It's a Matter of Scale
Jan/Feb 2019 edition
Issue #3 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
Whether or not you’re new to collecting models, I would bet you have a preference of scale (size) for models. Of course, not everyone does, though most collectors I know do have a preference, and some will only collect in just one scale no matter how great the model if it’s not in their scale. Which is your favored scale?
There are those among us who are of the opinion that only bigger is better, and that you can’t get much or enough detail in a petite 1:43 scale piece (4” long on average). I beg to differ; just take a look at two examples shown of Alain Bouissou’s amazing custom built 1:43rd Bugatti’s.
The workmanship and artistry is superb. Any Bouissou Bugatti model is worth having. They are exceedingly rare, coveted gems. And yes indeed, they are rather small, but far better and more desirable than many, much larger 1:8th scale models currently produced. Depending on the piece, Bouissou models can range from $2,000 to over $5,000.
1:43 scale came about as a spinoff from 1:48 scale electric trains. Things change, and that is something for another time. For many years 1:43 scale was dubbed “the collectors scale.” No one really knows who gave it that title, but it stuck for decades due to the proliferation and tremendous assortment of all types of vehicles in the forms of built models, kits, and toys. There are numerous variables of quality, detail & rarity.
A few 1:43 hand built limited edition pieces. All are out of production, rare and highly detailed. Clockwise from front: Ferrari 512BB by MakeUp Co., 2007. Value - $300+. Bucciali TAV8-32 by Ilario, 2010. Value $400+. Ferrari 500 Superfast by Ugo Fadini for Charlies Special, 1983. Value $500+. The penny is 1:1 scale!
More choices exist in 1:43 than any other scale, bar none. Choose from countless old or new releases, semi-mass-produced editions, or limited edition hand builts from specialist artisan firms made in Europe, the UK, and occasionally China; though most models made in the Orient are at least semi-mass market items. Generally speaking, prices can range from as little as $75 (semi-mass market) to around $1,000 for some of the better & very rare hand builts. The majority of hand builts are in the $200 to $400 range, and there are countless excellent (but not rare) finds from under $100 to $300. You do have to be a bit careful, and choose wisely.
1:3 - Five foot long!
James Bond Aston Martin DB5.
Created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movie “Goldfinger” the first Bond film to feature the DB5. Pictured with the model is the late Sir Ken Adam who was the set designer for the James Bond films of the 1960s-1970s. Christie’s in London held an online auction in 2014 for this model and other assorted James Bond collectibles with proceeds going to benefit a UK charity for children. The gold painted model with its 24K gold plated trim, also signed by Sir Ken sold for close to the high estimate at $86,000. No word on whether or not the buyer paid with cash or gold bars.
Then we have the custom builts or limited runs of 10 or less by some of the master builders such as Alain Bouissou (France), Vincenzo Bosica (Italy), Matsuyoshi Hayakawa (Japan), or Stephen Barnett (UK). Depending on the artist, prices range from about $2,000 to $10,000.
With the wide range of available 1:43 models, even the most persnickety of collectors can find, or at least appreciate some pieces in this scale.
Want something smaller? Yes, I said smaller. Well, there are models in ultra-petite 1:87 scale….under 2” long. I couldn’t resist picking up several. Most of these run from as little as $10. to about $50. and there is a substantial selection.
Conversely…..you can also go wild with a very limited, or one-of-a-kind ‘ginormous’ piece just as one collector did with acquiring a 1:3 scale model of the most famous car in the world….
To read more great columns like this one from model car expert Marshall Buck...
Collecting Model Cars
Editor of AutoMobilia Resource Magazine, and owner of CMA Models, Marshall Buck caters to serious collectors of boutique and high-end model cars.