Category Archives: Editorial

Editorial May 2016

by Karl Schnelle

I’ve been thinking lately about how our hobby has changed and how we get information about our hobby.   Back when I started collecting as a kid in the US, there were not many, or really any, model car collectors in my city.  I somehow found a newsletter called Trader’s Horn  (1974-2005) that was a combination editorial by a knowledgeable collector and sales/wants ads.   Then along came the MCCA newsletter (Michigan) replaced by Model Car Journal (California) in the 1970’s and soon gone by the early 1980’s.

Traders Horn

There were no toy shows  that I knew of back then.  After I moved to Chicago in the 1980’s, I discovered the big shows there and in Toledo, OH.   Shows were good sources for adding to the collection but not really for knowledge about the hobby.

During that time, I discovered three books by Cecil Gibson from the UK (one is pictured below), then the series of books published by Schiffer in the US (still in print!), written by Dr Ed Force – Dinky, Corgi, Matchbox, Solido, etc.   So in the 1980’s, books become the main source of discovery about variations, gaps in my collection and what to look for next.

Dinky Toys Gibson

Chicago had huge newsstands back then, so I discovered the first issue of Model Auto Review (1982) and  also Model Collector (in its fifth year, 1991).   All the above was the status quo until May 1997. That’s when I joined a new website called ebay; have you heard of it This did not replace books and magazines, but it did replace Trader’s Horn and many toy fairs.

Many online forums have popped up since then, but if you think about it, ebay has become the default database for collectors to lookup not ‘value’ but also variations and even find gaps in your collection.   I’ll go to ebay many times to look something up with no intention of buying it.  So for the last 19 years I have been doing that.

Then last year, I discovered hobbyDB, a site designed to be a database for collectibles of all kinds.  The owners are model car collectors so the DB is dominated by that subject now.  With fellow collectors’ help, I have added sections on Marklin RAK and RAMI.  Now I am thinking about how to approach my other favorites: such as Tekno, Vilmer, etc.

With two online  ‘databases’ now, I wanted to compare their content.  One way to do that is in the graph below (click pictures to enlarge). I selected 10 representative brands to compare – some that I thought were popular and some that I like myself.  HobbyDB counts are along the bottom x-axis and ebay counts are on the left y-axis.

Bivariate

One learning from this analysis was that Hot Wheels is amazing.  Or should I say epic, because I had to use log scale on the graph; that means it does not go 10 – 20 – 30 – … but 10 – 100 – 1000 – 10,000 – … because Hot Wheels are sooo much larger than the other manufacturers, both for ebay and for hobbyDB.  Perhaps the future of our model car hobby rests with Hot Wheels?  I do not know…

Hot Wheels Epic

Another learning was that the trends on the two databases are about the same.    Ebay has many more items but they list every example for sale ; hobbyDB only lists unique examples.  In a recent blog post, that is in fact what one of the hobbyDB owners just said:  “On hobbyDB, [a collector] can see everything that’s ever existed, regardless of whether it’s for sale or been sold recently.”

Just by coincidence, I also picked three that all cluster together in the middle: Brooklin, Franklin Mint,  and Dinky Toys.  I was surprised that they had such similar number of listings on each site.

On the low end of the scale are the Marklin RAK and RAMI, both brands that I helped upload to hobbyDB with 66 items each, but ebay lists many more RAMI items for sale than RAK.   Is this indicative of the number made per item?  Both are old and obsolete now.  The Batmobile phenomenon is also shown on the graph: hobbyDB has 20 different Batmobiles, but ebay lists 500 for sale!

To understand more about the Batmobile and the Hot Wheels markets, read another recent blog from another of the hobbyDB owners:  How Big are the Collectible Markets? Are we really spending $200 billion every year on them?  You might notice I included the brands from this blog in my graph above.  I think its a fascinating story. This whole topic deserves some more thought.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Editorial April 2016

By Maz Woolley and Rod Ward

Recent postings to MAR Online have covered a wide range of subjects, thanks to your contributions. Our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ModelAutoReviewOnline/ features interesting comments from readers.

Don’t forget that you can sign up to get new articles emailed to you by using the widget at the bottom of the MAR Online page, or you can follow our Facebook page to be alerted when new items are posted.

Leigh Hobden of Diecast Legends asks an interesting question in the May issue of ‘Diecast Collector’. Has the large increase in prices over the last five years made models unaffordable? It seems a good question to me. Leigh says that manufacturers are seeking to address this issue by reducing retailers’ margins, which is only likely to reduce the number of sales outlets and thus further reduce sales volumes. He suggests that manufacturers could cut their costs by simplifying models, rather than making more and more detailed models for higher and higher prices. It is well-known that model collectors are often retired, or heading towards retirement, so the answer to Leigh’s question may be that even current prices may not be sustainable. Lower-price ‘Best of Show’ models based on resin castings with printed features, rather than photo etched components may be an example of what the general market will want in the future, whilst the sales of more detailed and increasingly expensive models will decline.

The structure of the toy and model industry was always like a pyramid. The base consisted of cheap and accessible toy cars which were good enough to fill a gap in a collection, if no better model was available. Above that were increasingly sophisticated levels of toy cars, then collectors’ diecast models of ever-increasing quality and cost, with the peak being made up from expensive handbuilt white metal and resin productions. The scale of that pyramid was what made the collectors’ world sustainable; the top-quality peak was a tiny part of the total volume, maybe only one or two per cent of the total market. Buyers would move upwards through the various levels, gradually spending more per model as the collecting fever took hold, but stopping at whatever level represented ‘too expensive’ for them.

If the ‘peak’ creeps downwards to take up too large a proportion of the pyramid, then there will be an insufficient number of potential buyers moving upwards to sustain sales of expensive models. Makers of complex collectors’ models may be able to simplify their specification a little, to introduce a layer below the peak, but unless quantities of less-expensive diecast models and better-quality toys are constantly being added at the intermediate levels, the pyramid will become top-heavy.

Existing customers fall away, and new collectors don’t join the process, as there is no natural and gradual progression from the cheap toys, where we all start, to the most expensive models. Hardly any collector will jump straight from buying a £4.99 toy to a £95.00 model. The prognosis is not good, therefore.

The new format of MAR Online has been running for over three months now. We hope that you continue to find items of interest. We love to hear your opinions – email me at maronlineeditor@gmail.com or post on our Facebook page. And as ever we would be pleased to publish your information and articles to ensure that MAR Online continues to have an interesting variety of postings.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Countryside 2016 – Part II

Preface by Karl Schnelle

For several years now, a group of 20 or so  1/43 model car collectors have gathered for a March weekend outside Chicago, IL, USA, in the Chicagoland area.  We all met at Forum43 due our love of detailed 1/43 model cars – mostly white metal and diecast, but now also resin.

 Randy provided his perspective on the March 2016 weekend in Part I; Harvey now does the same in Part II. (Click the photos to enlarge.)


By Harvey Goranson

I woke up early Saturday morning with a sore throat and thought “uh oh”, then ran out to the local Jewel grocery for cold medicine. But as it turns out, I was a tad hoarse from the Irish pub the night before, where 10-12 of us had dined Friday night – man, that place was loud on a day after St. Patrick’s! Still had green beer left too. Anyway, the Jewel allowed me to get gen-u-wine Chicago sport peppers, a request from my daughter.

I got to Continental Motorsports early, and got a good parking spot in the office lot next door. Sitting by its lonesome was this Ferrari FF “Shooting Brake”:

Ferrari_FF_small

BTW, I found a pic online of a guy driving one of these with lumber hanging out the back.

Inside the garage were the usual tasty pits of exotica, including the 288s – GTO and GTO Evoluzione. This F12 caught my eye as what a proper Italian GT should look like these days. Pininfarina are still the masters:

Ferrari_F12_small

Inside was the annual model car exhibit, dealers tables, and the Sebring race on TV. A beautiful replica of Pete DePaolo’s 1927 Miller was on display at a dealer booth, sadly in 1:24 and not our favorite scale. Wasn’t for sale anyway….

Miller_91_Peter_DePaolo

Am old frat brother of mine, Glenn Keller, plus Dick and Skip, joined me at a Downer’s Grove restaurant for lunch. Then off to Buzfest, where I bought a Conquest 1950 Buick woodie. Then Giordanos, where the deep dish pizza was as good as ever.

At Sunday breakfast Karl gave me a couple of old Vitesse Triumph TR roadsters, and at Countryside Frank gave me an old Precision Miniatures kit to make Borrani wire wheels. Thanks again guys!

Freebies

My purchases from the weekend were:

Countryside_haul_3-20-16

The Motor City Buick wagon was one of my holy grails. Thanks again to Jeff for parting with it:

Motor_City_MC-76_Buick_woodie_pic2_small

Two Buicks again – last year I also bought two. A trend perhaps?

On Saturday I had zeroed in on the EMC 1922 Mercedes 28/95 Mikhail was selling, and committed to buying it. Randy’s pic of me emptying my wallet was me shelling out for it on Sunday. The detail on this is outstanding (an LE of 100 in this color). There is a prior turquoise version (no sidemounts) and a forthcoming black version with raised top.

EMC_Mercedes_28-95_pic1_small

I tried to get the nails out to lift off the display case but they wouldn’t budge. BTW, the real car is at the Auto und Technik Museum. Know how the radiator shell on the model gets that bright appearance? Gold plating! The “wood” along the body sides has been very faintly brush painted. Neo makes a similar version but photos don’t show near as much detail, plus it has no sidemounts like the museum car.

Speaking of Mikhail and his B&G model line, soon to appear is #EL-5, this 1929 Mercedes SSK with Murphy boat-tail body, from the collection of Arturo and Deborah Keller. There will be 130 in maroon (as presently restored) and 70 in white (a prior color).

B_and_G_EL-5_Mercedes_SSK_Murphy_pic1_small
Jim Cowen had his new Automodello TVR Taimar and 3000Ms on display, in a wide range of colors, with edition sizes ranging from 15 to 79. Here is the white over metallic blue version, which was the subject of an interview with the actual owner in Model Auto Review:

Automodello_AM-TML-M3M-EE_TVR_3000M_small

Jim says this version is almost gone.

Last and definitely least is a Corgi Vanguards Ford Thames Singer van, purchased for the princely sum of $10. A wave of nostalgia must have hit me, since it reminded me of my old Matchbox:

Two_Ford_Thames_Singer_vans
My wife Kay sews and crochets a lot and has claimed this as hers!
On the way back, I took a picture of an historic building in Indy I’ve been meaning to get for some time now:

The_Stutz_Business_and_Arts_Center_-_Indianapolis_small

Can you imagine the days when Stutz automobiles rolled out of this plant? It is now known as the Stutz Business and Arts Center. Better to be preserved and re-purposed than torn down.  Bravo Indy!


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Countryside 2016 – Part I

Preface by Karl Schnelle

For several years now, a group of 20 or so  1/43 model car collectors have gathered for a March weekend outside Chicago, IL, USA, in the Chicagoland area. This ‘convention’ grew out of the now-defunct Strictly 43rd Show and is now a series of events centered around Countryside, IL! Early arrivals gather for dinner on Friday night, then Saturday morning is the annual Ferrari Art and Literature Show at Continental AutoSports in Hinsdale (a Ferrari/Maserati dealer).  Following closely on Saturday afternoon is Buzfest, hosted by Route 66 Model Car Store in LaGrange Highlands.  After a group dinner, in a traditional Chicago style pizza place, we all wake up early to attend the Countryside Collectors Classic Show.

In 2016, we had many people from the Midwest US (such as IL, IN, OH, MI) but also folks from NY and TN! Even our regular from England showed up again!  It’s a real tradition now but we hope new collector’s will join us in 2017.   Our common theme is detailed model cars in 1/43, but we all have other collecting habits from toy cars to models in other scales.

Randy is providing his perspective on the weekend in Part I; Harvey will do the same in Part II. (Click the photos to enlarge.)


By Randy Rusk

Well, after some very effective prodding from Karl Schnelle last year telling me that I really needed to extend my Countryside trip to more than 1 day, I relented and booked a room at the Holiday Inn this year. And boy am I glad I did! I had no idea what camaraderie I was missing out on. Let me fill you all in… While some start the weekend on Friday night, I drove the three hours from Fort Wayne to meet up with folks at the Ferrari Club get-together on Saturday afternoon. Karl’s face is the definition of sticker shock:

IMG_1921_(800x600)

The Ferrari/Maserati dealership opened up floor space for dealers. Lots of European-centric models and paraphernalia to tempt the wallet:

IMG_1922_(800x600)

 

And then on to the 1:1’s… These were all out back awaiting service and maintenance:

IMG_1924_(800x600)

I’ve never walked into a garage like this!

IMG_1925_(800x600)

Karl found an Alfa to his liking:

IMG_1929_(800x600)

After getting our fill, it was on to Buz’s house for Buzfest! Funny that as soon as I introduced myself, the common response was “Hey, you’re the guy who collects that oddball stuff.  “Here, people debate who’s wallet is going to hurt the most:

IMG_1930_(800x600)

The fun part! The time to buy is when you see something you have to have; Harvey eyes one of Buz’s newest releases, based on a car from Buz’s youth,  the1964 Buick Wildcat by Madison . Yep, that’s Buz waving in the old pic:

IMG_1934_(800x600)

The big dilemma was hardtop, convertible or soft top up? Karl helpfully suggested one of each. Eventually, Skip zeroed in on the red convertible. Wise choice!

IMG_1935_(800x600)

Special models just for the show, only 10 of each, based on the 1963 Ford Galaxie sedan by Conquest. The black police cruiser was modeled on the car driven by Officer JD Tippet, who was shot by Oswald shortly after the Kennedy assassination.

IMG_1939_(800x600)

The only other thing we seemed to crave was food. Giordano’s pizza hit the spot. Thanks to Frank for coordinating the great pizza buffet.

IMG_1945_(800x600)

Our fearless leader, Dick Browne (center) watched over some cherished (and rare) Motor City models.

IMG_1949_(800x600)

First time I’ve ever seen the Town & Country in the flesh. Too rich for my blood, though. My “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.” understanding with my wife would be destroyed if I came home with this…

IMG_1950_(800x600)

Greg Gunn surrounded by his many Matrix, GLM, Whitebox, white metal and other 1/43 goodies:

IMG_1953_(800x600)

Behind every good man is the woman ringing up the sales. There was quite a Buz around this display of premium models from Madison, Conquest and WMCE.IMG_1954_(800x600)

Bob Hooper of Dominion Models had a great selection – and some deals for those looking to fill in a few gaps in their collection.

IMG_1955_(800x600)

For the first time ever, I paid the premium to get into the show 2 hours early and avoid the line and the crowds. It was money well spent. This was taken before the doors opened for general admission at 10 am.

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Mikhail with his 1/43 jewels from EMC helping lighten someone’s wallet.

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I had a blast catching up with Jim Cowen at Automodello. A real gentleman, he was full of stories about the origin of his amazing 1/24 and 1/43 models, many of which grace the shelves of my personal collection. You can see just a bit of the 1/24 Kaiser Darrin prototype in white. It should come with a magnetic door to pose in closed or slid open position.

IMG_1963_(800x600)

So, that was my two day experience. What a great group of fellow collectors. Sign me up for next year!


We welcome your comments and questions.     Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Editorial March 2016

By Maz Woolley and Rod Ward

 

In years gone by the Nuremberg international toy trade fair was a major event with toy and model manufacturers  announcing their programme for the year and showing off prototypes of what was to come. Am I alone in feeling that this year’s event has largely passed collectors by? At one point almost everyone wanting to sell models would exhibit at Nuremberg, however small a space they could afford. But times have changed. As Rod Ward has noted in previous MAR issues, those shop owners and wholesalers who visited Nuremberg to place their orders for the coming year, and who made it worth the model manufacturing companies exhibiting, are mostly no longer in business. So this year even fewer model manufacturers were present.

Some companies, like ModelCarWorld who produce Neo, Premium Classix, BoS, and Whitebox models, just invited trade buyers to their headquarters while they were visiting Germany to see other companies at the Trade Fair. In other cases, many of those companies who were present at Nuremberg had, in many cases, already announced their production plans in advance.

This includes Oxford Diecast, images of whose prototypes had already appeared on Facebook or in other advance publicity, so there were few surprises at the fair.

In a world where some collectors’  models are now made in editions of as few as 50 or 100 on a rolling monthly programme, sold direct, or through smaller dealers, a world where even the larger diecast firms make editions of only 500 or 1,000, and where the only mass sales seem to be by partwork or series publishers selling direct or through the newstrade, maybe the old-style trade fair is irrelevant.

Perhaps the business model needs to be re-examined? As a parallel example, the SBAC air show at Farnborough used to be solely a trade fair, displaying the latest aircraft to potential buyers; airlines, air forces and corporate customers. Those deals are no longer done at an air show, so Farnborough lost its original raison d’etre. The show in Hampshire is still highly successful, however, but it is a totally different beast; it is now a public air display with lots of trade stands and ‘family fun’ attractions. Nuremberg in February may not be as attractive for a family day out, but the International Toy Fair may need a makeover to have a relevant role in future years.

MAR Online has always tried to cover some of the partworks and subscription series that traditional collectors magazines have tended not to cover. Readers are often interested because these series may include models that they are interested in, but which may not be sold in the country where they live.  So, if you are collecting a partwork or subscription series, please send us pictures and notes that we can share with fellow collectors. We would be particularly interested to hear from anyone collecting the current 1:43 scale buses and coaches range being offered in European countries, as well as from collectors of many of the Atlas series selling in continental Europe at the moment. We would also love to hear about partworks from further afield; Japan, South America, Eastern Europe or Russia. You don’t have to write an article, just send a few photographs of your models, details of the vehicle and your opinion of the model. That will be enough for us to put together articles of wide interest. And of course we will always welcome material from you, the reader, on your own collections and interests to share with us all. Whatever your modelling interest, please take some pictures, write a few words and share your interests with other MAR Online readers.


We welcome your comments and questions.  Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Editor’s Thoughts: Hornby Hobbies

Hornby Hobbies the company who make Hornby trains, Airfix kits, and Corgi models announced another shares warning recently despite trading well in the final quarter of 2015.  The graph below from their web site tells the story, a 60% fall in the value of their shares last week.

HorbyHobbies Shares

For collectors of models made by the group this can only be bad news since it means that they will be less able to borrow money to invest in new tooling.  Collectors of Vanguards, and other Corgi ranges, will have noticed the reduced investment in new castings over the last couple of years and with the reduction in the value of the company and its substantial debt to its bank it seems that things will not improve.

It is sad that with 2016 being the 60th Anniversary of the Corgi brand it is unlikely that any boost to the rapidly fading Vanguards range will happen. Even if the desire to make some special models existed the funding seems unlikely to be.

Update 16th February

Hornby Hobbies shares have recovered a little after Richard Ames, the chief executive, stepped down. The company chairman Roger Canham has taken over running the company and although the shares have risen a little he faces a major challenge sorting out the logistics problems, supply chain issues, and retaining collectors interest in ranges with few new releases to offer. As the custodian of some of the UK’s best known brands we wish him luck in steering the company back to profitable trading.

MAROnline welcome thoughts from readers on this or any other subject that we cover in this blog.


We welcome your comments and questions.  Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Editorial, February 2016

By Karl Schnelle

Thanks

As MAR Online comes up to full speed as a blog, we have two full months under our belts.  In December we published 16 articles, and in January, 24.  We are off to a good start in February with 5 posted during the first week.  I want to thank all our authors for submitting great articles on interesting subjects.  Our Editors, MazHans-Georg, and Rod have done a lot of research and published great posts.  But we have others who are very involved as well.   Robin Godwin, Dave Turner, Harvey Goranson, Chris Sweetman, Tony Galvin, Fabrizio Panico, and John Quilter have been kind enough to continue writing for MAR Online after many good zeteo.com and hardcopy MAR articles.  And we welcome some new faces such as Patrick Italiano , who I hope will continue to grace our website in the future.

We are always looking for more good model auto stories – please consider writing one for us! Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com. Also, please use Facebook or email to contact us with questions and comments.  We’d love to hear from you.


Hints

There are several easy ways to find a former article or blog post here.  Go to our Facebook page and scroll down, or an easier method is to use search on the blog site itself.  There is a search box on the top left and a search magnifier icon on the top right.  Both work.

For browsing topics, go to the Article List on the top menu bar, or use the list of Categories on the left side menu bar.  Some topics are not listed as Categories but are tags at the bottom of some posts (for example: Alfa Romeo).  We try to give you multiple options!

Become a subscriber!  if you don’t want to miss a single post, sign up for email delivery of all our posts at the bottom left of every page.


We welcome your comments and questions.  Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Editorial. January 2016

Looking at the feedback we had from the survey of readers we held last year the suggestions for improvement mainly focused on page to page navigation and being informed when new material is posted. We have taken these comments into account in the way we have set out the new maronline.org.uk site which offers a variety of ways of finding articles as well as a widget that allows you to sign up for email alerts when new items are posted. You may also follow our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ModelAutoReviewOnline/ which also has posting news. Finally we have a article list page which can be accessed from the top of every page, where all posts are listed in date order, so it is easy to look back over recent postings. Thank you to all who replied: it is helpful for us to understand how the site is used, and improvements we can make. We hope that you find that the new format easy to use. We welcome any suggestions you have for further improvements.
2016 will be an interesting year. The economic outlook is uncertain with the Western recovery slowing, the BRIC countries unsettled, and the situation in China very difficult. Factory gate prices in US dollars may fall when the Chinese devalue their currency but not for models already in the production schedules. There are already signs that even fairly small batches of mid-range resin models have not all sold out, and the makers are having to cut prices to sell older stock. It will be interesting to see if the trend for fewer companies to attend the Nuremberg toy fair continues, and if those firms which actually attend will show as many prototypes as they have done in recent years.
A warning to readers:  It seems that many resin models produced in recent years suffer from an old problem. The material of the tyres reacts with, and melts into, the plastic display case base. This affects more than one resin range, so I suggest you check your collection and slacken the mounting screws, or slip a piece of paper between tyres and base where there are signs of a reaction.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask you all to consider writing something for MAR Online. Many of you have models, or specialist knowledge, of interest to our readers. Make 2016 the year in which you start to write about models. Your English language skills do not have to be perfect; we are happy to edit your contributions. So why not have a go and share with your fellow MAR readers?
Best wishes for 2016 from the team here at MAR Online.

We welcome your comments and questions.  Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

The Last Print Cover – Dec 2013

Model Auto Review 276


Captions top to bottom of cover page

COMPETITION prize in this issue: Automodello 1:43 handbuilt from USA: TVR M-Series Turbo.

Minichamps 1:18 resin handbuilt in China for Germany, First Class Collection, limited to 999 pieces: 107 139820 Bentley 4.25 litre Embiricos, designed by Georges Paulin and built by Marcel Pourtout for Greek shipping magnate André Embiricos in 1938. (Photo and notes Hans-Georg Schmitt).

Oxford 1:43 diecast in China for UK: Mercedes-Benz Whitby Mondial  ice cream van Walls – Mr Whippy.

Brooklin 1:43 handbuilt in UK: BRK187 Nash Ambassador Eight four-door Touring Sedan 1939 in Brunswick blue.

Oxford 1:43 diecast in China for UK: Lotus Elan Plus 2, yellow, a very pretty model.

Atlas 1:42 diecast from China: 69 Ford Club Cabriolet 1937 from the Tintin partwork series.


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1999 Historic Cover

MODEL AUTO REVIEW 137

An interesting print edition from 1999 with articles by several contributors who are still writing for us today.  100 years of Opel, a history of Studebaker models, and lots of news from the new ranges from countries behind the recently dismantled Iron Curtain.