Model collecting is changing. Auctions of lifetime collections are being held with increasing frequency, toy fairs seem to have fewer and fewer stalls selling model vehicles, Atlas are winding up their subscription collections early across Europe, and Chinese firms are starting to sell new brands directly through online auction sites. At the same time the quantities and ranges of models in 1:18 scale and even in 1:12 scale are increasing, though production numbers are probably modest in most cases. The new generation of collectors seem to be mainly interested in smaller scale models, and in different subject matter. There is an increasing interest in more recent vehicles, especially commercial and working vehicles of all kinds, and in vehicles related to films and television.
I recently spoke to a senior sales manager from Hornby at the London Toy Fair. They recognise that the lack of younger collectors is because young people have not been collecting toys which would have drawn youngsters into collecting ranges like Vanguards. For many of us the model collecting habit is built on those early diecast models we were given as a child. It is surely not surprising that many people who grew up after the golden age of toy cars are much more likely to want to play games where they drive the car of their dreams rather than collect models of them.
For many years we have been wondering if 3D printing would revolutionise model-making for smaller producers. Though considerable progress has been made, and it is now widely used by industrial firms for pre-production proofs of concept, it is still not making a real impact on the hobby market. Shapeways is a website that allows designers to offer their wares, and the web host has 3D print centres which supply the end product to buyers as kits. It offers some vehicle models in various scales, but few of these are hollow printed and only the most expensive have smooth finishes. None is yet printed in colour, ready for construction and all are much more expensive than conventionally-produced white metal models. Despite this slow progress, things could change rapidly if step-changes in 3D printing capabilities take place.
Here at MAR Online we try to keep up with the twists and changes in the business, but our existing contributors cannot cover everything, so we are always on the lookout for people who can send us photographs and commentary on their interests. For example, If you are collecting the DeAgostini Dinky partwork in the UK, or any other partwork we do not regularly cover, we welcome your contributions, so that we can chronicle these ranges.
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