The Miniatures Page had a news item up some time ago that AB Figures discovered some of their 15m Napoleonics that were clearly not cast by them sold as AB Figures. The trader they were bought from is now revealed as being Stonewall Figures.
These are the facts as reported: Stonewall Figures sold someone figures that were probably pirated from existing AB Figures. Whether it was Stonewall themselves that did this copying, or whether they were sold AB figures that they themselves thought to be genuine by an unscrupulous third party is not clear, and is apparently under investigation (if that is what is meant by the phrasing the Office of Fair Trading in the U.K. has taken appropriate action).
It is a mystery to me why, in the low profile and low — if any — profit margin venture that is the wargame figure business for most traders out there, somebody would not only copy another person’s work, but also try to make some money out of it. This seems entire counter productive; for the meager pennies you are making out of the selling of pirated figures, you might well run a legitimate trader out of business. This is not Games Workshop we’re talking about, but one of the many historical figure manufacturers whose business is basically an outgrown hobby, and is just barely profitable at best, or operating at a significant loss at worst. It just makes no sense trying to pirate their figures: there’s no money in it, and you are actually hurting the hobby. (Please note that you should not read the above statement as an encouragement to copy GW figures. Do not copy material you are not allowed to copy.)
I have bought some stuff off of Stonewall Figures before (one of their Rapid Fire Battalion packs and some Old Glory 25mm Ancients which they occasionally carry to shows), but I think I shall refrain from buying from them until this particular bit of unpleasantness has been cleared up.
UPDATE 26/10/2004: It seems that FAA USA has dropped Stonewall as their European distributor. The story is convoluted, but there is the implication that Stonewall (or someone selling through Stonewall) has been recasting FAA figures in quite a shoddy way. The plot thickens…