Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another PSA: Fake Glosses

I feel totally yucky today. My back hurts, I have a rash on my hands, I’m absolutely freezing, and I had to work with a couple of real "Debbie Downers" at work yesterday.

(Yeah, I know, the irony.)

The homemade chicken soup I had for lunch helped a little. I’d crawl back to bed if I could, but I have way too much stuff to do today, and no minions to pick up the slack.

You might have heard about yet another Fake Gloss controversy that had been stirring things up on Blab and in the MHHR Yahoo Group. I don’t know enough about the persons or models involved to comment on the specifics of the situation, but there are some good (and repeatable!) points to be made here about the Gloss Finishes in general.

First - and this might come as a bit of a shocker, from me - is that the absence of a Certificate of Authenticity is not necessarily the red flag. Some of the earlier modern Glossies - and some of the random glosses that appear on the shelves, from time to time - don’t have them. And faking a certificate of that sort is easier than faking a Gloss Finish.

That’s not to say they don’t have any value. If a model came with one to begin with, I’d certainly be looking for it, and negotiate accordingly based on its appearance - or absence. It adds to the provenance, which is always a net positive, financially and historically.

Second, as to whether or not an average collector can be fooled by an aftermarket gloss finish: Yes, most definitely. Remember, it’s only the incompetent forgers who get caught. The problem is that incompetent forgers make up the majority, so most hobbyists make the assumption that fakes should be completely obvious in person.

They are not. Any good art historian can tell you that even the best collections have a few questionable items in it. I have a few models myself that I definitely consider iffy. But I’ve also seen models that looked very iffy that were unassailably authentic. There’s a lot of room for error, and even the best of us get fooled from time to time. It happens. There's no shame in making the occasional mistake.

That being said, there are a number of hobbyists - not just newbies, but people who’ve been around a while too, and should know better - who genuinely can’t see even very obvious fakes. Sometimes it’s in self-interest: they paid a lot of money for something, or their reputation would be on the line if it was discovered that they were easily fooled. So whatever issues that might be there get rationalized away.

A lot of the time, though, it’s a matter of them genuinely not knowing what a real gloss looks like. There have been instances when someone’s brought me a "Rare!" Gloss to examine, and they were painfully, obviously faked. As in chunks of newspaper or hair embedded in the gloss, large strange drips in places they shouldn’t be, or deep unnatural yellowing of the gloss itself.

Pointing them out always leads to inevitable mutterings of "I didn’t see that" or "Isn’t that how a gloss is supposed to look?" 

Until Reeves gets its act together and finds a suitable method for minimizing counterfeit glosses (Decals under the gloss? Sparkles in the gloss? A special numbering system?) all we can do is educate ourselves - and others.

Glosses, like Black Test Colors, should always be held to a more rigorous standard of proof.

I understand the temptation, but seriously guys and gals, you know this already: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Little Black Car said...

Honestly, I don't see how Reeves can prevent this. Unscrupulous hobbyists will just figure out to put decals on the model before they spray, or glitter, or whatever. Frankly, I can think of few better classes of craftspeople, collectively, than plastic model hobbyists--there is nothing Reeves can do that I don't think we can learn to fake.

Documentation is the best defense they could provide, and I don't see how that can be absolute. Even if every single rare glossy produced had an individual serial number, that would mean that its owner's name would have to be recorded somewhere, and updated every time the model was sold. The odds of that happening are, I imagine, pretty slim.

Ultimately, the best things we can do are to educate ourselves, expose fraudsters, and keep our heads on straight when presented with what appears to be a rare glossy (test color, whatever). Some of us, by human nature, will be better at it than others. That's how it goes.

LazyShamrock said...

I was quite appalled a long time ago when I glossed a plain regular run brown(is that what the color was actually called?) pacer to test the gloss spray. It looked really nice when I got done and added some highlights to the original paint job.

I sold him, with full disclosure that he was not OF to a person who offered him for sale as a "rare glossy" OF. I was TICKED.

Now I know that it would have been appropriate to sign the belly saying "glossed by me." But live and learn, I suppose.

Stockstill Stables said...

I would love to have a couple of my favorite, never leaving my possession, models glossed since it is my favorite finish. If I ever did gloss any I would definitely mark them as "glossed by" so that if they ever did end up out of my hands they could not be sold fraudulently to someone else.

Anonymous said...

I will never understand why artists often don't sign their glossies/CM decos/OF replicas. Why why why?! Such a deterrent to the casual fraudster.

LazyShamrock said...

In my defense, I'd like to remind Anonymous that the hobby has changed a great deal since 1992. Signing something that wasn't a full repaint (we didn't call them customs then) never occurred to me.

Stockstill--do many fine coats rather than one big coat if you ever do it, and then yes, sign the belly!