Die-Cast Club Blog - Weighing The Scales For A Premium Model Car Collection
Weighing The Scales For A Premium Model Car Collection
Mark Savage, former executive editor of both Scale Auto and FineScale Modeler.
Many of us model car collectors started, unknowingly, as kids with our Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, trucks and race cars. They were small, roughly 1:64 scale, vehicles that were cheap, but fun to play with.
That fun toy quality was the key to getting us hooked on car collecting. And while those 1:64 scale cars looked somewhat like the real thing, they were toys. Yet collectors love more detail and realism than those early toys could give us, especially for $1.
So die-cast car makers soon learned that to deliver the details we want they had to create cars in scales from 1:43 to the premium 1:8 scale like those cars from Eaglemoss’ Die-Cast Club (DCC).
For many of us 1:43 scale, about double the size of the 1:64 toys was a good step up. The increase in size allows for more detail, like license plates, mirrors and slightly more detailed interiors with properly shaped dashes and a floor-mounted gear shift lever. Colors often are not realistic and chrome is represented by silver paint, but car bodies look more like the real deal and pricing is modest.
In this same category, but only slightly larger are 1:39 and 1:32 scale models. This scale is fairly rare really, the main benefit of 1:32 scale cars being that they can be used as scenery on many slot car tracks. Sometimes these cars come with hoods or doors that open.
More popular for serious collectors the past 25 years is 1:18 scale, where bodies can be die-cast metal or lighter composite material.
This scale is large enough, roughly 12-13 inches in length, that often hoods, trunks and doors open. That allows for reasonable engine detail, more realistic chrome trim, better interior features and trunks often with a spare tire. Better 1:18 scale models will feature undercarriages with nicely detailed suspensions and exhaust systems, although most have holes in the chassis for screws that hold the models in their display packaging.
But for serious collectors, or fans of particularly iconic cars, like a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL, the famous gullwing, or a modern Nissan GT-R, 1:8 is the preferred scale.
Why? Simple, impressive size and detail that make the model a conversation piece and a standout in any collection.
1:8 scale is 1/8th the size of the real car, so a 1:1 car that measures 16 feet long is 2 feet long as a die-cast. That size allows firms like DCC to create a car with realistic door and hood hinges, fine engine componentry, and wiring and plumbing, plus interior detail like authentic-looking gauges, opening windows, or details like custom suitcases that store behind the front seats.
Plus, because of its size, the car often highlights functioning features that aren’t possible on smaller scales. Gas tank doors can open, headlights actually light, horns sound, brake lights will light when the brake pedal is depressed, all because there’s room for wiring between the body and a fully detailed chassis.
So when you display a 1:8 scale car, it looks and functions much as the original 1:1 version, short of the engine being a functioning internal combustion number.
There’s one other benefit to some 1:8 cars like those from DCC, you can construct your own car and have the pride of telling friends you made it yourself. Awesome!
More on what tools you’ll need to create a fantastic 1:8 scale model in a future blog, for now, start thinking about what you’d like to create.