This post takes a look at the reasons, the purposes, and the downright bane that can cause miniature makers and game design companies £10,000’s in the UK. Is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK and in western countries?
There are situations when recasting miniatures may be viable, but by and large, if you are thinking of recasting another designer’s miniature then you shouldn’t. Miniature recasting is illegal in the UK.
You have been given explicit written permission to recast the miniature.
As a game designer or sculptor, you should not ‘recast’ anything that wasn’t created by yourself.
This post touches upon the points of recasting miniatures and when you can and can’t do it.
“The larger recasting operations that set out with the intent to make money cause the most harm to the miniature and wargaming economy.”
If you are thinking of recasting for private use – don’t do this either, as it also illegal!
Is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK?
The answer to Is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK is – yes it is illegal unless you have been given written permission from the IP holder to recast their miniatures.
If you did not make the miniature, and you are considering recasting it, then it is illegal to do so. Especially with the intent to sell.
If you are in doubt as to whether you think what you are doing is illegal just ask a question.
“Did I make this myself?” or “ Am I potentially cheating the owner out of a sale?”.
Consider the questions above if unsure as to what you are doing is illegal or ethical.
You have created a recast for private use and you are denying a sale of the miniature to the owner of the IP – this is illegal also.
A lot of time, energy, and money goes into creating miniatures. Don’t deny the honest workers of boardgames industry the right to do more of what they do!
What is miniature recasting?
Miniature recasting is the process of taking an existing miniature and recasting the miniature – making duplicates or copies.
*That is, taking somebody else’s miniature. And making a mould of that miniature and then creating multiple of the same model.
In context to this article, illegal miniature recasting is the process of taking a miniature or model that was not created by the recaster and making an unauthorised mould of that miniature.
Illegal miniature recasting is generally carried out with the intent to sell the product without the original creator’s knowledge or permission.
Or for private recasters : to expand armies in tabletop gaming without paying for more miniatures, as an example.
If it is illegal to recast miniatures, why do it?
Larger scale Illegal miniature recasting is most likely carried out with the intent to sell or undercut the cost of the original casters.
Knowing that the practice of recasting miniatures is illegal. Miniature recasters will typically take their operation underground – away from the public eye.
Some recasters also create duplicates out of ignorance of the laws in the UK and the western world.
The larger recasting operations that set out with the intent to make money cause the most harm to the miniature and wargaming economy.
Some of the companies in question may feel that they are “putting it to the man” by recasting. And that they are entitled to cash in on success.
Smaller or individual recasters may recast miniatures for personal use. They do this as they wish to expand upon their miniature collections, learn casting, or experiment with creating accessories.
They can’t afford to pay the industry asking price so they make their own miniatures. Or in a very rare and obscure situation – to save the miniature for the future if the original is lost. But this also illegal without prior permission.
Why you shouldn’t cast or copy miniatures
You shouldn’t duplicate, copy or recast miniatures because – for one, it is illegal. And, generally speaking, it denies a sale going to the official creators of the miniature. Not forgetting that creating and mass-producing lots of recasts of rare models damages the board gaming and minature market.
Sculpting and designing miniatures is an art form. An artform – a craft, and a hobby that is loved by many.
Although recasting a miniature could be regarded as a sign of respect. It takes money and attention away from the original creator.
It hurts the industry and denies money going to those that deserve the merit financial gain for their own works.
Who cares about buying recasts!? As long as I get the miniature I want!
But you don’t get the miniature you want. You get a counterfeit miniature. It has no value on resale and in essence, if you know that you have a recast you are essentially handling contraband. ( illegal goods )
From “playing fair in the industry”. Perhaps some of the points below might make you consider why recasting isn’t fair to the creators.
Recasting miniatures from big companies
How do you feel about taking money away from a large company? A company that earns money and contributes toward a healthy and creative economy? And potentially keeps jobs and livelihoods for those it employs? Livelihoods of 100’s perhaps 1000’s of people.
Perhaps a little less bothered by this.
You may regard the company, which is likely to be a team concept designers and miniature creators etc making ever-better games and miniatures as privileged and not needing to make a living?
They don’t deserve to be paid as they are a big company. ( full of individuals )
Whatever you believe.
Recasting miniatures is illegal here in the United Kingdom. Whether the team is big or small, you are still stealing.
Perhaps you would support the smaller company?
Recasting miniatures from smaller companies (also illegal)
Recasting from an independent company is more likely to cut them deeper financially. They will feel the impact on their livelihoods far sooner than the bigger companies will.
If not for the legal reasons of recasting miniatures, consider the negative impact of stealing another person’s idea to sell as your own.
The smaller company may not recover. And the wargaming and miniature industry will become smaller and less diverse.
Don’t copy the little guys either. They deserve their merits equally.
Is recasting Games Workshop miniatures illegal?
Yes, it is illegal to recast or copy Games Workshop miniatures for private use or to sell. If you decide to try to sell counterfeit Games Workshop miniatures expect repercussions.
Games Workshop is not a company to be messed with. If you wish to recast Ex-Games Workshop miniatures you can try to get written permission from them or speak with a member of the Foundry.
When can you recast miniatures?
There are very few circumstances in which you can legally recast miniatures. Miniatures be it for a small or large company are the intellectual property of the company that makes them.
Generally speaking, you cannot sell, give or use recasts for promotional or personal purposes. You may only recast miniatures with prior permission from the IP holder.
Or if the miniature is out of license and owned by the public domain.
The final grey area in which you may be able to recast a miniature for non-profit purposes it for private tuition on casting and mould making in a teaching or learning environment. But even here it may be worth seeking more legal information.
To answer ‘in what situation can you recast miniatures?’ Almost none, without prior permission from the IP holder. (the company that manufactures the miniature)
How do you get permission to recast someone else’s miniatures?
The most straightforward answer of how to get permission to recast someone else’s miniatures is to ask the owner.
You can ask the miniature owner if you can recast and distribute their miniatures by sending a formal email or written letter. In the letter or email, it should clearly stipulate your intent and which miniature you wish to recast.
It should also be noted.
If a company does give you permission to recast a miniature. They are likely to want to retain strict control.
And If you do manage to get permission to recast. The owners may also wish to control the quantity in which you create miniatures also.
They may want you to act as an arm or franchise for their business. There would also be the possibility they would want you to use their branding – if you are permitted in the first place.
This could be a golden opportunity for you to step in and to offer to recast their miniatures on their behalf. Especially if they are overburdened with other projects or focusing on different parts of their business.
Based on fact that you do get permission to recast someones else miniatures.
You won’t be recasting illegally.
You would be a permitted caster of their miniatures.
Presumably, smaller to medium-sized companies are more likely to pay attention to your casting requests.
If casting is something you wish to pursue, you need to show the quality and skill in your casting efforts. Along with a letter seeking their permission.
Is recasting accessories for an existing miniature illegal?
Technically no – recasting accessories for miniatures is not illegal as long as you do not use any of the companies copyrighted content in your sculpts or cast. (integrated into your cast)
For example, if you wanted to create your own emblem to go onto armour, banners, bits, weapons and you wish to create multiple of – then this may be legal to do so.
But remember. It must bear no likeness to anything else already pre-existing. Creating your own ‘original components and recasting’ is permitted, but don’t copy.
How to spot a illegal recast miniature
There are a few ways to tell if a miniature is a recast – especially a bad one.
Remembering that is illegal to recast miniatures here in the UK, many recasts may look ‘homemade’ or of low quality.
If you want to stay away from accidental buying (or selling) an illegal recast, there are some basic steps you can take.
To help you spot miniature recasts – knowing a bit about who the original miniature.
Unwittingly buying a recast miniature can be a crushing blow for many. The whole time your thought you had purchased a genuine model it was in fact a worthless counterfeit.
Whether the individual or business selling the model is a copy or a recast would be hard to say. But, for your own knowledge, there are a few signs on how to spot an illegal or recasts miniature.
The signs and signals of an illegal recast (red flags)
- Knowing the original was made from plastic but the recast in question is made from metal. If you know that the official model is injection moulded but the miniature in question is metal or resin, should sound alarms.
- Double mould lines or flashing. If the miniature has a ‘double seam’ or line, this could be an indicator that it is a recast.
- It’s too good to be true. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If the model in question is substantially cheaper and doesn’t come in the original packaging. There is a chance that it is recast miniature.
- Non-verified Vendor. If you are buying from a non-verified vendor on eBay. There is always a chance you may be buying a recast. – Miniature recasts often come from overseas also. Or it could be as innocent as an individual selling without the original packaging.
- Visible or invisible signs with their online marketing. If the product photography has been badly photoshopped onto a dodgy background and any watermarks or logos look to have been removed. This could also be a big red flag. No visible official business branding on web stores may also point to a recasting service.
The most obvious ways of spotting a recast miniature is by noticing multiple mould lines, loss of detail. Also, strong indicators of spotting counterfeit miniatures are buying models from significantly lower than the market asking price on the miniature!
Keep your eyes peeled and stay clear of dodgy recasters. Spotting it at the source is one of the best ways to avoid illegal recasters. And then circulating the recast on the market.
Where are illegal recasters and how to avoid them
Many illegal recasters will be smaller operations running from small studios, factories, and/or overseas, or even from somebody’s garage space.
Recasters are found (or called out) through word of mouth or often discovered online. Recasters, especially ones in the UK and in western countries won’t want to brag about what they do. As recasting miniatures is illegal here in the UK.
Many miniature recasts and counterfeit products can be purchased on websites such as Alibaba. Alibaba is rife with counterfeit and copied products. And recast miniatures is no exception to this.
It is also likely you will find re-caster on websites such as eBay and Amazon.
The counterfeit recasts are not the real thing (junk)
Further to the topic of “is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK” – which yes it is, unless you get permission. If you are tempted to buy a miniature that is a recast – knowing it is a recast.
You aren’t buying a genuine product.
Miniature sculpting and casting is both commercial art and craft. When you decide to buy a model or a miniature, each purchase will contribute to both the craftspersons and the business. (Ideally).
Aside from taking money away from the genuine businesses both big and small. You are in essence buying junk, if you decide to try and sell a collectible in the future.
Imagine a scenario of the future when in 20, 50 100 years you try to sell a classic or desirable miniature only to find out that is in fact a recast?
If the miniature in question is a likely recast, it will drop the value substantially from a collector’s perspective.
The conclusive answer – is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK?
The answer is yes – recasting miniatures is illegal in the UK unless you have been granted permission by the IP owner to do so. Recasting another companies miniatures can result in a court case, a hefty fine, and potentially – worst-case scenario – a custodial sentence.
In addition to recasting illegal miniatures, you can get a criminal record. It is also likely that miniature recasts will be confiscated if discovered.
If you want to cast another companies miniatures to make money, make sure to get permission. You can legitimise your casting efforts by sending an email to the company in question, and becoming an official miniature caster. If they wish to allow it.
Recasting miniatures for personal purposes is also illegal in the UK.
The ‘action’ of recasting for personal purposes is still illegal in the UK.
Recasting to learn and for educational purposes is a grey area and ‘may’ be okay to do so. But (.GOV Website) legal advice may be required here.
Should you recast miniatures for personal use?
Any recasts you do that either deny a sale to the company or individual is illegal.
If you recast a quantity of Warhammer models for your own army without paying for the model – this is illegal.
If you recast a miniature and give it to your friends, this also illegal. Technically speaking.
The take away on recasting miniatures – what can and can’t you do
If in doubt – don’t. Recasting miniatures and then claiming them as your own work is quite illegal and is likely to land you in trouble. Especially, in the UK and in many western countries.
Recasting is allegedly quite common but hard to spot. The main pains in the industry will come from those ripping off designs and miniatures from smaller companies as they will feel a lost sale of their recast miniature.
If you are thinking of recasting miniatures on the sly to make some extra money then think twice if you want to stay away from court.
If you wish to create your own custom and unique miniature or accessory – this is legal. You can even create items that look (slightly) similar to other miniatures but they cannot be copied or recast.
Hopefully, this post has offered some information on the topic of “is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK”.
*If you feel that somebody is recasting your miniatures please seek official professional advice in the UK.
A breakdown list of what you legally can and can’t do with recasting miniatures
- Is recasting miniatures without permission and with the intent to sell illegal? Yes – it is illegal in the UK.
- Can you recast miniatures to sell online? This is also illegal in the UK and in many countries.
- Can I recast miniatures to increase the size of my army? This is illegal.
- What about recasting a few miniatures to sell? Is illegal to do? It is the same as selling counterfeit products.
- If I recast a miniature in a different material, is this illegal too? Yes, it is illegal to recast a miniature even if it is in a different material.
- Is it possible and legal to recast my own miniatures? This is perfectly acceptable and legal to do as long as you are not infringing on copyrighted materials.
- If I get legal permission to recast another companies miniatures – is this legal? If you have written permission from the miniature creator, yes! This is perfectly legal. Make sure you are both on the same page with what you can and can’t do. They may want commission or payment from each sale.
- Is it legal to cast accessory parts for a miniature? This is not recasting! So yes, this is legal to do as long as you are not stealing any copyrighted materials and recasting any parts.
- Are you allowed to recast for learning or educational purposes? A grey area as it is for education. Unsure. If this recast ends up on the market or being sold. Then it would become illegal if nothing else.
As a rule, if you are recasting miniatures that is for some personal gain – it is illegal. Whether to bulk out an army or worse still – to contaminate the market with counterfeit miniatures for profit.
That is the takeaway. Recasting miniatures, by and large, is illegal.
Other helpful posts
- Sculpting miniatures, barrows and badgers
- Miniature painting is an art form or least should be regarded as one.
- What scale are HeroQuest miniatures
- Boardgame distributors in the UK
- Injection moudling companies UK (legitimate)
Is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK – DBG
*Disclaimer – All information in this article is based around Q & A on miniature recasting. Dragon Bone Games is not offering official legal advice.
For more official information on recasting you can read the UK copyright laws for additional information. More information can be found on the Gov.UK website.
DBG Is recasting miniatures illegal in the UK, facts and useful questions. Use common sense and don’t steal!