Caveat Emptor

"Houston, you have a problem"

"It is morally wrong to let a sucker keep his money", P. T. Barnum once said, and unfortunately there's always some people who subscribe to that view. Fake collectibles are a regrettable fact of life, and our poor Major has now been targeted too.

The main culprits appears to be a company in Texas (either in Houston or Dallas, depending on the ad), who regularly advertised in Toy Shop magazine. Their 'rarities' are offered at at then enormous prices, but no bonafide MMM collector has ever been able to examine one (but wouldn't we love to do so!). They've usually "just been sold" and in most cases the origin as well as specific details about these items remain suspiciously vague. Until recently, photographs were unavailable too. Amongst their offers we find:

Various 'prototype' items

Or and the Orbitor 'prototypes' were offered for sale, as well as astronaut figures with different names and different faces which allegedly were made by Mattel in Europe. Although one has been shown in a (small) photograph, these items have never been seen in public, and have never been heard of as being bought by somebody (most any collector would be proud to show such unique items if they were genuine...). Also, there is absolutely no evidence that MMM items were developed especially for Europe, apart from linguistic adaptations. And why would European customers need more than four different astronauts, we wonder?

Jeff Long and Doug Davis Flight Cards

We don't believe these are genuine, despite the photographs in the ads. Jeff and Doug were introduced at a time that Matt and Storm were reissued with Cat Tracs and the flight equipment being sold separately, so Mattel going back to flight cards for these figures doesn't make sense. Also, the 1969 dealer catalogue shows Jeff and Doug in prototype form, as well as a carded Jeff prototype (silver cuffs!) on a Cat Trac. This doesn't square with  production figures being used to mock up the flight cards in 1968, as the captions in the ad would have us believe.

Finally, it may have been the same company who produced many fake carded MMM figures - besides the obvious telltale signs (the misspelling of "separate" as "seperate" on the back of the card), you'll see features like colored helmets, silver painted cuffs and other details that are out-of-step with Mattel released items. I'm not sure if they were sold as "rare" variants or what. More info and scans of the whole Toy Shop Ads on the MMM Fakes page.

As a note, following complaints from several members of our MMM internet group, Toy Shop magazine says they'll no longer accept advertisements from the company mentioned above. If this is so, then these ads may well appear elsewhere...

Apart from the above, we've heard of at least one other scam:

Black Suited Matt Figures

Offered at a toy show as being 'limited edition' figures, these were simply playworn figures that had the remainder of their paint removed. Needless to say, these figures weren't sold with their cards.  There was also one dealer several years ago who "steamed off" the blister of a case of Matt on Cat Trac cards, removed all the paint and then reglued the blister.  He was selling them at a show for an exorbitant price as "rare" figures until someone exposed the fraud.  (at the time, Cat Trac-carded figures were selling for the $100 range...he was trying for 3 times that!)  That case is still waiting to be found in someone's basement or storage...

Finally, should anybody reading this have any similar information, additions or corrections, then we would very much appreciate hearing about them.

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2023 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton or Paul Vreede.

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