To Chad Thompon and Stephen Ward:
On December 5th, a bombshell was dropped on the collecting community when a Star Wars collector with a checkered past alleged he had lost out on a deal involving 25,000 cardbacks that were originally acquired when the Palitoy factory had been closed. The dealer who ended-up with the cardbacks has since been the topic of great controversy, which includes the allegations and photographic evidence that have raised considerable doubt and concern amongst collectors who have either dealt directly with Antoni Emchowicz (Toytoni and Zoomertoys), or indirectly with goods deriving from this source that have changed hands since first being introduced in the market sometime in the early 90's.
The main reason for addressing this directly to both your companies is that the actions of Jason Joiner, and the allegations against Antoni Emchowicz have essentially burdened the collecting community to prove these allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. The fallout from this is a level of distrust which hasn't been felt since my time as a SW toy collector, and the distrust continues to escalate as people are feverishly trying to dump suspect items from the toy lines in question in various online marketplaces and eBay.
While some members both on SWFUK and RS have worked hard to try to uncover tells which might help us better understand and possibly prove that modern seals were used on Toni's MOC's, this has placed an unfair onus on the community to keep everyone honest. We simply cannot keep up with the cat and mouse game, initiated by Toni if these allegations turn out to be true, and continued by collectors dumping AFA/UKG graded suspect items.
I would ask that effective immediately, both AFA and UKG ban Antoni Emchowicz from being able to submit any toys to either of you. This is not a suggestion without precedent as CGC had banned Danny Dupcak (Fantasia owner who was recreating comics using unused covers from the Eastern Colour Printing) and Jason Ewert (for micro-trimming hundreds of comics using methods that CGC was not able to detect). Assuming he was a high volume submitter, given he was sending toys over the pond and was very likely economizing on shipping costs, cutting him off or agents acting on his behalf may require acting with a merchant who is validating transactions to refute any credit transactions tied to him or any familial variation. To further eliminate the possibility he is crafty enough to find an unrelated agent to submit on his behalf, you need to put out a statement immediately putting a hold on any items from being eligible for grading that appear on this list.
Secondly, I would ask that if neither of you has commenced such actions, to begin backtracking any/all invoices that came from Antoni Emchowicz and to produce a list of serial numbers which the community can cross-reference. At this point, while these are still allegations, I believe requesting this information from both your companies will help the community remain vigilant in tracking potential submissions that are circulating online and help consumers avoid being unnecessarily embroiled in acquiring potentially tainted samples floating around in the wild.
Moreover, if you do find submission patterns, or tells to distinguish modern seals as you investigate this matter further from your end, it would be particularly helpful to report them to the community. You may use this thread to respond to the above, or to update the community on other ways you are responding to this matter.
As a matter of public awareness, I have been in contact with Antoni Emchowicz and while he barely abided by my deadline to respond, through his curt response to my request for a refund, he has demonstrated himself as an individual that is untrustworthy, unprofessional, and who is ready and willing to use whatever stalling tactics available to him. It is for this reason that I urge you both to act in a matter which clearly demonstrates there are consequences for individuals who act irresponsibly, and this extends to the criminal allegations of a cheater trying to use certification as a method to circulate counterfeit goods.
I would urge you to consider these suggestions carefully and with priority as the negative trickle effect on your reputations is inevitable, and will be greatly aggravated or minimized by your in/actions and timeliness in issuing a response. Regardless of what pans out, his silence, behaviour and attitude towards customers seeking refunds has itself caused enough doubt in collectors minds to forever avoid him, and that may possibly extend to purchasing any certified Palitoy line items floating around in the market.
However, as I have experienced and seen first hand for over 30 years, and when the Eastern "file copies" first began to hit the back-issue comic market, individuals who have demonstrated the capacity to rip collectors off will not abate their pursuits. When caught, they need to be constantly reminded their activities aren't going unnoticed. While this situation may call upon the community a tremendous burden to unravel this mess to come to the truth, the inspiration to post this open letter is found in my belief you both have otherwise acted as hobby stewards, and that this situation, while difficult for all involved, presents an opportunity to not only demonstrate it to a community still reeling from this revelation, but hopefully to put this individual and any accomplices out of business for good.
P.S. While there are numerous threads on this matter, this blog summarizes and posts link for those interested in learning more about the situation