My enthusiasm for collecting began with those iconic Dinky racers back in the fifites, while my serious collection started with early Brumm models in the eighties. As the years go by the quality of the models just gets better and better. I have just taken delivery of the latest offerings from Spark: Peter Gethin's BRM P160 from the 1971 Italian GP, and Jim Clark's Lotus 30. Both are absolutely gorgeous, although I rather fancy the 30's steering wheel should be bound in red leather rather than black.
The point of all this is that I am concerned by the steadily increasing cost of the models. Spark and Bizarre are now charging between £45-£50 per model, while Mattel, Ixo and Minichamps are not too far behind. Of course I appreciate that quality costs money but clearly these manufacterers are no longer producing their models in the numbers they once did and my supplier has frequently been unable to obtain models I order as they have already sold out. Consequently with prices rising and casual trade dropping off he is considering closing his business down. He is clearly not the only one. As a regular at westcountry toy fayres I have noticed that several long standing stall holders are sadly no longer present. The financial climate it seems is taking its toll.
Happily there are still bargains to be found. At Exeter Westpoint last summer we came across a dealer with a huge stock of 1/43 Alfa Romeos which I think were originally produced for an Italian magazine. This chap was offering three models for tenner, so to get quality models ranging from Sivocco's 1923 Targa winner, Nuvolari's P3, a Fangio Alfetta, and loads more right up to Mario's 1981 F1 car was terrific value. I just hope the increasing price of other brands won't drive too many dealers and collectors away.
Hi Tony, In some ways Spark are cheap! I tend to regard them as the successors to the resin kits from the likes of Starter and PM only already built if you see what I mean! When they first appeared on the market they were at the expensive end of the "diecast" market but then they were not diecasts. More significantly they were roughly the same price as a kit and they were bought by the people who struggled to build the kits, meaning that they ended up with a much better finished product. I think that they effectively put an end to many of the kit makers. As you will be aware a built kit from the likes of SMTS is around the £100.00 mark so £45.00 for a Spark is quite a good deal.
As you know I am only really dabbling in the model car market these days and getting hold of Spark or any diecast can be a nightmare. You tend to have to order almost before you know what the manufacture is going to release if you want to get them. It always used to be that way with Minichamps but Bang, Best, Vitesse etc were always available from ModelTime, now very sadly missed.