Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

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Serafa
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Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Serafa » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:10 pm

I couldn't find a specific thread for this subject, so I am creating this topic in order to try to answer a few questions that I am sure many of us collectors have heard of or even make to ourselves sometimes:

'Is it really worth it to spend more money on a higher-end model?'
'Is an affordable model too bad? Or does it give us a reasonable amount of details for its price?'

As some of you may know, I started to upgrade my models for higher-end versions and faced a unique situation where I could effectively compare different versions of the same car.

I will start with 3 F1 models, however, as I continue to upgrade others, I will post the comparisons in this thread.

The first models to be compared are two versions of the Renault RE40 driven by Alain Prost during the 1983 F1 championship. THe affordable choice is the RBA version and the more expensive is manufactured by Spark.

The Spark version comes in its well-known wooden baseplate and high quality acrylic cover. At the same time, you may find some RBA versions with an acrylic cover (not the case of this specific version) and always on top of a cheap plastic baseplate.
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The second difference one can notice right away is the absence of the driver in the RBA version.
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Another main difference is the color tone, slightly darker in the Spark version.
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The car front of the Spark version has more details, like the red thin tip in its front wing and, even more important, the front suspension with thiner wishbones and brake disc/calipers.
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The back of the car shows us also many differences between the two models, mostly in the gearbox and back red light, which is made of translucid plastic in the Spark version, while it is just painted in red in the RBA version. It is also noticeable the deformity in the rear tyres of the RBA version.
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Although the driver is absent in the RBA version, it didn't prevent them to include the driver seat belts, even though they did not use photoetched parts on it. Besides that, the Spark version can reproduce better the roll bar and the 'wholes' on the engine cover, such as the fuel valve. The mirrors are shaped and built to the car in an elegant way on the Spark version.
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Decals on the RBA version are less detailed and even the painting lines on the side of the car are not completely correct in the RBA version.
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The decals on the rear wing have a different color tone, the same mistake we usually see on the Lotus JPS cars around there. Other key difference is in the wheels, with multiple parts on the Spark version (wheel center with wholes and central screw). The RBA version instead has its wheels built of a unique piece only painted on its center.
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It is possible to see here how thicker is the front wing of the RBA version and how it is mounted to the rest of the car. The front wheels of the RBA version are slightly narrower as well.
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Finally, in this picture we can see that the RBA version has its car body built in multiple parts, each one painted in a different color. Therefore, the color scheme actually reflects how it is built. Since the Spark version has a single piece that mounts its body, the painting can reflect the correct color scheme of the original car.
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This is the picture of the original 1:1 so you can compare:
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What do you think of this comparison? The Spark version could be found when it was released for about EUR 59.00, while the RBA version is a lot more affordable and can be found for about EUR 15.00 on Ebay. Which one do you think it's better considering its price and quality?
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Tom
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Tom » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:06 am

For the casual enthousiast the cheapo model will probably do. It's a nice way to get reasonable likenesses of familiar F1 cars in your display. However, the Spark's quality really stands out and if it's your favourite car I'd say the Spark is the one to go for.

When you have a display full of models, the differences won't stand out that much.

Very nice comparison, BTW.

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Jager » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:02 am

Thanks Bruno, that's a well thought out presentation of the two models.

I've seen many collectors start with a 'quantity over quality' approach and rapidly build collection of cheaper models. However, over time many start to upgrade some of the more important or favourite cars in their collection, and eventually progress to a 'quality over quantity' approach as display space starts to become limited.

I did a similar comparison about 5 years ago of a $20 Quartzo Porsche 935 with the $50 Spark equivalent. The picture quality isn't great quality, but you get the idea :

The main difference is the Spark sits a lot lower and has a more aggressive stance than the Fujimi. :

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The other main difference was in the quality of the wheels which for me is one of the standout features of the Spark.
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by JSB33 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:32 am

Great idea Bruno.
I am a cheapskate. I really like to save where I can and I am a big fan of well done budget models. I wish IXO did a good version of every car I want to buy. In some cases its just too much of a step down going with a budget version of a car that I desire. I have many model of cars that are not super important to me where a budget is more than adequate but in other cases, I just have to splurge.

I think in the case of your example, I would have gone Spark.
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Galaxy Gaz » Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:25 am

As a rule , I always try to buy the best version that is available unless the car is an absolute `must have` and no high spec version exists.
A few years ago I spent a fortune collecting Porsches with a subscription to `the Porsche Collection`partworks series . The cars came from Highspeed and probably 85% of them were very poor models and very inaccurate, so they were sold and replaced with Minichamps Porsches. I definately learned from my mistake and now always try my best to get it right first time.
I am all for detail , but moreso for accuracy and and am a firm believer in the saying `You get what you pay for`.
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by LUW » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:49 pm

Tom wrote:For the casual enthousiast the cheapo model will probably do. It's a nice way to get reasonable likenesses of familiar F1 cars in your display. However, the Spark's quality really stands out and if it's your favourite car I'd say the Spark is the one to go for.
This :!:

I think that sometimes the cheaper version is the best one. Sometimes you need a "place holder", a car that is not very important for whatever reason but it would be nice to have it in the line-up. In this case, why spend more? If the cheaper version is pretty decent, get it and save the extra money for a grail model.
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Serafa » Sun Mar 26, 2017 2:25 pm

Thanks for the good feedback, guys.

I think that buying only expensive models for your collection is not a requirement to have a great collection. A collector also needs to keep in mind other important things, such as the way you display the collection and the focus of your collection.

For those who are not into this collecting thing, it is almost impossible for them to notice those small details. At the same time, we as collectors need to be happy with our collection as well. In that case, if a collector feels that is necessary to have high-end models, then he should go ahead with this. If it's not that important, what really matters is how you feel about it in the end.

I believe that there is no rule for it. The quality depends not only on the manufacturer, but it's also "model-specific". What I mean by saying it is that Ixo can produce great models and at the same time less enjoyable models. Therefore, I think it's important to assess case by case, and that's the idea of this thread. The initial idea is to create an index by comparing specific models.
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Tom » Sun Mar 26, 2017 2:36 pm

Online sellers' pictures often hide faults that come out when someone here buys the model and shows it off. This forum has prevented me from buying quite a few duds already.
Sometimes I decide that I can live with the inaccuracies or shortcomings, or perhaps fix them later.
Last edited by Tom on Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Serafa » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:03 pm

The next one is a comparison between a Minichamps and an Ixo version of the Benetton B190 driven by Nelson Piquet in 1990 F1 season. The Ixo version was commercialized on a local F1 collection called "Lendas Brasileiras do Automobilismo", which means something like "Brazilian Legends of Motorsport". By saying motorsport, consider it only F1.

The Minichamps version comes on its traditional plastic baseplate lined with a custom carton and an acrylic cover. The Ixo version has an inclined plastic baseplate with another acrylic cover.
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I consider this Ixo version one of the best available in the market. The amount of details really make it a reasonable model for its price. The main drawback in my opinion resides on the driver. The helmet proportions are slightly wrong and the driver sits slightly higher than normal. Besides that, the driver overalls does not have sponsors on the Ixo version.
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The place where mirrors are placed in the Ixo version (right) is inaccurate and the acrylic protection in front of the driver cockpit is missing.
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In this picture it's possible to notice that the car length is different between both versions. Another key difference is the size of the decals (bigger in the Ixo version) and the wider nose of the Ixo version, especially in the area where the front suspension is attached to the car body.
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This is the part where the Ixo version really matches the Minichamps quality. There isn't really a noticeable quality inferiority of the Ixo version, although the blue color tone is slightly different between the two versions.
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The different sponsor in the rear wing probably reflects a different Grand Prix version of the car. The difference is really the size of the decals and the slightly different car shape, but nothing negative about the Ixo version, just different. The only main flaw we see here is how the driver "sits" in the cockpit, making it taller than it should be.
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The rear view shows a few differences too, like the shape of the rear diffusor and the decals, which may be related to a different GP version, not necessarily a mistake by any of the two manufacturers.
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We can notice a few differences, but it is important to recognize the good work made by Ixo, almost matching Minichamps details for a fraction of its price.
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I didn't like very much the detail on the cover where the shock absorbers are placed in the Minichamps version, right above the front suspension. Even though this is a removable part in the original 1:1, I didn't like how badly it was reproduced in the Minichamps version. Again, another main difference is on the size of the decals between the two models.
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Here is another angle of the wider front nose in the Ixo version. You can also see that the MInichamps version (left) has suspension failure with a bended right wishbone. :lol:
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This is the 1:1 as a reference.
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The Minichamps version can be found on Ebay for about EUR 50.00, while the Ixo version can be found in Brazil for about EUR 15.00. Differently from the previous "Spark X RBA" comparison, I don't think that the Minichamps version offers substantial improvement for its price. I would stick with the Ixo version if I were to choose between one of them.
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by LUW » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:19 pm

Serafa wrote:The quality depends not only on the manufacturer, but it's also "model-specific".
True! As I was found of saying at Mini.Werner, "Buy the model, not the brand". ;)
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Stu935 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:07 pm

great idea for a thread.

Thought I'd share a comparison between a Spark Mazda 787B and the Make Up 787B (unfortunately the only model i have two of). I broke one of the wing mirrors off the Spark model while getting it out for photos :(

Anyway in each of the photos below the top model is the Make Up model and the bottom is the Spark Model. Unfortunately the photos aren't great as I only have my smart phone to take photos with at the moment, so close up photos are not the best.

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by protzenegger » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:57 pm

LUW wrote:I think that sometimes the cheaper version is the best one.
Serafa wrote:The quality depends not only on the manufacturer, but it's also "model-specific".
Exactly this. I'm a car designer and have graduated from collecting Maisto in my teens to really sweating the details - perhaps too much sometimes! I've since found instances where high-end models going for solid triple-digit prices were somehow underwhelming. Sometimes it's the proportions, but more frequently the issue is stance, wheel size or the wheels themselves.

I save money by simply not buying any version of a model when none of the available options are satisfactory. If I'm lucky, someone will come along and try again, and get it right next time.

It's all a game of patience!
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Alfaholic » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:20 am

I'm happy to have both higher-end and budget models in the collection. I think that sometimes we can all get a bit obsessed with the detail and forget that these are generally mass-produced miniature replicas and vehicles that evolve and develop over time - especially in the racing sphere.

I like to chase the higher-end models for the core parts of my collection - racing Alfa Romeos and Ferraris - but will happily buy a PW or budget model if needed. My collecting habits are driven by a lifelong love of Motorsport and I find it difficult to bypass the more expensive cars that are out of my core themes. The current PW F1 Collection is a case on point, I would love to have a full grid from each year, or at least the Champion, but can't justify the cost of a Spark, etc. The PWs will help satisfy that need and still look OK as part of a display. When the F1 Championship is run with electric hover boards in a few years, I'll be able to look back at the collection and remember the "good old days". :geek:
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by GBOAC002 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:53 am

Interesting commentary on here. As ever it's personal choice, how we compare between the 1:1 and 1:43, and what we can comfortably afford financially makes me happy when buying a model.

Over the years manufacture and finish have improved dramatically. Paintwork is usually excellent and photo etching renders microscopic detail to a level us 'older' collectors never had before 2010. Starline Lamborghini 350 GTV for GBP3.00 and IXO Partworks Lamborghini Miura Roadster for a Tenner from China are two of the most incredible examples of a diecast metal model bargain I can think of in recent times.

In the mid to late 1980s the transition from die cast metal 'toy' with opening features to closed but better finish and presentation by PMA Minichamps. Expensive but 'lumpen' White Metal was the alternative. I only have 3 white factory finished metal models because the subjects were not yet available from mainstream makers.

Resin kits came along but allied to prices akin to white metal models the appetite for painting and finishing didn't appeal, but accuracy yet flimsy construction pointed the way to Spark's ready finished models. As an ex-plastic kit builder I've never been happy that resin have the longevity or resistance to warp that a properly finished die cast metal has. Popping acetate windows and photo-etched trims warping or dropping off are the biggest resin model 'negatives' for me. Again I probably only have less than 20 resin models in my collection because subjects were not made by anyone else.

As has been said in a recent post, patience can pay off as the perfect model at the right price eventually comes along - but too often nowadays it won't be diecast metal.

I doubt I'm alone in having bought a model at some time which is not quite 'ticking all the boxes' but will do until the perfect example comes along.

Cost? I'll hesitate at twice the price of a Minichamps....

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Serafa » Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:17 pm

Nice comparison, Stu. I used to think that Spark makes great models, but now looking at your pictures I realize that Spark is far from being perfect. That MakeUp on the other hand... :o

It's interesting to note that the wheels make such a difference!
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Jager » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:20 pm

The #18 Mazda is an interesting car because it was also produced by IXO, Minichamps and HPI, so in theory you could do a 5 way comparison. I have the HPI (with the removeable engine cover), whichI think provided a good price/quality ratio (I think I got it for ~$30).

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I think its always important to have a 1:1 picture of the car for reference :D :

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by GBOAC002 » Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:11 am

What car????....... :lol:

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by LUW » Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:38 am

Now I can see why everybody prefers the HPI with it's removable engine cover.
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by reeft1 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:18 pm

On the renault comparison, both got the angle of the 15 on the front wing the wrong way round. Sometimes even the extra cost doesnt have the right outcome. Im in the "i'll pay a reasonable amount for decent level of detail" camp. I admire but rarely/never go for top dollar quality ones.

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Jager » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:57 pm

reeft1 wrote:On the renault comparison, both got the angle of the 15 on the front wing the wrong way round. Sometimes even the extra cost doesnt have the right outcome.
That's what I initially thought to, but specifically for the French Grand Prix (which is the version modeled) the number was rotated clockwise instead of anti-clockwise, like it was at most other races as per Bruno's picture. Full credit to Spark and RBA for getting that right.

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Serafa » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:09 pm

Spark makes a few mistakes, but they also replicate some details that are hard to know about.

After I finished applying the decals on my Ligier JS19, I realized that the car number was missing on the left side of the car:
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After some research, I realized that Spark was right. In many occasions the car lacked the number on the left side:
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The rotated number did not have a particular rule back on these days. If we take Fittipaldi's 1974 McLaren M23 as an example, there were several "number" configurations, not to mention the different fonts both on the numbers and the sponsors.

It varies depending on the Grand Prix. Have a look at the number at the front of the car:
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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by SPR Models » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:33 am

Serafa wrote:'Is it really worth it to spend more money on a higher-end model?'
'Is an affordable model too bad? Or does it give us a reasonable amount of details for its price?'
Excellent idea for a thread, and the first post was a balanced, informed comparison between the two Renault RE40 models. To provide an accurate/valid comparison, I hope everyone lists the normal retail prices at the time of launch. Discount eBay prices a couple of years later is not a fair comparison.

Also, prices in different regions vary, so affordable vs expensive can be somewhat subjective according to where you live. For example, in some parts of the world Spark is slightly more expensive than Minichamps, but here in New Zealand Minichamps are more expensive.

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Makalu » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:33 pm

Great thread idea.

In my opinion, sometimes expensive doesn't always mean best either. I'll have to resort to Audi for an example, simply because it's what I've mainly collected.

The 00-05 R8's pretty much limit you to Ixo, Minichamps or Spark. I believe in this particular instance, Minichamps quality and value for money far exceeds Spark. The first R8 I bought was the Ixo 2001 car, and as soon as I bought a Minichamps car I realised there are many subtle details that made it superior to the Ixo model. Shape being one of them, I think the Ixo and Spark cars are both way too square, with really dodgy looking wheels. So that puts the budget model and supposedly premium model out of the picture. Going middle of the road, in this instance, leaves you with a nicer hit on your wallet, and you'll be far happier with the product in the end.

Similarly, consistency then comes into it. If you're buying a model to fit into some sort of theme, then you'll want them to all look the same. I have the MC 00 winner, Ixo 01 and MC 02. All of a sudden the Minichamps 2001 car is hard to find, and I'd rather wait it out for a cheap one to hit the market, as opposed to paying £35+ just to replace a model I already have. I have a similar issue with the 06-08 R10's, because I already have the two that are easily found, I don't want to buy a different brand of the third, simply because it will look inconsistent.

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Then you get the other little issues with certain brands, that also influence your buying decision;
  • HPI's Silk Cut XJR's for example, the model is nice, the price is nice, but why would I want a car that doesn't even come with the decals to complete it? Limits you to Spark for overall quality.
  • The 2014 Le Mans winner is only made by Spark, and as a result it always sells for double retail.
  • Trax have one of a specific model left and whack the price up, and suddenly every private seller is wanting an obscene price for their not-so-special model
  • You want a model but it's only made by Spark and BBR. The former is impossible to find and the BBR has little issues, do you wait for the Spark or accept defeat and buy the BBR?
I think it's just something that needs research, £50 for most people is a fair whack for a little model, so shopping round and seeing what the market actually consists of before pulling the trigger is generally the rule I'll stick to.

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Re: Comparison: Affordable X Expensive

Post by Jager » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:44 pm

Good post Alex. I agree that the wheels on Sparks's R8's were a disappointment and as a result it affected the overall look of the model.The Spark wheels seemed to have more of a convex rather than concave shape, so I went with the Minichamps too, which as I recall were also cheaper than Sparks at the time.

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