Oldhammer – Spotting and identifying Recasts

While you're looking for old miniatures on eBay and trading groups the risk of a recast is rather minimal, at least while looking for regular rank & file units in the one-digit value area. Some miniatures tend to be rare and very sought-after, creating prices for a single 28mm miniature of 30 EUR, 50 EUR or in some cases even beyond that on the second hand market. This demand and willingness to pay such prices, creates the interest of mischievous parties to cash in on this situation.

As I am doing the occassional coverage on Oldhammer projects, mostly 40k second edition so far, with a bit of Realm of Chaos, my personal risk is minimal. I bought a lot of the miniatures that are now valued either NIB or second hand from trusted sources. But when I added the Legion of the Damned to my Space Marine lot, of course I thought about Veteran Sergeant Centurius. The model was only available for a brief moment in / around 1996, for the opening of the 100th store in the UK. I am not sure about re-release in the US or Europe for similar events. But the miniature is rare and a real one, ideally NIB, easily sells for 50 to 70 EUR the right time. So I waited and watched the market space and eBay from time to time. I was a bit surprised that the prices dropped below 50 GBP.

Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Centurius eBay

In one auction, I found one for less than 20 GBP as a buy it now option, as he was missing his backpack and not in blister. I asked the seller for more pictures and it looked okay, so I went through with the auction. When it arrived, it became clear it was not just a mediocre cast, but very likely a recast.

Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius

How do I come to this assumption? That's what this article is about, to cover some good examples how to spot and identify a recast and avoid to fall for them.

Metal miniatures are spin casted, using a vulcanised rubber mould (pictures from the production facilities of Warlord Games and Mantic Games). The casting material is poured with a laddle in the middle and forced into the two-part mould by centrifugal force. The liquid metal cools down and can be removed from the mould. As the mould is two-parts, the casted miniatures have mould lines or flash along the edge.

Warlord Games - Behind the scenes 2013 Warlord Games - Behind the scenes 2013 Mantic Games Studio 2018

The moulds deteriorate over time, as such the mould lines and casting quality can differ from batch to batch, and not every bad cast is a recast. But these moulds are made from the masters and as such casted miniatures should only have one set of mould lines, going along the edge / circumfence of the miniature. Recasts are made from moulds of already casted miniatures and it is rather unlikely that the moulds line up in the same way as the original mould does, so double mould lines is one of the most certain give aways of a recast.

Let's take a look at Centurius to show how this can look. I have highlighted the areas, that show the alterations / loss of quality a recast typical has. As recasts often are not done in the same quality as "industrial" casted miniatures (it's still manual labor, even at the bigger companies), as you need the proper equipment and experience to create a certain level of quality.

Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius
Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius

The teeth of the chain sword clearly show, that the mould was not properly prepared and the upper edge is not as sharp as with an original cast. Similar the more detailed parts along the wrist or shoulder pads. The view from above on the miniature, on the shoulders shows the double mould lines, a clear give away that this is a recast.

Blurry details, as we see on the helmet attached to the leg, should be inspected as well. Sometimes it is just a damaged piece, while assembling or cleaning the model, but you should be aware if especially details along the mould lines are not as crisp as the rest of the model.

Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius

Sometimes a missing slab is said to be an indicator for a recast. I wouldn't generalise that argument, as some models are pinned or put on designed bases. The same argument for bend slabs. It was / is common to bend the slabs, to make the miniature stand more firmly in the slotta base. But a sloppy casted slab is surely an indication. But this only reliable if the miniature is unpainted / stripped, as thick remains of glue or colour can look very similar.

Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius Oldhammer - Legion of the Damned Veteran Sergeant Centurius

With really old, pre-slotta Citadel miniatures, the colour of the metal can be a give away. For others that is not a reliable characteristic, as the mail order service and the recent made-to-order option, produced some of the late 80s miniatures far into the 00s, as such bringing old miniatures with White Metal and / or more recent alloys into circulation. The Champions of Chaos or Eldar miniatures are a good example of miniatures that were available for over two decades on the market. Some primers, stripping of paint and the cleaning process with wire brush / sand paper can cause discoloration / colour modulation on the metal as well.

Of course this only covers the metal miniatures. A different material, beside the swap from metal to finecast, is a give away as well. As eastern european and chinese sellers have entered the market, even plastic or forge world (due to its price point and leaks from the former chinese production facility) is pirated. So, be aware when Elysian Droptroops or that event exclusive is offered at a lower price or far more often than usual.

If you are not sure, it is always a good choice to ask somebody. I can recommend the groups of Oldhammer and Middlehammer, depending on the miniatures you are looking, for advice to identify miniatures and their authenticity. As for pricing, the Identification and Valuation group is a helpful ressourceful as well, just remember to thank them when they help you.

It is clear, that it is hard to proof these points on a painted miniature. But recasts often are sold as untouched pieces, maybe primed, as painting them would drop the price and add costs to the manufacturing. Other models beside Centurius where you should be aware of possible recasts:

Posted by Dennis B.

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  1. Very useful article, thanks! I came here after receiving an Empire great swords command, which I am quite sure is recast. A few of the details are messed up, and the material feels way too soft and bendable. At the back all three models have some sort of hole into their body. I will check for double mold lines when I get back home, but anyway, I am pretty sure. Well, lesson learned! I will try to fix the holes in the backs and some of the details with green stuff, and still use them, since otherwise overall they look ok.

  2. Thanks for your article. I was given a load of warhammer and was thinking of selling some. I would never sell a fake so always want to double check it’s genuine. Thanks 🙂

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