Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Caveat Emptor

Just over a year ago I purchased a Forgeworld Great Unclean One off New Zealand’s eBay equivalent, Trademe. The cost was about 70% of the price that it would have cost to buy direct from Forgeworld. It came on a Forgeworld bag, all the pieces were there etc.

I painted up the model and you can see the finished product.

A couple of weeks later my interest was piqued, when after buying a Forgeworld Keeper of Secrets from the same buyer, I saw that he was selling two more Great Unclean Ones. Checking his other sales I saw that he had multiple auctions of a limited range of Forgeworld figures. I’m naturally a suspicious type and thought that it was extremely unlikely that a private buyer had purchased three Great Unclean Ones from Forgeworld, given the cost.

There had increasingly been stories of Forgeworld getting burnt when they shifted some production to the Far east and I thought that this might be the remnants of some of this product.

Fast forward a year. Yesterday a parcel turned up at my place with a number of figures in it. Check out the following:

Games Workshop’s Khemri Warsphinx. So what? Well you’re right it is the Tomb King Warsphinx but instead of plastic the whole model is made of resin! Now unless I’m mistaken Games Workshop haven’t shifted the Sphinx to Finecast.

The model arrived bagged up – solid body – separate legs – head jaws, etc. It came with the howdah and the Tomb Prince/King. Assembly was 15-20 minutes, very little flash and in fact all it required was the removal of resin pouring lugs. Here is a close up of the detail.

And what was the cost of this figure? Well the local RRP for the Khemri Warsphinx is NZ$98. This model cost US$18 (NZ$22). This is less than a quarter of the price.

So here is clear evidence that Games Workshop is facing a piracy problem. This is not some poor quality home casting but a sophisticated copy of their IP. I am now suspicious that the Forgeworld figures I purchased last year were in fact sourced from a similar facility and then sold on the local auction site.

So the upshot is caveat emptor - “let the buyer beware”. Be sure that when you use an auction site that you know what you are paying for. To be honest in this case – and as the owner of two Games Workshop plastic Khemri Warsphinx – I can see little difference in quality between the authentic and the “copy”. The major difference is in the heft of the figure.


  1. i've bought a few things from a Chinese website that specifically says it's copying models that were produced in China. Only small things because I was curious about the quality differences, but to be honest I couldn't see it. I've had some bad forgeworld over the years and really, GW has a lot to be worried about. IP law in China is laughable and there's a realization that there's demand. I don't really see if there's anything GW can realistically do about this as well since the site is hosted in china and run by chinese nationals.
    If BMW can't stop chinese auto manufacturers from cloning their cars, what chance does a specialist firm like GW have.

  2. This is so cool. I bet this is going to be a great collectible for toy collectors. Thank you for giving informations regarding this. Your post is indeed informative.

  3. Im surprised there hasnt been more discussion on this topic.
    I dont know about anyone else's thoughts, but blatant copying like this will be the downfall of wargaming IMO. Its one thing to make alternative figures to be used in a setting (which infact add value, nothing wrong there), but to just copy someone elses and reproduce it is nothing but theft.

    Blaise - your analogy to BMW has nothing in common to this.

  4. I dunno, the blatant theft of IP in China is a huge problem for companies like BMW and Prada. There seems to be little that the authorities in that country wish to do about it. The comparison with GW and BMW seems to be extremely apt. The only difference is the attention to detail and quality of the copy.

    1. The BMW thing (not the only, many car companies are getting copied in this way) is very different. In these cases a huge chinese car company has manufactured a car that looks strikingly similar to a model from BMW. The Italian (yes a european union member, as the court action was against the importer) courts ruled in favour of Shuanghuan motor corp when BMW took legal action for the X5 look-a-like, however they are completly different cars and only shared the same styling (ie from afar they look identical, but close up inspection reveils something different)which is why BMW lost.

      With the above model, someone has simply made a mould of a completed GW product and recast it, passing it off as said product. This is illegal in china, but very difficult to police as its pritty much done in someones basement.

      Pete - is your coment re OnG release factual or just internet chinese whispers? It makes no sense.

    2. Factual, of course :-). GW complained. The authorities held up export of their authentic product until they withdrew their complaint.

    3. Wow. Yes, slight difference in issue from BMW then.

  5. Seriously the quality of the copy is excellent. Only weight of model betrays its origin.

    My understanding (from an excellently informed source) is that Games Workshop complained to the relevant authorities and as a result encountered considerable problems regarding the export of their manufactured product from the country.

    This, in part, resulted in the long delay re the release of the Orc & Goblin update - 8 months after the release of 8th Edition.