By Maz Woolley
The impact of “Brexit” upon model collectors here in the UK is starting to be felt. UK wholesalers who pay for their stock in US Dollars or Euros are finding that the fall in the value of Sterling means that they are having to introduce significant price rises which will in turn grow larger when passed on to buyers after a trade mark up has been applied. Even UK-based firms like Corgi and Oxford Diecast will have to pass on increased costs in the UK as their products are made overseas. Brooklin and other UK producers will be affected by rising raw material costs. I wonder what impact price rises, which early indications show may be around 10% on imported lines, will have on sales of models here in the UK? We have been told in the past that raw material costs represent only between 5% and 10% of retail prices, so even if the fall in the value of the pound increased raw material costs by 20%, that would only mean an increase in retail prices by 1% or 2%, which could surely be absorbed?
Some model distributors and wholesalers have already announced across the board increases in the trade price of models priced in Euros (ie mostly those in German, French or Italian ranges, even if they are made in China). That means that even those models already on the shelf and paid for at previous exchange rates will increase in price. I wonder if they will make an across the board reduction if the Pound reverts to its previous value against international currencies? Much has been made of the effects of a drop in the value of the Pound in the press recently (dearer imports, cheaper exports) as if this is something new. The 1970s to 1990s period saw frequent and wide fluctuations in currency values, so that UK trade and business became used to ironing out most of the fluctuations; absorbing losses, and clawing them back later.
After the flurry of releases of duplicate models from resin car makers the output seems to have settled down. One trend is for producing models of specific vehicles down to the registration number and quoting chassis numbers. One wonders if this is part of the way that they hope to sidestep the licensing departments of the car makers? The argument being they are producing a model of a specific vehicle and not a general Rolls-Royce model for example. The result is a series of very detailed models of interesting coachbuilt cars and a significant growth in the number of interesting cars from the 1930’s onwards being modelled.
It has to be said, however, that Rolls-Royce, for example, don’t licence a specific car shape, only the registered copyright aspects – the Greek Temple grille shape, Spirit of Ecstasy mascot and the Rolls-Royce name, for example. Of late, however, some small-production model ranges seem to have been evading the need to licence their products, but from past experience, licensing companies have a habit of letting things run, then coming in with a demand for retrospective payments for past production.
Here in the UK there are signs that the small artisan firms making 1:76 scale white metal models are being encouraged by the changing focus of the Oxford Diecast 1:76 range to start working on new moulds in that scale and some interesting models are in the pipeline. I hope to show some new Rod Parker models as soon as I have finished making them up!
I would like to thank our contributors for their input and remind you all that we welcome contributions and information from all our readers.
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.