Before we get into this, the ranking is a reflection of my opinion and not to be taken as an absolute truth! Having said that, let’s get into it, ranked worst to best my collection is as follows...
(note to self, get decent standalone picture of a Bburago model)
Bburago models represent great value for money and you can find some cool late eighties or early nineties cars for sale on eBay, but in terms of details they’re a bit lacking. You can say one thing for them though, they’re built like tanks. My Bburago F40 has been mine for more than 20 years, it’s moved 10 houses and hasn’t lost so much as a wing mirror. Take this position with a pinch of salt, I haven’t bought a Bburago in an extremely long time so they might be better models now. Availability is good, choice likewise.
A step up from Bburago, mainly because of more things that work and slightly better detailing. Great availability and a fairly decent spread of cars.
Paul’s Model Art/Minichamps (the Rothmans 956 in the below shot)
Minichamps models lose a bit of functionality compared to Maisto, but they make up for it in detailing. Back in the ninenties they were the premium model benchmark, that’s been slightly eclipsed now, but they still take care of business. Availability isn’t so great and their choices aren’t exactly vast.
UT (that whole row of 993s)
The company which moved things along in the late nineties. Affordable detail really came to mean something with UT, some of their rarer stuff commands silly prices nowadays but you can still find plenty of it on the web and they made quite a few interesting castings.
A mainstay of the 1/18 market for as long as I can remember (Bburago has been around longer, but they went bust at least once). Once the only purveyor of JDM exotica, now eclipsed by Auto Art on that front they continue to offer an incredibly eclectic collection with a fine line in vintage rally cars.
Early Auto Art ‘window box’ cars
By ‘window box’ I mean the Auto Art cars that come in boxes with clear sides. They picked up where UT left off with slightly improved levels of detail (feel the carpet! Tiny carpet! That’s amazing!). At the time the quality was utterly jaw dropping, but when you compare them with the later stuff you can tell how much they’ve improved. Good availability secondhand, I’m sure there are still some of these floating around model stores too.
Because ridiculously large castings only strange people will buy.
Current Auto Art ‘window box’
This level of detail, that amount of choice, those prices. Yes please.
Truescale miniatures (early diecast)
On par with Exoto. Hampered by limited offerings, but the arrival of another high level diecast company was a great thing a few years ago and they arrived with a bang, because some of their stuff is truly impressive. Not a huge range, but not as expensive as Exoto.
Five/six years ago this was where it was at. Number one. Top shelf. However in recent years they haven’t come out with many new models and in terms of detail there are other companies that are giving them a run for their money. I will say one thing for them, they go up in value like crazy. I recently went on eBay to take a look at what a few of the Porsches I had were changing hands for and it makes for worrying reading!
So nice! So ridiculously rare! So obscure! The only reason I own this F50GT is because it was linked to here on LaLD. Their website is a joy of obscure 1/24 kits, however I’m still trying to wade through the eleventy billion pages to see if they make any other damn 1/18s!
Truescale Miniatures (resin)
Amazing, utterly amazing. The selection isn’t great (yet), but ever since appearing a few years ago they’ve done some really impressive stuff.
Auto Art Premium
Top scorer in my Concours d’Modella to date. Painfully detailed, horrifically expensive, but worth every penny. Not many Auto Art Premiums are available, but if there is one of a car that you’re interested in, get it. You will not regret it, we’re into watchmaking-levels of assembly here, utterly glorious. But it ain’t the best...
Truescale Miniatures (later diecast)
Look at it. No, seriously, just look at it. Do you see what’s going on there? Can you see what ridiculous levels of detail we’re dealing with? Allow me to reiterate.
The dashboard is wired. THERE ARE WIRES COMING OUT OF THE FREAKING DASHBOARD INSTRUMENTS! I don’t think you need to say anything after that. I bought this model in September of last year and I still haven’t taken it out of the box, I just open it every once in a while and peer in, still completely amazed.