race2recovery Wildcat

It seems almost criminal that certain subjects remain uncaptured in model form. Behind the scenes though, our model manufacturers are really up against it. So can we be of more help in identifying the hobby’s most wanted? 

During my time as Editor of Model Collector, probably the most frequent question I have been asked is: “Why doesn’t anyone make a model of…” Well, it’s a subject that opens a whole can of worms, so let’s take a look at some of the realities, practicalities and, more excitingly, the possibilities.

race2recovery Wildcat Wouldn’t it be nice to see a 1:43 model of the Race2Recovery team’s Wildcat QT, with profits being donated to this inspiring cause?
 

Realities and practicalities

When we were children, the manufacturers behind brands such as Dinky Toys, Corgi Toys, Matchbox, etc, were able to churn out new models by the score, in production runs of hundreds of thousands, with some, the Corgi Toys James Bond Aston Martin DB5 being a good example, selling in excess of a million units. But, and forgive me for stating the obvious, these models were marketed as toys, with the majority of them sold at affordable pocket money prices. Before anyone pulls me up here, I freely acknowledge that this wasn’t always the case; some of the more expensive Dinky Toys, particularly the Gift Sets, and the Spot-On models, for example, were without doubt only enjoyed by the more privileged child. But classic toys were designed to be played with; not to be placed mint and boxed in a cabinet. Hindsight is wonderful thing and we may now bitterly regret trashing toys that today would perhaps cost hundreds of pounds to replace, but while they were in production even the manufacturers couldn’t have imagined the future value that would be placed on surviving examples of their products – they were merely in the business of toy manufacture.

For years now, we’ve been hoping someone would issue the Routemaster that carried all over advertising for Meccano on one side and Dinky Toys on the other.
 

The adult collectables market is a very different proposition. Firstly, of course, it is a much smaller pool than the toy market. Secondly, collectable models are seen as luxuries and treated with reverence, so that almost each and every example, save for a few accidents and breakages, tend to be kept pristine. This second factor is important, because it means that the majority of models in any given production run will survive, and whether you collect purely out of passion with no thoughts of resale or whether you see your collection as a form of investment, the very nature of the hobby makes the prospect of owning something that’s less than easy to source is an exciting prospect.

Modern ‘rareties’ can of course occur in a number of ways. Even with today’s stringent quality control procedures, desirable variants can arise; for example, when an factory recall results in a few examples managing to escape onto the open market. More often than not though, modern rarities are created either because the entire production run is made exclusively as a limited edition promotional of some kind – perhaps for a corporate client or for a special event, or because demand far outstrips supply.

Which brings us neatly on to limited editions. This is really quite a controversial topic, because unless demand exceeds the quantity of the specified production run there really is little value in the term.

How about a Ford Fiesta Mk 1 Supersport? Corgi already has the fourspoke alloys from the Mk 1 Escort, and along with slim black bumpers, XR2 spoilers and wheel arch extensions and XR2 spotlamps, all that would be required was a body coloured grille and new graphics – job done!
 
Ford Fiesta

Manufacturers are aware of this, and it presents them with a dilemma. In order to recoup the massive, and I do mean massive, investment required to tool up for a new die-cast, they need to sell at least a couple of thousand models before they break even, let alone make a profit.

Resin models are cast using silicon moulds, which are far less costly to create but have a much shorter life expectancy. Production runs therefore tend to be much smaller. Other outgoings though, such as research and design and licensing fees (especially when it comes to motorsport, TV/film related models/etc) mirror those encountered when working in die-cast, and the labour costs for high levels of hand-finished detail also have to be accounted for. In general, this means that in order to turn a profit when producing far fewer models, the retail price tends to be higher than you would expect to pay for a die-cast. On the upside, it does mean that more esoteric subject choices aimed at fairly niche audiences can be risked.

In both die-cast and resin though, manufacturers have to make the decision of whether they keep quantities unspecified, their options open and prices affordable, or whether they curtail the production run, promote the model as a ‘limited edition’ and keep their fingers crossed the collector will deem this exclusivity worth paying extra for.

Bedford J Series
The Bedford J Type would lend itself to all kinds of liveries, and we think the Leyland Sherpa wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Either way, unsold models are a problem for both the manufacturer, the distributor and the retailer, because existing stock needs to be cleared in order for money to be ploughed back into new product. If this can only be done by price slashing, it not only affects those in the industry but also undermines collector confidence. After all, none of us like it when a model we paid full price for is spotted heavily discounted shortly afterwards.

The current worldwide economic situation and the resulting slump in consumer spending has only served to compound things. This, along with added complications bought about by the enormous social and economic changes taking place in China, where the majority of models are manufactured, is turning the pressure up even more. Getting subject choices right has never been as imperative.

But do our manufacturers always make the right decisions? Well, I think we all know the answer to that!

Perhaps more exasperating still, is when existing tooling could, with perhaps just minor modification, be used to create long-awaited gap fillers, but the opportunity is overlooked.

Putting on an identity parade

So, what to do? Well, we can’t promise to get the models at the top of all of your wish lists on the manufacturers’ drawing boards, but we can help flag up your ideas in this magazine.

We’re asking you to tell us about the models you’d most like to see go into production. In order to make put forward the most credible argument possible when trying to capture the manufacturers attention though, rather than just sending us wish lists, we need you to include as much detail as you can in regard to:

* The vehicle, i.e. make, model, year of manufacturer, etc
* Why you think the vehicle would prove a popular choice with collectors and why it is a particular favourite of yours
* Whether the vehicle has ever been modelled before, and if so when and by which manufacturer, and why you feel it is now worth revisiting
* The flexibility the casting would offer in terms of different release options (useage/liveries/etc - this is your opportunity to really sell the possibilites to the manufacturers!)
* The scale and medium (e.g. die-cast/resin) you’d like to see the vehicle modelled in
* The manufacturer you’d most like to see undertake the project

Likewise we’d love to hear from you if there is existing tooling that you feel could be easily modified to produce a much awaited and as yet unmodelled option.

Minichamps Ford Focus ST Minichamps already has the casting for Ford Focus ST, so, it would be fun to see a right hand drive version replicating the car in the new Sweeney film due for release this September.
 

Any photographs of the actual vehicle you’ve taken would also be very helpful (although please bear in mind that, due to copyright law, we cannot reproduce pictures sourced from books or the internet, unless you can provide documented permission from the copyright owner). We will, of course, happily provide pictures from our own archive where possible.

On an even more positive note, in the near future you’ll be able to vote in an exclusive Model Collector poll for the British car you’d most like to see in 1:43 scale from US resin manufacturer Automodello. Watch this space!

Vauxhall FB Victor
Pathfinder’s white metal version of the Victor FB was charming, but it’s scarce and pricey now. OD has given us a 1:76 FB, but a 1:43 die-cast would be nice.
 

While we can't promise to wave a magic wand, our new series in Model Collector magazine is a way of getting your your ideas/suggestions showcased in print and bought to the attention of our die-cast, resin and white metal manufacturers.

So if you'd like to contribute, please either email the information as indicated above to:

lindsey.amrani@myhobbystore.com

or write to us at: -

The Most Wanted List, Model Collector, MyHobbyStore Ltd, Hadlow House, 9 High Street, Green Street Green, Kent BR6 6BG.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Lindsey