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more about Diecast Hobby, models conditions classified, model car prices, Diecast problems & packaging



I wrote and gathered important hobby information on this page that every serious collector should known about. Read bellow if you are new to this hobby and if you are a collecting veteran it should be an interesting reading also :)




How are used models' conditions classified?



MB (Mint in Box)
Model in absolutely top condition, in original package. (Practically New). These are usually sold at their 100% price, often set by collectors and the known market value of that particular model.


M (Mint)
Model in perfect condition but not necessarily boxed. 60-80% value.


NM (Near Mint)
Model with minor traces of age or usage. 50-60% value.


VSC (Very slightly Chipped) also Very Good
Model with minor defects in paint and or parts. About 50% value.


SC (Slightly Chipped) also Good
Model with clearly visible defects in paint and or parts, but still in good overall condition and all parts present. 30-50% value.


C (Chipped) also Fair
Model with major defects in the paint and or parts, but with its major parts still present. these are sold at 20-30% value.


AT (Almost Trash) also Poor
Model with major defects in the paint and one or more major parts missing, such as doors, wheels etc. 0-20% value.




Condition. There are various methods that exist. The most common in Europe is Mint in Box, Mint, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. In the US you often see a scale from C1 (poor) to 10 (perfect), see the chart below:





Diecast model cars can gain as much as 25% value if they have original package (box). I must mention that these values are not in any way a given rule. At the end it depends on buyer - collector, how much he really wants a model and is willing to pay for it and how much the seller is willing to accept before parting with it.



Diecast model car prices


Diecast prices are set by many factors. Let us start with price differing/variation between model cars and model makers (manufacturers). Then we have all sorts of limited editions, special/exclusive editions (promo etc.), dealer editions to name the most important. These are all quantity limited productions, with sometimes quality improvements; more detailed parts or design/interior, special colors, use of photo-etched material etc.... the result is that they usually become even more valuable after time. But no one can tell for sure which model will hit the sky-high values and why. There are only predictions.


Prices also tend to vary a lot between continents, and even between different countries! Diecast model cars in the US are generally cheaper, but the higher cost of shipping them and the fact that you get charged customs duty on items bought outside the EU means you usually do not get as good deal as buying them from Europe. Germany is the diecast meka for many European collectors, because they have plenty of diecast stores with huge amounts of different diecasts from all scales, manufacturers, price ranges and collecting themes. I must not forget eBay, which in my opinion is a proof that the Internet is not just a great place for online casino and social networking but is also known as a lucrative market for diecast dealers and collectors to get their hands on something rare. Ebay is just great because wonderful model cars can be found on it, and prices are sometimes regulated by pure luck (in other words, number of bidders :) ).


Bellow you can see different price categories, with prices in Euros:


  • Budget= Priced between 20-35 €
  • Mid-Range= 35-55 €
  • High-Range= 55-100+ €
  • Exclusives and Limited Editions= ussually around or above 100 €, depends on the model, can be 500 or more than 1000 with ease
  • Premium End of the Market= 200+ €



Diecast problems:


Collectors have to deal sooner or later with some problems to keep their models in perfect condition. I would mention four things:


  • DUST. Most 1/43 models are sold in acrylic display case and 1/18 in cardboard boxes. This is OK to keep models free from dust, however it doesn't display great and takes a lot of space. Sometimes even brand new boxed model cars come with some dust, urgggh ! Special model car wax can help to limit the problem.

    SUNLIGHT. It makes the color to fade. Don't put your models in direct sunlight. If you buy models as an investment you should leave them in their original boxes and stored in a dark room (closet etc.). If you are proud of your collection, make a showroom for it so you and your friends can enjoy it.

    METAL FATIGUE. It may happen that diecast models get cracks caused by corrosion. Sometimes they break into pieces. The reason for this metal fatigue is bad quality of the diecast alloy. In most cases models made before 1970 are concerned; later the manufacturers used better alloys. There is no cure for this kind of corrosion. But it is recommended to look for cracks when buying older models and to avoid extreme temperatures and sunlight.

  • CHILDREN. Yes, they can be real problem makers :) Make sure to have a box of used cars or toys ready for them so they don't play with your 200 € model cars :). LEGO is cool to ;)



Diecast packaging (different types)


Blister Packaging. Packaging consisting of a protective plastic and/or cardboard shell. A hole or J-hook allows the item to be hung.


Bubble Packaging. Packaging consisting of a protective plastic shell that wraps over an item. This allows the item to be seen from the top and sides. These items sit on shelves and cannot be hung.


Clamshell. Similar to a blister pack, but uses two sections of plastic affixed to each other.


Header Card. A cardboard flap that fits over an item packaged in a plastic bag. The header card displays the name of the item and allows the item to be hung.


Inner. Short for "Inner Carton". Smaller cardboard containers inside a case pack that each house a portion of the items. Please note that not all items are packed with inner cartons.


Window Box. A type of packaging that features a see-through window on one or more sides.



Diecast Glossary


Die-cast. Something that is formed by casting in a mold or form: as a reproduction in metal or plaster or an impression taken from an object with a liquid or plastic substance.


Diecast Models. Mass-produced pressure cast ready made models. They are made of an alloy of zinc (predominating), magnesium and aluminium, sometimes with the addition of copper. The moulds are made of hard steel and very expensive. So producers of diecast models have to sell a high number of pieces of each model, otherwise they won't get enough profit. For the same reason, additional parts of diecast models are normally made of plastic in order to keep production costs low.


Handbuilt Models. Artisan-produced models made for collectors only. Only a limited number is produced, and mostly they are made of resin or white metal. Most handbuilt models are made in 1/43rd scale, but there are also 1/24th scale and bigger models. The first handbuilt models were made in England in the early 1970s (John Day, Mikansue). Manufacturers in France and Italy started production of handbuilt models soon afterwards.


Photo-etched Parts. Sometimes small parts for details such as radiator grilles, wire wheels, door handles, window frames or windscreen wipers are photo-etched. The parts are drawn in a bigger scale and the pattern is scaled down and is copied photographically on fine sheet metal (steel or brass, 0.15 to 0.3 millimetres thick). Then the parts are etched in acid out of the metal. Using photo-etched parts allows to form better details, but the technology is expensive and was limited to handbuilt models for a long time. Since the mid-1990s mass-producers more and more apply photo-etched parts to their scale models for collectors, too.


Promotionals. Models made for a customer, mostly not available in model shops. Promotionals are often used as a means of advertising. Model car clubs and car factories for example use promotional models in different scales with special printings or colors, sometimes advertising different "events"; launching new car, club anniversary, sometimes it is purely for promotion of products, brands and so on.


Resin. Synthetic material used for handbuilt models. Two-part polyurethane (less often polyester) resin is cast in soft rubber moulds mostly lasting only 50 to 100 castings. Compared to white metal or diecast, this material allows the production of less expensive and more complicated castings, but only for a limited number of models.


Tampo. Tampo or pad printing is used to apply all the scripts, badging, body graphics, numerals, and sponsors' decals onto the diecast body shell. Pad printing is an offset-style application process that allows for the imprinting of various multicoloured images onto flat or compound surfaces.


Tool. An alternate word for the mold used to make a die-cast cars at the manufacturing facility.


White Metal. White metal models are made of pewter or a similar low temperature metal alloy (consisting of tin, lead and antimony) cast in low-volume hard rubber moulds. White metal models are handbuilt models . They are heavier than diecast models and are only made in small series intended only for adult collectors due to their lead content.





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