The Shady Side of the Hobby

The miniature games hobby is – for most people – a hobby. Even for people dealing with it as a business, making, selling or even painting wargaming miniatures for a living, it’s usually a lot of work on low margins. Aside from Mr. Tom Kirby himself, very few people will ever get rich in this particular niche.

And yet, scammers abound, trying to trick people for a quick buck or, even more puzzling, for a moment in the limelight. Ebay and, more recently, Kickstarter are rich hunting-grounds for scammers, but they are far from the only places where you better tread carefully.

Here are two recent examples of people trying to pass off other people’s work as their own for fame or profit.

#1 – 2013 US Golden Demons Cheat

US Golden Demon Competition Disqualification

This one comes straight from the galactic paint-investigators over at, who recently attended the US Golden Demon competition in Memphis.

At the Golden Demons in Memphis this year, the Imperial Thunderbolt above made the 1st place in the Open Competition. It’s a stunningly painted miniature and, arguably, well deserving of the prize. The problem: It wasn’t painted by the guy (girl?) who entered it into the competition!

Here’s the Games Workshop email that later went to the other contenders.

Hi guys!

It has come to our attention that the Imperial Thunderbolt that won the Open Competition was not entered by the creator, therefore, it has been disqualified.

That means that the winners are as follows:

1st – Bennett Blalock-Doane 
2nd – Jason Colbeck 
3rd – Octavio Fernandez (congrats Octavio!) 

We are trying to recover the 1st place trophy, and would appreciate if you could send your trophies back (Bennett and Jason) so we can get the correct trophies out. We will be sending a shipping label to you to pay for shipping. If you can’t send it back for some reason, just let me know. Then we will send the correct trophies out to you!

Nicole Lewandowski
Golden Demon Captain 

It appears the offender has been banned from Golden Demon competitions for life (is that a deterrent for people who would not or cannot enter their own miniatures?). It also wasn’t the first time this happens, it seems.

One part of me wants to ask what the point would be of cheating yourself into a Golden Demon trophy (they aren’t really made of gold, after all).

Another part of me saw too many people palming bad dice, etc… at even the most casual and “friendly” games of Warhammer 40K, so I guess some people just can’t resist the temptation.

#2 – 3D Printed Warhound Titan Scam

Warhound Titan

Unlike the attempt to cheat at the US Golden Demon, this second case is still up in the air.

The object of interest is the not-Warhound Titan seen above. By all accounts, it is a custom CAD-design printed from a 3D printer. No moulds or other forms of “mass-production” exist for it.

As far as I understood the issue, this Warhound-Titan-inspired monster was made by the guy from Big Bad Models as a one-off. Though it never seems to have been for sale (not least, I presume, because Games Workshop might not think of that too kindly).

Somebody else, however, clearly saw the business opportunity and started offering 3D-prints of this miniature for sale through the Black Crusade Studio Facebook page (and nothing except this FB-page seems to exist to present this company to the world).

In return, the original designer of the model posted this YouTube video, warning people of an assumed fraud, insisting that nobody but he – as original creator – has a copy of the file.

Black Crusade Studio – who have taken “pre-orders” for the miniature through FB private messages (yeah.. seriously, even if an offer is legit… don’t buy expensive stuff that way) keeps insisting a client of his owns the file.

Can anyone contact the guy who says he owns the files (and video) to have him email me or message me here?

I want to find out if my client stole them or was given them or something else entirely.

Thank you.

I cannot really pass a verdict on how this goes, given how little I know. As a vision of some of the shady things going on in the sub-regions of this hobby, I found it rather informative.

#3 – Thoughts?

All right. Time for your thoughts (or experiences!).

Have you had the misfortune of being scammed, or near-scammed in the hobby? Have you run into people trying to cheat at a painting competition? If so, what did you do?

I am looking forward to your comments on this one!




I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at
To Fire the New Astra Militarum Wyvern... Overtly Tedious? #40k #wargaming #madness - 10 hours ago
  • Tom Evans

    what about resin forge? That was shady stuff there.

    • Zweischneid

      What was it? Recast Forge World stuff I’d assume?

      • Adam Nguyen

        Yes. And its still functioning.

      • Curnow

        No not recast just another proxie for mathew maundelbaum/redstarone/three stage studios/double yourbits/etc etc. Normal business practice was to open up with a load of lokes on facebook give speil about how he has been in the hobby locally for ages and then offer products cheap fulfill the first load of orders get them to build repretation thwn draw even more people in with a super great offer thwn take the money and run . Give it a google .

  • Zweischneid

    Interesting story. Another, more chronological account here

    I guess it is not uncommon (sadly). There are even some similarities to the Black Crusade Studio thingy (e.g. sales exclusively through Facebook private messages).

  • chuckwilliams

    Don’t forget the eBay casters. Kiddies, if you’re buying Forge World products on eBay, and they’re coming from China or Russia… don’t be shocked when they are fakes. Also, the Easter Bunny… he isn’t real. Tooth Fairy… same deal.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      oddly many of those fakes (though not all) are significantly better cast than most of Forgeworld’s genuine products…

      • chuckwilliams

        I got a Grey Knight Dread that is about 5% smaller than the real one. Talk about odd :)

        • Jeff

          Every single knockoff I ever seen was lower in cost and superior in quality to FW.

  • BrassScorpion

    The Golden Demon fiasco has happened before and more than once. Therefore, it will most assuredly happen again. Sometimes the participants caught this way claim they didn’t know the rules and were entering for a friend who couldn’t make it to Games Day, other times it’s deliberate deception. It makes little sense when there’s nothing of value to win, but there you go. People cheat at all kinds of things when there’s nothing to be won, no fame or money or valuable prizes. I suppose some people do it because they’re lying to themselves and they do it to bloat their own insecure ego. I see people cheating on Xbox Live video games and it’s the same situation, frustrating for the other players and there’s nothing real to gain by doing it, but some people will do anything to win even though they didn’t legitimately earn it.

    There are fake Forge World models on eBay all the time from certain regular sellers in Russia and China. Forge World, unlike their parent company, does not sell their product at wholesale prices to retailers, therefore anyone offering Forge World products at list prices or below on a regular basis is selling fakes. There’s even a Forge World discounter selling online from the UK and that also definitely has to be recast product and not authentic product.

  • Zweischneid

    A fair few people on Dakka now actually think Black Crusade Studio may be a front for Mr. Mandelbaum (judging from, I think, patters similar to previous scams, not any definite proof).

  • Jeff

    Someone mentioned the Fake forge world models..I have very mixed feelings about that. One one hand, it is profiting on someone else’s creativity and work, on the other hand. When I see one Friends unpainted Forge World Krieg army that he spent a small fortune for I cringe because the quality is abominable and the next month I see Russian knockoffs (That cost less than a standard GW army) of the same army and they are pristine I have to question FW’s ethics as well for selling such shoddy work at such ridiculous prices

    No doubt on queue a FW rep will swoop in to tell us all that all the FW pieces they have purchased are top shelf

  • Hive Senteniel

    Ya I’m gonna go ahead and say I’m not gonna take my chances purchasing items off Facebook. If anyone who ordered this model actually GETS one than I’ll change my stance