I got my start in this hobby as a youngster. For my seventh birthday, my father and now stepmother purchased a bunch of model kits for me. When I got started in the early eighties yes I realize that things we’re very different then what they are today. Everywhere I look, I see and hear that our hobby is dying. Yet we continue to allow these manufacturers to charge exorbitant prices for model kits and everything else. I routinely see model kits on eBay that are well over $100 that shouldn’t be over $50. I wonder if there’s even a solution anymore. If this trend continues our hobby will most certainly die. Its incumbent upon us to do something about it.
I will be posting this on other forums as well. Jim
Serious question. If the hobby is dying then how come manufacturers (or their resellers anyway) can charge these ‘exorbitant’ prices? Blah blah ‘market forces’ blah blah
I disagree. The prices have not gone that high. Inflation has. In 1985, $20 was equal to about $50 today. Kits were not as detailed or complete then. We the modelers have demanded more details, photo etch, more decal and marking options etc., etc., etc. All of this costs more money. There are still plenty of cheaper, decent quality kits out there for beginners too. Tamiya and Monogram have lots of them. I think as we progress as modelers, we expect more and should expect to pay more.
Also, take a look at what other things cost. Hell, a movie with popcorn and drinks for two is $50 now for only 2 hours (usually less) of entertainment. Don’t even start looking at other hobbies. I also shoot for a hobby, prices of guns and ammo (esp. ammo) have skyrocketed.
In the long run, for the hours of enjoyment modeling can provide, it is still a pretty affordable hobby.
The hobby doesn’t appear to be dying to me. More manufacturers and more diverse kits than ever on the market. Hobbyists demanded better kits with more and more detail. Plastic kits are integrated with resin and photo-etch. These demands by the kit buying public plus the worldwide oil situation have driven the cost. Hell, what isn’t expensive these days. If my wife and I go to McDonalds for lunch we can’t get out for under $30.00.
HA! as I write this @HeavyArty just posted what I am trying to say!
I must agree with Gino, and at the risk of being carnaptious for the sake of it, can one not always find money for a hobby? I appreciate that one may well have to shop around a bit, and for some of the more pricey models I shop via eBay from China; whilst it may be despatched, especially in these pandemic times, by literally what seems indeed to be a slow boat from - well - China I have experienced some relative bargains, sans postage/shipping costs for instance.
Quality levels have also risen - to a degree almost un-envisaged (is that even a word?) but you’ll know where I’m coming from; personally, I could do without some of the more complex models (I really don’t need to build a truck like the real thing), but I would maintain we live in great (modelling) times; we don’t really want for that much.
This to me is always the most important analysis. I always think in terms of cost/hr of entertainment. My most recent project, a T-54-3 with interior will take me probably 100 hours to compete start to finish. It cost me 50 cents per hour of fun. Every time I pull the trigger on my K98 rifle it costs me 50 cent-$1. I consider modelling a fairly affordable hobby from this perspective
I’m seeing kits on Ebay that should be forty to sixty dollars selling for one hundred and sixty dollars.
I wouldn’t use eBay as a gauge for the market value of anything. eBay can artificially inflate the price/value of anything if the seller thinks he can get it and if there is someone out there willing to pay that price. All it takes is one to sell at the higher price, then all the other sellers see this and mark theirs up accordingly.
That is the market. If you don’t like the prices, don’t pay them.
I basically agree with the other reply comments above. Static plastic model building is comparably an affordable hobby.
I would remove “…model kits on eBay…” from the equation completely. It’s not necessarily any realistic marketing basis. I can list a model kit on my ebay account for $10,000. It doesn’t mean that that is the current market rate or value of the kit.
Conversely Jim, I see that the general UK price for I love kit’s M65 Atomic Cannon is around the £190 mark, yet thanks to the free market, from China it was going for £150-odd and that was with free shipping. Bit of a no-brainer for me.
As I said earlier, if one is just canny enough to shop around, one can prevail, but I still maintain we live in great modelling times.
@kosprueone, I would have to agree with that.
Also, ebay’s pricing algorithms aren’t the best and you get some lazy sellers who use that algorithm instead of doing a little market research. There are Japanese sellers offering some of the under-$100 kits for over $500 because of this.
And frankly, I was buying 10-15 year old Dragon kits for $35-$50 and the new kits from companies like Border are about the same price. I can get all of Borders Pz IV kits for $46 each shipped from auroramodelshop and I am okay with waiting 30-90 days as I have plenty to occupy me until they arrive.
Also, the ‘muh hobbies are dying’ mantra is about as tiresome as the ‘PC gaming is dying’ one. There are tons more kits available now in a wider array of subjects than ever before. It might just be shifting subject matter to Sci-Fi/Fantasy subjects and snap-together Pokemon but it is still growing.
Here’s another example of hobbies that can cost a lot if you want them to. My wife knits; socks, hats, sweaters, blankets, etc. She does beautiful work and even does test knits for companies and yarn makers (sort of like reviewing model kits). When she started out, many years ago, she bought her yarn at Wal-Mart for $3.50 a skein. She now buys designer yarn that is hand died and special fabrics etc. that can cost $40 a skein and up. I liken that to where most of us here are in this hobby. We could buy beginner kits at cheap prices, but are beyond that. We are at the designer skein level.
On what basis should the kits that you see be the price that you think they should be? Do you have experience of the business model of a plastic kit manufacturer?
There are numerous kits of the same subject (M4 and Tiger tanks, F-4 Phantoms, P-51s etc.) at different prices. A Tamiya 1/32 Spitfire XI has no trouble selling at north of £70 yet Revell’s kit of the same aircraft is closer to £30. Tamiya includes an engine but does that account for more than half the price? Does it make the Tamiya kit £30 overpriced?
If so, why do people buy at the higher price from private sellers on ebay and at model shows? Private sellers are not limited by some agreement with the importer as to what price they can charge. They sell for what someone will pay and after several years of watching ebay sales of that very item, I’ve yet to see many go at under £70.
It may be too pricey for YOU (and some are too pricey for me) but that’s our choice. Others clearly have different thresholds.
Fun fact: On th 28th of September 1998 I paid 200 SEK for a Tamiya Chieftain (kit nr 35068)
Today, slightly over 22 years later I can find it at 199 SEK which would be 1 (one) SEK less than 22 years ago.
The price adjusted for the inflation in Sweden should be around 260 - 265 SEK.
This means that the price for that kit has gone down by 61 to 66 SEK.
The price fall may have something to do with Takoms release of their Chieftains …
One nice thing about coming back to the hobby after a while is there are some affordable stuff not in my stash. For example I just bought the tri star flak panzer I and cyber hobby Panzer II F for $90 CaDshipped for the pair. They are supposedly great kits and no where near the $100 mark of some of the newer kits.
I dug out a few prices from old MM magazines, among the tons of ads for metal figures.
Tamiya Flak 88 36/37
Paasche H series single action airbrush
Tamiya Sd.kfz 251
1979: about £4
Seems to me that those at least are about as affordable now as they were then.
I think there are several things at work here… For me, the most important thing is that I am getting a reasonable cost per hour from my hobby, and I think static modelling excels in that. Modelling might come in at $0.50 per hour, golf might run $16.50 per hour.
I do think it is a dangerous statement to make that a kit is selling for $100 when it should be $50. Who says it should be $50? Have you developed a detailed model kit and had it mass produced? This is a common misconception in the Model Train hobby, where it is assumed just because a locomotive sells for $300, the manufacturer must be taking baths in solid gold bathtubs. I can ASSURE that is not the case. Much like the restaurant business, if you want to make a million dollars in model trains, spend two million.
I do work in the model business for a manufacturer. It is true that a kit or model is worth exactly what the buyer is willing to pay for it. The trick is to manufacture something worth buying, for the price that they are willing to pay, while trying to pay salaries and keep food on tables.
Just a thought…
You don’t have to buy them,set a limit and stay under it.
I wouldn’t spend $125.00 for a 1/32 P-51 or Spitfire,but plenty of the guys love them and even add AM to them, that’s great,just not for me.
Nobodys allowing manufacturers to charge high prices,we buy what we want and refuse what we don’t
On ebay,of course their overpriced there
And no,it’s not going to kill the hobby
Oh God; I’ve just realised that this will run and run like the “Wish List of New Modern Kits for 2021 - your top 5?” (which, depressingly, I also contributed to).
Shoot me now.