Kit Quality vs. Price

I am convinced that 80% of the models made since the early seventies were and still are never built. If even half of them were built there might be more influence from builders seen in what lines the shelves today.

Sounds like I just threw a blanket over the entire modeling industry but I shall explain. I bought my first model in the early seventies and ran a hobby shop thirty years later and now just a Hobby Dude so I base my statement on observations over many years.

It was fairly common that many of my friends built models at some point in our youth. Some were glue bombs and others a met flaming demise in the backyard, mine hung from 4lb. test fishing line from my ceiling. But, there were those other kids for whatever reason never built theirs and they usually received a ribbing from me “Come on man build that up” I would offer help, paints and my tools to no avail.  I am fairly sure a 64 Fairlane kit I had given a friend in the late eighties is still up on a shelf and my brother still has models I gave him in the nineties under four inches of sawdust in the garage.

At the hobby shop, I saw regular customers buy models for themselves in stacks and would ask them about their builds and a very large amount just collected kits. There were a number of times we bought out private collections, estates, etc. and resold them in the store. These collections were in high triple digit numbers, one buyout involved many trips in a box van. Now I could care less why someone buys or collects something, more power to them for whatever their quest, but all these stagnant kits influenced the quality.

My recent trip back into mainly automotive-themed modeling  I have formed some opinions and have me scratching my head on what I see available.  Last year I bought Revell’s 68 Dodge Charger 2in1 and was very pleased. Next, I grabbed a Lindberg 66 Chevelle and was more impressed. Now on a roll, I grab an MPC 67 GTO thinking ‘Hey this will be a nice start of muscle cars. The GTO still sits in a box. It was priced a little more than the Charger and less than Chevelle and silly me I thought it would be in the same ballpark for quality. I am one year older than the real size GTO and I would gamble I am in better shape than the mold that made this model.

Flash, Flash and more Flash. Can I recycle styrene?

I kept rolling the dice grabbing a couple MPC dragster kits, AMT 30’s Fords and Chevy’s and they are still in boxes at different stages with a ton of flash yet to be removed and chrome coated as thick as A Kardashian hipline. I resolved my building to better quality kits going forward but dang it Tamiya, Hasegawa, and Fujimi don’t make a 48 Olds or a 37 Chevy.  If you have built any model be it aircraft, auto or military you are familiar with the quality and detail. Although there are quite a few imports I admire and want to build there are more domestic on my list. I have bought both the Tamiya Porsche 959 priced $17.95 and AMT’s 37 Chevy Coupe priced $23.95 and it just leaves me thinking if Americans built more models rather than collected the demand for a better quality would happen. Box looks awesome but few know the kit is junk.

Tamiya Subaru $27.95 and excellent detail, clean, great tires, etc. A lot of quality that AMT/MPC do not have and if this example was a benchmark of the price most Revell USA kits would be less than $20.

Hats off still overall to Revell for being a decent kit consistently. Revell of Germany from what I have seen so far has been equal or surpassed Tamiya or Fujimi.  I picked up the Moebius Ventura and Catalina and I  have to say they have nailed the detail and I hope they put out new stuff regularly as there is great promise there.

I know some purists will always hold on to some romantic reverence for their first builds 60 years ago with lots of sanding and putty and tell me “That is just part of modeling”. But I doubt those purists would be happy when they pay for the model and the cashier runs their card through the old mechanical card imprinter on carbon paper while they wait 20 minutes for the cashier to phone in for approval from their credit card company. “Just part of Cashiering”?

Well, stuff improves I say and someone at MPC needs to figure out how to cut a new mold because a 67 GTO does not have wheel skirts.


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