Category Archives: Editorial

A Model a Day

I have a number of Facebook pages that I follow regularly mainly those of model makers. But one page that makes me smile a lot is Ruurdt Flesseman’sA  Model a Day‘  (@ModelADay) which aims to tell  automotive history between 1945 and 1980 through a random selection of 1:43 scale models shown one each day.

Ruurdt writes the captions in both Dutch and English.

It is the randomness of the selection that appeals. For example the last three days have featured a Bristol 405, a Berliet Bus, and a Daimler Hearse. Life through Ruurdt’s choices helps keep collecting fun!


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

Model Car Hall of Fame seeks nominations for 2018 awards

By Maz Woolley

 

Model Car Hall of Fame

Readers may be aware of the US based Model Car Hall of Fame awards that are run each year associated with the US organisation HobbyDB.  Founded in 2009, initially as the Diecast Hall of Fame, the Model Car Hall of Fame is an annual award event held in Las Vegas with a number of different awards. The Hall is supported by 77 clubs, forums and blogs from 18 countries. The 2017 Award Ceremony was held on November 2nd with the 2017 class being announced: Tim Allen as Automotive Legend, Paul G. Lang, Minichamps as Diecast Entrepreneur, Tony Karamitsos, Round2 (the company that makes Auto World, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions) as Diecast Designer, Joe Alvarado as Diecast Customizer, Robert Fellows as Diecast Historian and Woody Itson as Collector of the Year.

The award started out  very US Centric with lots of Hot Wheels awards but of recent years they have been keen to take a more international view and to have models nominated by collectors from round the world and to widen the types of models they give awards to. This year the award categories have grown again with extra awards:

  • More model car scales, including: 1/8th – 1/12 scale, 1/18, 1/24 – 1/25, 1/43 – 1/55, 1/64 and 1/87 and smaller
  • Slot cars with four scales: 1/24, 1/32, 1/43 and HO scale
  • Slot Car Racer of the Year
  • Model Trucks
  • Model Kits
  • Model Farm Equipment
  • Model Builder of the Year
  • Model Brand of the Year
  • Automotive Artist

Our US Editor Karl Schnelle was one of the judges last year and many other well known industry figures are taking part like Raffi Minasian Chief Designer at Automodello.

So if you fancy making recommendations of your favourites then you may do so here. And if you fancy following the news and progress of the awards from time to time you can bookmark their home page which you will find here.

I am sure that Karl will be bringing news of the judging process and awards again this year.


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 June 2018

The inevitable has happened, Atlas Editions have stopped taking orders this month and they have liquidated their UK trading entity. Atlas say that existing collections will be fulfilled, but that probably means that they will they keep subscriptions running only as long as they have appropriate stock in the warehouse. In many cases collections have been brought to a premature end, presumably to avoid having to order any more models from PCT Industries and others. At the moment the Dinky repro models are not reaching wholesalers, though they are being sold on DeAgostini’s web site. Almost every other range has models reaching wholesalers which will end up at toy fairs and on eBay for the next few months.

I wonder how many collectors whose interest was captured by Atlas will go on to collect models from other suppliers? Eddie Stobart collectors will move on to buy Oxford Diecast models I am sure, and the collectors of Atlas aircraft can find lots to interest them in ranges from Oxford and others. But what about the “retro” Dinky collectors? Could Hornby exploit the gap by launching a range of Corgi Toys replicas? Autocraft and Promod both have some of the Morestone Modern Products/Budgie moulds and are casting new models using the original moulds. Autocraft’s Budgie boxed Volkswagen Beetle, as seen in a recent article by Robin Godwin, and Volkswagen Microbus are nostalgic reminders of childhood.

What is less certain is how these changes will affect the Chinese Diecasting companies. PCT Industries, owners of Ixo, has obviously been the supplier of many Atlas ranges. What will they turn to to keep their factories occupied? Will they seek partners in the US and Europe to sell their own budget ranges directly to the public, or will some of the other partwork companies like Hachette take the opportunity to fill the gap? Or will they shift production away from model cars entirely to industrial fitments and other castings?  It will certainly be interesting to see.

I would like to thank our contributors for their interesting articles which have enlivened the site this month. Don’t forget that you too could be a MAR Online contributor. Just send us some words about your collecting interests and a few photographs, and we will turn it all into an article for all our readers.


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

Obituary – George Maxwell 1938 to 2018

This obituary was issued by Mini Grid this week. We reproduce it for our readers as George played a significant role in growing the model collecting fraternity from its early days in the late 1970s.

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Mini Grid founder George Maxwell has passed away in his 80th year.   George left us peacefully with family at his side in the early hours of Thursday, May 24th after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s.

A note from the Maxwell Family:

George’s journey thru life was fulfilling and immensely rewarding, much in part to his vision and creation of Mini Grid, which allowed him to share his enthusiasm for motorsports and the model car hobby with others of similar interests.   His profession was a school teacher, but his passion was cars and car racing.     From being a track marshall at Mosport and Harewood Acres in the 1960’s and moving on to become the Chief Course Marshall and Clerk of the Course positions at international races at Mosport;  then racing himself in a Datsun 510 from 1970 until 1974.

George in action at Mosport 1971 in his Datsun 510

In 1975 George’s teaching career took him overseas to work at the Canadian Armed Forces base in Lahr, West Germany.   This is where the Mini Grid story really begins.   In Europe the model car kit industry was in full swing and George quickly embraced the hobby, with model car shops existing in almost every town and village throughout the Continent.  Taking advantage of his time in Europe he established relationships with most of the cottage industry sized kit manufacturers (John Day; FDS: Speilwaren Danhausen: AMR: Tron: Grand Prix Models; Western Models etc., etc.,) and upon returning to Canada in late 1977, he launched his new mail order business; Mini Grid Scale Models;  in the basement of his Scarborough home.   With wife Julia running the administration side; and with the help of friends like Bob Brockington, John Hall and George Webster promoting the hobby and the business; Mini Grid thrived and for the next 8 years the basement on Pebble Hill Square was a hive of activity as the business grew, with not only the mail order business (pre internet of course); but an increasing stream of ‘visitors’ knocking on the back door coming over for a visit to see the latest arrivals from Europe.    Mini Grid had now outgrown “the basement on Pebble Hill”.

George and Julia in “The basement on Pebble Hill”.   The original Mini Grid.

Therefore, in 1986, Mini Grid opened their first retail store on Hwy. #7 in Unionville, and for the next 17 years George and Julia ran the shop; along with help from equally enthusiastic staff; which now had expanded its selection and expertise to include all the latest in motoring books, videos, art, slot cars and; at the time; the then flourishing die-cast model industry.  Supported by an amazing and appreciative customer base (of which George would know virtually everyone by name) they all shared the same interests and passions, and George was in his element.   Good times and great memories.

George with one of his more well known customers – Sir Stirling Moss

By the early millennium health issues meant George had to take a step back and in 2003 he decided to retire from the business and sell his ‘retirement fund’; the building on Hwy. #7.   It was at that time Mini Grid moved to its current location on Mt. Pleasant Road.   His interest in the business never wavered however, and he would often offer advice, lend a hand, or just hang out in the store or at the Mini Grid booth up at Mosport greeting old friends and customers (same thing to him) and sharing stories.  And that was what George was all about – friends.  He loved people, always saw the good in them.   He had a heart the size of a lion, and just wanted to make everyone happy.
Outside of Mini Grid not much changed for George post retirement.   He continued to be active and involved with family, always with wife Julia at his side; always a very proud father of three; and a dotting grandfather of five. His favourite place in the world was at a racing track, and it didn’t matter where, even though Mosport would always be top of the list.   Fitting then that; with his health deteriorating; his final trip out was last fall to Goodwood Kartways to watch his 8 year old grandson Ryan compete in his Championship deciding race.   Ryan won, and the embrace after between Grandpa George and his Grandson was, well, unforgettable.  Life had gone full circle as they say.

George’s (here with daughter Robyn) last visit to his beloved Mosport was in the summer of 2016

The last couple of years have not been kind to George as Alzheimer’s invaded his body; and for those who remember the always smiling, laughing and jovial man you will understand that he is in a now much, much better place.

Nothing would have made him happier than saying goodbye to all his long-time friends and associates he met over the years thru Mini Grid, but speaking on behalf of the Maxwell Family we know he would want us to say thank-you to all of you who touched and enriched George’s life and made it a better place for him.

Gone but never forgotten.

RIP George.

For those who may be interested:

Ogden Funeral Home
4164 Sheppard Ave East
Monday visitation 6-9pm
Tuesday service at 1pm

In lieu of flowers and memorial donations can be made to Alzheimer’s Society of Canada


 

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.