Grand Prix History in Scale Models

The Brands. What scale models are there and who makes them?

Formula143 Collector’s Guide

Part 1. Collector’s Basics

Part 2. Few words about technology. What are models made of?

Part 3. The Brands. What scale models are there and who makes them?

Part 4. The Market. How much do models cost and where to buy them?

Part 5. Photo Studio. How to make quality photos of scale models?

Part 6. Cabinets and display cases. How to exhibit scale models?

There are several hundreds of well-known brands  manufacturing scale car models. Given the small companies, small workshops and individual modelers making models for sale, the number of manufacturers is in the thousands. About hundreds of them have in their production line Grand Prix or Formula 1 racing cars – the subject of my collection. In turn, among them there are about a dozen companies for which this segment is one of the main specializations. I have more than 50 brands in my collection.

The current market leaders in mass-production models are Minichamps and Spark. IXO makes a huge number of models for magazine collections. Brumm and Rio specialize in cars from previous eras. Quartzo, Onyx and Hot Wheels now either do not exist, or no longer produce race car models. The remaining brands are either smaller manufacturers; or large firms in whose catalogues  race cars are present only fragmentarily; or kit manufacturers.

What segments is the market for large-scale models divided into?

The largest market segment for scale models is mass production. In my collection, this segment occupies 60%. These are the already mentioned large companies, now existing and already extinct – Minichamps, Spark, Quartzo, Onyx, Hot Wheels, Brumm, Rio. Companies specializing in models of road cars, but having some models from the world of racing – Norev, Solido, Vitesse, Eligor, Ebbro, Schuco, Universal Hobbies and many others fall into the same category.

In the Formula143 collection, I evaluate the quality of each model using a 5-point system. The rating is subjective, but based on a comparison of many hundreds of models from different times and different manufacturers. My brand quality rating for serial models is as follows:

5 BBR, LookSmart

4.5 Spark, TSM, Minichamps (modern models)

4 Minichamps (early models), Ebbro, Rio, Hot Wheels, Solido, Norev

3.5 Brumm, Quartzo, Onyx (c 1994), IXO, Eligor, Vitesse, Top Model

3 RBA Collectibles, Onyx (before 1994), Bburago, Yaxon, Matchbox

2.5 Yaxon, Polistil

See more details on scale model brands here

Mass production: model by Brumm

The second segment on the market and in my collection (30%) is made up of models from the so-called magazine collections. The format when a model complete with a booklet or a small magazine is sold at a newsstand and / or distributed by subscription has become very popular since the early 2000s. These magazine series are designed for a wide range of collectors and beginner collectors. Models from such collections are significantly cheaper than regular serial models and, as a rule (although not always) are inferior to them in quality due to worse elaboration and detailing. But this is a very important segment. In addition to the fact that you can significantly save on the purchase of such models, some models produced in magazine collections are simply not produced by others. The leader in this segment is the IXO brand, whose models are equipped with the vast majority of magazine collections. But some other companies – Norev, Hot Wheels, Vitesse, Universal Hobbies, Eligor – do not disdain the release of models for some specialized collections.

Quality rating of models from magazine collections:

4 Ferrari F1 Collection, Ferrari Collection (IXO, Hot Wheels), Alfa Romeo Sport Collection (Metro), Peugeot Collection (Norev)

3.5 Formula 1 Auto Collection (IXO), Lendas Brasileiras do Automobilismo (IXO), Maserati Collection (Grani & Partners), Maserati 100 years Collection (Leo Models)

3 RBA Collection (IXO / RBA)

See more details on magazine collections here

Model from “Lendas Brasileiros do Automobilismo” magazine collection, produced by IXO

The third segment is kits. In the Formula143 collection, models assembled from kits make up about 10%. A kit is a set for self-assembly, consisting of a body of the model and many small parts (glasses, wheels, tires, mirrors, etc.). The set also includes decals and, sometimes, paints. I prefer to buy ready-made models, but sometimes there is simply no alternative to kits. Many rare cars do not fall into the field of view of large companies, and kits fill this niche. Kits are made from white metal or resin, and the quality of kits is generally lower than serial models. However, a lot depends on build quality. It is best to buy mounted kit models assembled by the kit manufacturer himself (factory built kits – some manufacturers have this option) or a professional workshop specializing in kits assembly. However the price of the professionally built kit model will be 2-3 times higher than the unassembled kit or than the serial model from the line of ready-made models.

Rating of models from kits (for factory or professional assembly):

4 Tameo Kits, SMTS, Jade Miniatures, K&R Replicas

3.5 Meri Kits, CP Model, Provence Moulage

3 Villa Model, FDS, Hi-Fi, Motorkits, Auto Replicas

See more details on scale model kits manufacturers here

Factory builk kit by Meri Kits

The fourth segment is handbuilt models. This category includes models made manually by small workshops or companies. The production of such models is very limited – sometimes only a few pieces are made to order. Now such models are made mainly of resin and their cost is very high. To the category of handbuilt models, I do not include models of larger brands declaring hanbuilt, but producing models in relatively large batches (BBR, LookSmart, TSM, Top Model). Also, mounted kits are not included here.

Handbuilt resin model by Volarebrasil

And finally, the fifth and last segment of the market and my collection are conversions. The conversion is a significant alteration of the finished model – for example, the conversion of Lotus’a into Minardi, repainting in another livery or in the colors of another driver. There are few such models both on the market and in the Formula143 collection, but there are professional modellers specializing in custom-made conversion of models.

From the point of view of rarity, models can be divided into ordinary (regular), limited series and exclusive models. Most of the models on the market and in my collection (89%) are ordinary ready-made models, magazine models or kits. About 10% are models from limited editions. Limited edition runs from a few copies to several thousand. For example, Minichamps or Quatzo practiced limited series from a few hundred to a couple thousand copies. Spark releases some models in limited series of 300 pieces. All models by Autocult  are limited to a series of 333 pieces. Not always belonging to a limited series determines the rarity (and price) of the model. For example, models of many limited series of Minichamps are present in the secondary market in large quantities, while some unlimited models of the same Minichamps or Spark have become very rare.

Some of the models in my collection (2%) are represented by exclusive models – these are handmade models made by some small brands on my special order.

In general, building a model to order is not so rare. In the Formula143 collection, 7% of the models are made to order (except for exclusive models it is also kits assembled to order), and 93% of the models are purchased ready-made in stores or on electronic auction sites.

Another aspect of the differentiation of scale models is their division into modern and old. In my collection, vintage models occupy about 3%. These are models produced in the 50s – 70s. Among the brands of vintage models are brands such as French RAMI, Safir, Minialuxe, German Cursor, Italian Polistil, Politoys and Yaxon, British Corgi Toys and John Day Models. These companies are a good source of models of vintage racing cars and the first models of Formula 1 cars. Vintage models, of course, are inferior in quality to modern ones, but they are an important part of the history of modeling.

Vintage model by Polistil from 1970s

One thought on “The Brands. What scale models are there and who makes them?

  1. WOW! Amazing! This is the PERFECT homepage for me! I have just recently started my collection of scale 1:43 F1 cars, with the goal to get the F1 winner of every year (when there has been a championship) all the way back to 1950 and then my secondary target is to get all the cars/drivers that can be considered the F1 world champion of each year all the way back to before the end of the 19th century (1800-1900). I’ve found another awesome home page to help in deciding what car I should try to get from each pre 1950 year:

    My goal is to not spend too much money on this interest so I’ve sat up a goal for myself that the total cost for the collection should be no greater than 10 Euro/car, which will for sure be a challenge. I hope to be able to make some bargains and sell the models I don’t need from bigger collections to make a small profit that way, to finance buying some more expensive models that might be hard to find once I have got all the easy ones.

    So this home page is super valuable for me and I get so inspired by your collection because I see you have some really early Grand Prix racing cars. Also I found great information hear about what producers are good quality and also what producers specializes on older models. So thanks alot for your work. And what is also quite funny is that you seem to be as much of a statistics geek like me, because I had already before running into this homepage started my own rating of my models with a scale of up to 10 stars. Great minds think alike 😉


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