As a veteran model car collector of nearly forty years, I am always pleasantly surprised to meet a novice in the hobby. Whether its a kid who has reached the age when toys become collectibles, or whether it's a so-called "grown up" with a little shelf space and discretionary income, new blood enters the hobby all the time. When I step back from the decades worth of experience I've gained in the model car world, I can understand how it might be a bit intimidating to start a model collection from scratch...there's a lot of product out there, and an almost unlimited number of people who want to sell you something. Make no mistake, Model Citizen is among them, but we want to do it the right way: by helping you find the right car at the right price, and with the right level of customer support both during and after the sale.
When it comes to advising you on how to start collecting, however, I find myself just as overwhelmed as a newbie collector...there's so much to download, I don't know where to begin! So, I turned to the expert collecting community at Live and Let Diecast, probably the best enthusiast-driven model car blog on the web. I asked them what one thing they would tell a neophyte collector if given the chance, and their responses were as passionate as they are helpful. Based on those responses (credited where possible) I herein present the Ten Commandments of Model Car Collecting:
1. Thou shalt have a goal. Are you trying to complete a set? Maybe own your dream car garage in scale? Or perhaps you want to customize your cars. Whatever engages you, having a goal gives shape and direction to your collection, and usually makes the hunt more fun. (Suggested by philiphilip)
2. Thou shalt have thine priorities in order. Price or detail? You can build an incredible collection of hundreds of high-quality Hot Wheels cars at about a dollar each, or you can accumulate a handful of three-figure large scale pieces from AUTOart and the like. Maybe don’t try to do both? (Suggested by philiphilip)
3. Thou shalt focus. Concentrating on a particular scale of model, or on cars of a particular marque, can help make it easier to build a quality collection by freeing you from the distractions of every new product that comes down the pipe. (Suggested by shop-teacher)
4. Thou shalt remember that quality trumps quantity. It’s true that you don’t have to spend a fortune to build a model car collection you can be proud of, but it’s in your long-term best interest to learn what makes for a really good quality model. Once you know the difference, stick with the good stuff. (Suggested by androoo)
5. Thou shalt have a reliable source. Whether it’s a well-stocked discount store or a specialist shop that offers great prices and attentive customer service, a good model car vendor is pure gold. Take care of your dealer, and they’ll take care of you! (Suggested by EL_ULY)
6. Thou shalt understand thy space restrictions. Unless you have access to your own personal warehouse, chances are you’re going to have limited area in which to display your collection…choose wisely. (Also, consider whether or not other people will have access to your models. Far too often, we’ve heard tales of collectors taking their cars to the office and having them disappear with light-fingered associates.) (Suggested by philiphilip)
7. Thou shalt not speculate. Very occasionally, a model car will appreciate in value. Mostly, though, they’ll never be worth one penny more than you paid for them. When you buy a model car, turning a profit on it should be the furthest thing from your mind. (Suggested by sn210 and others)
8. Thou shalt congregate. Model car collecting doesn’t have to be the work of lonely individuals in beautifully adorned rec rooms. Find a community and share your passion with like-minded collectors. Might we recommend Live and Let Diecast as a good place to start? (Suggested by EL_ULY)
9. Thou shalt feel free to disregard any of the other commandments. It’s your collection. Want to mix 1:64-scale Japanese classics with 1:18-scale Lamborghinis? Go for it! Want to buy everything you see and figure out where you’re going to store it all later? Have fun now! Want to build your hoard in total secrecy? Knock yourself out, you hermetical wild man, you! These “commandments” are really just guidelines assembled from the collective experience of an avid community of model collectors, any of whom would be happy to tell you that there’s no one right way to do it. The only hard, fast rule of model car collecting that you must obey is the last one:
10. Thou shalt collect only what thou likest. It’s YOUR collection, and you’re accountable only to yourself. Don’t buy a model car just because you think you’re SUPPOSED to, because someone told you it’s the “best” or “most desirable.” Don't keep it in the package OR "crack it open" just because someone on the internet said to, either. Just do your thing, and keep the hobby alive. (9 & 10 suggested by...everyone!)
Thanks to the crew at Live and Let Diecast! for their input on this article.