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JayVee

Tips for shipping built models

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Hi all, I’m currently downsizing my collection on eBay, and I’m getting ready to ship out a bunch of built model cars. I’m planning on using USPS Priority Mail, saying they should be marked “Fragile”, and wrapping the models in a cloth followed by bubble wrap. Any other tips you guys have used before? Thanks!

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You may want to put the wrapped model inside a zip-lock bag in case parts come loose.  If the kit is bagged the recipient will be able to find any loose parts and not accidentally throw them away.  I speak from experience as a recipient of a complete kit that was missing parts, some I later found in the folds of the shipping box, others were gone forever.

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There's almost no way to ship built plastic models without significant damage or total destruction.

Die-casts are shipped with stout parts of the underbody lashed down to a hard surface, covered with a plastic or cardboard shell, and nothing contacting the upper part of the model.

This is, in effect, the way REAL cars are shipped, and it's the only way that really works.

Unfortunately, there's most often NO WAY to lash a plastic model to a hard surface to keep it from moving around in the box.

And marking a package "fragile" is often an invitation for it to be used as an impromptu football, or as a test object for penetration by a forklift.

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Great tip on the ziplock bag! None of my models are ultra-fragile so I’ve got that going for me. I just finished cleaning them all and had to re-glue some things, but other than that they seem sturdy enough. But if the stray door handle fell off then the ziplock would catch it. Keep those tips coming!

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I would double box them, the innerbox packed with bubble wrap to prevent too much movement and then the outer box packed with scrunched up newspaper or something similar. The ziplock bag is a great idea too so I'd combine it with the method suggested. It will put the postage up but thats probably better than complaints from the buyers. If you sold them on the big auction sire do not use their packing and shipping service, they just throw it loose in a box and really dont care what happens to items. I've had packages they packed arrive with the contents destroyed and they made the seller refund my money when it wasn't the sellers fault

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The double box idea is good. I'll pack these myself instead of using the eBay service, for sure.

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Yeah, the bag is a very good idea. I've bought a LOT of built models. This is typical on arrival. Carefully packed.

DSCN4753.jpg

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I don't know what type or why you would wrap the model in a cloth first. What I would do is wrap the model snugly in small bubble wrap and use Scotch tape on some of the seams, enough to keep it in the wrap. If you leave pull tabs that would be a plus. I'd place in a zip lock bag. I would wrap this with medium size bubble wrap. You need a box that this just fits in. If you would need more packing material around the inside of the box I suggest WalMart type plastic shopping bags. They are light and won't add much to the weight of the package.

If you are selling these on feeBay put a disclaimer in (not that it might help) stating that you pack as carefully as you can but once it leaves your hands you have no control over it.

I've worked in the package delivery business, no matter how well you pack it, damage can occur:wacko:.

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Yes, the tightly wrapped small bubble wrap, with the bigger air-pocket wrap around it sounds good. The cloth was to protect the model from plastic stickiness from the bubble wrap but this may not be a big deal. One thing I just read was that to ship a vase or anything hollow, fill the inside with packing, which makes sense. A model car is basically a hollow shell, so it may be good to fill the interior with tissue paper?

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You can if you want to but I wouldn't. Who knows what parts they may pull out with it, steering wheel, turn signal post, shifter, parking brake, headrests etc.

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Yeah, that may not be a good idea after all. Maybe I’ll just throw a bottle of glue in the box...

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I received this built up kit in a cardboard box completely surrounded with what I believe is

batting for stuffing pillows. It did do the job of protecting a relatively fragile model,

though there was some shreds of the stuff that need to be picked or blown off.

I keep it stored in the same way in a plastic bin. (sorry for the overly large pic)

batting.jpg

Edited by STYRENE-SURFER

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That stuff looks like it would work really well because it minimizes any air gaps and cushions impact shock. And it looks like the stuff used for Xmas decorating so it may be on sale now! If I wrap the model tightly in bubble wrap and then stuff the box with this batting, I think it would be pretty safe. 

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3 hours ago, JayVee said:

That stuff looks like it would work really well because it minimizes any air gaps and cushions impact shock. And it looks like the stuff used for Xmas decorating so it may be on sale now! If I wrap the model tightly in bubble wrap and then stuff the box with this batting, I think it would be pretty safe. 

I think it would work better to wrap the model in the batting first, then fairly tightly bubble wrap over it. That would allow the very soft batting to progressively take up space around irregular features and shapes, and tend to spread the loads into the model more progressively. 

Heavy damage occurs when the model slams into the inside of the box because it's too loosely packed...just like your face hitting the windshield when you drive into a wall without airbags or a seatbelt.

But minor damage can occur if the model is too tightly wrapped inside its first layer of padding too. Having a very soft nest of batting against the model, and then the first layer of harder bubble-wrap that keeps the whole thing from slamming around is going to be your best bet.

Placing all of it inside a sealed plastic bag to keep parts together in case something DOES get broken is an excellent idea, as is double boxing, with more bubble-wrap or peanuts between the boxes to protect the model from crushing and penetration damage as well.

NOTE: I've had models wrapped in grocery-store plastic bags, not sealed, come in missing a lot of small parts that escaped from holes in the unsealed bag and made their way entirely out of the box through gaps in the tape.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Good idea, the only thing the buyer would need to be careful of is having the batting catch on a small part during removal. But I can deal with that when I wrap it by positioning the batting to avoid those small parts.

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1 minute ago, JayVee said:

Good idea, the only thing the buyer would need to be careful of is having the batting catch on a small part during removal. But I can deal with that when I wrap it by positioning the batting to avoid those small parts.

In my experience, the batting has almost no strength if it gets caught on something. It's like cotton-balls. It just pulls apart with almost no resistance whatsoever.

Unpacking intelligently is also the buyer's responsibility, and no matter HOW well and carefully you pack something, you just can't make it idiot-proof.

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The batting shown is not like the stuff cotton balls are made of, it is some kind of spun polyester.

It's very light weight and springy enough to suspend the model within the inside of a box.

It' definitely not Christmas decorating snow.

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I have shipped quite a few built models with no or very little damage. Normally I wrap the hood ( if removable ) in bubble wrap and I wrap the model in bubble wrap also. If it fits into the model box I pack it in there. Then I use one of the post office priority boxes called the "shoe box" and use bubble wrap around the kit box and packing peanuts on both ends of the 'shoe box". I won't say it's the best way but it works for me. Only damage I have had is with mirrors coming off or an antenna.

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That's encouraging to hear! Did you use USPS Priority Mail? Have you opted for the extra $10 Fragile handling fee?

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I did use priority shipping. You have to if you use that box. My hopes were that the package could get there quicker and with less handling. Quicker did not always happen I must admit.

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I question whether you should mark FRAGILE on the box as this may be a target for the postal workers.  While I have not shipped anything, I have bought built ups with little to no damage.  Most seem to use bubble wrap to protect the model.  I like the suggestion of putting in a Ziploc bag.

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Thanks for all the good suggestions, guys! My first round of auctions ends tomorrow and I have the boxes, bubble wrap, polyester batting, and ziplock bags ready to go, and I won’t put a “fragile” label on the boxes.

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Mark S Gustavson wrote an article in I think it was Car Modeler on how to wrap a built model for shipping, he even kicked the box around afterwards, unpacked the model and it was intact...I have the magazine but I don't remember the wich issue it was in.

Edited by Force

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That would be interesting to read. I ended up wrapping the cars in bubble wrap sealed with packing tape, then put them in ziplock bags, then used a combination of polyester batting and bubble wrap to fill the shipping box. Just seeing how protected they are once they’ve been done this way gives me a lot of confidence that they’ll be fine. I only put a max of two cars in one of the medium size Priority Mail boxes, which leaves enough space for good cushioning and protection.

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