As I look at my collection I can’t help but think about how much the models I so adore have changed since I started this 25 years ago. I’m extremely fortunate to still have every single 1/18 car I ever bought or received, some are completely ruined, some are pristine, but they’re all there and the stories they tell about how these models have changed and how my tastes have changed since I was a little kid are quite interesting.
I got started, or rather my father got me started in this whole diecast malarkey back in the very early nineties. In 1991 he bought a 1/18 Mercedes 500SL as a gift for me for my sixth birthday. I still have that model. It’s a model which speaks to a simpler time, you could open the hood, you could open the doors and you could take the hardtop off, but that was it.
Bearing in mind that this model is 25 years old I think the details are pretty good. It might not be much to look at today, but as a six year old who was mainly used to stealing his big brother’s Micro Machines, this thing was awesome!
But when you’re a little Italian kid living in a foreign country (England) only one name means anything and that’s Ferrari. Fortunately Bburago had me covered, the models were cheap, they were plentiful and they weren’t too badly built. They were more toys than collectibles, but for a child intent on trying to leave tyre tracks on carpet, that’s more than ok. This 250 GTO joined the Mercedes fairly early on (my collection initally was the Mercedes, this GTO, an F40 and a Testarossa). As you can see the model is more than a bit careworn, but it wears its scars with pride.
Bburago models were great, they were cheap, they were cool and they were plentiful. But let’s be honest, they weren’t realistic! That’s when I discovered Maisto. In the interim I had moved to Australia, but whenever I went to visit my grandparents in Italy I always had some pocket money squirelled away to buy a model. This E36 325i convertible from circa 1995 was a revelation. It had articulated suspension, a detailed interior and joy of joys, a working fabric roof! Oh the magnificence of it all! All of those brilliant features at a price which was very close to Bburago’s offerings.
These models were still basically detailed toys, but other companies were appearing with painfully detailed and eye-wateringly expensive models. This Jouef Evolution Ferrari purchased in the mid nineties set me back the equivalent of three Maistos.
I’m sure you can see a theme emerging, all of these cars are European. Living in Australia I was exposed to a lot of JDM culture and I arrived there when the Nissan Skyline’s reign of terror on Australian Touring Cars was at its height. Japanese cars were cool, but they were hard to find. Then one day I saw a Toyota Supra made by a company with a name which sounded so exotic I nearly fainted, Kyosho! Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures but that Supra changed everything. It had real brake calipers, the interior had carpet, the engine was so incredibly detailed, when you opened the trunk you could lift the false floor and there was the spare tyre and all the tools. Amazing! Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of that Supra, but I will get them eventually, have a Kyosho Mini Cooper S by way of apology.
In the meantime I’d moved to Italy and two letters appeared which would change my modelling life, UT. So many choices! So many cool cars! Until then you had the choice of colour for your model and that was it. Want a Porsche 993? You can have one in blue, yellow or silver, if you’re really lucky we’ll bring out a convertible, eventually. UT didn’t work that way. You want a 993? Sure thing, we can do a Carrera, a Carrera S, a Targa, an RS, a Turbo, a Turbo S, a GT2, a GT2 race car, why not go all out with a GT1 if you’re so inclined. Want an E36 BMW? Sure, would sir be interested in a 318is, a 328i coupe, an M3, an M3 convertible, an M3 GTR, a 320i BTCC racer, a 320i ETCC racer an M3 GTR endurance racer? Things were getting out of hand!
Then, as quickly as it had appeared, UT was gone. I was left feeling empty, I had fallen in love with their models and they were gone! Fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long and UT was replaced with the even more brilliant Auto Art. They took off where UT had stopped and they went nuts. As of today I think that Auto Art has one of the most comprehensive model catalogues out there, ranging from JDM ephemera to hypercar poster royalty. I was hooked. Plus I really like how they cater to different price points, you can get some (realtively!) affordable stuff as well as their Premium models which are insanely detailed as well as being a bit spendy.
Auto Art really pushed the boat out. I think they make up a good 40 to 50% of my collection and not a day passes without some other release which gives me an itchy ‘buy it now’ finger. Auto Art sustained my habit all the way through high school and higher education, but around that time something else crossed my path. I became obsessed with Porsches and Exoto was pushing the boat out with their 934s and 935s. These releases also coincided with me finding permanent gainful employment and having access to a small amount of disposable income. To add insult to my bank account’s injury, this was also the time when model retailers started taking to eBay. Things got out of hand.
So here we are, the late 2000s and all of my diecast collection has one thing in common, it’s all diecast. Then along comes Spark and throws resin into the mix. These models are a completely different proposition, no opening panels, no steering, sometimes the wheels don’t even turn. As expensive as Auto Art or Exoto may have been, they were still models you could ‘play’ with if you were so inclined. Not so with resin ones, pay and display comes to mind as a concept. The tradeoff for the marked lack of interactivity is painfully accurate details and gorgeous quality.
Other companies like True Scale Miniatures also got in on the resin game.
Then came LaLD and my first LaLD-fuelled purchase, another resin gem from Fujimi. I blame almost everything on you lot now.
I became a full-time resin evangelist, yeah things didn’t open, but look at the details guys! Then I saw a post on here about CMC models and diecast was once again king. I don’t have many of them, but they win. Everything.
When I was younger I would buy lots of models, now I try to prioritize quality over quantity and I try to keep to certain themes. I’ve had this collection of models for more than 25 years and seeing how it’s changed over the years and the different models I’ve got is a really interesting excersise. Some of these models have lived with me through eleven houses, three countries and every possible storage condition, they’re part of my story. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a part of it.