CAS grading company and Ken Black

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I will keep it short and simple-

The hobby has endured many scandals, frauds and shenanigans through out the years. If one simply digs deep into the rich archives of Rebel Scum, many of these scams, frauds and other black spots, whether large or small can be found. Due to the hard work and diligence of the community, when something comes up, when there is something fishy, when something is off, when someone is misleading, the community comes together to warn others, to get answers and to protect the community from any possible dangers. In this manner, things can be clarified and fixed and the safety of collectors can be assured.

As time marches forward, events like these are often forgotten or aren't talked about because old members move on, new members come in and aren't aware of these dark times. Sometimes a few new members such as myself, have learned through research about some of these dark times because they are documented here on Rebel Scum.

One thing I have greatly enjoyed doing is compiling price data from auction houses on select SW vintage toys and related items. In my travels, I like to check around what the various auction houses are offering and whats coming up. The more I do this in my spare time, the more you become familiar with whos running what. As I was going over where I collect my prices from, it was brought to my attention that one of the principles involved in the CAS grading agencies is Ken Black, who is the COO of CAS. I remember seeing Ken Black's name and him being involved with Sellersville Auction.

If you go online and google Ken Black and his Sellersville Auction, there are a LOT of allegations that do not paint Ken Black in a good light and throw up a lot of caution signs. All over the Internet there are countless complaints about his services, alleging fraud and non payment. More recently, there is the issue regarding bankruptcy, that Ken Black is involved in a Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy case that will be filed soon. A recent news article talks about many recent lawsuits filed in courts alleging non payment and the bankruptcy filing.

Find that article here http://www.mcall.com/news/watchdog/...ment-complaints-watchdog-20170527-column.html

When you read that article, I dont know why, at all, you would want to buy a single graded CAS item or even send in your vintage toy to them. Furthermore, why has Todd DeMartino gone into business with someone who brings a less than favorable light to the grading agency? There are other individuals, known to the collecting community that serve as advisors to CAS and my question to them is: are they aware of what is going on with Ken Black and his Sellersville Auction? Are they not bothered by what is going on with with Mr Black and that perhaps their reputations might be affected by what happens with Ken Black?

Finally, in regards to Todd, didnt he stir up some bad feelings (and yes I know this happened years ago and was perhaps forgiven by some) but most newer hobbyists are probably not aware of this but he was called on the carpet for his selling tactic on a Revenge of The Jedi box flat. Had it not been brought up by the community, that issue would not have been corrected. Here is the thread in regards to Todd and how he approached the situation, which it seems, if fellow members had not persuaded him, he would have left a less than accurate description of what he was selling and not being up front. One has to wonder if he did this in the past, how will he implement a system that allows for transparent accurately graded items.

here is the link to that thread on Rebel Scum

http://forum.rebelscum.com/showthread.php?t=1021291&highlight=wing+revenge+flat

What you all decide to do in the end is up to you but I did find all these things interesting and decided it be better to share what I knew with the community in case others are not aware of what is going on and avoid anyone any heartache.

I plan on following all court filings and documents in detail and I am interested in seeing how much Ken Black owes, who he owes and how much the court decides that he is to pay out to those that are allegedly owed.
 
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I will keep it short and simple-

The hobby has endured many scandals, frauds and shenanigans through out the years. If one simply digs deep into the rich archives of Rebel Scum, many of these scams, frauds and other black spots, whether large or small can be found. Due to the hard work and diligence of the community, when something comes up, when there is something fishy, when something is off, when someone is misleading, the community comes together to warn others, to get answers and to protect the community from any possible dangers. In this manner, things can be clarified and fixed and the safety of collectors can be assured.

As time marches forward, events like these are often forgotten or aren't talked about because old members move on, new members come in and aren't aware of these dark times. Sometimes a few new members such as myself, have learned through research about some of these dark times because they are documented here on Rebel Scum.

One thing I have greatly enjoyed doing is compiling price data from auction houses on select SW vintage toys and related items. In my travels, I like to check around what the various auction houses are offering and whats coming up. The more I do this in my spare time, the more you become familiar with whos running what. As I was going over where I collect my prices from, it was brought to my attention that one of the principles involved in the CAS grading agencies is Ken Black, who is the COO of CAS. I remember seeing Ken Black's name and him being involved with Sellersville Auction.

If you go online and google Ken Black and his Sellersville Auction, there are a LOT of allegations that do not paint Ken Black in a good light and throw up a lot of caution signs. All over the Internet there are countless complaints about his services, alleging fraud and non payment. More recently, there is the issue regarding bankruptcy, that Ken Black is involved in a Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy case that will be filed soon. A recent news article talks about many recent lawsuits filed in courts alleging non payment and the bankruptcy filing.

Find that article here http://www.mcall.com/news/watchdog/...ment-complaints-watchdog-20170527-column.html

When you read that article, I dont know why, at all, you would want to buy a single graded CAS item or even send in your vintage toy to them. Furthermore, why has Todd DeMartino gone into business with someone who brings a less than favorable light to the grading agency? There are other individuals, known to the collecting community that serve as advisors to CAS and my question to them is: are they aware of what is going on with Ken Black and his Sellersville Auction? Are they not bothered by what is going on with with Mr Black and that perhaps their reputations might be affected by what happens with Ken Black?

Finally, in regards to Todd, didnt he stir up some bad feelings (and yes I know this happened years ago and was perhaps forgiven by some) but most newer hobbyists are probably not aware of this but he was called on the carpet for his selling tactic on a Revenge of The Jedi box flat. Had it not been brought up by the community, that issue would not have been corrected. Here is the thread in regards to Todd and how he approached the situation, which it seems, if fellow members had not persuaded him, he would have left a less than accurate description of what he was selling and not being up front. One has to wonder if he did this in the past, how will he implement a system that allows for transparent accurately graded items.

here is the link to that thread on Rebel Scum

http://forum.rebelscum.com/showthread.php?t=1021291&highlight=wing+revenge+flat

What you all decide to do in the end is up to you but I did find all these things interesting and decided it be better to share what I knew with the community in case others are not aware of what is going on and avoid anyone any heartache.

I plan on following all court filings and documents in detail and I am interested in seeing how much Ken Black owes, who he owes and how much the court decides that he is to pay out to those that are allegedly owed.

I am quoting this in the event Hoth_My_Fave starts getting legal trouble for accusing people of things and tries to delete the evidence.

I read both links. The allegations against Ken Black are just that - allegations. Nothing has been proven in a court of law, so this comes across as defamation in this thread, and looks like a rather petty attempt to bring doubt to CAS.

Reading the link about Todd, it seems that there was a misunderstanding, and from what I gather, most of the top guys at the time were actually defending him. Not quite sure how an ebay sale from 9 years ago is relevant to his involvement with CAS, other than an attempt at character assassination.

I think the mods should step in, shut this thread down, and perhaps even ban Hoth_My_Fave for causing trouble and directing libelous accusations against people.
 
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Back in the saddle again!
I met Ken and Todd at Celebration Orland this year and hit it off right away.. so much so that Jimmy 2 Pack and I helped them set up and tear down. We hung out all weekend and they were very knowledgeable and over all pleasant people. Now I don't grade my items at all.. but I loved their service, cases, attention to detail and again.. knowledge.... So I paid to get my first graded piece.. I gave them my Hot Toys Director (George Lucas) 12 inch fig. It came back looking just awesome and I couldn't be happier. As for banning Flav... I totally disagree. Everyone is entitled to their opinion... No matter how harsh. I've been pals with him here for years and have traded and chatted with him quite a few times. He brings up these potential issues to warn our community and educate which I appreciate... I didn't read any accusations in his post... Again.. he is warning our community about a potential issue not being judge and jury. Just call Ken... Both of them are readily available and are always happy to chat if they have the time.
That is all...
Derek
 
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You sure are hell bent on trying to bring down any competition for your beloved AFA... :rolleyes:
It's clear you guys don't get along, but these concerns have merit.

If the MC report is accurate (and I have no reason to believe it isn't) Sellersville accepted consignments and continued to operate auctions without a valid auction license since Feb, which is a criminal action in PA.

The PA DOS Act 88 (2016) page 18 under " Criminal Penalties" declares that in the state of PA it's a criminal action to operate without a license, detailing first and second or subsequent fines/sentences, and an additional civil penalty of up to $10,000 on any person: (i) who engages in the business or practice of auctioneering without being properly licensed to do so under this act

http://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalL...eerExaminers/Documents/Auctioneer Law Act.pdf

There have also been multiple complaints against him in the past through his Bought It Sold It business, here and here. The web-based evidence suggests he has used bankruptcy filing at least one other time around 4 years ago to shield himself against paying people who were out their personal property and/or money owed.

If you still think it's much ado about nothing, consider CAS themselves have scrubbed the page of any mention of his involvement with Sellersville - his experience with Sellesville and ties to Quakertown were an asset to the company until the truth emerged and became a liability for them.

Nothing gets under my skin more than to hear consumers needing to take a situation to the point where they need to involve laywers and courts to have property/money returned to them. But if the news stories are accurate, for a co-founder and COO of a grading company to have operated his other business without a license, accepting consignments in bad faith, and revealing a pattern of filing bankruptcy to avoid responsibility in two seperate instances for businesses he operated (Sellersville and Buy It Sold It), it's a damning fact pattern that all collectors should take pause and reassess before trusting your items with a company that has such an individual as an executive of their company.
 
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Interesting thread. I remember for a long time there was discussions about actual collectors being associated with AFA and how it set a bad precedent. Seems like CAS was founded by Star Wars memorabilia collectors. Would never question the integrity of them but the whole "fox guarding the hen house" thing can be bothersome to some.
 
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You sure are hell bent on trying to bring down any competition for your beloved AFA... :rolleyes:

Someone writes up a well crafted post about a real concern, and this is the first response that comes across, and people wonder why so many people don't even come around here anymore.
 
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Someone writes up a well crafted post about a real concern, and this is the first response that comes across, and people wonder why so many people don't even come around here anymore.

Perhaps if he hadn't had such a history of trying every tactic under the sun to bring down CAS (and UKG, for that matter), and he hadn't attacked Todd for an unrelated incident in a clear attempt at character assassination, his post would have more credibility.

Yes, the link he provided against Ken Black doesn't look good, but the rest of the situation surrounding it is petty, and I will not apologize for believing this is more an attempt to bring down AFA's competition than a real concern about the people who run it.
 
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Hmmm, I guess I don't know the history of CAS UKG bashing, I think everyone here has heard a lot of the stories over the past few years and there's well documented issues out there. I had a good time talking with Todd and Ken at Celebration and like Todd personally, I'm not sure what was said, but if it's around the book I think he accepts that the project went askew for a while there.

People just need to move past that and make up their own mind on if they will give these guys a second chance or not and leave the product itself out of any mudslinging.

CAS is making some cool stuff with their cases and I think they have a unique approach. I will say there's no comparison when it comes to the evaluation side between AFA and UKG, and I hope CAS keeps things on the high road as it would be nice to have a true comparison to AFA. They (AFA) need to work on a few things just right sizing the infrastructure is probably one of their biggest opportunities as I don't think they ever thought they would be as big as they are.
 
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Hoth what is your obsession with anti CAS propaganda- get over it. Let it go man!
They are doing a fine job and are a likeable crew- you dont have to use their services- I use both (afa too) and I respect CAS for making a go of their small business.
I had always wanted to do a weapons/accessory case for vintage SW and the "horrible" Ken Black and CAS made that come to life several months back.
Here is a pic!



 
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Hoth what is your obsession with anti CAS propaganda- get over it. Let it go man!
They are doing a fine job and are a likeable crew- you dont have to use their services- I use both (afa too) and I respect CAS for making a go of their small business.
I had always wanted to do a weapons/accessory case for vintage SW and the "horrible" Ken Black and CAS made that come to life several months back.
Here is a pic!



Now that is pretty snazzy! I don't usually like acrylic coffins, but that is a neat display piece.
 

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As a moderator I see nothing wrong just yet. He has brought forth publicly known concerns to the community. It is up to the community to do the research and hold a common sense dialog about the situation, and then decide where to proceed. If however someone steps over the line, I am sure myself or another moderator will not hesitate to step in and control the situation.

Personally, I am against grading but willing to accept collectors that grade and the use of companies that do so. That said, I have friends involved with CAS and hope they have addressed known concerns for their own sake and I wish them lots of luck.

Mike


I am quoting this in the event Hoth_My_Fave starts getting legal trouble for accusing people of things and tries to delete the evidence.

I read both links. The allegations against Ken Black are just that - allegations. Nothing has been proven in a court of law, so this comes across as defamation in this thread, and looks like a rather petty attempt to bring doubt to CAS.

Reading the link about Todd, it seems that there was a misunderstanding, and from what I gather, most of the top guys at the time were actually defending him. Not quite sure how an ebay sale from 9 years ago is relevant to his involvement with CAS, other than an attempt at character assassination.

I think the mods should step in, shut this thread down, and perhaps even ban Hoth_My_Fave for causing trouble and directing libelous accusations against people.
 
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CAS addressed this publicly a couple of days ago with regards to Sellersville Auction.

http://collectorarchive.com/latest/sastmt/
The statement from CAS is pretty much watered down. As an example, it REMAINS to be seen, once this is sorted out in court, and seeing there is talk of bankruptcy , whether those people who allege they were defrauded, will be made whole. As an example, in bankruptcy court, the judge who will decide who gets paid what and how much. So theoretically, you could have sent in a MOC SW vintage toy that sold for 10,000 and receive only mere pennies on the dollar as a repayment. That is why I plan on following what happens and I will document who gets paid what and for what values as set by the court. As you can see in the news article, some people who are suing sold vintage star wars items and are not happy.

That is something members should take into consideration when they deal with CAS. What kind of guarantee is there that this wont happen while Ken Black is there? I would hate to see anyone send in some prized part of their collection and something bad happens.
 
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The statement from CAS is pretty much watered down. As an example, it REMAINS to be seen, once this is sorted out in court, and seeing there is talk of bankruptcy , whether those people who allege they were defrauded, will be made whole. As an example, in bankruptcy court, the judge who will decide who gets paid what and how much. So theoretically, you could have sent in a MOC SW vintage toy that sold for 10,000 and receive only mere pennies on the dollar as a repayment. That is why I plan on following what happens and I will document who gets paid what and for what values as set by the court. As you can see in the news article, some people who are suing sold vintage star wars items and are not happy.

That is something members should take into consideration when they deal with CAS. What kind of guarantee is there that this wont happen while Ken Black is there? I would hate to see anyone send in some prized part of their collection and something bad happens.
I will honestly say that while your argument has merit, I fully believe guys like Ross Barr, etc will prevent fellow collectors from being defrauded. While there IS this issue, there are guys that are part of the company that I believe in. I do think it is good that we can discuss it rationally and issues be put out there. Heck, I had no idea about what you spoke of and I am glad you did. I don't like B.S....but I do believe that CAS is legitimate and as a community we should make sure it is "all on the table". That way there is some standardized legitimacy established for all collectors.
 
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I had no idea about what you spoke of and I am glad you did. I don't like B.S....
Me neither.

I found out about this in an admin group chat a few days before someone brought it up in an the IC Facebook group. I was quite surprised to hear these allegations against Ken Black since I had done an interview with him back in October of last year (I took a screenshot of that interview here - click on the image to enlarge it to full-size). I did the interview because I was particularly interested in seeing a competitor on the scene - after all, I'd seen how it benefitted collectors in the comic hobby, and Ken was saying all the right things - but more on this point later.

What I noticed a few days prior to the group chat was continuous spamming of a contest CAS was running for a few weeks straight (in the group where I was an admin, an unequivocal supporter of one of the partners allowed the post 3 times in the space of a week), and I recieved a message from someone who didn't quite like the fact that CAS was giving away any prize when one of their officers owed people "a lot of money." Admittedly, I didn't have time to respond to this person to find out who he was referring to, and then the bombshell of Ken Black's missteps in his two other businesses began to emerge. I still believe that contest and the way it was being spammed on Facebook caused those who had been wronged, or knew fellow collectors who had been taken by Sellersville to speak out.

What I also noticed was an attempt to quiet/stifle discussion in our group chat (even though I hadn't even started the discussion) when people began asking questions on Ken's day-to-day involvement with CAS. When I remarked I didn't appreciate the attempt to stifle the discussion, I was removed from the chat, and consequently removed myself from a group I'd been involved with for nearly a year. It seemed my decision to uncover the truth didn't sit well with at least one supporter of CAS. Then I began seeing a similar pattern in discussions happening on Facebook - but with those posts allowing more opinions and comments, I saw attempts to minimize, deflect and shift blame to others (something seen with the DT Luke MOC with removed pop, and more recently when people began asking about Ken, and they were told to ask Ken directly). The blame shifting and refusal to take ownership on issues being brought up by collectors left a bad impression on me, and was the complete opposite from the transparency and customer service models Ken wrote about in his interview.

When these responses didn't do anything but create more questions and concerns, CAS posted an announcement on their Facebook page (which I just noticed has since mysteriously been removed).

Throughout this, particularly in the group chat discussion, the admin seemed to be relaying responses directly from his buddy like some minion of his, and one of them was that the two companies were not connected, and that partners were not involved in Sellersville. I didn't believe it then, and I certainly don't now for a couple of reasons.

The first concerns recalling browsing CAS's website when I did that interview last year - two of the three founding partners (Ken Black and Steven Ruth) both worked and/or owned/operated Sellersville. A search on the wayback machine confirms this.

The other reason - a PA DOS search on business entities shows CAS registerred with PA as an LLC using the address 18 S 5th St Suite 300 Quakertown PA 18951, which is the same location that comes up when you do a search on Sellersville's address. You couldn't be more connected unless you were a conjoined twin. This is more than just coincidental, and even as mere speculation, still speaks more to Ken's founding ownership stake than anything we've heard coming from CAS.




Despite Ken's serious missteps, which have significant alleged monetary losses through his Bought It Sold It business, and the current alleged lawsuits from his Sellersville business (the Morning Call article cites 7 consigners suing and it's unknown if there will be more), when I did that interview, he seemed to have the presence of mind not to mix grading with selling.

Now I will qualify this statement to say that I believe there were aspects to the responses that were meant to prop themselves up, or perhaps as a direct dig to AFA/CIB's relationship. Although I do also believe this was said to abate lingering concerns emanating from Facebook discussions on the close connection between Sellersville and CAS about whether Sellersville was going to be a venue for CAS to sell it's goods. Here is an excerpt from that interview - I highlighted the part about impartiality and NOT brokering/selling:



Whatever his reasons, Ken knew enough not to mix the two even if it was to give lip service to an issue that has dogged AFA since their early beginnings - and this is because one of the pillars of a third-party grader is impartiality, and without it you're no different than an acrylic case maker with a much higher price point as the key differentiator.

Interestingly enough, the direction Ken wrote about has since changed (I'd like to know whose brainchild this was) - CAS is offering a "fulfillment" service which sounds a lot like brokering/selling to me. It is my opinion this is an unwise decision that will have equally, if not greater negative consequences than Ken's involvement with CAS.

Finally, I want to make one point clear. I don't know Todd, Ken (except through my interaction with him on Facebook) and am indifferent to the "new partner." Despite my indiference with the latter, this isn't about grinding any axes, and all about the community deserving answers on this matter.

Community awareness over deeply concerning issues with a co-founder, partner and executive of the company should always trump "loyalties" to friends involved with CAS.

This policy shift to allow CAS to sell what it grades is deeply disconcerting, and I'd like this addressed in a manner that doesn't involve a wink/nudge or the promise of free ***** hair being sent with people's MOC's for the strong support shown to CAS (yeah, one of the partners actually said this). The forum will probably filter it out, but I assure you it's disgusting, classless and unprofessional for a front-facing individual of a company to even joke about things like this.

Downplaying, silencing or attempting to sweep the matter under the rug is only going to make this situation worse. In my opinion, based on Ken's reputational past, I wouldn't feel comfortable with him having any contact with my own personal property, so it goes without saying it wouldn't be something I could ever suggest to collectors, and this may not be possible since my understanding is he's the principle acrylic case fabricator.

Nonetheless, CAS should be 100% transparent in answering any/all questions, particularly to those describing Ken's involvement on a day-to-day basis, and while I appreciate they want to move forward and put the past behind them, the past is what makes the present incoherent and troubling.
 
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CAS addressed this publicly a couple of days ago with regards to Sellersville Auction.

http://collectorarchive.com/latest/sastmt/
Hey folks. I am the "other partner" (part owner) of CAS alluded to in this thread. As we described in our public statement Marty graciously linked above, while the situation with Sellersville Auction was extremely unfortunate, it was a separate matter for a separate company that doesn't impact CAS. Of course, the obvious link between the two companies is Ken. But to date, scores of collectors have trusted us to preserve hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of their items, with no issues noted and all such collectors thrilled with our services. We hope that all of you will feel that you can trust CAS, and I assure you that you can. If you have any questions, you can always pm here or on Facebook. Thanks.

I will honestly say that while your argument has merit, I fully believe guys like Ross Barr, etc will prevent fellow collectors from being defrauded. While there IS this issue, there are guys that are part of the company that I believe in. I do think it is good that we can discuss it rationally and issues be put out there. Heck, I had no idea about what you spoke of and I am glad you did. I don't like B.S....but I do believe that CAS is legitimate and as a community we should make sure it is "all on the table". That way there is some standardized legitimacy established for all collectors.
EDIT - I appreciate this sentiment above as well. I invested in CAS because I believe in the company. I believe in my partners and their commitment to benefit the community. I would never allow CAS to do anything other than provide top notch, positive service to the community. In fact, we are working on some extremely positive ways to benefit the hobby that we hope to roll out soon. I hope you folks give us a chance.

I will say as well that while there are several inaccuracies in this thread, we already made our statement on the issue. Of course, as I offered above, if anyone that is actually considering using our services has a question about the situation or whether CAS is worthy of your trust, always feel free to reach out to me. Thanks.
 
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Here's my dealings w CAS grading. I had a hard time finding variation figs on there site and contacted Ken black. He was super helpful and we went back and forth on a few things and I got him to agree to case my vaders w sabers still in arm like they belong! I Sent him 11 figs to be graded and he only charged me for 10! I was happy to promptly recive my figures back cased and graded. I Have used afa for a long time and Ken was a super guy to deal with. I sent them a range of conditions on my figs and feel they were graded accurate.I Have also done a deal w Ross before and he is a true collector and a stand up guy in this hobby. I only have one issue w cas and that is they will remove a figure from its card but have no "u" grade,so people against u graded figs might unknowingly purchase them. Otherwise nice to see some real competition for afa (btd2 that weapons display is great!) also they have added a 4th retainer at bottom of moc cases to keep cards from warping when suggested by btd2! So this is a company willing to really work w the customers. Also the custom ewoks case btd2 had made is unbelievable! Please please post a pic buddy! Hopefully they will be ok and casing/grading for years to come! K
 
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I only have one issue w cas and that is they will remove a figure from its card but have no "u" grade,so people against u graded figs might unknowingly purchase them.
Is this true?

I thought they advertised they were completely against removing figures from cards. :mad:
 
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Hey force,yes to the best of my knowledge they will de-card but do not label w u or any special designation. K
 
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So basically, CAS wants you to trust them despite the fact that one of their officers allegedly is not dealing straight with consumers, thats the impression they are giving collectors. They refuse to acknowledge how serious the allegations are and rather sweep this under the rug.

Look at all the scandals this hobby has been through recently, the Toy Toni scandal, the most recent baggie scandal which the allegations are it was done by a well known and respected dealer in the UK and then you have Philip Wise who was betrayed and experienced theft from someone who was a friend, someone in whom he trusted and now Steve Sansweet also has experienced thievery. Rightfully so, all collectors are on edge and worried about where the next shoe will drop.

It should be no surprise then that collectors are very apprehensive of Ken Black and want to know more, they want assurances that go beyond words. Just simply saying "trust me" and " I am a good guy" are not enough, words mean really nothing and just because someone is a "good guy" doesnt mean something bad wont happen. All the previous scandals that have happened, the individuals were known and were in good standing. It boggles the mind that a grading agency would partner up with someone who isnt represented on the Internet in a positive light and expects everyone to just go "oh ok, thats no big deal".

Whats that old saying.. "where there is smoke, there is fire".
 
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So basically, CAS wants you to trust them despite the fact that one of their officers allegedly is not dealing straight with consumers, thats the impression they are giving collectors. They refuse to acknowledge how serious the allegations are and rather sweep this under the rug.

Look at all the scandals this hobby has been through recently, the Toy Toni scandal, the most recent baggie scandal which the allegations are it was done by a well known and respected dealer in the UK and then you have Philip Wise who was betrayed and experienced theft from someone who was a friend, someone in whom he trusted and now Steve Sansweet also has experienced thievery. Rightfully so, all collectors are on edge and worried about where the next shoe will drop.

It should be no surprise then that collectors are very apprehensive of Ken Black and want to know more, they want assurances that go beyond words. Just simply saying "trust me" and " I am a good guy" are not enough, words mean really nothing and just because someone is a "good guy" doesnt mean something bad wont happen. All the previous scandals that have happened, the individuals were known and were in good standing. It boggles the mind that a grading agency would partner up with someone who isnt represented on the Internet in a positive light and expects everyone to just go "oh ok, thats no big deal".

Whats that old saying.. "where there is smoke, there is fire".
I mean I admit, a person who has had "possible" fraud related issues in their background, probably shouldn't be associated with a professional grading company or any company that the end user has to trust. Very slippery slope they are walking if he is at all associated given the information I am seeing. I'm not saying I wouldn't use their services or give them a chance but I don't like some of the facts that have been brought up and facts are as they say..."stubborn things". The Sellersville stuff was a complete cluster. They can't sweep that crap under the rug.
 
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I mean I admit, a person who has had "possible" fraud related issues in their background, probably shouldn't be associated with a professional grading company or any company that the end user has to trust. Very slippery slope they are walking if he is at all associated given the information I am seeing. I'm not saying I wouldn't use their services or give them a chance but I don't like some of the facts that have been brought up and facts are as they say..."stubborn things". The Sellersville stuff was a complete cluster. They can't sweep that crap under the rug.
I don't think it is an if he is associated with them. Looking on their site he is listed as "chief operations officer" http://collectorarchive.com/corporateofficers/
As well as he is the one who wrote the announcement welcoming Ross to their team: http://collectorarchive.com/latest/rossbarrannounce/
I also see JoeY, James Gallo, bill wills, and Stephane faucourt have their names attached to the business: http://collectorarchive.com/boardofadvisors/

Lot of long term guys with good reps attached who will not want to let their reps be hurt. This should give some sort of reassurement to those who want/choose to use the service. I agree the main involvement of one of the head guys involved in something shady does look bad though.
 
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Well we also know good guys go bad as well...............................ask the owner of this board and or Steve Sansweet.
 
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Most third-party graders (TPG's) I've used or researched have an impeccable team to build their success upon, and the track record and reputations of these individuals is second to none. These are people known to everyone throughout their respective hobbies, and sometimes even beyond them. While their staffing choices help their credibility, in the grand scheme of things, it's still a model of running a business through self-appointment and endorsement of being an "authority" on inspecting and assessing an items condition and authenticity. TPG's are for all intents and purposes an amoral business - any suggestion of a "grassroots" or "community inspired" grading company is foreign and counterintuitive to their way of doing business, and the only checks and balances consumers really have is to use them or avoid them.

There are no independent or authorized committees entrusted with the duty of reviewing indiscretions and missteps. No testing procedure that requires in depth knowledge of the subject that is being evaluated. There's no requirements for an ophthalmology exam (by a licensed Ophthalmologist), at a minimum of once a year and preferably two times a year, despite their greatest asset being vision and their ability to clearly see items they inspect for countless hours each day. There is no mandatory requirement for licensing by whatever independent professional organization exists for the particular endeavor the person is involved in. There isn't any certified ID number assigned that remains with the person, even if they change employment or start their own business as a TPG, and surrendered if the person leaves the profession. Most surprisingly, there is no requirement restricting the person to be engaged in personal grading for others outside the employment position, nor is there any restriction that such individuals should never be selling items they grade while working for a TPG (although it should be noted, that while it isn't mentioned in any contract, most companies do make it known through an announcement or communication from the outset that they don't grade and sell to avoid potential conflict of interest).

Now these may seem excessive requirements to be asking of someone that sits at a desk and reviews/inspects items for a living. However, if you consider the influence their decisions have on financially rewarding customers through an incremental grade difference, you may begin to see why some measure of oversight is necessary. In some hobbies, 1/10th of a grade increase can mean the difference between hundreds to sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single item. In this context, it becomes important to use such measures as a guideline to assessing and managing risks in the both the workplace as well as the long term health of the marketplace, and it might not be a bad idea to offload some of these risks on to a group or company errors & ommissions policy in the workplace setting, but there is really no way to prevent the hit the market takes when rogue conduct occurs. Historically, when scandals have rocked TPG's, the after shock reverberates, and trickles into other hobbies, so it's never a bad thing to raise concerns when persistent facts get in the way of a company's ability to be entrusted with such an important responsibility.

I'm sure some reading this will think my ethical compass is wound too tightly, but I feel strongly that our approach to the moral and ethical dilemma's in every situation we confront is the true measure of a persons and company's preparedness in navigating uncharted waters, and what truly seperates them from those constantly taking on water.

All said, TPG's are a license to print money. They operate on vain collecting pursuits, and scale their services to providing an opinion that is ultimately fallible. I'd say there are calculated risks with every TPG, but considering the facts raised in this thread, this is certainly the only time I've seen in my 30+ years of collecting where the risks far outweigh the benefits.
 
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Hey force,yes to the best of my knowledge they will de-card but do not label w u or any special designation. K
Hey there. Not sure who told you this, but it may have been said very early on and certainly before I came on as an owner. I joined the ownership team just last month, and I have made clear to my partners that in no way will we ever take a figure off a card or a baggie or encourage anyone to do so on their own and then send the loose figure to us later, or anything of the sort. In fact, we are rolling out soon a new feature that we hope will save many cut cards and beater MOCs from the U-grade and encourage people to preserve these items. This is extremely important to me and one big reason why I wanted to join the team - to have this stage to help positively impact the hobby.
 
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Thank you for the reply Ross.

I thought that sounded odd. In fact, I recall some posts on Facebook about ideas on preserving cut cards, so this definitely adds credence to the desire to maintain preservation and not opening carded figures. I know you are strongly opposed to it on Facebook as well, and doubt you'd be part of a business that would do so.

I do not grade items myself, but if I did, any concerns I would have about one co-owner would be squashed by knowing and having respect for the other owners. Even more so after reading the names of their Board of Advisors. The vast majority of those people would have nothing to do with a shady business. Even in my relatively short time in this hobby, I have learned who those people are and their solid reputations.
 
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Thank you for the reply Ross.

I thought that sounded odd. In fact, I recall some posts on Facebook about ideas on preserving cut cards, so this definitely adds credence to the desire to maintain preservation and not opening carded figures. I know you are strongly opposed to it on Facebook as well, and doubt you'd be part of a business that would do so.

I do not grade items myself, but if I did, any concerns I would have about one co-owner would be squashed by knowing and having respect for the other owners. Even more so after reading the names of their Board of Advisors. The vast majority of those people would have nothing to do with a shady business. Even in my relatively short time in this hobby, I have learned who those people are and their solid reputations.
My pleasure. As I said above, the demise of Sellersville is unfortunate, and trust me Ken is very upset by it all (I know that doesn't make it go away). Having spent a lot of time with him, he truly is a good and caring guy (which is why he tried his best to turn things around with Sellersville), but just ran into many insurmountable obstacles running Sellersville that aren't worth going into as I understand none of those will fully explain the situation to the naysayers or get money back into the hands of the folks that are out money.

Todd and Ken both want to do right by the community with CAS, which is why I joined them. The well-respected members of the community on the board of advisors believe in the company too. I understand that folks might be skeptical in light of what occurred with Sellersville, and I don't blame you. But if you are willing to give us a shot, I promise we won't let you down.
 
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Hey there. Not sure who told you this, but it may have been said very early on and certainly before I came on as an owner. a friend told me he sent some stuff in and they did remove from cards...was early on. Just saying. K
 
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Do you Promise not to Grade your personal SW items with unusually high grades and sell them through other channels so they can't be tracked as your items?! We know that would be Wrong Wrong Wrong! But with the Fox guarding the Hen House who knows! I do know this has happened at several other grading companies many times with some even allowing it! It's what's really wrong with grading services altogether. Add in a Honesty and Integrity problem to start with and here we go............
 
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I am new the forum, and still fairly new to serious vintage collecting. I appreciate someone taking the time to share information from the past that I would otherwise have no knowledge of. This is clearly a complicated issue with a lot of different angles. I also appreciate all of the responses from fellow forum members, pro, con, and everywhere in between. These kind of issues, and the back and forth conversation is exactly what makes this and other fourms like it great. If we all agreed, there would be no need to post it on a forum. Good info, and I will make my own best judgement. Thanks!
 
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I have never nor will I ever give any of these "graders" my items or money for their "opinion". Especially if it is collectors that are in control of the grading, if there is even a slim chance of conflict of interest or favoritism arising then the whole process is invalid.
 
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It will be good to keep reporting back here on Ken Blacks bankruptcy proceedings and to see if anyone that allegedly losses gets paid back and if they do, how much. Words only go so far in this hobby, too many people that were supposedly good and trust worthy went rogue over personal financial interests, rather than think of others.
 
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I'll be brief. IMO nothing HMF does is altruistic or for the better of the hobby. He cut and pasted what was already known and being discussed to further an agenda.

All the concerns raised are legitimate. CAS needs to be 100% transparent and perhaps Ken should step aside for a while. Certainly Derby has been roasted for far less.

I always thought fulfillment was an odd term to use, maybe concierge would be better. But for Joe it means they will do everything but sell your item. You can send items there to grade, hold and ship to your buyer. A very interesting and innovative idea IMO.

Finally, the manner in which CAS operates based on collector desires, wants and needs is rare. How many times have we said in the past "if only they listened to us they would make tons more money". For a company that listens and is so consumer friendly, hobby friendly, we owe it to assist in their continuing growth and success. That's my take.


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CAS does listen and care- if you want something noted on your figures you can make that request and they will make it happen
one example as pictured below- wanted them to make mention of the fact the blaster was a V6 Ledy solid black one (per TIG)- the response back was "sure we can make that happen"
I would not normally go out of my way to make mention of this...but thought I would share this particular example on how they operate- given the thread
 
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They did a similar label for my LL biker scout weapon! They are very good to deal with,hope all the bad stuff stays in the past because they really are doing nice work! K
 
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Does anyone even really know who HMF is?
The real question is who do you think he is...LOL I know him he's a good guy! Helps me out w pricing etc...he really does keep track of vintage pricing etc... Also seems he keeps people posting here :grin: although I have heard a rumor he is actually a computer program designed by afa! K
 
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