Cost of car models?

Forgive me if this is a really elementary question.
I have been modeling for many, many years, but have never really done cars or anything “automotive” outside the armor/military category. A recent interest in F1 racing has got me considering branching-out. I am really rather shocked at the cost of individual kits, however. I have never been shy about spending on particular kits of things I have a keen interest in, but looking at subjects like the Meng GT40 or the Italieri Bugati 35B, or some of the older Tamiya F1 kits, I find the prices WAAAAAY beyond what I would imagine comparable kits for aircraft, armor of naval subjects would be. Is there a reason for this I am unaware of?

Might have something to do with licensing fees.


I would say size is a factor. You need to compare like with like. If you’re looking at 1:12 scale kits like you mentioned above then they are way bigger than 1:35 armour or 1:32 planes and you usually get a lot more kit to work on. You can get 1:24 cars or 1:20 for F1 which I would say are probably cheaper than planes or armour. And licensing fees are definitely a factor in car kits.

…That is one of the factors I wondered about. I recall back in the 1990s there was a big fuss about companies like say, Lockheed Martin charging license fees on every kit of say, a P-38 Lightning sold, despite the fact the aircraft had been retired decades earlier. If I recall, it never went anywhere with old, military stuff.

I’m surprised Michael ( cosimodo) didn’t point this out - If you think the kits you mentioned are expensive , take a look at the offerings from Model Factory Hiro … be careful or you just might buy one ( or two ) . Speaking from experience.
Welcome by the way .

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I thought anything developed in the US on a Gov’t military contract was property of the State and thus free of any licensing? That’s why you can get lots of 1/4-ton trucks, but those called “Jeep” or adorned with Ford or Willys logos are rare - to use those names costs licensing money while modelling the sheet metal doesn’t. So your P38 shouldn’t carry licensing fees as long as the L-M name is not mentioned.

But with model cars it reflects some of the tooling complexity, as well as chrome plating, licensed markings, etc.

Welcome to our community, you’re going to really like it here.

The world of cars, especially race cars are vastly different then military modeling. Race cars are all Licensed, and in many cases there’s more then one or two licenses needed. As an example since you’re interested in F1, lets take the Tamiya 1/20 scale Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth. Tamiya must obtain the license rights to produce and sell the kit from Lotus, Ford and Cosworth for the engine, Firestone and or Dunlap for the tires, and any sponsor logos although this car had almost none. Those licenses drive the cost of the kit up and up. From what I have heard, Ferrari is the most expensive of the F1 cars to License.

None of the traditional kit car manufacturers can obtain a license to produce a current Indy Car as the die cast companies have those licenses all tied up. And the list just goes on.


When models first started to be molded in China and other Asian locations I was told by an industry rep at the Toledo [Ohio] NNL show that cost of models would DROP a lot ! He said that labor cost was much cheaper!!!

What happened since then ?..even the re-issued kits are ridiculously overpriced !

kits i bought in the mid '60s for $1.25 are now re-released for $30.

enjoyment & peace of mind while building = priceless.

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Yup,along with everything else.

Such is the times we live in. Inflation is part of the problem. Even the Chinese workers have had small gains in salaries. Heating, electrical, and all the materials needed to mold a kit has increased in price many times over.

When I 1st started to drive in 1965, gas was all of 29 cents a gallon. Same basic gas today, but here on Long Island the price has gone up 10 fold.


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A dollar back in 1965 is equivalent to $9:46 today
The gas price has increased slightly more than that

Ah, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…


Now do the value of a dollar today compared to 1965.

11 cent

Another way to compare costs back then with costs today is to check the hourly pay for a car industry worker and calculate how many minutes he had to work for a gallon of gas and compare with the number of minutes he has to work today.

Now that’s really depressing. Almost as depressing as just paying my property taxes.


When I had my machine shop I got $100.00 dollars an hour…that was before electricity tooling cost to do a job and taxes and misc. costs…when all was said and done I cleared $15 to $20 no wonder most manufacturing has left…a 14 yr. old with a 3D printer can now do my old job I invested many years of education to learn my trade.
I am now retired and build model cars…mostly from my stash I got in the 80s and 90s.

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