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Car modelling in the UK


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This is one for UK-based modellers really.

When I was building kits the first time around, 30 or so years ago, it was easy to buy US models off the shelf, even Monogram, AMT, etc. These days, all I can find is a few Airfix and Japanese kits of sports and racing cars,

Where are all these hot rod, drag and custom kits that seem to be readily available over the Pond? And as for the detailing parts, forget it! Nothing doing there.

There doesn't even seem to be a mail order company over here with anywhere near the range of someone like Model Round-Up.

Yes, I know I can buy from the US but the prices of shipping is a real disincentive. I can end up paying more than the cost of the actual kit. Where's the point in that?

I also model US outline railways but I have no trouble getting anything I need from specialist suppliers here in the UK. Why isn't it the same for car/truck modelling? Is it that much smaller hobby over here?

Any thoughts folks?

steve

 

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I can only agree with you Steve, it seems in the UK unless you are a military or aviation modeller forget it !.

I am luck in that I have sourced a lot of my kits locally and through ebay over here and Ive probably amassed over 100 kits that way, however for the newer releases Ive had to import from the US, the cost as you mention for shipping can vary so much from $16 to $50 ! per kit. Personally I find Model roundup and Spotlight Hobbies way overpriced on shipping.

These days for the newer stuff I deal with one guy in Rhode Island whose shipping is pretty fair so a new release kit ends up costing me £22-£25 including shipping.

There seems to be a big US 1.1 car following over here but the modelling side is pretty much a very niche thing which is such a shame.

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Most of my new kits come via Ebay, but often it's a case of seeing what's available at a reasonable price rather than shopping for specific kits.  I had a long break from building too and in my mind kits should still be £5 - 6, so everything looks expensive now. 

 

 

Edited by dodgefever
Removed link to unreliable supplier.
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I can't say I find any difficulty in sourcing all the kits I want, via UK retailers, eBay UK and 1999.co.jp (still cheaper for most Japanese kits than official UK imports, even with postage and customs ransom when it gets applied). But I'm no great fan of Detroit iron, hot rods or customs. There's definitely at least one trader at Huddersfield Model Show every year who has NOTHING BUT boxes and boxes of US import kits available, and I think he has an online store. I'm struggling to find him at the moment, but a post on forum.spc.org.uk (or in the Model Cars discsussion on Britmodeller -- I know he's buddies with a couple of regulars over there) might track him down...

And try the IPMS UK Hot Rod and Custom SIG: http://rodcustomsig.proboards.com. Lee Croden is the SIG leader: E-Mail: lee.croden@hotmail.com

bestest,

M.

Edited by Matt Bacon
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The best online in the UK for recent US releases are Hannants ,Creative Models and Kingkit.For older and classics again try Kingkit or Pat at Collectakit.Lots of older and unusual stuff at sensible prices.All great traders to deal with.

David

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Hi,  I'm a member of the UK IPMS Hot Rod and Custom Car SIG.  Andy Swindlehurst is a good source for American car kits, he can usually be found through our Facebook page (he's the person mentioned above in Matt's post who attends the Huddersfield show).  Other good contacts for American kits are Form-u-lay and Widgetman (can be found on e-bay).  A good source for second hand kits is Collectakit.  I'm pleased to say that there are a lot more car models at shows these days - and traders to support car modellers.  Where in the U.K. are you?

Edited by Jim Whalen
Adding more detail.
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Steve, I think Revell of Germany picks the Revell USA subjects that it believes will sell well in Europe and releases them under that brand.  My thinking is that if there was a grand demand for the kits  you name, then ROG would have the good wisdom to offer them.

I don't believe Round Two has any sales organization for Europe. I know they have a tiny staff, and are already overworked with all they are attempting to do.  Maybe if one of the hobby distributors in Europe took an interest?  Since the kits are all sourced from China, the big cost jump you are seeing is for the double handling, and of course postage and duty.  It seems reasonable that either company could have their Chinese vendor ship a few gross of new issues to someone in Europe at a cost not much greater than sending the same to the USA.   Then it would be a matter of IF they could sell them.

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It's much the same this side of the Irish sea, but I can get some amt/round 2 and Revell US kits in Dublin.

I asked the owner of Marks models here why no selection of car kits, he simply said nobody buys them, it's mostly Military modelling.

As Jim mentioned above Widgetman aka Al always has current revellogram kits listed, he's a good guy and a mate of mine up in Newcastle.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 6 years later...
4 hours ago, HotRodaSaurus said:

Could I resurrect this old topic as what with BREXIT and other problems obtaining kits from regular suppliers other than eBay in the UK.

Thanks, John.

 

I bought a Revell '68 Mustang from Germany a couple months back, postage on the listing was about £12 I think and that's what I paid. I was worried about import charges, or even the kit not arriving altogether because of brexit, but I took a chance because it was the only version of the model listed on ebay. It arrived no problem and no charges. It is frustrating the limited choice of car kits here, and the prices are twice as high. I think it's cos the UK doesn't have as strong a car culture as the U.S. If it's trains, WW2 planes, or military, you're spoilt for choice. If you put a muscle car next to a Lister stationery engine in the UK the stationary engine will get the most attention! xD

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Thanks Gareth.
It was quite a few years ago I visited Hannants in Colindale, They had a few AMT cars in but as I wandered through the shop no one was interested in serving me, in fact I had to butt into a personal conversation to get some attention.
 They did have what I wanted though it was in their aircraft section(Half the shop) but car stuff was at a minimum at one 12 foot shelf. 
I don't think they were interested in you unless you were an established buyer .

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I haven't seen a model shop of any kind near me since the 90's. Nearest one to me is in Swansea which is about twenty miles away from where I live. I did pass by one near there a few years ago but I didn't go in cos the window was solely dedicated to Hornby trains. I'll have to see if it's still there, they might do 1/25 car kits but judging by the window display I remember I doubt they'll have anything other than the usual muscle cars. Nothing wrong with that, but they seem to be the most commonly available kits in the UK.

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For anyone in East Anglia, or holidaying on the Suffolk/Norfolk coast, it's worth a trip to Hannants' main warehouse in Lowestoft. Even though it's primarily for online and wholesale business Joe Public can turn up and wander around, selecting from big piles of kits on the warehouse shelves. I've been there several times over the years. Retail prices are no different to what they publish online, but there's a plenty to choose from.

Now I look at their website I see they have a Hasegawa Toyota Starlet kit on special offer.......

I'm lucky in that I also have a couple of decent independent shops fairly local to me. Even if I don't get so many kits from them now they're still handy for tools and paints. One has opened-up a separate shop selling secondhand kits and diecasts too.

Inevitably there are other shops I can think of that have closed down, I still have unbuilt kits from them after 25-30 years.

As I have a particular fondness for 1:1 Japanese cars then the range of cars and accessories available from online retailers like Kent Models and Hiroboy is perfect - I try not to look too often! Modelsforsale are also good too.

Otherwise it's eBay, where there's no way of knowing what will pop up. For building, where it doesn't matter if the box is tatty or even if the kit has been started, there's still a fair choice at reasonable price on there.

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Reminds me of when I was a kid 1969-72 living in Pirmasens Germany.  The US dollar had taken a dump from 4 Marks to a dollar to 2!  The very few Revell kits at the local hobby store.. I remember buying Porsche 911 and 914, were 20 Marks which was $10 back when US kits were stil in the $2.50 range! 

There was no Internet or eBay so we only had the AutoWorld catalog. It took 6-8 weeks to get an order.  That’s like a century to a 13 year old boy!

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Airfix were making a few British car kits, Ford Escort Mk1, Ford Lotus Cortina, Jaguar 420 Saloon & E Type, Vauxhall Viva, MGB, Triumph Herald, 1930 Bentley  etc all in 1/32nd scale, that was in the late 1950's when I started building Spitfires and Hurricanes in 1/72nd scale. I don't recollect the Commer Van at all. They did make a very small diecast by Matchbox around that time. 

 

PS I've just found a 1/32 resin slot car body of the Commer PB Van on ebay UK, by dealer mOrris122. at £22 plus postage.s-l225.jpg.774c1f0435b6dd47df314bd0249367cc.jpg

 

Edited by PatW
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I'm pretty much a lover of American iron of most kinds from the 50s through to the 90s and fortunately got my fix over the early 2000s when I bought about 150 kits from various sources, both model shops in the NW and Tower Hobbies in the States, but the import duty for stuff from America started becoming punitive so I dropped that source. I always look at eBay, which I'm really beginning to resent due to its profiteering attitude, but it is the only sizeable source of kits and every so often, a good buy does come up, so it does pay to keep an eye on things. The irony is that the 150 kits sit unmade in various cupboards and I'm busy looking for 1/32 Snaptite trucks on eBay that are affordable now! Living on a little pension I really can't afford to pay current kit prices in retailers so I'll just have to dip into my stash. 

Someone commented that there is a big American car community in GB, well Liverpool used to have quite a few knocking around because of Burtonwood Airbase out toward Warrington. That was an American supply depot and the personnel would sell their cars off after their tour of duty rather than ship them home. I remember a bloke who drank in the Chepstow Castle in Walton had a Chrysler Newport, I'd see it parked outside the pub. 

As for model shops, few and far between. None in Liverpool as I am aware, used to be several in the city centre. One in Formby does trains and radio control cars. Then it's out to Widnes for a good shop with a few AMT/Polar Lights etc... Used to be Transport Models in Preston but they closed due to retirement. 

When I bought my stash of car kits they were £12 - £15 each. That will give you some idea of how long ago it was. I would like to build them one day... 

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12 hours ago, PatW said:

Airfix were making a few British car kits, Ford Escort Mk1, Ford Lotus Cortina, Jaguar 420 Saloon & E Type, Vauxhall Viva, MGB, Triumph Herald, 1930 Bentley  etc all in 1/32nd scale, that was in the late 1950's when I started building Spitfires and Hurricanes in 1/72nd scale. I don't recollect the Commer Van at all. They did make a very small diecast by Matchbox around that time. 

 

PS I've just found a 1/32 resin slot car body of the Commer PB Van on ebay UK, by dealer mOrris122. at £22 plus postage.s-l225.jpg.774c1f0435b6dd47df314bd0249367cc.jpg

 

Same here, started with Airfix kits in bags with the instructions inside the label stapled to the top of the bag! Spitfires and Hurricanes, Heinkels and Messerschmitts all badly brush painted with Humbrol and paint spots all over my jeans! My brother built a few of the cars. Sad t say I actually worked on a few Commer PBs, ex Telecom vans as were the thousands of Bedford HA vans like in The Beiderbecke Affair on the telly. Apologies, I digress. 

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I passed by that model shop today I mentioned earlier, it's not there anymore:( The only other model shops in the entirety of Wales, according to Google, seem to only deal in RC cars and trains, so that's that. eBay is the only place I can buy 1/25 AMT and MPC stuff.

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I’m surprised the Americans could sell their cars locally! When we lived in Germany it wasn’t allowed. A lot of US military would buy a new Mercedes to take home, leaving their American cars behind. Their only options were to either sell them to another American or turn them in at the yard on post.  They’d keep a certain amount around for parts, and scrap the rest. It was normal to see stacks of 4-5 year old cars ready for the crusher.

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