Category Archives: Editorial

Voting for the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame is Now Open!

By Karl Schnelle

Over the last few weeks, the Diecast Hall of Fame Selection Committee has narrowing down the final five nominees for each induction category.  The MAR Online US Editor (Karl Schnelle) is on the Selection Committee. More than 200 fantastic nominations were received from around the world.   Please take a look and vote today!

More information and the link to vote is here.


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

 

 

 

Museo Botta is now free to visit!

By Maz Woolley

 

Regular readers may remember an article in MAR Online about the Museo Botta http://www.maronline.org.uk/museo-botta/.   This is an online Museum created for Giovanni Botta an Italian collector of model cars and advertising materials which originally charged a small sum to make an e-visit.

A press release from Giovanni brings the news that e-visits to the museum are now free. This is good news as the collection is well worth a visit – why not have a look there are some very interesting items on display.


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

Book Review – Wiking Autodreams

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

0006 45 Wiking-Autoträume (Wiking-Autodreams)

 

 

The press officer for Sieper-Wiking has published a new book to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the Wiking company. It provides the reader with a lot of new information about the life of Friedrich Peltzer, the founder of Wiking.

The company started making model ships, then aircraft and transport models to a scale of 1:200. These were mainly used in the training of soldiers and operators of anti-aircraft installations. Amidst the ruins after the Second World war the factory turned to the production of buttons and combs. In 1948 the first model cars to a scale of  1:100 appeared.

Special chapters cover the work of a Danish model builder and collector. In particular his miniature village and collection of wire-axle models. This is followed by description of more events in Friedrich Peltzer´s life, and a focus on the work of the master model maker Alfred Kedzierski. Using words and photographs, the production of Wiking models in the old Villa “Unter den Eichen 101” in West-Berlin described and shown.

The connections to Dutch, Danish and Swedish manufacturers are also explored in the book. An interesting fact is that the instruction book issued at the time of the change from driving on the right hand side of the road to the left in Sweden in 1967 was illustrated with Wiking models. Connections to the Volkswagen organisation are not left out as Peltzer manufactured a lot of advertising models for them in 1:87 and 1:40 scales.

This book is a must for all collectors of Wiking Models.

“Wiking Autoträume”, Ulrich Biene, written in German. 168 pages, with more then 600 colour- and black/white photographs and valuable reprints. Size 2855 x 265 mm. Hardcover with dust jacket.

This book should be available from model shops and book shops in Germany, and some other European countries.


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

Editorial June 2017

Models announced for 2017 are now reaching buyers, many of them at significantly increased prices. In the UK many resin 1:43 ranges are now around the £100 mark which makes them seem very expensive compared with similar products this time last year. In Europe they are now consistently at the 100 Euro mark. 1:18 scale resin prices are racing away in a similar manner. Even the diecast makers have generally increased their prices significantly. What will be the effect of this on collectors with a limited amount to spend on models?

Even subscription and partworks need to look at their business model. Prices which have generally been maintained at a similar level for some time will need to increase to maintain profit margins, but will the number of collectors therefore decline? We have already seen Atlas and DeAgostini test-market products in the UK that have never appeared as a series, and Atlas have terminated some German series after very few parts had been issued.

News of resin models losing small photo-etched parts in storage or trim becoming unglued for part of its length is now routine, but eBay auctions are also highlighting collectors’ models where white sidewalls are going yellow and the tyres are hardening and cracking. This is a common experience, applying in particular to models left on show for extended periods of time.

This is a recurring problem, reported since the earliest days of models for collectors: vinyl tyres soften in the warmth of direct sunlight or even central heating, gradually crushing under the weight of a heavy white metal model. There is no answer, other than to place supports under the baseplate (a piece of balsa wood works well) to take the weight off the tyres. Other kinds of plastic used for tyres suffer the opposite problem, hardening and breaking down. They eventually crumble, but leave fragments bonded to the hubs. This phenomenon goes back many decades, to early rubber tyres used on Dinky Toys. We can excuse early manufacturers, who did not know how the chemical composition of tyres can react over time (and indeed they made toys with a fairly short expected lifespan), but there is no excuse for companies using unsuitable materials today, particularly for models intended to be kept as collectors’ items. Everyone remembers the experience with Solido and other models using early plastic hubs which, when warm, reacted with the different plastic used for the tyres, leaving a sticky mess. Similarly, whitewalls can yellow when exposed to light or warmth for a prolonged period, if an unsuitable type of plastic is used. If you compare a model on display with another kept in its box, you can see the difference. Photo-etched metal parts are produced in flat sheets and are very ‘springy’. If they are attached to a curved surface they will always try to spring back to a flat form, so when adhesive breaks down, that is what they do – there is no permanent solution. If you have to re-glue photo-etched trim, use PVA adhesive which dries clear, and hold the item in place until the adhesive is fully set, but be prepared to do it again in future, when the glue breaks down again.

Readers will have seen Karl’s article on the US-based Diecast Hall of Fame awards. MAR Online has been invited to help evaluate the shortlists. Karl, as our American Editor, will be taking on this task. It will be interesting to see the results later this year, as they will give us a valuable insight into American views on diecast collecting.

Editorial – May 2017

Here at MAR Online we try to cover a wide selection of modelling subjects, but we depend upon contributions from collectors in those fields where the editors and regular contributors have little or no expertise. We particularly welcome submissions from collectors of specialist themes; racing cars, emergency vehicles, buses, trucks, diecast aircraft, agricultural equipment or even ships, to broaden our coverage here. Readers will welcome articles on these topics and any other specialist areas. We are happy to edit any submissions for you; a few photographs and some jotted notes can often be turned into an interesting article.

Popularity of 1:18 scale models is on the rise, with new manufacturers entering the market, as well as the revival of interest in older names like Bburago. The level of competition has meant a steady increase in the quality of models to this scale to the point where some modestly-priced models are as good as exhibition pieces.

1:24 and 1:32 scales also offer popular subjects at budget prices, and are pushing for collectors’ attention, where once they were clumsy models found in seaside tourist shops. Will the perceived value for money of these larger models encourage even further growth in this sector of the hobby?

In 1:76 scale I see that Northcord, having been rescued out of bankruptcy, will be producing models of British buses again in 1:76 scale, perhaps a timely re-entry into the marketplace, as Corgi Original Omnibus are releasing few new models this year, Bachmann are still absorbing EFE, and Oxford’s entry into this market is still developing.

I was browsing a table full of toy cars in a market recently where I noticed several Morris Minor models, the type of 1:32 scale models that have been sold in gift shops for quite some time and which many people have bought as they are cheap and cheerful. Looking closer I wondered if they had been re-painted. Then I noticed that the problem was cracks in the original paint, and what looked to me like bad metal fatigue (intergranular corrosion), something I have not seen on a new product for some time. So in addition to worrying if photo-etched parts are falling off your models in storage, and tyres being compressed to flat spots, metal fatigue is also back on the list of concerns.

You may have already seen elsewhere in MAR Online that this year’s US-based Diecast Hall of Fame event will be held in November this year and that they are looking for collectors to vote for their favourite models. We at MAR Online would be interested to hear your views on models that you think are really good, or which on the other hand you feel fall well short of the standard expected.

Following our recent requests for contributions to our web site hosting costs one reader send us a generous donation and you will see his name on our Charter Subscribers Hall of Fame page. We still need more contributions to reach the full cost, so please consider a donation to MAR Online to help fund our web hosting and domain name registry fees. Your contribution can be sent via Paypal to the editor, maronlineeditor @ gmail.com, or you can pay by a UK cheque in the post – please email the editor to be notified of the postal address.


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

2017 Diecast Hall of Fame

by Karl Schnelle

 

The 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame will take place during SEMA in Las Vegas, USA.  The live, in-person event will be November 2nd  at the House of Blues inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel. You are invited for a  nightcap to celebrate the new inductees.  Learn more about event details here.

Nominations are also now open for the 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees. If you’ve already nominated, thank you so much for your support! If you haven’t yet, there’s still plenty of time. Please nominate your favorite automotive legends, brands, and models here.


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

Editorial April 2017

This is the time of year when many model collectors’ clubs have their Annual General Meetings and look forward to a new year of meetings and events. Many of them also support local charities and attend events to publicise model collecting. As Editor of MAR Online, I am sent courtesy copies of magazines produced by clubs in the UK and North America and they are always full of interesting articles as well as pictures of “show and tell” sessions with some really lovely models.

There are other clubs which focus only on one brand of model such as the Brooklin Collectors Club which has members worldwide, and where the magazine is their main means of communication. In the case of the bigger model producers, these clubs are often run by the manufacturer, which often seems to limit what can be said in terms of constructive criticism . Brooklin is currently the only brand-based collectors club on our collectors club page. We are also missing any clubs formed out of interest in one theme or car marque, such as Agricultural machinery, Ferraris, Volkswagens etc but we know they are out there. We would also be happy to publicise details of any club for collectors of vehicles, ships or aircraft. including those dealing with one brand, collecting theme, or scale.

Oxford Diecast has an interesting approach to their collectors. There are very active Oxford Diecast Facebook pages covering both their models and wishes for new models, but they are not owned by Oxford. They are independent pages moderated by collectors themselves. Oxford announce new models on the Facebook group just ahead of their public announcement to show appreciation to their loyal collectors, and will occasionally comment on issues like delays to releases. I am sure that they also keep an eye on collectors’ views. Oxford themselves produce a monthly magazine which is available to everyone on their website to show their new models and to give an insight into Oxford’s activities.

Many manufacturers have a Website and Facebook page which seem to be run by their marketing department and which do not really engage with their collectors. These websites or social media links seem to be an afterthought which contain a stream of marketing information and sometimes even that only updated occasionally. This is a missed opportunity to engage with potential and existing customers and to know what they think. Other manufacturers and distributors actively use email to keep everyone up to date with some, like Autocult, providing a lot of detail about their forthcoming releases.

The internet also allows manufacturers and retailers to send regular emails to collectors. These vary from factual descriptions and pictures of forthcoming releases to more chatty blog-style emails. In other cases manufacturers have a blog built into their website. The Brooklin Diary is a good example of this which is followed keenly by Brooklin collectors. It offers insights into the development and production of models and not just computer- based impressions.

In addition to gathering on Facebook and on manufacturers’ websites, collectors can get together at face-to-face events. As previously mentioned, clubs might have annual meetings, but MAR Online’s US Editor notes that there are not many clubs in the US where collectors can meet up in person. Hot Wheels and, to a lesser extent, Matchbox are very popular, however. There are several national conventions for Hot Wheels; last year, the 16th Annual Hot Wheels Nationals was held in the US Editor’s hometown of Indianapolis. These events have a lot of associated merchandise. The other large Hot Wheels convention, the 30th Hot Wheels Annual Collectors Convention, was held in Los Angeles in 2016. These two are run by the same organisers as east coast and west coast events.

Matchbox has one major US convention held every year held in Albuquerque, New Mexico: the Matchbox Gathering of Friends Convention. Local clubs exist in a few large cities as well, such as the Illinois Matchbox Collectors Club in Chicago.

Because the USA is so spread out, no other large face-to-face meetings for other scales and other manufacturers are known to the US Editor. However, there is one exception for a small select group of 1:43 scale collectors. In March of every year since 2010 a group of 1:43 scale model car collectors gets together in Chicago. Chicago is in the middle of the USA, so it is convenient for many people. Most participants come from the eastern USA, however, and some travel 500 miles or more. Activities include a Ferrari memorabilia show at a local Maserati dealership or a trip to a local model car shop. The main events are the Route 66 ‘new release party’ and the Countryside Toy Show where many of the tables are for 1:43 scale collectors. Additional activities include lots of food and drink, diecast versus resin debates, discussion of the latest releases etc! The 20 or so folk who attend the event all communicate with each other via Forum 43; no one wants to miss Chicago Pizza night at Giordano’s! One of the attendees posted photos here.

So with all the different avenues to communicate with fellow collectors and manufacturers, collecting need not be a solitary pursuit. Why not join a club, follow a Facebook page, or participate on a bulletin board if you don’t do so at the moment? You will find that you learn a lot from others which enhances your enjoyment of collecting.


Please consider a donation to MAR Online to help fund our web hosting and domain name registry fees. Your contribution can be sent via Paypal to the editor, maronlineeditor @ gmail.com, or you can pay by a UK cheque in the post – please email the editor to be notified of the postal address.


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

Britain’s Toy Car Wars: A Book Review

By Karl Schnelle

Giles Chapman has written a book on his childhood toy cars combined with a fascinating history of ‘the big three’ in the Golden Era of British Toy Cars. The three British toy car companies are the obvious ones listed on the cover (below), and the Golden Age was the 1960’s, as the author calls it. Mr. Chapman is a well-published author, so he brings a good perspective.

This new book is the same format as his previous books like 100 cars that Britain can be proud of and  My Dad had one of those.  His books are known for a sound coverage of the subjects and some well chosen and presented pictures. Chapman has written over 40 books and is a well known motoring journalist and author in the UK; he has now turned his attention from real cars to model cars.

Britain’s Toy Car Wars might be the first book that tries to tie the big three together in a historical and toy collector context. Many books have been written about the copious output of each company, so do not expect a review of their entire toy car production. I was expecting some side-by-side comparisons and timelines of who did what when, or who came out first with a certain feature and how did the others react. There is some of that, but mostly it is the author’s reminiscing about his childhood toys and then explaining the background of the company that produced them. In fact, many of the nice photos are of play-worn cars, which reinforces the readers’ nostalgia for their childhood.

If you are a specialist collector of Dinky, or Matchbox, or Corgi, then you will get a better understanding of the other two companies.  As a kid, I collected all three and have read a lot about their history since then.  So I did not learn a lot of new information about them, but several interesting facts did pop out from Chapman’s research.

I had realized that Meccano was much older and more conservative in their approach to selling Dinky Toys, but I did not know that Dinkys were sold in only 6000 approved stores while Matchbox and Corgi were everywhere, in more than 20,000 shops.  Chapman portrays Smith and Odell as the ‘young guns’: they disrupted Meccano’s domination with Dinkys by selling pocket toys at a much cheaper price, available all over Britain at the time.

There has been a lot written about Hornby, Smith, and Odell, but this book also includes some history of the people at Mettoy.    Van Cleemput is already well-known and is covered here.  However, I learned a lot about the Ullmann and the Katz families and their involvement with the success of Corgi Toys.  In fact, Giles Chapman wrote Arthur Katz’ obituary for the Independent (1999).

If you would like the read about all three companies and their high-level rivalries, please read this book.  The author writes in a very engaging style and brings both the history and nostalgia into the story.


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

Farewell to Australia, In More Ways Than One?

by Graeme Ogg

I bought the latest copy of Autocar magazine and read that Australian car manufacturing will come to an end when the iconic Holden brand closes its last domestic plant later this year. Ford stopped building cars locally a year ago. Toyota will close its assembly plant (building Camrys for export) a couple of weeks before Holden. And of course Chrysler, another big name in Australian automotive history, sold out to Mitsubishi around 1980, and Mitsubishi eventually gave up in Oz in 2008.

1/43 Trax Ford Falcon GT

The problem for local manufacturers is that Australians have become spoiled for choice with foreign brands, and demand for home-grown Fords and Holdens fell off to the point where local component manufacturers couldn’t make a living from the low production numbers so, ironically, components were being imported to build cars in a country which is surrounded by developing nations like Thailand and Indonesia where labour costs are much lower. Not really a viable long-term option (subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of AU$5 billion over the last 10 years).

And now the problem for Aussie car buyers (or at least for those who want fast, powerful cars) is that they are starting to wonder what can replace the hot Falcons and Commodores which gave them spectacular turbocharged V8 performance at a fraction of the price you pay for such cars elsewhere. Unfortunately, Ford and Holden could only afford to develop these low-volume specialist hot rods when the profits from healthy high sales of their bread-and-butter models were pouring in. No longer.

For 1:43 collectors who have taken an interest in the Australian motoring scene over the years, I guess it’s the end of an era, and we should be grateful to the likes of Trax (and maybe Biante and Classic Carlectables and one or two oddballs like Dinkum Classics) for filling our shelves with a decent representative range of models from what I suppose will come to be called the Golden Age of Australian car production.

Alas, for me, I think there’s another kind of Australian farewell on the cards. I recently ordered a model from the Trax “Wrecking Yard” (remaindered stock). A Ford Falcon GT in the Opal series.

1/43 Trax Ford Falcon GT

Just AU$35. But shipping was AU$20, and it seems that UK Customs are so desperate to increase revenues they are picking on every little package, so they added £8 (AU$13) import duty, and Royal Mail added another £8 processing charge for collecting the duty. So my AU$35 model cost me $80. The new Trax Ford Galaxie looks pretty good, but at AU$ 160 it’s more than some Matrix models and nearly 50% more than some of the best Neos, Trax shipping for this series is double their usual, and I can just imagine the import duty scaled up accordingly. So I fear it’s “Goodbye, Trax, nice knowing you”.

[Editor’s Note: GM also said goodbye to Vauxhall and Opel this week.  Big changes are happening globally in the auto world.]


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

Editorial March 2017

February was a busy month for MAR Online.  We continue to publish 20-30 new articles each month.  We had many types of articles last month: new releases, part works, and continuing series (Vespas, Fords, etc).    Please consider submitting an article on a model car, truck, or bus subject that interests you.  We welcome both short and long submissions from our readers.  In fact,  we are now up to 95 subscribers and 96 FaceBook followers.   Please tell your collector friends to subscribe and follow us!

Also in February, MAR Online established our official archive at hobbyDB.  All covers of the hardcopy issues starting from the very first one in 1982 to the last one in 2013 will be included.  See the hobbyDB announcement here, which includes a brief history of MAR!   Over the next several months, we will add all cover images and Table of Contents to their database.  Many issues are there now; many are left to be scanned and uploaded.

On the 1/43 model car front,  we may be seeing a saturation in the resin market.   The competition is very strong new with new releases from Neo, Matrix, Premium X, BoS, TSM, Autocult, Esval, GLM, Spark, Kess, etc.   With that long of a list already, new resin  companies / manufacturers may be having  a hard time breaking into the market.  Dark Horse from China, for example, recently released a high-quality 1950 Oldsmobile 88 Club Coupe in two color choices.  Now they are being offered with large discounts, and the company seems to have faded away.

The yellow Dark Horse Olds is front and center in this 1/43 view of an early 1950’s parking lot.  [Photo: Mike DeTorrice]


Please consider a donation to MAR Online to help fund our web hosting and domain name registry fees.  If you have not already, your contribution can be sent via Paypal to the editor, maronlineeditor @ gmail.com, or you can pay by a UK cheque in the post – please email the editor to be notified of the postal address.


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