Boom, what’s going on everyone?
Our assembly is complete and the models are being shipped to retailers in last week’s email so now it’s time for a new topic! If you missed my series on “What it takes to make a single diecast car or truck”, go to my YouTube channel and watch them. It’s a great series explaining what all any diecast model manufacturer goes through to build a model for us to buy at our favorite retailers.
For this week I’m going to talk about the different materials we can use to make models and some of the reasons behind each choice.
There are many materials that we can use, from white metal, to abs plastic, to diecast metal, to resin plastics. Each of these materials has been used to make detailed models over the years and I’ll do a history e-mail sometime in the future.
Today I’m going to focus on diecast metal and resin plastics as these are the 2 main materials used today in making detailed model cars and trucks for collectors to set on their shelves or dioramas.
In the world of model collecting there is a huge debate about whether resin or diecast is the best option for creating detailed replicas. This is a valid debate for us as collectors to have especially after some of the poor quality models that have been produced with both materials in the early days.
Resin is relatively new on the scene and has been adopted to meet collectors demands for models that do not have wide-spread appeal.
Resin is for small production runs as the mold creation process is far less expensive than diecast molds. Diecast molds as I spoke about in my earlier videos require expensive steel molds that are made with incredibly expensive machines and complicated processes. However, resin molds are made from a type of silicon-rubber and are made in a simple process of pouring the molding compound around a master.
Resin molds require very few castings, usually around 1200 pieces to pay for the tooling with a price that true collectors will pay. This lower return on tooling costs has brought out many models that will never be made in diecast due to the retail market not being big enough to recover the cost of a diecast mold. These lower costs also allow the manufacturers to offer a wider variety of models to the consumers, allowing the collectors shelves to be filled with totally different models.
Diecast molds require tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of models to be cast to allow the manufacturer to pay for the tooling costs. This requires manufacturers to either make thousands upon thousands of one paint scheme as Hot Wheels does, or to make thousands of paint schemes on the same vehicle like diecast promotions did. This also lowers the variety of models a manufacturer can offer to the consumers, allowing collectors shelves to be filled with many paint schemes but very few different models. Like, how many Pete 379s does a collection need?
Market size is a critical factor in choosing a material to make a model. If a real vehicle is very popular, ie the Peterbilt 379, diecast metal is the obvious choice of material as the manufacturer can recoup the tooling costs over the life of the mold. Less popular vehicles, like the Chevrolet Bison, still have a following of collectors. This smaller following would like models made, and that is where resin can provide cost effective models due to lower tooling costs.
Material strength is another factor in determining what material to use in making a model. It is commonly thought that diecast metal is stronger and more durable than resin plastic. But it still has limitations when parts are precisely scaled down. Resin is only fragile in parts long thin parts such as frame rails on a truck. Opening parts like doors and hoods are also harder to make in resin. Switching to diecast allows this but comes with the sacrifice of non-prototypical hinges as even diecast metal is not strong enough to scale down a hood hinge system.
Resin frames have been found to be a major weak point in the early resin truck models. The frames proved to be too thin to hold up, so model makers like Advantage Diecast learned from this and set out to make diecast metal frames to put under their resin cabs. It gives structural support while still remaining cost effective. Also, the same frame can be used on multiple trucks allowing for economies of scale on the diecast parts and still low overall production models.
Resin models typically have finer details than diecast metal models. The mold making process for resin allows for thinner parts to be cast as the mold is cast around a master. Whereas diecast molds require precision cutting and limitations of size based on the cutter arm and heads carving the steel mold.
Bottom line the choice of diecast versus resin should only be a manufacturers concern and not a consumer concern. Both materials make extremely fine models that will enhance our collections and dioramas. For us collectors that want to have tons of variety in our collections, resin is the answer. Resin allows for more limited appeal models being made. The reason is the tooling cost for resin is much lower than diecast tools.
Thanks for reading in and I’ll see you next week.
Guys, if there is anything, you’d like me to talk about in a future blog post, please send it to me in an email!
If you would like to see the full video on this topic please go to my YouTube channel and see it there. Also take a moment to subscribe so that you can keep up with all of my videos.