A Second Look at Collecting

This is a follow-up to my thoughts and impressions as a new collector, which was featured in issue #69 of the Die Cast Car Collectors Club (D4C) Journal. The following article is dedicated to the many new friends and wonderful people I've met through this hobby over the past year.


October, 2005



Timing is everything


After collecting 1:24 precision diecast cars for just over a year now, I find that I’m more addicted than ever. Despite rumors of a declining market for these little gems, and an economy that has been less than stellar, the profusion of new models being introduced has been absolutely astounding. It seems as though we’re experiencing a renaissance in marketing and design. My “want” list keeps getting longer every day, and there’s no indication things are going to slow down anytime soon.





The Forums on the JSS Software site and the Diecast Zone have proven to be the number one places to find out what’s new, and get a feel for what other collectors are thinking (and buying). Some folks have agendas (and everybody has an opinion), and some of us are not shy about posting them, whether we speak from experience or are full of bull. Sometimes it can get a little out of hand—it’s amazing how seriously some us take these models—but much of it is light-hearted too.


The Reviews, Pictures, Archives, and many other features make these websites among the best reference sources as well, helping us all make more informed purchases. There’s no substitute for seeing a model in person, but through the efforts of some dedicated folks behind the scenes, we get a virtual tour and the occasional sneak peek.


Then there are the JSS Garage Sale and D4C Auctions where I continue to see great buys on pre-owned, but well cared for diecasts—some brand new ones too! There’s even the occasional thrill when something in your collection goes for a record high bid!





While they’ve all been prolific, each manufacturer is on a slightly different path…


The outfit that seemingly put the precision diecast industry on the map, Franklin Mint, continues its recent trend of producing older models in new paint schemes, but few if any other changes. That is unless you consider the price. To add “value,” FM has been doing most of these in small limited editions (less than 1,000). The best thing I can say about their current offerings is that: 1) they provide new collectors an opportunity to own a new version of a model that was previously discontinued and is either hard to find or unavailable in the secondary market; and 2) they are providing a much-needed infusion of cash to fund all-new models like FM’s recent 442 coupe.


The Danbury Mint has taken a more balanced approach, introducing as many new models as repaints, if not more. Even their repaints incorporate updates like photo-etched details, and the occasional new door or hood hinges. Their new toolings have generally been breath-taking, with something for everyone. From the 40’s there’s the ‘48 New Yorker and Roadmaster convertibles, not to mention a repaint of DM’s beloved ‘42 Chrysler T&C Wagon on the way. From the 50’s the list is huge, but most notable would have to be the ’56 Lincoln Premier, the ’57 Bonneville, the ’55 Sunliner, and the long overdue (and controversial) ’59 Impala that’s due out soon. Also anxiously anticipated is the ‘53 Buick Estate Wagon. From the 60’s we’ve got Impalas, Novas, Yenko Camaros and Corvettes; and a host of other Customs, Rods, and specialty vehicles which span the decades.


Speaking of Impalas, West Coast Precision Diecast has thrust itself center-stage with its ’59 and ’61 models in both coupe and convertible, offered in a variety of color choices. These small limited editions of 1500 per variation have incorporated new features and levels of fit and finish that rival some of Danbury’s best, albeit at a slight premium. They’ve teased us with talk about ’58 Lincoln Mark III’s, ‘57 Olds Fiesta Wagons, and other sadly neglected marques, so I hope they continue to succeed in their efforts. They’re still working out some bugs in their customer service and order fulfillment operations (probably just growing pains), but they are absolutely fanatical about the details and have been nailing the product in a very demanding market segment. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.


Another entrant in the 1:24 arena that’s been generating a lot of buzz is GMP (Georgia Marketing and Promotions). They’ve got some classic Ford Mustang models about to start shipping, that by all reports are going to put the “mints” to shame. While they tend to specialize in muscle cars, they have also promised some “plain Jane” variants for those of us who prefer our cars without scoops, stripes, and mag wheels. Like the West Coast team, these are true “car guys” who sweat the details to bring us the most realistic and accurate models possible. There are a couple of Mustang vacancies in my display case just waiting.


More good news came from our friends in Germany, CMC, who have just opened a new distributorship in Rochester, New York. This renowned maker of classic European marques like Mercedes and Horch will now be able to offer faster and less costly shipping, and may even start offering American cars!





What happens once you’ve managed to acquire most of the discontinued models you want, and you find that your expectations for new purchases have just kept getting higher? Well, for one, you buy a lot fewer “used” cars. As a result, I rarely buy on eBay anymore because everything there is described as MIB. The diecast website auctions are a lot more dependable, but I seldom bid these days on any auctions. Another problem is that there are so many new models coming out, so picking and choosing has become much more difficult. I find myself making lists and constantly adding new cars and changing their order of preference. After all, I can’t buy them all. I just try to get the Limited Edition models I want before they’re gone, and buy the regular issues in between whenever I can.





While I do try to make good purchases, I don’t look upon collecting as a speculative venture. I keep track of my collection’s value because it interests me, but I’m hoping to keep it for a long, long time. I know my treasured ‘37 Talbot Lago by Motor City will have to be pried loose from my cold, dead hands. In this hobby, our love of cars is the common thread, but it is just one of many. I’ve met some truly amazing people, and made some friendships that, like the cars, will last a long, long time with the proper care. These precision diecasts are a constant source of joy for collectors, but it is the collectors themselves that are the real treasure.





I’ve learned a lot and met many new people since I began this diecast journey, and it has definitely become a minor obsession (yeah right—minor). I’ve learned the ropes on eBay and become acquainted with many independent dealers and industry insiders. I’ve gone from a green kid to an informed collector, and I’m learning more from our community every day. Most of all, I’ve had the good fortune to get involved with some of the finest people you could ever want to meet, and I thank them for welcoming me into their world. You know who you are. J