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Pirated AW products in Spain

Recently a few of our customers in Spain contacted us to alert us to a piece of (very nice) scenery made by a company called Scenery Planet ( http://www.scenery-planet.com/ ).

The scenery item was a hi-tech Pyramid built for a customer of scenery-planet and part of a larger order to build an entire gaming table in the same style.  Here is the link to the Pyramid scenery:  http://www.scenery-planet.com/3_galeria/projects/sorcerers_pyramid.html

On studying the images we soon noticed that there was a large number of our scenery items included in it, the medical scanner, command stations, cryo chambers and power points, computer screens and plasma screens. Scrutiny of these parts soon yielded the clear evidence that these parts had not been cast by us and were illegal re-casts.

How do we know they were re-casts?  Some of them had metal parts which had been re-cast in resin and had air-bubbles in them (highlighted below). (Metal casters will know instantly that the sort of air-bubbles present in these items are simply not possible when cast with metal). On top of that we saw a lot of air bubbles from drop-casting (we pressure-cast our resin and do not have such air-bubbles) and finally we dye our resin and the original resin colour of the parts at Scenery-Planet were a different colour (the colour of the resin having been told to us.).

Contacting Scenery-Planet we were originally co-operated with, until we stated categorically that these items were re-casts and that we wanted to know Scenery Planet’s involvement in the process. We were rather given the run-around by Scenery Planet, indeed they will not even tell us their own name or address, let alone the details of the person who they claim sent the parts to them. Scenery Planet indeed insisted that we had no way to prove the parts were re-casts and that we were, essentially, lying.

Scenery Planet later informed us that their lawyer had told them not to provide us with their contact details, they then would not give us the details of their lawyer despite our request to do so!

It is rather suspicious, and incredibly unhelpful, not having a name of a person to deal with, even more unhelpful not being given the name of the lawyer who is supposedly representing these anonymous people!  Fortunately a Spanish gamer has helped us out by giving us the name and details of the “owner” of scenery planet, so that we are at least in a position to know now who we think we are dealing with. (That being a Jose Manuel Blanco Diaz of Guadalajara, Spain)

In the meantime we had emailed Scenery Planet to state that evidence of the destruction of any moulds used to re-cast these parts would go some way to alleviating our concerns that the re-casting was continuing and that scenery may appear on Spanish eBay and other sales venues in Spain.

Today we received these images from an anonymous source (Let me reiterate that point: these were not sent by Scenery Planet):

The (re-casting) moulds above show the medical scanner (with metal parts on them which would have been in resin), plasma screens, computer screens, power-points and cryo-chamber. Everything that we said had been re-cast in fact. It does not show the command-station parts though, so it seems that at least one other mould exists for re-casting from. Hopefully we will get another “anonymous” update showing the destruction of that mould also – unfortunately the email concerned no longer exists (deleted at source from G-mail). We have asked G-mail for an IP trace of the person who established it and we will see if that leads us anywhere.

It is difficult for us to tell who did do these re-casts. Obviously the lack of openness from Scenery Planet is of deep concern and their persistent claim to anonymity (and that of their lawyer!!!) does not reflect very well on them. It is very, very difficult to maintain an open mind about a company when they act in such a suspicious fashion. A lot of the actions of Scenery Planet do not mesh with an innocent party; regardless of suspicions, there is no absolute proof and as such we remain unsure of exactly who was, and possibly still is, re-casting our products in Spain. Scenery Planet have a lot of questions to answer, particularly about hiding who they are and possibly “protecting” the identity of the re-caster.

It would be a very big shame if the obvious talent of those at Scenery Planet was found to be directly involved in re-casting, or the knowing use of re-cast parts.

We have seen one pirate mould cut-up, but we know at least one other still exists (the one with the command station parts on it). Are there others? It is impossible to say.

What we do know is that many Spanish gamers have helped us out with trying to track down that source of pirating, helping us with proving that the parts were re-cast and generally going out of their way to help us track down, and stop, the re-casting. To those people we thank you.

I think that this shows that wargamers are, on the whole, not only honest but also recognise the damage that re-casting can do to small companies, the total of re-cast parts shown may not have exceeded £250.00, but that amount would normally have been churned back into the company to produce new scenery items. That it has not, affects every other wargamer; the greed of one re-caster harming our business and stopping the development of new scenery for all the other gamers out there.

We hope it also sends a message to re-casters and anybody who would try to help them or hide them: Companies that cast their own products, every working day of the year, for years, intimately know their own products inside and out. They know where flaws appear, how resin looks, how metal parts cast, where mould-lines are and so on and so forth.  The idea that somebody can “simply” make a mould and cast copies without any chance of being detected is, frankly, very naive.

It is also very naive to think that other people will not report re-casters to the companies they are pirating from. Fellow gamers who see such re-casts, be it on the Internet or at a club or show, will happily grass/snitch on re-casters, even if they know the people concerned. Why? Because recasting harms everybody.  So for those who do recast, even for their own use, taking that scenery, figure or vehicle and showing it to anybody else will also raise the possibility of somebody telling about you. The only way to be totally safe is never to show anybody else your re-casts and if you are a wargamer then that is going to be very, very difficult to do.

Advertising your re-casting on a company website, on YouTube and Facebook, and across many wargames forums is not clever. But if you don’t advertise it, that won’t stop other people from doing so, inevitably proof and pictures always leak out.

Finally, perhaps the saddest part of this story is that we at Antenociti’s have often helped, and will carry on helping,. people who want to put together stunning scenery and tables. We can provide discounts and often totally free scenery, figures and vehicles for demonstration and show tables. If Scenery Planet (or their mysterious ‘customer’), had approached us with their plans, we would have helped them achieve their goal in the best way we could and at a reduced cost, or even freely. We have done just that for other companies and individuals…we even keep a stock of minor miss-casts and spare materials just for that purpose!

Asking cost nothing, being caught re-casting at the very least costs you your reputation and sometimes even more.