Model cars as an investment? What matters when collecting
L ust for music? Just pull out the antenna for the radio. To sit comfortably in the rear, fold out the center armrest and quickly close the top – for the sake of the leather upholstery, because it looks like rain.
In the mercedes 600 landaulet, it’s all possible – even in an 18-times smaller version. The novelty from the model car manufacturer CMC, which you can watch roll across the table in front of you, has its price: around 900 euro.
But enthusiasm for small cars doesn’t have to make you poor. Andreas A. Berse, editor-in-chief of the trade magazine "modell fahrzeug," has registered a small economic upswing in the scene during the corona pandemic. Many are forced to stay at home for a long time.
"you then realize again how nice it is to have a hobby," says berse. "that’s how sleepers were awakened," he says of all those who have now rediscovered their old passion.
Model cars in the nursery
The well-known manufacturers have understood by now that they also need price levels for pocket money. "if the model car doesn’t find its way into children’s bedrooms as a great thing to play with, then we won’t have any collectors left in ten or fifteen years," says berse. Because that’s usually where the enthusiasm starts.
That was also the case for berse, who, like so many others, played with cars from corgi, dinky, matchbox and wiking. "at some point, that childish phase will be over, and later on, maybe family and other things will come along," he says. But at some point, some people remember and buy their first real car as a model and put it in their display case.
If you’ve tasted blood, the best thing to do is look for a collector’s item. Because the offer is simply gigantic. "you can’t collect everything, it’s beyond your budget," says berse.
Good to have an affinity. "maybe you were once in the volunteer fire department or want to collect blue-light vehicles because you just think they’re cool."or you like racing, a certain brand or you pick a scale to start with.
structure or anarchy in collecting model cars
"in the end, a collection like this is a fingerprint of a personality," says berse. "i can, of course, be more purely aesthetic and just collect what i like. This also has an anarchistic component."
But there is one beautiful rule: a structure in the collection makes people happier in the long term. Otherwise, budget and space constraints can become a problem.
Fine, structure then. Topic? We have what’s missing? The scale! It ensures comparability. "I can see how big the S-Class is compared to a Golf or a Beetle," says Berse. In germany, the scales 1:87, 1:43 and 1:18 are the most popular, but there are also popular "in-between sizes".
For the most part, the bodies are made of a zinc alloy and are manufactured using the die-cast process. Increasingly, manufacturers are also using synthetic resin, known as resin in english. This makes mold construction easier and less expensive. This means that even smaller quantities pay off, which also increases the variety on the market.
Relatively small is the scale 1:87. "it goes well with the classic H0 Marklin railroad," says berse about the cars, which are about four to five centimeters long. Most suppliers like wiking make them out of plastic. Schuco has a metal series made from die-cast zinc.
Price-wise many start already with under 10 euro. Spark, on the other hand, uses resin and sells finely decorated racing models for around 30 euros. Even the detailed models from herpa in a special box can cost 25 to 30 euros.
Models and toys
Typical toy cars from hot wheels, siku or matchbox are scaled down to 1:64, which is also very popular in the u.s. But the scale of the basic models is not always exactly right – after all, the garbage truck has to park in the same box as the VW Beetle. The cars, which are about eight centimeters long, roll into the children’s room or onto the shelf for about 1 to 2 euros.
More detailed and partly with rubber tires and moving parts are some cars from schuco subsidiary majorette for about 5 euros. Even more precise, companies such as greenlight also reproduce models from well-known films for around 10 euros. Cars in 1:43 scale are twice as big as H0 (1:87).
"a golf is about ten centimeters long," says berse. Cars from IXO or CMR start at around 20 euros and are usually made of die-cast zinc. But handcrafted models can also cost up to 400 euros.
Here and there doors or hoods can be opened, but this is the exception. The minichamps company is particularly well known here for its scaled-down racing icons. Manufacturer spark also produces niche models, for example of lesser-known starters from the formula 1 fields of the 1970s.
1:24 is coming back
Miniatures are about 20 centimeters long when they roll out in 1:24 scale. "scale is coming back for us and actually comes from plastic modeling, but it’s also very big in america," says model car expert berse. Here you can buy nice examples for as little as 15 to 20 euros.
"sometimes they’re model cars that grandma brings her grandson," he says of models that often bridge the gap between toys and collector models. Typical suppliers are, for example, bburago, jada, maisto or welly.
If you like it bigger, go for the scale 1:18. The italian company bburago developed the scale in the 1970s and is still very active with it today. Depending on the model, the cars are about 25 centimeters long and fit into a shoebox.
"if you’re interested in technology, you can often look at an engine here, you can open doors and hoods and look at the chassis – you simply discover a relatively large number of features," explains berse.
Very detailed models can be found at low prices starting at around 45 euros, for example from solido, where doors or hoods are often movable and the models are well painted. But also manufacturers like autoart, maisto, minichamps and norev are active here.
model cars for almost 1000 euro
Among the most expensive models on the German market are those from CMC with often over 1000 parts. They show filigree details at watchmaker level, have hand-polished paintwork, leather seats, realistic wiring and thin wire-spoke wheels.
But the small works of art often cost around 900 euros. "chronograph-quality cars," as berse calls them.
However, some sellers also like to turn even bigger wheels and offer scaled-down models, often in 1:8 or 1:12. Since the cars are between about 40 and 60 centimeters tall.
Here, too, the range extends from relatively inexpensive models in the three-digit range, such as those from CMR, spark and norev in 1:12, to four-digit amounts for models in 1:8 from CMC, minichamps or spark.
The more finely crafted their details, the more sensitive the cars – which may then no longer be suitable for children. Collector model from 14 or from 18 years, the manufacturers then write on the box.
And some even include extra tools such as small suction cup grippers so that the collector can open the doors or the hood of his model safely and without damage.
Model cars: great fun, small returns
Are model cars also an investment? berse is rather skeptical: "it should be a great hobby where you have fun and also exchange ideas with others – a possible increase in value should be secondary."
The problem is that among 150 cars, there are often only ten rare and sought-after pieces. The bottom line is likely to be very modest.
With current models, high increases in value are not likely to be the norm. "I can therefore only warn against starting the hobby of model cars with new goods in order to make a financial investment," says Berse.
Turning finds into money
However, aspects such as a limit can actually increase the value. It is important that the packaging or model does not show too high a limit. This is often what small-series manufacturers offer when they downsize their fleets to 1/43rd scale.
Category old toys
If you’re looking for a financial investment, you might want to take a look at so-called vintage pieces, such as old tin cars. "there are still price increases possible, because these things were built in very small numbers," says berse. basically, this applies to everything that was sold as a child’s toy up to a certain time but was not collected at that time.
Of these, despite high numbers, quite few have survived "mint and boxed" – that’s what collectors call the near-perfect condition in original boxes. "it was just played with," says berse.
The box in very good condition can be worth as much as the model itself, because in the past it was often just thrown away at some point. A mistake that collectors should not make today.
Also special editions, for example from racing sponsors, which do not come into free trade, can increase in value. "something like this can then be like a blue mauritius," says berse.
In order to acquire the necessary expertise, the expert and collector advises researching on internet forums or, if possible, visiting specialist exchanges and special auctions – then, in addition to the enthusiasm, the social side of the hobby will not be neglected.