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.

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