TFW has a story about how someone in China (Ebay user girltf) created and sold a fake AFA G1 Sludge. The main article is a bit fear-mongering-ish, but the thread that originated it is very, very interesting:
My understanding is that this is a KO Sludge put inside of a legit box, tape unsealed. The item is fairly convincing, but as tfwers observed, the acrylic box's edges are rough and the glue has a lot more air bubbles than normal.
I like this advice from one user: "As others have stated, do your research, get plenty of pictures, contact AFA, and ask advice from some veteran members here. Most scammers are pretty well known in the community."
Here are my thoughts, which I also posted in the thread:
(CLICK "READ MORE" BELOW TO READ THE REST OF THIS NEWS POST)
I had heard about these, but had never seen one in person. The anecdote goes like this: Back when the 2005+ counterfeit G1 Transformers started coming out, AFA was none-the-wiser and graded a bunch of Beachcombers as originals. Supposedly when they found out, they bought back all the ones they could find in order to fix the problem. Since then they have apparently been labeling them "1990's China Reissue", which is still not the right label for these (there were licensed 1990's Chinese reissues, but this 2005+ knockoff is not one).
Anyway, there's an auction for one of the graded-as-original knockoffs up on Ebay right now with no indication at all that it's the knockoff. Proof that at one time AFA screwed up really, really badly. Check it out:
The clear giveaway I look for is the centered holepunch. No real minibot has every come that way. Even the 1990's Chinese release has the normal off-center hole-punch. Only the knockoffs come with a centered hole-punch. (There are other giveaways too, of course.)
If you're an AFA graded toy collector or seller, you've probably noticed that AFA is raising their grading prices as of January 12, 2007. Anything postmarked January 12th or later gets the new prices.
Here's a quick run-down: Prices for grading modern standard-sized toys (E.g. carded TFs made 1990 or later) have stayed the same. Prices for grading regular vintage standard-sized toys (E.g., carded TFs made before 1990, Autobot cars, Decepticon jets) have gone up about $5 or $10. As for prices for custom size toys (e.g., pretty much anything I haven't mentioned), price changes vary--some tiers have stayed the same, some have gone up $5 or $10, and the bigger sizes have gone up as much as $25.
Also, they appear to have a new tier for mailer items.