When I launched Model Citizen in 2014, one of the overarching principles that would guide the business is that we would only stock model cars of superior quality...no junk allowed. Among the first manufacturers we considered was Spark, a leading producer of resin-bodied 1:18- and 1:43-scale cars. Founded in 2000 by Hugo Ripert, a veteran model maker who cut his teeth with the Quartzo and Vitesse brands in the 1980s (and whose father Andre was the founder of legendary 1:43 modeller Record), Spark's early focus was on back-of-the-grid Le Mans racers that had been ignored by more established companies. Following in the family tradition, Hugo Ripert worked in resin, cranking out models in editions of fewer than 1000 pieces utilizing the nascent manufacturing flexibility of Chinese factories. Though other companies have followed Spark's template of low-volume, reasonably priced resin models, few have been able to compete with both their quality and the depth of their subject matter.
Initially, we were drawn to Spark's products by the variety of models the offer, as they specialize in the classic sports and racing cars that are our bread and butter at Model Citizen. It wasn't until we actually received our first shipment that we understood the REAL appeal of Spark's models: value. Twenty years ago, a resin model of comparable quality to Spark's 1:43-scale cars would have retailed for over $200. Today, thanks to Spark's manufacturing techniques and advances in photoetching technology, their cars run in the $70-75 range.
Spark also makes a more limited range of 1:18-scale cars, still focusing on Le Mans winners and other historic racers. They have quite adeptly applied their know-how gained in 1:43-scale model development to producing 1:18-scale cars of superior quality; like most other resin-bodied cars of this larger scale, Spark's products do not feature opening parts, yet they still feature fully realized interiors and beautifully formed trim pieces and delicate aerodynamic aids. With pricing typically under $200 retail, Spark's 1:18-scale range offers an attractive, affordable alternative to diecast metal pieces for collectors who prefer to display their cars in closed position.
Spark has continued to thrive by adding superstars of the scale-model car world to their payroll, including Fernando Pinto of Bizarre and Jean-Pierre Viranet, founder of pioneering resin kit manufacturer Tenariv. Their track record of excellence speaks for itself; it seems that every new release is an improvement upon the last. As Spark continues to issue an ever wider variety of new products, Model Citizen will be there to bring them to American car enthusiasts and model collectors at some of the best prices in the business.