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.