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?
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