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Insider Guide to Collecting Diecast Models
EVERYTHING (ALMOST) YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIECAST CARS
Ben Legacy Guide: Get an overview of the diecast collecting hobby. This guide is for you if you're just beginning to collect models OR you have a collection and want to make sure you have the fundamentals down. I also hope experienced collectors read this and suggest improvements.
What are major differences in scale model cars?
So you know what you're looking at
Scale: Models are made in a range of scales. The three most popular scales are (from lowest) 1:43 - 1:24 - 1:18. A 1:43 model means that every dimension of the model is reduced to 1/43 of the subject car. So if the subject car is 16 feet in real life, here is how long the models would be:
1:18 = 10 inches
1:24 = 8 inches
1:43 = 4.4 inches
In 1:18 scale, every 18 inches of the real car will be represented by 1 inch of a scale diecast car.
Method: The two leading manufacturing methods are diecast (the model is usually assembled from so many individually cast components) and resin-cast (the model is molded from synthetic resin). The larger scales have traditionally been dominated by diecast, but an increasing number of 1:18 issues are being resin-cast.
Resin-cast models can be very detailed and beautifully made and valuable. Their detail is on the exterior and what you can see through the windows. Such models do not open. Diecast models, on the other hand, typically feature opening doors, hoods and trunk. As a result, more of the car can be seen.
Even though "static," resin-cast models can be just as dramatic and valuable as a diecast. Two brands that make precision cast resin models as valued by savvy collectors as diecast models, are available on Legacy Motors: BBR Models and Automodello.
Why would one diecast model cost more than another - Which factors determine the value of a diecast model?
Rarity: How many were ever made of this model at this scale? The fewer number issued of a specific model raises its value. Lowering the value is that same model being issued in a range of colors or livery (racing decals). When models become rare over time, their value appreciates.
Detail: How closely does each component of the model resemble the subject car? Does the tooling of the model look like the real thing? Detail is usually a function of number of parts and also inventive choice of different "media" (i.e. not all diecast metal). Related to detail is accuracy. Accuracy refers to how faithfully the model reproduces the specifics of the subject car.
Operability: What opens to reveal more interior, like engine and interior, adds to the model's realism.
Stance & Finish: Great model engineering overcomes the limitations imposed by miniaturization of each component. There are fewer compromises made. A bolt looks fine on your Ford Taurus but imagine what it takes to make it realistic at less than 1/32 of an inch. You can most readily see this in the stance of the car - which means how it "sits" on a surface. Is the suspension unrealistically high or too low or just right. Finish refers to the quality of paint and decal applications.
Condition: You want a model to be "Mint in Box" - which means in the condition it was sold originally. If buying from a reputable retailer, this is what you would expect.
Scale: Size and heft impacts value; but of itself is secondary to other factors. Despite being a fraction of the size, a 1:43 scale model can cost much more than a 1:12 model if it is rare and more accurate.
How much should you expect to spend - Diecast models are a great gift for car buffs
For a collector-grade diecast model, this is what you can expect at each price range.
Top of the line: lots of perfectly crafted parts, excellent fit-lines (along doors, hoods, etc.), creative blend of materials. Built from small components more like the original car was. Click on Top of the Line to get an idea of what a diecast aficionado thinks is amazing.
Modestly priced: the same criteria as above, except with less finesse, fewer parts, no engineering marvels. Still can have WOW! factor. Excellent value for between $60 - $130.
Inexpensive: get a lot for a little, but the detail is less crisp, the paint is less likely to be spot-on and applied by automation. Still, you know in an instant that these are a lot more than toys.
Exquisite models can be made of cars and trucks that never cost much in the showroom! For example, a replica of a VW mini-bus - modestly priced in the sixties - can cost over $200 because of its detail and originality. Conversely, you can get a cheap model of a Ferrari.
What cars and trucks have been modeled in diecast? - Do they make a model of my favorite car?
The manufacturers make models in every category of vehicle you can think of. Click on Categories of Models. Browse cars from every era, every racing genre; trucks and working vehicles of every type; and motorcycles.
The makers choose subject cars based on what collectors have bought up in the past. This has nothing to do with a vehicle's actual sales volume in the real world. You will wait a long time to see a replica of the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. On the other hand, you won't have to wait long at all to see a replica of an exotic Pagani supercar - that only maybe 200 multi-millionaires can afford.
The selection of which vehicles to model is based on costs including licensing and projections on how quickly they want to sell out. In the diecast hobby, most models are some form of limited edition.