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Old 05-24-2010, 11:04 AM   #1
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Default Why metal fetish?

Greeting Collectors,

I notice lately in the past few years that manufacturers are turning out models in metal rather than plastic. I also notice that quality is improving but cannot match plastic in terms of size and details. On every single metal model, panel lines, antennas, landing gears are grossly over scale. Then why is it that companies elect to choose a medium that is vastly inferior to plastic? Is it because metal mold is easier,cheaper to manufacture or is it because of market demand? i.e. collectors happen to have metal fetish and that's where the money is? DP
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Metal = cool = weight = diecast collection = tradition = zincrot/pest

Plastic = kits = lightweight = bar of rusty metal in the middle = discoloration


IMPO I find the finish is more appealling on a metal model and its very substance is more pleasing...
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Old 05-24-2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

In almost any item that can be made of either material, I prefer metal.

The feel and heft of metal is satisfying to handle - in 200th and larger scale model airliners and especially in even bigger commercial display models.

In current 1:200 scale model airplanes or 1:43 scale model cars (vs. resin there), I prefer metal. I do have 1:43 scale model cars from the '60s in plastic - brands such as Novev and Miniluxe. Detail was OK but quality was greatly inferior to then contemporary diecast brands like Solido and Schuco.

Metal cars satisfy more than fibreglas bodied ones. Metal wheel covers/hub caps on cars were meant to be; plastic does not work or last. Metal parts on bicycles and motorcycles are more durable and substantial; the plastic on those two wheelers simply feels cheap.

I like metal. - ranchero -
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Old 05-24-2010, 04:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Its just unfortunate that these diecast metal models are constantly plagued with flaws and QC issues which is why I'm steering clear of diecast unless of course the subject is a must have not done in plastic.



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Old 05-24-2010, 04:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

I'm a recent convert from 1:200 plastic snap-fits to 1:200 diecast. After seeing the greater details and more realistic look of the diecasts over plastic, I'd never go back to the snap-fits. Despite some QC issues with metal.

I don't have any diecast models so far that have major flaws. If the model had some major defect or flaw, I'd exchange it. So far I haven't had any need to, maybe I'm just lucky! I always shop from reputable retailers who guarantee their products- that may help.
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Old 05-24-2010, 07:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Moin - I share your concern about quality.

However, please do not think that diecast metal products must necessarily have poor quality.

I believe that poor quality of some diecast metal airliners is due to poor management and sloppy employees but does not have anything at all to do with the medium being cast metal.

1/43, 1/24 and 1/18 scale diecast model cars from Minichamps and Auto Art have stunning quality control. These are made in China also. The product is more complicated with many more pieces - though generally only the main body shell, opening panels and sometimes baseplate or suspension are metal. The quality (as well as the detail) of the diecast metal model airliners could be better. The issue - what price is the collector willing to pay?

You may not be satisfied with current quality of diecast metal airliner models and it should be improved. However use of diecast metal does not have to mean poor quality at all.

I enjoy the feel and durability of metal but I too would enjoy better QC.

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Old 05-25-2010, 01:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Oh I'm not talking material here as much as I'm talking about QC issues. That is the primary gripe, followed by the hassles of replacement (I can't afford to keep sending diecasts back and forth for replacements where I am) cost, weight and space. It all adds up.



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Old 05-25-2010, 02:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Summary: It's a matter of personal taste!

From a more objective point of view, there are certain arguments - pro's and con's - for both of the materials, plastic and metal, of which our 1/200 scale models are made.

1. Pro for plastic:
Models are light-weighted. This is a pro when it comes down to handling throughout the production process, transportation and, yes, even storage.

2. Pro for metal:
Model are heavy-weighted. An antithesis to point no. 1? Not at all. Many people like the heavy weight of metal models, which probably implies that the heavy model is more like the (heavy) real thing.

3. Pro for plastic:
Plastic material allows greater (i.e. finer) details, especially concerning structural details (such as imprints, gear struts etc.) which is hard to do on metal models.

4. Pro for metal:
While metal does not have a better durability than plastic, the colour scheme has! A painted piece of metal can be displayed (almost) everywhere and in any kind of lighting conditions without loss of the colours' authenticity. Well-preserved plastic models do not suffer from yellowing, however, you cannot put them into daylight (and any other kind of direct UV radiation exposition).

Pro's and Con's for both:
Recent development in the 1/200 scale market has resulted in several improvements. Apart from the variety of different models, the rather new die-cast mass production introduced new (technical) standards in terms of detail and quality. The plastic models did not feature too many details printed on fuselage and, in particular, wings and horizontal stabilizers, nor did they feature any kind of antennas before the die-cast models came up (special and detailed series of plastic models, such as the Lufthansa Modell Edition, excluded). However, with the competition from the die-cast party in mind, several plastic model manufacturers have designed new moulds that feature antennas or are successively switching to die-cast production themselves (at least, for a certain part of their production line). This decision, however, might also be influenced by the availability of free production line space in the factories.

Note:
I am refering to the technical and general aspects here. For example, the die-cast models may feature heavier weight, better detail or more antennas - but the manufacturers do not automatically deliver the better product as their models are, at least from time to time, suffering from severe quality issues. The plastic models' quality isn't always perfect either, but in an overall view, the density of quality problem is decisively higher on die-cast models.

Personally, I do prefer a die-cast model over its plastic alter ego. Sometimes, however, the quality issues and even the retail price are a counter-argument (depends on why (motivation) or for what (purpose) the model is bought).

As usual, only my 2 cents worth.
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Old 05-25-2010, 02:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Real aircraft are increasingly made of carbon fibers and other non-metallic materials, also, if reduced 200 times, I am not sure an airplane should weight as much as a diecast model...Does that make plastic models more "realistic"?
Joke aside, manufacturers of diecast models tend to be smaller brands/factories, sometimes w/o licenses from the airlines represented. There are many players and competition is harsh. The quality of the Zinc alloy depends also on origin of supply, and being small and having small runs probably means they opt for cheaper stuff. That probably applies to everything else in the production process. Very few plastic players by comparison, and airlines as well as aircraft manufacturers turn to bigger players when it comes to placing orders, so with larger volumes, it becomes easier to recuperate investment. Some airlines also demand higher quality and conduct more thorough QC to preserve their own corporate image, so it's not up to the model manufacturer to call the shots as is the case with the counterpart w/o license.
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Old 05-25-2010, 03:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Hi,

So you are saying smaller companies with more limited funds favor diecast because it is cheaper to manufacture? DP
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:39 PM   #11
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

You would be surprised how many manufacturers are making unlicensed models and with good reason too. Getting licenses from airlines is one big headache and takes months as it is not a priority with airlines. Neither do most of the airlines really care anymore who makes what model of which a/c of theirs. There are probably only a handful of airlines who are particular about licensing but the rest aern't so bothered about it and don't have issues with it.



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Old 05-25-2010, 04:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Doo what..? ( in reply to DP..)

The smaller companies invariably are using larger company molds... so that's blown that one out the water...

The original question is biased...

The plastic chappies are still churning out the plastic stuff.. and the diecast folk, whilst there has been an upsurge in demand they will produce more..

What does appear to have happened is the 'quality' of the diecast models is vastly superior to what they were..

If we wanted that much detail, then we would just buy Shinn...
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Old 05-26-2010, 12:26 AM   #13
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Interesting bit of info Moin, thanks.
DP: I am not directly trying to say that smaller runs mean cheaper costs, that does not seem to be right. Let's say that they don't make 10K units/run, but still have a tooling (maybe shared as AgentX20 said), so they change liveries until the tooling's useful lifespan is over, most likely making up the initial cost w/some profit too. Because of all this, they probably need to be more cost conscious and QC may become the victim. BTW I am one of those who never believed in claims of uber-limited runs of less than 200 units.
Agent: I am aware of mold sharing among brands, and smaller companies are paying for the access because they cannot invest in this very expensive piece of equipment. I guess what I am saying is that it still is more expensive to develop and own your own mold, so sharing does have some perks too.
Finally, cost of the mold is not necessarily related to the material (metal or plastic) of the model.

I am not sure if I prefer diecast or plastic. I guess I care more about detail (in a commercially viable sense, NOT the case with Brad Shinn's insanely detailed works or art).

Last edited by B-huj; 05-26-2010 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:32 AM   #14
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by B-huj View Post
Interesting bit of info Moin, thanks.
DP: I am not directly trying to say that smaller runs mean cheaper costs, that does not seem to be right. Let's say that they don't make 10K units/run, but still have a tooling (maybe shared as AgentX20 said), so they change liveries until the tooling's useful lifespan is over, most likely making up the initial cost w/some profit too. Because of all this, they probably need to be more cost conscious and QC may become the victim. BTW I am one of those who never believed in claims of uber-limited runs of less than 200 units.
Agent: I am aware of mold sharing among brands, and smaller companies are paying for the access because they cannot invest in this very expensive piece of equipment. I guess what I am saying is that it still is more expensive to develop and own your own mold, so sharing does have some perks too.
Finally, cost of the mold is not necessarily related to the material (metal or plastic) of the model.

I am not sure if I prefer diecast or plastic. I guess I care more about detail (in a commercially viable sense, NOT the case with Brad Shinn's insanely detailed works or art).
Thanks B-huj. I also wonder about the limited edition (i.e limited to 250 pieces) thing. Are they doing that to encourage buyers or maybe that is because of the limited life of the tooling? DP
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:15 AM   #15
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

This is how i see it, plastic is cheaper, diecast is more expensive, when people pay the premium for the more expensive metal models they expect more bang for their buck. This in turn means that the metal models that command the higher price end up getting more little details to compensate for the expensive product (hence die cast models having detailed engine fans, antenna, reflective lights etc..) so this is why i prefer to buy diecast, as you can expect more small details, if plastic models offered similar details on fan blades, antenna etc.. i think peoples preferences would change
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:20 AM   #16
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Istari View Post
This is how i see it, plastic is cheaper, diecast is more expensive, when people pay the premium for the more expensive metal models they expect more bang for their buck. This in turn means that the metal models that command the higher price end up getting more little details to compensate for the expensive product (hence die cast models having detailed engine fans, antenna, reflective lights etc..) so this is why i prefer to buy diecast, as you can expect more small details, if plastic models offered similar details on fan blades, antenna etc.. i think peoples preferences would change
To me more bang for the buck means more accurate details rather than dead weight. Metal models just cannot match plastic in terms of details and quality period; assuming you compare quality manufacturers. A perfect example would be comparing StarJets A320 Northwest (since discontinued) and Inflight200 737 and you will see the superiorty of plastic. DP
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:44 PM   #17
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

My issue is that so many plastic models look like toys. Devoid of detail, shiny and above all else...cheap.
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Old 05-27-2010, 03:33 AM   #18
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

There are quite a few prejudices from both sides. I always thought that collectors of diecast models and plastic have different ancestry: pewter soldiers and plastic assembly kits respectively??

Whatever the case, I must say again: The cost of the mold (and the model) is not necessarily related to the material used (plastic or metal). In other words, metal is not necessarily more expensive. What makes the model expensive is the amount of work, parts, # of paint applications, etc used.

Plastic, as seen on Herpa Premiums, is neither cheap nor devoid of detail, but some of us have been very careful with them because of reported yellowing. This discoloration problem is inherent to white and translucent plastics, and today's plastic models are mostly painted (yes, even white ones), so are less prone to discoloration as the bare Premiums. Paint will eventually discolor if exposed to UV, same goes for paint applied on any material, including metal, which itself is less stable than plastic and is prone to oxidizing, rusting... I have quite a few metal models that make me want to steer away from them in the future because after a few years on display in a humid Asian environment, paint has bubbled, cracked, polished metal has blemished horrendously, etc.

Weight of the model is irrelevant for me, because I look at the models and admire their level of detail, not use them as self-defense or paperweight.

Last edited by B-huj; 05-27-2010 at 03:44 AM.
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:31 AM   #19
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dai Phan View Post
Thanks B-huj. I also wonder about the limited edition (i.e limited to 250 pieces) thing. Are they doing that to encourage buyers or maybe that is because of the limited life of the tooling? DP
In days of old manufacturers had a catalogue and produced stock models that no doubt could be re-ordered ad infinitum

Those days have gone, so model manufacture is a one off

To promote some sort of 'exclusivity' the manufacture may publish a number of models produced.

The collector then may have to make a judgement

1. To buy the model unseen from a retailer
2. Wait until the model is out on release, then decide... especially if there are lots of photos about
3. Feel that there are far too many example being made and may wait until some serious discounts come into play.

On the basis that in the civil world, (as against the military models) no certificates are produced, then who are we to believe that only XXX have been produced..?, It may be in some circumstances many, many more, other times it has known to be less.... so some collectors will now take production figures with a pinch of salt.

For me if the number is 100 or less then IMPO that indicates that the model will have a short life unless it is a real poor model and unattractive livery

250 seems to be about the norm

500-750 It will be about for a while...

1000 plus - this isnt really limited...

As to life of the tooling - Inflight have certainly knocked out a few 707's so that could be a red herring..
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:07 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-huj View Post
Weight of the model is irrelevant for me, because I look at the models and admire their level of detail, not use them as self-defense or paperweight.
I cannot say this better myself. Excellent discussion from both sides! In my opinion, diecast models tend to have oversized details and I rarely see these in plastic with quality companies. DP
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:17 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Istari View Post
...this is why i prefer to buy diecast, as you can expect more small details, if plastic models offered similar details on fan blades, antenna etc.. i think peoples preferences would change
Couldn't agree more! If plastic models consistently included more detailed printing, antenna and fan blades, I'd buy them as well.
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Old 05-28-2010, 12:25 AM   #22
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Steve, AFAIK Hogan and Herpa plastic wide-bodies all have spinning fan blades since about a decade ago, the same can't be said about Risesoon/Skymarks though, who have been catching up since about 4 or 5 years ago. That one is ticked.
Antennae: newer Hogan releases, contemporary to the newer metal brands, have been adding lights and antennae. Older toolings still don't have them, but neither did their contemporary metals.
On printing, it depends on individual release, but for the last few years Hogan snap fits have been increasingly adding more printings, Herpa glued in Hogan OEM have been fully printed for a long while, ANA models (Hogan OEM again) have the most details, most likely more abundant than IF200 Jumbos.

I have an experience: by looking at a model, some ppl. cannot tell which is metal and which is plastic.
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Old 05-28-2010, 08:55 AM   #23
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

B-huj, true, Hogan has had spinning fan blades for quite a while, the steps they've taken to reshape the blades in more recent releases is really what I was referring to. Having updated cowlings/blades, print detail and antenna added consistently to new releases would be good.
For instance, the recent Egyptair and Air France Skyteam 777-300ERs, as well as the Qantas A330/767-300 have outstanding printing, but the American 767-300 with winglets is still just OK. While it certainly is an improvement over previous releases, it lacks the fine detail level of the Qantas 767-300. Now if all of the above added antenna, they would reach a new level in my book!
To round this out, we should also add that tier military line is outstanding and second to none in 1:200.
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:48 PM   #24
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Plastic can look... plasticky. But the paint/finish can make or break the whole deal. I have a lot of metal but absolutely no objection to plastic as long as it looks good.

I want the Hogan Air France A300 delivery livery




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Old 05-28-2010, 04:01 PM   #25
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Default Re: Why metal fetish?

Dunno About Metal Fetish, But I Have An Alyssa Milano Fetish...
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