Some people like to always keep things positive, or at least keep up the positive face no matter what happens. I grew up in a family like this, it was very difficult as a child. Unless someone teaches you how to deal with problems, they never get resolved.
I see this sort of thing go on all the time. Sci-Fi modeling is no different, when people get what they want everything is great. They look past whatever is going on, as long as they get the model they want. If someone says something negative, he gets shouted down, he provides proof. He gets told to shut up, that is until it happens to them. Then they get to have all of that fun. The guy that pulled the con, shuts up and watches the show. Knowing it will never effect him. After all this business is a wild west of sorts.
Let me give you an example, like the wild west you sometimes have to take matters into your own hands. Here is my experience.
I keep going back and forth about this, to post or not to post? Do I let it all go, and just take the loss and share the story with those were also wronged (when I come across them)? Or do I say something? Writing about it will at least get it out of my system and warn others of such behavior so they don’t fall into the same trap. People should be aware of this kind of behavior, and hopefully be spared from what I went through. It has seriously effected my desire to do any modeling, whenever I look at this models. This situation is all I can see.
It all started with this little kit.
The 350 Botany Bay available from Fantastic Plastic, this is how it started. This is a printed model and mesh I created one evening for a model to go with my Custom Replicas 66″ E. I scaled this one down and created it on my 3D printer. I posted it on a message board and a Garage Kitter I bought things from asked me to send him one. It was easy to make another so I sent him one. He thought the material was great he could shape it easily, he ask for a few changes so it would be easy to kit. I agreed and sent it to him. I did get one of his kits, but one kit wouldn’t even touch my costs. So we struck a deal – I was to receive a much larger kit in return. To this day I have yet to see the larger kit, some 6 years later. I saw on the boards that a few people received the larger model kit in question not long after I was promised one. I even helped this garage kitter with printing and machining a number of parts for that model(1701-D).
From there the games began, he asked me create all sorts of stuff. One was a 1/350 scale K’Tinga. I was paid per kit for that one. That’s what gave me the confidence to continue doing more work for the guy.
But whenever I asked for a kit, I kept getting excuses. I even watched him give a kit away(it was a reject, but why didn’t I at least get a reject? Yea, good question). It took years, but I did finally get one. But not the original offering – I was disappointed, with this kit(the K’Tinga), no instructions. Sure the main parts are easy to place, but the little ones? I don’t know if I have them all.
In the meantime he kept asking me to make more stuff with the promise of money from the sales of the models he was to make with the parts I sent him. You guys would have had some really neat kits if things worked out, years before anybody else. I could list them but what’s the point.
He asked me to help with a studio scale Star Wars subject(Slave 1) – he asked me to scan a known kit.
I did and redrafted the mesh (that took about 30 hours) then printed out the huge pattern.
I was paid for additional printing materials (binder and powder – at $500/gal. $1500 per container of powder for the 3-D printer of that day, no it wasn’t cheap). The money given wasn’t even a third of what the pattern cost me to make. I still haven’t seen anything of this model – last I heard people were still arguing over it. It has a novelty factor, but not something I would have done on my own.
But he has one.
Then came the big project, not the studio scale Enterprise, but the Defiant.
This one involved all sorts of work, breaking apart a mesh, redrafting parts, printing parts, routing parts, scanning, routing and printing more parts. This one was getting real costly in the end it was over $15k worth of work. The mesh he told me to use wasn’t the right shape, so he will have to rework the parts I sent him. So I did all that work for nothing(At least that’s what I was told), on a model I have no interest in, and never would have made in the first place. (The kit came and went, I never a dime or the kit. Deal busted!!!)
At this point I began to realize that many things I had been told were not adding up. But they were adding up to the fact that I was being lied to continuously for several years. I was told:
“I’ll send you one.”
“I kept asking you make more things in hopes one of them would make money.”(Trying the same thing over and over hoping for a different result is insanity, a red flag, and makes little sense).
“I didn’t want to tell you the printed stuff didn’t work, because I was afraid I would hurt your feelings.” (I didn’t know this was that type of relationship, that’s normally said when someone doesn’t want to deal with a situation.) Whether or not that was true, that was the wrong thing to say. I have different types of equipment to do different things, a 3d printer can make all sorts of parts. But it can’t make up for other pieces of equipment. I have no attachment to any particular process, only getting the work done right. It’s like saying my heart is in my pliers, so I will be offended if I have to use a socket wrench. Things would be very different today, if some honesty was employed.
On top of all of this I was promised one of every kit offering he made.
Didn’t happen, I only got stuff he couldn’t sell. It was all little stuff, and what I really wasn’t all that interested in.
Which means there was no intention to pay me back for the work I did for him. The hardest part of it is that I thought I had a friend. I did everything he asked (I would do that for friends, not any more), instead it was part of a game. All to get a bunch of stuff from me for free or very little. I even sent him back a kit I bought from him(he was apparently in a jam) at his request. I had already spent weeks fitting the kit. It took me a couple years to get a replacement kit from him, he never tried to offer me a refund. I asked him to fit the new kit, since mine was already fitted. Nope, I had to do all that work all over again, and on top of that he didn’t say thank you for getting him out of a jam. Instead he complained that he had to buy me a replacement kit(If he didn’t want to look a jerk, he could have at least acted like I helped him out). So I can only conclude that he was thinking only of taking advantage of me. This behavior was clearly not that of a friend. At least I saved all of the e-mails.
But being told “I had to redo all the stuff you sent me,” was the last straw. If he so much as put a ruler next to a part, he used it. Did he expect me to say, “that’s alright I’ll eat all of that, and be happy with nothing.” That isn’t the way the real world works. If it was, I would be a rich man getting all of my money back for the things that I paid for in the past that didn’t work. In the real world you have to pay, even for mistakes. And they charge penalties and interest so do I. I do have books to worry about.
The last thing I did for him was some drafting(24 hours worth) in 2011 it was for something I never expect to see(1701-D), the last model I did for him was Defiant in 2008. I’ve only received a few things here and there. But nowhere near being equal to the amount of work I did. I’m still way in the red here, after this much time I’m considering myself screwed over. But I’m still calculating interest and late fees.
The most recent discussion with this guy was an offer to do work for some company he is now working for. I about laughed outloud, “How stupid does he think I am?” I don’t care who owns the company. Out of my past experience with the guy. Why would I ever trust him or anything he is involved in. After all just about everything I sent him, I never saw again. All the work I did was for nothing. That bridge was blown up and burned, only this wasn’t Thunderbirds.
Why post this?
Simple enough, I have nothing to lose. I look at my models and all I can think about is this situation. I’m pretty much out of all of the loops(if I was ever in the loop?). I only look at the boards on occasion, to remind myself why I don’t want to go back. I’m not after any reference, nor am I selling any kits. If I do offer a kit, people will buy them, they really could care less about any back story. As long as they get what they want.
All of this experience has really put me off of modeling. Even worse, I find myself not trusting anyone these days. It’s frustrating because I really like helping people, offering advice, solving problems and making things. It is true that one bad apple can ruin your day or your hobby.
The good side of this is that a bunch of people got some real neat models. I got squat.
All of this is posted for the benefit of others, perhaps someone will spot the same signs. And get out before they lose their shirt (or worse).
If you find yourself wanting to partner with someone here is some advice, mainly to protect yourself from what happened to me.
1. Get any agreement for trade or payment in writing signed by both parties. Make sure the agreement does not leave you hanging – get a deposit of some sort before you start.
2. Document everything, take lots of pictures. Even of the packages you send.
3. Keep all documentation, create folders for each project, print out e-mails, save receipts.
4, Meet them face to face. This will not protect you but at least you can put a name to a face. A disembodied voice on the phone is easier to take advantage of.
5, If they state another party will take care of the trade contact that party immediately. Verify that they are going to take on the obligation. If they have no idea about it, someone is lying or both are lying, You have no way to tell. If everything is ok, still get it writing with all parties involved.
6, Take notes, if they state, “I’ll send you one” send a follow up Email or letter putting this in writing and ask them to sign it, at least you’ll have a record, but that isn’t a guarantee of anything. Note the date of when they said it. Hold them to it, if you never see said item. Hold up any other work until you receive said item, or drop it and quit.
7, Look for changing stories, if suddenly your deal is different than the one you agreed to. Ask why are things different, when you didn’t agree to it, and reference what you have in writing. At that point things have gone wrong, your in trouble.
8, If another party is involved at a later date, the original deal still stands unless everyone agrees to a new deal in writing. When they bring in another party it only means they owe one more person. Saying the deal has changed is an excuse to get out of something, again if this happens things have gone wrong.
9, Never be the guy behind the scenes. I understand why people want to do it. But when things go south you’re out of luck with any proof. The more public you are the better.
10, Reference isn’t a valid trade, if someone says, “I’ll trade you reference,” don’t do it. It’s no good if you’re not interested in the subject. Even if you are interested in the subject, who knows where they got it – illegally? Bad reference? It’s a very one sided trade, and you’re on the wrong side.
11, Celebrity and/or reputation are irrelevant, I’ve been ripped off and promised stuff by people who are well known in the hobby and industry with great reputations. They are still human just like all the rest of us, some think they can get away with more because of their status.
12, Apologizing publicly/privately shouldn’t be accepted. If they are truly sorry, they will do something about it. Using words is cheap and easy, deeds are not as easy. Even if they send you a formal written apology, that’s no different than telling you what you want to hear, is just as easy as talking. After all how can you take the word of someone who said, “I’ll send you one”, and never does. That is what is called lying, why would an apology be any different? Those are only words no matter what they say, it cannot make up for the time/money lost.
13, If all else fails, regardless of excuses call them out publicly, be a pain in the rear. (Do not do it with a bunch of typing, provide proof, pictures, e-mail, links etc. Nobody will take anyone seriously with a bunch of accusations, but proof of the work is harder to dispute). If they are ripping you off, they are going to rip someone else off. Nothing makes people special, defending the con man, attacking the accuser, having money, a return customer, it doesn’t matter. Screwy is screwy. It’s only a matter of time before it happens again to someone else. If you are a pain and someone says they will not sell you anything that is their prerogative. But there isn’t a Garage Kitter out there who would refuse money, since they do not have much of it. But if you’re a known pain, you should get better service.
If someone tells you “don’t say anything about our deal,” or “don’t talk about your bad dealings with that guy,” those are red flags. It’s like not telling the police about a guy who is robbing convenience stores. Hoping he will stop doing it at some point. There are circumstances where you do not talk, I normally don’t. Until I’ve had enough.
I’ve had enough.
I keep finding work I did for this guy. Man was I an idiot.
This is a Republic Star Destroyer, who knows what became of it. Here is a little peek into my process.
These are layouts used to create toolpaths for what I call cookie cutter parts. Toolpaths are where I want my machine to cut. But it isn’t as simple as layout the parts and go. I have to hold the material in place while I cut it. So I first drill holes for screws to hold down the material. After the holes are drilled I place screws in each one. That gets real tedious it can take hours, depending on the material. In this case it was plexiglass, I’m sure I didn’t get reimbursed for the material either.
For those who want to know who this guy is, his name is Richard Long he owns Sovereign Replicas. He goes by REL on the message boards. He is married to Dana Long and I last heard he is working for a company called Titan Models.
After this post was up for a while I heard from him. What did he say?
Promised me more stuff, that he will never deliver. While saying how sorry he is, words are cheap my friend. Actions are not. Forgiveness only comes when ALL deals are completed to my satisfaction, after all I did everything you asked. What did I get in return?
My advice would be to avoid direct dealing/trading with the Longs. He does deliver if you pay him(at least that’s my experience).
I can only wish the company he works for luck. I haven’t had any dealings with Titan Models. Because of REL’s behavior most likely I never will. That includes anything I might sell.
-So there’s more 11/4/13-
Yes there is.
I’ve heard from a number of people who have had the same thing happen to them.
Guys creating models either by drawing or physical models. Told they couldn’t use it so you get nothing (if only the real world worked like that). People would be surprised who pull this game. I sure was, but I can’t go into it. After all it wasn’t my experience, I only have one guy screwing me over.
Speaking of things they couldn’t use.
These are the printed parts for the Slave 1. I was told the parts I printed were useless. I have to call BS, here they are. Of course some other excuse will be made up. This is the game, since many others are told the same thing. It’s just doing business in the Garage Kit world. One of the things that can protect you from this is the points I made above. (I have all of my e-mails saved for about the last 10 years). These images are from 07 & 08 along with all sorts of info about all projects done for Richard Long. It’s too bad I can’t post the e-mails. We were having a real good time, which is the hardest part of this. But then I come across the excuse e-mails.
350 Botney Bay being being de-powdered. It was used as the master for the first run of the kit offered by Richard Long(REL).
1000 scale Reliant years before anyone else. I have no idea what happened to this, it was mailed to Richard 8/17/07. I did find a few mentions of it, but after a while it faded away. I’m sure I’ll get some e-mail about it. For all I know it made it to a kit. But how I can I believe someone who never kept his promises.
These were the start of a 1000 scale K’Tinga. Again it’s fate is unknown. I know, I can’t use it, bla , bla.
More Reliant parts, in the days before the 1000 Refit. But look at the top.
350 scale Reliant, designed to fit the PL Refit saucer. I never shipped it out, but it was a requested model. There is correspondence about it. It was destroyed years later by one of my cats. I was glad to see it go(I can’t stand the Reliant).
More Defiant parts, and parts in use.
This is it for this one, (I still have more stuff I could post). I will write more on the Garage Kit subject in the future. But as far as dealing with the Longs go, I’m sure Richard will not come through on anything he promised. He has no intention of it, his track record proves it. The only model he came through on was the 350 K’Tinga, even that took years to conclude. After all that was the hook, I thought I had a friend and he took full advantage of that.
As far as money is concerned he owes me in the five figure range(I charge interest and late fees, the longer you take the more it goes up) . If he sent all that he promised, I would have never made this post. Most likely we would have been turning out stuff galore.
But this is how guys like me are treated in this hobby. Used and discarded, where the real losers are the guys doing the using. They throw out the talent for the sake of a few pennies, thinking they are making money. While the hobby suffers a little at a time.
While driving the talent away, that make things like the Studio Scale Enterprise.
If you were in this business, would drive away people like that(me*)?
*One other thing, I was a paying customer I spent a few thousand on Richard Long’s(REL) kits. I would have spent a lot more if I wasn’t promised free kits in exchange for work.
-Small update 1/29/14-
Many thanks to my friend and Stinker in Fellowship Steve Neil. Because of him I’ve heard from even more people. I didn’t know Mr Long put his Enterprise D’s into production. I was talking to him with regularity all he said was how things were not working out with that kit. Just goes to show how a con man works.
Keep in mind when you See Dana Long on Facebook, she is fronting her husband’s Ricard’s work. He did want to get out of the public eye, now you know why. Of course don’t forget Titan Models he is hiding behind that as well.
After cleaning up my garage a few more items surfaced. Here is more of my process.
What’s left from cutting out armatures for the Sovereign Replicas, 650 scale Enterprise D. The top image is what I used to create the toolpaths for the machine. The image below that is what was left over after the parts are cut out. The series of holes around the parts are used to hold the material in place. The parts in use shown below. There are more parts to this armature than I have shown.
There are at least 6 sets cut out of plexiglass, 2 out of aluminum. That’s parts for 8 armatures, which is in line with the numbers of castings I’ve heard(and seen pics of) he made. There is one other thing, once he has the parts I cut out, he can use them for templates to make more. So who knows how many of these were really made?
I made a set out of aluminum as well, I saved these pieces I thought they were cool.
Is that all I did for the SR D. Nope, I did some printing as well.
Which of course he used/couldn’t use. I didn’t create the base for this nacelle. I have no idea where he got it. But it was printed and shipped. Sorry I don’t have the pics of the printed part.
These some would find interesting, it’s the last thing I did for Long.
They are the tracings of the decals from a model kit. It wasn’t any fun to do the work, I couldn’t find any logic to them. They are so stupid, I can only assume they were designed with the help of hallucinogenic drugs. I’m posting the images to prove I did the work, Long never delivered a casting a to me(as per the agreement). So I never sent him these files.
I have no use for these files, to me they were an exercise in futility.
Here is another part knocking around my garage.
It’s a vac-u-form buck for the Studio Scale Slave One clear canopy.
I’ve seen some guys talking about this subject, my recollection of the project is very clear. I left out info and others involved. Since most of my info was coming from Long. Who knows what he was telling me was the truth, nor do I have any idea of what he was telling the other parties.
Is there more, yes. Is there another side to the story, I’m sure there is. Whenever I asked about sending me something he owed me. All I got was an excuse. The other side of this is obvious, take as much as you can from everybody you can. Then delay, obfuscate and repeat.
Richard Long really missed his calling as a low level bureaucrat, attorney or politician.
The garage kit world can be fun, but you have to be very careful. Long isn’t the only crook out there. There are a number of individuals that use these same methods. Research the people you want to do business with, ask around there are many old timers who will be glad to tell you about their experiences, good or bad. Most of all don’t get distracted by something you really want. Think before you pay, you might not ever see that money again.
This is it for this post, unless I receive what Long owes me. Money and models, I will post that info. I’m not holding my breath.