Scale models of classic cars are big business, with local and overseas producers vying for a share of the lucrative Australia collector market.
The market is basically split between metal diecast models, those made of resin and the plastic self-assembly kits.
Each material has its devotees, with individual collectors usually preferring one over the other.
Another way to segment the market is by size.
ARMOC Models 56 owner, John Pisani, explains: “The most popular scale for model cars worldwide is 1/43rd. The 1/24th scale size tends to be the plastic kits. Matchbox and Hot Wheel cars are 1/64th scale. The 1/18th size is quite large and some models can be up to 20cm long.”
So what scale appeals to Australian buyers? “Australian collectors definitely like 1/18th and 1/43rd scale model cars,” John says.
John started ARMCO Models 56 in 2006. The first model he produced was a 1/24th diecast XB Falcon coupe. The outcome gave him considerable insights.
“We thought the Falcon would be popular. But it was the wrong size for a diecast model. I realised that just because I liked a model did not mean everyone else did. Now I do what customers want.”
John also switched to 1/43rd resin models. He explains the rationale. “The cost of developing a resin model is significantly less than for diecast. The stamping tools for one diecast model can cost $250,000, so you need production runs of up to 20,000 to break even. Resin does not require tooling so the break even point is below 500 units which allows us to produce niche models.”
Getting a scale model to look right is a constant challenge. John explains: ”Simply scaling a car down to 1/43rd size does not work. We have to manipulate the shapes a little. In smaller scale rounded shapes look more rounded and wheels look bigger. We agonise over this point all the time.”
John believes the next challenge for the industry will be home-based 3D printing. “We need to understand our position in that value equation,” he says.
David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au