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Why do scale models very rarely match a full-size?

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Why do scale models very rarely match a full-size car or motorcycle? Each model has deviations from the original. Some cars have different turn signals, engine parts, etc. that were not available that year. There are also faults in motorcycles. There is, for example, a 1972 motorcycle that has a drum brake on the front, but in the model it is replaced with a 1973 disc brake. Or another motorcycle that has fuel tank that was not available in that year.
Do model makers think consumers are so stupid that they can’t use a Google search engine and check things out, for example? Or why?

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I can speak to some of this.  In many cases the model company uses locally available vehicles as templates.  If  they are Japanese companies, they use Japanese examples.  In many cases the motorcycles sold in the model makers country of origin are different, sometimes significantly different than the model sold in your country.  This is particularly the case with Japanese bikes.   JDM bikes, like their cars have significant variations from those vehicles sold elsewhere in the world.  On top of that, even though a vehicle may have the same name, they may have to meet different legal standards around the world.  So I guess what I am saying, without knowing the origin of the vehicle that the model manufacture used, saying something is definitively "wrong"  is not possible. 

 

Edited by Pete J.

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9 hours ago, Pete J. said:

I can speak to some of this.  In many cases the model company uses locally available vehicles as templates.  If Japan companies, they use Japanese examples.  In many cases the motorcycles sold in the model makers country of origin are different, sometimes significantly different than the model sold in your country.  This is particularly the case with Japanese bikes.   JDM bikes, like their cars have significant variations from those vehicles sold elsewhere in the world.  On top of that, even though a vehicle may have the same name, they may have to meet different legal standards around the world.  So I guess what I am saying, without knowing the origin of the vehicle that the model manufacture used, saying something is definitively "wrong"  is not possible. 

 

The other problem which occurs is when model companies use information provided by the manufacturer. In many cases, the photos provided represent 'pre-production' vehicles, which may have different trim or interior patterns than the regular production vehicles. In many cases, manufacturers also make specification changes throughout the year, so a model tooled from a factory-stock vehicle may represent an equipment specification only offered for a small period of time. For model companies, it's a tough call on how much research needs to be undertaken to achieve a 'perfect' car or bike model (for recent examples, check the thread on Revell's '71 Mustang...) 

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No, the manufacturers don't think modelers are stupid. Often times manufacturer designs semi-generic parts to use in multiple models. Sometimes they just use totally wrong parts from one model on another (because producing another new steel molds with more accurate part would be too expensive).  A lot of times they also "cut corners" to save on cost.  Then there are limitations of the plastic molding process. Some parts are simplified or body shapes inaccurate because it would be impossible to mold their shape 100% accurate.

Also remember that many of the model kits produced today were not designed for discriminating adult modeler - they were made for kids to build and play with.  Accuracy was not all that important. Also, 20 or 30 years ago, there was no Internet to do your research. You looked at books for photo references, or went to car shows to take photos of the 1:1 cars.

But the more recently produced models are designed on a computer, often using CAD drawings supplied by manufacturers for reference, so they are usually (but not always) much more accurate than old kits. But the limitations I mentioned above still apply.  What is helping in obtaining better accuracy is using media other than just injection-molded polystyrene.  Some kits include resin-cast parts (which can often have better and more accurate details). 3D printing is also entering the hobby kit market, allowing for better accuracy.

Edited by peteski

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11 hours ago, 64Comet404 said:

The other problem which occurs is when model companies use information provided by the manufacturer. In many cases, the photos provided represent 'pre-production' vehicles, which may have different trim or interior patterns than the regular production vehicles.

Correct.

This has been true since the dawn of the plastic model car kit.

 

One example that I know of is the AMT 1958 Pontiac Bonneville.

The "hash mark" vent trim on the lower front quarter panel was apparently taken from the original GM drawings.

As a consequence, the model had 5 trim pieces, while the 1:1 ultimately ended up with only 4.

Another mistake on the same model was the "Pontiac" block lettering on the hood and trunk lid.

The 1:1 Bonneville wound up with "Bonneville" lettering in it's place.

 

 

 

 

Steve

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There is also the case where the kit makers "jump the gun".

Two examples come to mind....the MPC 1976 Plymouth RoadRunner kit is based on the B body Fury, which Plymouth did not offer for 1976.

The other is the JoHan 1968 AMC Ambassador convertible kit, based on a car that AMC did not offer.

So, both of these kits are entirely inaccurate!

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In his book, Master Modeler  S. Tamiya mentions the concept of scale effect particularly when it comes to auto models.  I will have to paraphrase it because I didn't mark it in the book, but here it is.  Model cars, if made to correct scale width, look to narrow.  This is because we are use to viewing 1:1 vehicles with our eyes at  about the same level as the car.  This makes them seem much wider than if we viewed them from a position of high above which is how we look at models.  We stand over the top of them and look down.  Created to scale autos look to narrow.  Tamiya adjusts for this and slightly widens them.   There are other "perspective" issues that model manufactures use to make the model look more "realistic" to our eyes.  

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12 hours ago, Pete J. said:

  Tamiya adjusts for this and slightly widens them.   There are other "perspective" issues that model manufactures use to make the model look more "realistic" to our eyes.  

Which is exactly why most Japanese produced kits appear too flat & wide, and the wheels are too large in diameter. You can't account for perspective in the design phase, it's far too variable and subjective. It's my greatest peeve with these kits. They've got the engineering down perfect, but if they could just see fit to provide kits that are actually in scale, dimensionally and proportionally. If they would just make them 'right', rather than what they 'think is right', they would be extremely close to flawless. There might be lots of room for fudging, but in-scale is always right. Tamiya and Fujimi are particularly bad for this.

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13 hours ago, StevenGuthmiller said:

Correct.

This has been true since the dawn of the plastic model car kit.

 

One example that I know of is the AMT 1958 Pontiac Bonneville.

The "hash mark" vent trim on the lower front quarter panel was apparently taken from the original GM drawings.

As a consequence, the model had 5 trim pieces, while the 1:1 ultimately ended up with only 4.

Another mistake on the same model was the "Pontiac" block lettering on the hood and trunk lid.

The 1:1 Bonneville wound up with "Bonneville" lettering in it's place.

A major example is the 1966 Valiant Signet promo.  The roof got significantly changed that year and word never got to AMT so the previous year’s roof got on the entire promo run.

Best I can figure, they never made it to distribution and got destroyed. The remaining very rare examples all came from Chrysler employee’s collections.

Thats why there was never a Craftsman kit for that final year.

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