Major Matt Mason Fakes

Fake Mattel #6633 Doug Davis

What are Fake Major Matt Mason items:

Fake toy items have been around for seems that whenever there is money to be made by re-creating a valuable collectible, reproduction items misrepresented as real emerge. Worse, there are some fake Major Matt Mason items going around that were never produced. Some would-be Major Matt Mason experts claim to own or to have actually seen production pieces that Mattel has no record of producing. In some instances, these claims are real (more on this later), but in most cases, the items in question are absolutely fake and merely clever reproductions, misrepresented.

Note that I believe there's a difference between a  knock-off, a reproduction and a fake. Knock-offs tend to resemble something but otherwise the producer doesn't market the items as being made by the original producer. Fakes are typically intentional reproductions that are created to fool the consumer into paying collector prices. There's also room for reproductions that are sold as such, usually to fill holes in parts availability - I think those are worthwhile as long as they are identified as reproduction and not original.

Old Store Stock Doug Davis:

This item I've personally held in my hands and examined (I took all these photos myself). It is absolutely a fake, and it or another like it has been offered on eBay several times (there have also been reports of a fake Sgt Storm card). The problem with this fake is that it indeed looks real to the untrained eye... It has nice, crisp lines, a beautifully made bubble, and because of the lack of knowledge of most buyers in knowing what the real-deal looks like, it has exchanged hands even among knowledgeable collectors. Once I point out several discrepancies and differences from the real item, I hope you'll all become experts. 

The Story:

This carded Doug Davis was offered in a Toy Shop ad and was bought by Alec Peters, along with an OSS Scorpio, and a mint sealed (supposedly) Gulf Oil Promotional card. Alec was extremely excited at this find, and eagerly brought them to my house for a little show-and-tell. I immediately grew suspicious upon examination, however, and my suspicions were quickly confirmed through comparison with an actual Doug Davis card. The OSS Scorpio was also in question (more info later), while the Gulf Oil Promotional card was (in my opinion) real, but had had one corner resealed.

Doug Davis Comparison - Card Front - Fake on Right

Bubble Trouble:

The first thing about the fake one notices is how mint and pristine it's even un-punched, with a flawless bubble. The bubble, in my opinion, is the most remarkable thing about this is almost perfect. Immediately one thing stands out upon first observation...the paint filled in the "Mattel's Man in Space" doesn't look quite right. This is because the paint is inside the bubble rather than on the outside. Mattel rolled paint onto the embossed outside lettering, either in gold or yellow. This example not only looks wrong, but the paint is smeared, making the wording difficult to read.
Doug Davis Comparison - Bubble - Fake on Right

Korner Krudity:

The next thing is not apparent, unless the beholder has an actual carded MMM figure for comparison...the radius-cut corners aren't right...they have too large a radius, too rounded a corner. You'll also notice in this photo that the corners of the bubble are sharped-edged...Mattel's corners are radius-ed to match the card. There are also black marks, probably from a sharpie, used to cut the bubble to size. Also notice the glue used to attach to bubble onto the card (it looks like clear hot glue), Mattel used a heat-sealing process that bonded the bubble to the card. 

Doug Davis Comparison - Corners - Fake on Right

Flag Flagg:

A close-up of the figure itself raises many red-flags. The figure is extra shiney, like he's been coated with Vaseline or some other petroleum product. Looking closely at the straps...they are crudely hand-painted rather than masked and airbrushed (any hand paint applied at the Mattel factory was done as a touch-up...the masking/spray pattern should still be visible). Looking at the flag, it appears that the flag from the original figure was masked (poorly...see the white primer towards the bottom).

Doug Davis Comparison - Figure Flag - Fake on Left

Butter Back:

The back of the figure hardly has any detail at all, other than the oily appearance...strange that the paint was applied so thick that the copyright information is obscured...a sign that the figure was not stripped of paint before repainting. Once again, notice the heavy-handed paint and extra shiny appearance.

Doug Davis Comparison - Figure Back - Fake on Left

The Back of the Story:

The card back is the clincher in identifying this as a fake. Collectors that do not already own a carded Doug or Sgt Storm would not know that the image is wrong. The image on the fake is actually the graphic from the back of a Sgt Storm card that has been "mirrored" 180 degrees. My guess is that the would-be criminals who produced this figure and others only had a Sgt Storm card to model from. Either that or the dot-pattern half-tones of the original card scanned poorly and were beyond the abilities of the fakers to reproduce. We'll never know. My opinion as a "graphics guy" was a combination of both. In a direct comparison of text, the font used is similar but different from the original (thickness, kerning, typeface are all slightly different). It's difficult and very time consuming to reproduce written text exactly like the original, especially since the original text was type-set. Differences can almost always be spotted in a direct comparison to the real-deal. I think the counterfeiters were banking on any potential buyers not having an actual example to compare the fakes to or, that they could pull off that these were some international variation. 

Doug Davis Comparison - Card Back - Fake on Right

Logo Logic:

More evidence that this is a fake produced from a scan...the moirĂ© on the fake is pronounced...this comes from a half-tone scanned then reprinted. Compare it to the blurry picture at right (sorry!)...even blurred, you can see much smoother transitions between the dots of the half tone. Pronounced moirĂ© is usually the result of scanning and reprinting. 

Doug Davis Comparison - Logo - Fake on Left

Spelling Slackers:

The biggest clue, and the one I use to verify the originality of these fake cards (there have been several on eBay)...I ask the seller to spell the word "Separate" on the card back. If it is spelled with an extra "e" replacing the "a"...I know it's a fake. As a side, the counterfeiters must be real Bozos to misspell this word - my opinion. 

Doug Davis Comparison - Misspelling - Fake on Left

Legal Eagles:

More goofiness...Doug Davis was released later than Major Matt Mason and Sgt Storm, therefore the copyright date is a year later...1968 (see original). More evidence that the counterfeiters did not have a real Doug Davis card for comparison...the fake has a copyright date of 1967. Also, the international copyright information on the card back is from an overseas release card. I've always seen this applied as a sticker rather than printed on the back I think that's about it. As I mentioned above, there is also a Sgt Storm fake going around (reported by the Sharkman, Larry Chinn, who actually owned it for a short time before returning it). I also have a video sent to me by Bill Ystrom with another fake examined in it. I'll try to get some screen captures up for a subsequent installment.

Doug Davis Comparison - Legal - Fake on Left

Other Reported Fakes:

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.


Starfish said...

Hi John,
many thanks indeed for posting this very valuable guide.
I have an absolute ‘beauty’ as an example for you: I have a Sgt. Storm on Cat Trak… with a RED helmet! Also, another with white ‘cuffs’; I’m not expert enough to know whether the latter is a genuine variation (as with black/blue straps)… Maybe you could advise? I’d be happy to send you a pic.; please let me know how. I can also tell you which individual I probably obtained these figures from back in 1996 (if my records/memory are correct). I regret that they were part of an exchange for genuine, mint Callisto carded figures! :-(
Steve Salmon

John Eaton said...

Hey Steve - I took a look at the images you sent me and based on the appearance I'm fairly certain that all 6 cat trac cards are fake. Put a page together on them here: