Category Archives: Editorial

Atlas Editions has stopped taking any Subscriptions

By Maz Woolley

Text by, and copyright of the Author.

Alerted by a collector posting on the unofficial Atlas Facebook page I checked the Atlas site today and  the website has suddenly changed to show a single page allowing you access to your online account and announcing:

Dear Collectors,
 
Please be advised that with immediate effect, it is no longer possible to place orders for new collections. 
 
Here at Atlas Editions we are totally committed to providing excellent customer service, and we want to reassure our customers with existing orders or collections that nothing has changed; all deliveries will continue on the same terms as previously.
 
You can also continue to manage your online account and make payments exactly as before. If you need to create an account, please complete the orange box below.
 
Our group company, De Agostini, is continuously developing new collections and scale models on the ModelSpace website, www.model-space.com, one of the World’s leading and most trusted worldwide websites for scale modellers and collectors. We are very happy to recommend their products to you. Go and have a look for yourself by visiting their website directly by clicking on the banner below.
 
We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your loyalty and for your continued support.
 
The Atlas Editions Team”. 

So the much trailed event has happened and DeAgostini is clearly closing down the Atlas operation. On checking the French, German, and Dutch sites the result was the same so it seems to be a complete shutdown rather than just a shutdown in the UK.

Over the last few months Atlas models have been reaching UK wholesalers in large numbers so now is the tie to pick them up at toyfairs and online as they will presumably become scarce and the more popular items will increase in value.

I shall miss Atlas’ as they have produced some interesting series of models over the last few years. At the moment the Deluxe Dinky series is not showing as closed on my account once I receive the Renault R16 I wonder if I will get any more models? Who knows if DeAgostini will actually produce any more part works for vehicle collectors in the future? The Dinky series they are running is clearly based on casting used by Atlas already and I suspect has not attracted a large number of subscribers.

 

What do readers think? What impact do you thing a huge surplus of Atlas models to sell off is likely to have? And do you think that without Atlas we will see many fewre budget models available to collectors?

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Editorial May 2018

“Boom and Bust”

Older collectors will remember the way that the collectors’ market suddenly contracted in the 1980s, when large quantities of unsold stock from Minichamps, Vitesse, Matchbox, Corgi and other ranges were sold very cheaply to general wholesalers and piles of ‘collectors models’ could be found selling for a couple of UK Pounds each in small retail outlets around the country. This ‘dumping’ hit specialist model shops hard, because it devalued the stock of the same items they already on their shelves, for which had paid full price, while at the same time it lured away their buyers.

I wonder if history is repeating itself? We have seen a large growth in the number of firms offering us collectors’ models and a steady increase in the cost of models. At the same time we have had Atlas and others offering many  different partworks across Europe, and even in South America, which has kept PCT Industries busy making lots of models which have also been sold under other brands later, such as Ixo, Ist, Whitebox et al. Questions that I often ask myself at the moment are “how stable is the model car industry?” and “what is a reasonable price to pay for a model?”. Clearly the stability of the market for collectors cars could be at threat with the substantial volume of diecast models being sold to wholesalers by Atlas at low prices. It would appear that a glut of Atlas models will appear on eBay and at Toy fairs, and this will absorb quite a lot of collectors money that might have been spent elsewhere. At the same time, what will happen to PCT and other Chinese contractors if no-one wants to buy the large production runs they need to produce to survive? Will PCT switch to more general diecasting activities, and cut back their model mastering capacity as other brands like Whitebox do not generate big enough volumes to develop new moulds? If the Chinese diecast industry shrinks, then many other ranges may find that the Chinese firms lose interest in doing small runs for them at an economic price and this could affect some of the budget ranges of 1:18 scale diecast metal models we have seen coming from China.

At the other end of the market we see a continual rise in the prices of quality collectors ranges in 1:43, even though new players are still optimistically entering the market. Most ranges offering quality collectors models to 1:43 scale now seem to have a retail price which is approaching the weekly state pension payment in the UK, so as collectors retire, this must limit their number of purchases. 1:18 scale resin models can still be had at bargain prices, but even there the trend of the quality producers has been for significant price rises over the last year. Will the growth in 1:18 scale output be sustainable, especially as new Chinese players like iScale and others are now entering the market at a still-lower price point? 1:18 scale collectors can surely display and store far fewer models than collectors of smaller scale models?

In the US Greenlight, M2 and others are producing large numbers of 1:64 scale models, which sell in substantial volumes alongside the cheaper Hot Wheels ranges. At some point they may saturate the market, unless they can keep on attracting new customers. Greenlight has been at the forefront of doing just that,  with TV and Film related models and themes designed to appeal to different collectors segments like police cars and trailers.

In 1:76 scale and 1:148 scale Oxford have kept price rises moderate, and demand is high especially for many of their commercial vehicles and I think that this segment of the modelling scene will continue to grow, because the models appeal to a different market place, often younger people and those with less money and space available.

1:87 scale will again remain generally buoyant, as there are many established collectors and prices have not risen as quickly as in some other sectors.  I think that more expensive 1:87 models will struggle to sell in sufficient volumes, however. CMW, one of the few active participants  in this scale in the USA,  has been taken over after a reduction in the numbers of new models released. 1:87 scale resin models seem very expensive and the quality does not seem to me to compare with that of Herpa, Brekina or Wiking at their best .

Obsolete prices at auction also seem to be wavering at present. The very scarce items still seem to command high prices, especially when two or more collectors are determined to own a rarity but there has been a softening of the prices of “ordinary” models in some cases. Modern classic models, even from some well-known firms, seldom even reach their original sales price unless they were produced in small numbers.

All is not doom and gloom, however! Serious model collectors will simply adjust their collecting habit to match the market conditions. We will need to be careful not to pay too much for models that could turn out to be cheaper later. We may see a few “investor types” selling up and moving on, as we have seen at similar times before, but that would be no loss. We will buy more where prices are cheaper, or less if prices continue to increase. In any event few of us will stop collecting. For makers of models though, and those earning a living selling them, I think that the next year or two may be harder. A flood of cheap models from the Atlas sell-offs will have to be moved on very cheaply with a small margin, which will make it more difficult to sell Corgi, Maxichamps and other models of a similar quality with much higher prices. Sales of more expensive specialist models may offer a bigger margin, but buyers might cut back on the number of models they buy, because prices have risen so much.

It will be interesting to see how the market place unfolds over the course of this year and whether my predictions are correct.

As ever many thanks to those contributing articles recently I think that you would agree we have had a fascinating range of features. And a reminder that you too can write for MAR Online with a few photographs and words about models you are interested in. We can make it into an article that others will enjoy reading – so why not share your passion?

Obituary: Wayne Moyer

We have recently heard that Wayne Moyer passed away on April 1st 2018 after suffering from esophageal cancer . Our thoughts are with his family.

Wayne made models, collected models, wrote about them, shared his love of them with others, and was a person whose opinion was valued by model collectors around the globe. It was not just cars that interested him, aviation models were part of his collecting interests from an early age and he even build his own light plane from a kit! Wayne was there at the start of the modern collectors scene in 1:43 scale, building kits from early pioneers like John Day and reviewing them for fellow collectors. Many well known figures in the world of collecting have been quick to acknowledge the support, help, and inspiration that he gave them with over the years, and their happiness of having shared his company.

Wayne was born in a small town in Ohio in 1941 and spent his working life as an Engineer in the US Aerospace Industry. His first modelling article was published in 1972 and he wrote articles for many journals. Between 1983 and 1994 he was a weekend photojournalist to be seen at tracks around the US recording the racing scene and feeding details back to model makers to help improve their models of racing cars.

Rod Ward who edited Model Auto Review here in the UK says   “Wayne was with us from the beginning – he supported MAR from the start in 1982. One of those people which seemed to always be around – a very keen and knowledgeable collector“.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Editorial April 2018

Here in the Northern Hemisphere spring is arriving, along with a few unexpected, and unwanted, snow showers. Those of us who can only spray-paint our models outside can now look at the pile of unmade kits to decide which will get done first this year. Your Editor is starting the year with two kits: a Riley 2.5 DHC, one of John Day’s earliest 1:76 kits which has been upgraded recently, and a 1:76 3D-printed kit of an Austin Maestro. I am sure that some other readers still build kits; why not send us news of what you are making, along with some pictures of your work?

Readers may already have caught up with Robin Godwin’s recent comments on Greenlight’s approach to flush-fitting windows on their Chevrolet van, with our pictures. Have readers seen other examples where manufacturers have affected their models by obvious and unnecessary design compromises?

The Atlas saga continues. Models made for Atlas series are now reaching the retail market before their subscription collections are completed. In addition to these models arriving at wholesalers in the UK, DeAgostini is selling a selection of them direct to the public from their ‘Model Space’ site. At the same time as these models are being sold off, I hear of more and more problems from Atlas collectors. Atlas seem to regard it as fair practice to go on advertising series that have already been completed for the initial collectors, and then issuing only part of the series to new collectors – just leaving out any items that have sold out. In addition, many series have been terminated before promised models have arrived. In some cases faulty models have not been replaced, as there is no stock left,  and no intention of getting any more made. Interestingly DeAgostini are still selling models from their version of the  Dinky Collection through supermarkets in the UK at part 7, when usually they go to order-only after about part two or three. We have speculated in the past about whether partworks/subscriptions series were saturating the market place. All the signs are that this has now happened, and that there will be a significant reduction in the number of series launched over the forthcoming year.

Our articles and features have covered an interesting range of topics over the last few months, from the History of Dinky Toys sales organisation in the USA to coverage of the Geneva Motor show, as well as pages on models new and old. But we always need more contributions; go on, it could be you! All we need are photographs of models or other items of interest to model collectors, and some description of them. We are happy to turn your words  into captions or an article, so you don’t need to worry if English is not your first language.

As it is Easter Sundayin the UK as I post this; a happy Easter to all our readers that celebrate it.


 We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Autopioneer – Correction

By Maz Woolley

Thorsten Sabrautzky of Autopioneer has been in touch to point out that his new range of models is made in Europe, but not in Germany as I stated in the recent article. I have updated the original articles and apologise for any confusion my error may have caused.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Editorial March 2018

Model collecting is changing. Auctions of lifetime collections are being held with increasing frequency, toy fairs seem to have fewer and fewer stalls selling model vehicles, Atlas are winding up their subscription collections early across Europe, and Chinese firms are starting to sell new brands directly through online auction sites. At the same time the quantities and ranges of models in 1:18 scale and even in 1:12 scale are increasing, though production numbers are probably modest in most cases. The new generation of collectors seem to be mainly interested in smaller scale models, and in different subject matter. There is an increasing interest in more recent vehicles, especially commercial and working vehicles of all kinds, and in vehicles related to films and television.

I recently spoke to a senior sales manager from Hornby at the London Toy Fair. They recognise that the lack of younger collectors is because young people have not been collecting toys which would have drawn youngsters into collecting ranges like Vanguards. For many of us the model collecting habit is built on those early diecast models we were given as a child. It is surely not surprising that many people who grew up after the golden age of toy cars are much more likely to want to play games where they drive the car of their dreams rather than collect models of them.

For many years we have been wondering if 3D printing would revolutionise model-making for smaller producers. Though considerable progress has been made, and it is now widely used by industrial firms for pre-production proofs of concept, it is still not making a real impact on the hobby market. Shapeways is a website that allows designers to offer their wares, and the web host has 3D print centres which supply the end product to buyers as kits. It offers some vehicle models in various scales, but few of these are hollow printed and only the most expensive have smooth finishes. None is yet printed in colour, ready for construction and all are much more expensive than conventionally-produced white metal models. Despite this slow progress, things could change rapidly if step-changes in 3D printing capabilities take place.

Here at MAR Online we try to keep up with the twists and changes in the business, but our existing contributors cannot cover everything, so we are always on the lookout for people who can send us photographs and commentary on their interests. For example, If you are collecting the DeAgostini Dinky partwork in the UK, or any other partwork we do not regularly cover, we welcome your contributions, so that we can chronicle these ranges.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Club News February 2018

By Maz Woolley

 

Many thanks to all the clubs that share their newsletters with MAR Online. These are full of descriptions of club events as well as articles drawing on members interests and all the editors work hard to give members a great read. The first quarter of the year leaves clubs facing the need to review the cost of subscriptions and several clubs have had to put theirs up this year as costs have begun to rise often at the same time as the number of club members has fallen.

Wheel Bearings (Maidenhead Static Models Club)  tells us that their AGM in March is an important one as there will be a considerable number of vacant posts, including that of a new Newsletter Editor as the current editor Adrian Levano needs to step down due to other commitments. Adrian has produced an excellent publication and I was lucky enough to meet him when he dropped into the recent club night at Coventry.  I had hoped to meet other members of the club at their January club night but it could not take place as the venue was unable to open.  The club puts a lot of effort into running the Windsor Toy Fair. To soften the blow of the AGM paperwork the club night in March also features a competition: “Kit, chop and restoration” so life is not all admin!

Over at Wessex (WMTC) news arrives in the form of Wessex Smalltalk edited by Barry Lloyd. The club night in February is the one where they hand over a cheque to the charity that they have been supporting this year, the Bath Cancer Trust. Well done to WMTC as they will be handing over around £1,700. Pictures of the entries at their recent “little and large” night show some interesting model groupings. Their March club night will be a bit different as it features “Horses” and has a talk on Horse Drawn Trams.

Over at Western Australia Model Collectors Club (WAMCC) their Showcase club publication is full of adverts and news. This is another club that runs a Toy Fair as well as holding regular meetings. A secret santa session in December obviously pleased members who have show and tell sessions and themed club nights to look forward to in 2018. Their club news also includes jokes along the lines of:

I told my Girlfriend I had a job in a Bowling alley. She said “ Tenpin “ ? I said “ No Permanent “.

As ever Chris Derbyshire at  South Hants  (SHMCC) has packed the club magazine Wheel Nuts with news and articles. South Hants are having a debate about an additional charge to members wanting paper copies of the  Club Magazine, this is inspired by the steadily rising costs of sending these out. An issue many other clubs are concerned about.  The recent model of the month competition was won by…. a camel! The theme was Heroes and Lawrence of Arabia was to the fore.  Club night in February is the AGM and Awards night so another club that gives members an incentive to attend the AGM! Wheel Nuts is famous for printing some good jokes and witticisms like the one below.

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

The large club in the Netherlands NAMAC continue to send us their professionally produced magazine which is a cross between a club magazine and a news stand magazine. Full of publicity photographs of models in all scales it is clearly an important source of information in the Netherlands on new releases. The club has separate groups in the various regions of the Netherlands and they seem to be very successful at getting firms like WSI to visit and show off their models as well as holding displays and other club nights and a large annual toy fair.

Dinky Collectors continue to get their regular magazine edited by Mike Forbes whose column looking over the Dinky product announcements and advertising is a very good read. Features focusing on particular models and themes  are very instructive. The club is selling some of the original Dinky Drawings it holds which will be very interesting to Dinky Collectors.

And finally, the club that I am a member of. Coventry Diecast and Model Club (CDMC) continues to enjoy the benefits of the hard work and flair of Will Roe the editor of the club magazine Wheelspin.  Not to be left behind on the animal front the last Wheelspin contains an article on the Settle to Carlisle line which also talks about the Appleby Horse Fair with a picture of a 1:1 scale horse.  Interesting member’s articles include one on Rover’s coaches of Bromsgrove by Roger F.de Boer. We have club nights on the RAF’s 100 years and the 65th Anniversary of Matchbox to look forward to in the near future as well as the inevitable General Meeting looming.

I’ll be back in a couple of months time to look at what s going on around the club circuit. Any clubs which are not listed in MAR Online’s club page please get in touch as we like to let people know of the opportunity to meet with fellow collectors around the country.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

More Colorful Model Car Brands … [corrected]

Dear Readers,

Alert reader Brendan Leach pointed out that the email version of this MAR Online article was corrupted. The actual blog post is fine.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

Please read the full story here:

Karl Schnelle
MAR Online US Editor


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Editorial February 2018

The annual International Toy Trade Fair at Nuremberg is under way as I post this. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the area devoted to model vehicles gets smaller each year. Many manufacturers or agents cannot afford to exhibit, so they invite buyers to see them at other sites outside the halls whilst the fair is on. The large number of companies selling model vehicles gives the impression of a growing and thriving industry, but the days when Corgi and Dinky sold millions of a single casting are long gone, and even large industrial firms can now only sell individual models in thousands, whilst specialist firms produce batches of fewer than a hundred models. So the industry is making the most of a declining customer base, that has accepted some significant price rises in the last year. But this situation is not sustainable in the long term, unless new buyers, especially younger people, begin to collect. But there seems to be little evidence that they are doing so in significant numbers.

The firms that are reaching younger collectors like Greenlight and Oxford Diecast, are doing so by producing models that fit in with their interests. Greenlight has done very well by developing movie and television tie-ins which sell to a much wider collector base, whilst Oxford seem to have hit on a new source of customers who love to collect 1:76 vehicles, including trucks and vans they have driven. Both of these manufacturers are also offering models of recent vehicles, which interest very few traditional collectors, but which many new collectors want. So it is possible that the areas of interest for traditional collectors (classic cars, competition cars etc) will get fewer releases in future, but there may be a lot more new trucks and delivery vans.

Readers will probably be aware that Atlas Editions have started to close  their partwork collections earlier than originally forecast. The Dinky truck series is a UK example of this happening, and in other markets their Police car series was terminated early as well. At the same time well-known UK wholesalers are stocking large quantities of models from current Atlas ranges, such as the British Touring Car series. It would appear that Atlas is being re-organised by DeAgostini, so that we may not see as many vehicle-based series launched in the future. How many of those Atlas collectors will switch from partworks to collecting models from such ranges as Norev, MInichamps or Oxford Diecast?

Thank you to our contributors for keeping the articles coming. Don’t forget you could write for us too. A few words and some photographs is all it takes to share your interest with other collectors.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.