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For those of you who wish to contribute to the next newsletter, the
deadline for copy submission is May 15, 2000. Don't forget, if I
use your article you get $ 10 off your next order! Please contact
me with any questions on article subject, length and other editorial concerns.
Please note that my email address has changed. I am now at email@example.com. Mail to my old email address firstname.lastname@example.org will be forwarded to me but may be delayed a day or two. Please pass this information on, as some ads I have on the net haven't changed the email yet. Thanks!
MUCH SHOULD YOU PAY FOR A KIT-A REALITY CHECK FOR ALL MODELERS
By Fred Sterns
One of the burning questions of the past few years in the modeling world is, how much should you pay for an obsolete kit. Based on the answers Iíve seen in publications and the internet, itís time for a frank discussion of my strong opinions on this subject.
The prevailing opinion on what a kit is worth is whatever someone is willing to pay, or, reworded more vaguely, what the market will hold. My interpretation of this stance suggests two possibilities:
1) This is an excuse for the dealer to jack the price up to maximize profits. There is nothing wrong with doing this. Itís legal, and itís the American way of doing business. This is one way the well to do become well to do, while many others are going paycheck to paycheck. If greed is good then I guess this is even less of a perfect world than I thought.
2) The outrageous prices Iíve seen collectors pay for kits suggests that some people want a kit badly enough to pay book price or well beyond. Again, legally and morally, thatís fine. In this economy, people have a lack of leisure time but plenty of money to spend on hobbies.
If you read #1 and #2, you will see that there is a connection here. The desire and willingness to pay high prices for kits has lead some dealers and individuals to charge grandiose sums of money and be successful. Further the lack of guilt on behalf of most buyers and sellers when charging or paying a paycheck for one kit makes me wonder about peopleís priorities in life. Should it be buy the kit I want, then worry about the mortgage and car repairs later? Scary, isnít it?
Will all sensible modelers out there please raise there hands so I can see you. Itís not absolutely necessary to pay top dollar on every kit you buy. You do have a choice. Shop around to different dealers, try other auctions besides ebay, and scour flea markets and toy shows for bargains. If you are stuck in the middle class as I am, your budget dictates what you want and what you can afford. Itís taken me 10 years to get 75 kits I originally built in the early 70's. It may take another 10 to get the other 75 I need to complete my collection. Due to my middle class status and budgeting skills taught by my father, I only keep a collectible kit when the price is right and the bills are paid.
The interesting question here is would you rather have one $200 kit for $200 or 5 $40 kits bought for maybe $150? Personally, if I can find 5 70's issues kits I like, Iíd do that. Even if I really wanted the $200 kit, my conscience wouldnít let me do it. Besides, Iíd be too worried about the kit being reissued.
How do I determine my price for a kit?
Good question. As many of you do, I comparison shop different dealers,
shows, internet auctions and price guides to try and make sense of everything.
Based on that information, my experience and common sense, I try to price
my kits 25 to 50 percent below that of major dealers. Letís take
a few examples. If I were to sell a 62 Chrysler 300 Johan USA Oldies
Kit, Iíd charge $30-35. The going rate on this kit is $40 or more,
with some prices as high as $65. Another example is a 74 Camaro annual
kit by MPC. Lately, these kits have been bringing $75 or more on
ebay. My price? $35. On low end kits, I try to keep
I rarely sell kits for more than $125. When I do, they are exceptionally rare and desirable, an example being the 68 Torino Indy Pace Car or the Mission Impossible Coronet. Those kits command upwards of $250. My price was $175.
Remember, itís only plastic pieces in a nice box, not a diamond ring. Iím a sucker for box art, and itís hard not to like a kit for that and a great tooling job done by the model manufacturer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if you must spend freely be discriminating and value conscious. Try to maintain a rational mindset when you are buying kits. As one clothing store chain says, ďAn educated consumer is our best customer.Ē Help keep this great hobby going, but donít rob the bank to do so!
A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
Imagine having a wife whoís beautiful but has a terrible personality. Or, an all you can eat buffet at a biscuits only restaurant. Now, hold that thought and focus on the letters e-b-a-y. Is it a four-letter word or a cool cheer anybody can do without a pom-pom.
For those of you unfamiliar with ebay, this is the worldís largest internet auction, featuring literally millions of different items a day up for bid to anyone with a pc and internet access. You name it and ebay sells it; everything from records to antique furniture, tools....and model kits.
During the past 3 or so years, ebayís growth has been explosive. When I first starting using the net more than two years ago, there was an average of 1,000 kits for auction. Today, the average is 4-5,000. Ebay has opened up an entirely new marketplace for buyers and sellers, offering great variety and the spirit of competition. Itís also led to many a heartache through a host of problems relating to auctions and the growing pains of the internet.
For those looking for collector kits, ebay is a great source.
You can find, on any given day, usually 2 to 3 dozen kits with values over
$100, with some worth 2 to 3 times that. If youíve been looking for
a certain kit for years without success, thereís a good chance youíll find
Medium price kits can also go for high prices, but you can often find a good kit at a decent price. The determining factor is supply and demand. Recently, an ERTL kit of a IH Scout Sport sold for $150. Incredible. Realistically, thatís not more than a $75 kit. My price would have been $45. The kit is not rare, but it can be hard to find. On the other hand, 66 Galaxie kits can sometimes be had for $20. My price on those is $20. This is a kit thatís still plentiful.
As to my personal usage of Ebay, my rule is that Fredís Model World customers get first crack at everything. Once mailing lists are sent and the web page updated, I give modelers several weeks to pick and choose freely among the offerings. After the dust clears, any remaining kits of interest are then put on ebay with low minimum bids. Iíve had good success with ebay auctions in terms of clearing out remaining stock and keeping cash flow going in between lists. This has also been a good way to increase my customer base and meet new modelers.
Iím sorry to say that not all ebay sellers use this method to sell. Iíve seen many dealers begin to exclusively sell on ebay, doing away with catalogs. I understand this, as I pay well over $4,000 a year for catalog printing and mailing. However, customer loyalty means a great deal to me. I donít believe it is fair to dump your customers and concede sales to auctions. Iíve had many people tell me to give up sending catalogs and sell everything on ebay. Once again, thatís greed talking. I donít need to get rich in this business, just pay bills and keep going. You can continue to count on me for a good selection and prices on obsolete kits.
Tips and Tricks
By Jim Bolden Sr.
Iíve been building cars since I was 8 years old. The days of building cars straight from the box are gone. Over the years, Iíve met many people and bent an ear to many ideas that others have come up with. Letís face it, not all of us can afford aftermarket ďdo dadsĒ to build out contest cars. They arenít cheap! So why not improvise and save a few bucks to buy more kits. Hereís some helpful hints:
If you come across that rare car that some kid painted with a brush 30 years ago, itís obvious that you will need to strip the paint off before painting it the right way yourself. Go to any auto parts store and buy some brake fluid and a large plastic tray with a top. Disassemble our model and place the parts in the tray full of brake fluid for 24-48 hours. The paint should wrinkle or flal off, leaving you to take a toothbrush and scrub the car clean. If the paint hasnít been entirely removed, try a second dunking in the brake fluid. After the paint is thoroughly removed, soap and clean the car with dish detergent, then gently dry.
Another neat trick Iíve learned is for exhaust systems. You can make realistic exhausts from aluminum tubing used for r/c cars or gas engines. Check out your hobby shop for the material. Itís cheap and easy to use. The tubing can be cut using an exacto knife. Here are a few more quick tips:
Battery cables-phone wire is just the right size and color;
Stay tuned for more tips in the future.
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