Dumpty costume - was given a prize in the Costume Contest. Sure, he was cute, but a dangerous precedent was set: it should have been no surprise to anyone that the same tactic was used again, this year. With the same end result.

Look, there’s a reason why costume contests generally separate out between kids and adults: adults can’t compete against little kids, or babies. They always win. And when the prizes involved in winning include models that can sell for $500 or more, it’s going to continue to happen.

I think it’s telling that the first three people I told about this incident - none of whom knew each other, by the way - all came to the same conclusion, almost word-for-word: "Next year, you’ll have to rent a baby."

We do not need to see Toddlers & Tiaras: the BreyerFest Edition. But with next year’s theme being "Denim & Diamonds’, I’m afraid that’s exactly where it’s going to go. (I wasn’t too keen on the theme to begin with, but if it means gluing sequins and rhinestones to the dog …)

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Look, I am myself not without my own ethical issues. I suppose, on some level, that the kind - and quality - of information I receive as a result of this blog gives me an unfair advantage. I guess you could call it a form of insider trading: I rarely get a "Hey, look for such and such model in the NPOD" but some of the tips I get do point me in the correct direction, and sometimes that’s more than enough. 

I’d like to think that all the information I have given out over the years - here, there and elsewhere - compensates for whatever sins I have committed in the name of pretty plastic ponies, at least a little bit.

I can’t even name all the horses I’ve lost out on because of that. If even one other person knows what I know about a model on eBay, I am pretty much out of contention. Information is the only currency I have an abundance of. Yet I give this currency away anyway, because it’s the right thing to do.


Anonymous said...

I won the bidding for the vendor pack and would like to set the record straight. I began writing a last minute bid. The bidding area was empty and as I was doing this the underbidder walked up from the crowd, got another pen, and entered another bid beneath mine as I was writing my entry. It is true that I wrote back over part of my info because I wrote in a hurry and it was not very legible. So we were writing at the same time. While she was entering her bid, I began writing in another bid beneath hers. There was nothing to stop her from writing another bid beneath mine if she had chosen to do so. We were able to write at the same time.
I feel pretty confident that the account originated from the underbidder, since there was noone else close enough to witness the details, apart from one or two employees. I just don’t know where the omissions/negative slant occurred, whether in the original account or in being retold through the grapevine

Anonymous said...

As in all stories retold on computers, there are two sides. Like the commercial on television right now, if you read it on the internet, it must be true! Thank you for sharing the other side of the story, I for one, appreciate it!