Something For Everyone: Model Shopping At The NEC Classic

Automotive scale models have existed for as long as the full-size vehicles they’re based on have. These diminutive replicas can range massively in both price and detail, with the two largely proportionate. Hundreds of pounds for a model with incredible amounts of detail is not uncommon, right down to Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars costing pocket change.

A distinction needs to be made between toys and models: Toys are for playing with and models are for collecting and display. But that doesn’t mean toys can’t be collected. Hot Wheels are some of the most collectible automotive memorabilia around.

The Autojumble at the 2022 NEC Classic Motor Show last weekend had an incredible array of both of both model types. Let’s take a quick look…

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With insurance, maintenance and fuel requirements, cars can quickly become a costly endeavour. And that’s if you can even buy one in the first place; with most competition or historic cars it’s out of the question. While you can’t drive these models (RC cars are another story entirely), a huge part of what attracts an individual to a car is its outward appearance. This is where scale models come in. You have something you can admire, and being so small you can fit quite a few on a shelf.

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I was surprised not only by the age of model cars on display at the Classic Motor Show, with some Dinky and Corgi models many decades old, but also the variety.

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The older model cars generally lacked detail, which can be attributed to the manufacturing processes of their time. All these models were hand modelled for a mould before being cast in zamac zinc alloy, then painted by hand.

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As technology has advanced and allowed for automation and mass production, so have the models. Most modern releases have incredible detail, such as spoked wheels with period-correct tyre treads. Some even feature wear and tear, as if they have just finished a race or rally stage.

New manufacturing processes have also allowed for highly-detailed, smaller-scale models to be produced, down to 1:64 and even less in some cases.

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I could almost guarantee that if you’re into some weird, obscure car, at some point a company has made a model of it.

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Citroën DS car transporter with an Austin Healy Bugeye Sprite onboard? Check.

Alpina E30 B3 2.7? Right here. What about a late-’90s British ice cream truck? I can almost hear the music playing now…

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A rise in tuner car culture has meant scale models have shifted to follow the latest trends too.

More and more cars are not only modified, they’re done well. Arch gap, tyre and wheel sizes, all accurate.

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If you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, some Classic Motor Show vendors offered a huge selection of kits, again ranging from totally obscure to all the popular models.

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Unless your tastes lean more towards bigger and more detailed models, you don’t necessarily need deep pockets to start collecting. That’s the great thing about the hobby; it’s incredibly inclusive and there’s something for everyone at all price points.

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Be warned though, scale model collecting is a very slippery slope and another automotive rabbit hole that’s all too easy to go down. So I’ll close off with the following: I don’t know anyone with just a single model in their collection…

Feel free to share your most prized model – or perhaps the size of your entire collection – in the comments below.

Chaydon Ford
Instagram: chaycore



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Great stuff! Long-time toy car collector here.


Glad you made the slippery slope disclaimer at the bottom. This is a very important public service announcement


Didn't make it to this event, but looks to have been a decent selection. It really is a hobby for all, something at every price point, but hundreds of pounds is far from the top end, more like 10s of thousands. Have a look at Amalgam models, truly epic levels of detail


I had (have) a weakness for Gran Turismo and have subsequently purchased every collectors release that was available with a 1:43 scale car. Very nice pieces all of them.


... scale model collecting is a very slippery slope and another automotive rabbit hole that’s all too easy to go down.

Oh yes, I can certainly vouch for that statement. LOL!

Anyway, I recently got this baby for a very low price. It is now one of the centrepieces of my collection display.


In the 90's I had a good collection on my favorites in 1:18, about 20 pieces. It was a great display of my tastes at one time, but now most all of them are in scrap condition after three kids of playing and crashing them. Maybe I could arrange them in a salvage yard scene for the grandkids to pick through?


I do lots of 1/64 collecting you can check my stuff out on insta @1.64jdm. My prize car is a hotwheels nismo r34 rlc! It’s worth a few hundred dollars


I can also confirm about the VERY slippery slope :D


Man I need to get into collecting scale models just that I don't have space on my desk lol


Went along to the show this year. I've taken my son the last few times, being 4 years old he's instantly drawn to these displays. I've got enough real life projects to contend with without falling down the rabbit hole of collecting scale models. Some of the models are incredible. Inevitably I end putting my hand in my pocket to buy my son one, maybe that's a rabbit hole in itself as he'll be asking me to help out with full scale projects when he's older!


Glad I got out of model collecting at an early age. It's definitely a rabbit hole. I got out bacause I only like 1:18s, and they are expensive and take a lot of space lol


My most prized model is my 1:24 '91 Accord wagon. I'm building a real '93, and it's such a mundane car as far as enthusiasm is concerned, so it blows my mind that a scale model even exists. However, I mainly stick to 1:64 because they don't take up so much space. Massive collection of Hot Wheels and others there to cover a garage wall. 1:24 and 1:18 are reserved for the top dream cars.


Great models...wonderful place to visit without wallet


Here one trying to stop buying modelcars.
I ended buying them for the sons of friends...


very nice


I have just over 1000 in my collection and the wife always brings up the models when we are discussing money, The biggest issue I have is trying to work out how to display them. Most are Hotwheels/Matchbox as they are between $1 to $3.50 here in Australia, and I only spend on the Mini-GT and Inno-64 when it's something really specific I want. Yard sales and weekend markets sometime allow 1:18 purchases that have been well looked after. Scalpers are my biggest hatred as going to any of the big shops and finding nothing but fantasy cars left and all the JDM or Euro cars gone but suddenly online at 5 times the price. One of my friends has over 3000 now, it's definitely not something you stop at 1. Will be in Hong Kong next year and they have 2 main places to shop that have multiple floors of a building that are dedicated to model cars and Lego kits. I feel sad for my credit card!