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A good day at Orpington


Hello everyone, just letting you know I had a good day at Orpington the other day and had some interesting conversations on a variety of subjects including the colours on cars, scale and general comments on the forums about yours truly. Now as you may have noticed I do not get involved in the forums and facebook is still a bit of a mystery to me. 99 percent of feedback is generally positive but you cant please everyone, unfortunately. Sometimes people do get the odd bit missing in a kit and occasionally the wrong kit may go out but we get there in the end, only human after all.

Some people asked why I choose a certain car to make a model of. Usually it is because you like the car. Now if someone else is doing the same car, too bad happens. I made models of Cheetahs and now two major manufacturers are making it as well, so oh well I put the moulds in a box and get on with another model. Just like the Mercury Cougar, made it and was ready to go and ah Scalextric are going to be making their own, oh well its life. We resin car makers basically are left with the odds and ends that the major manufacturers are not interested in, that said there are still a lot of cars out there yet to make.

As far as resin kits are concerned just because someone says they are going to make a certain car that will not stop me from making my own version. This is because we will end up with someone putting out a list of models they might make just to stop someone else from making it. If a model comes out then I will consider if it is worth me doing it and if I do decide to go ahead and do it I will make sure it is pretty damn good. Hopefully this competetive attitude will up the game a bit and in the end the winner is the customer.

My next two cars as some of you no doubt know by now are going to be a Mk. 1 Jag and a 1938 Merc W154. If anyone else would like to make them I do not have a problem with it, why would I? But you better do a good job of it, you know what you are up against. I do not get other model makers to make my masters, I do the entire process myself, from concept to production, and considering I have been modelmaking professionally since 1972 I think I am getting the hang of it. I also make the moulds and do the casting myself so from start to finish it is a very personal endeavour.

I do get bits wrong and believe me people love to point it out. But 9 times out of 10 I know the bits that are wrong and a lot of bits never get noticed. Shape is especially interesting on the old GP cars and GT cars. Take the Maserati 300S, no two were the same. Similarly on the Alfa 158, all were slightly different and the later 159 was a completely different shape. The maserati 4CLT is another example as no two are the same. I have made two slightly different versions but it is not worth me making completely specific cars, you have to make a reasonably generic. I have made three versions of the Alfa 158. But believe me I could do a lot more, and never be finished. Going back to the maserati 300S, I made ten, yes ten, different models for ten different chassis numbers at specific times in their lives. I enjoyed doing it as an exercise, it was very interesting but made no sense economically. I did a similar thing with the Lancia D24, some of the differences were tiny but I made a completely new mould. Despite having so many different moulds only a few of these cars sold reasonably well, leading to the cull of the cars for sale earlier this year.

Dimensions on old cars are another minefield, as are old three view drawings. Most drawings are a useful guide as a guide, but a guide only. Some are appalling so remember just because something is written down in a book or is on the internet, or if someone has posted in a forum, doesnt mean it is correct. As much of my research as possible comes from seeing the car in real life and pictures I take whenever possible. Remember, shapes, dimensions, wheel bases can vary even on the same car over the years (I found three different wheel bases for the Lancia D24). Going back, again, to the Maserati 300S some of them have been reshaped and rebodied three times, most restored cars can be very different from the original car. Then my favourite little wind up, I have finished a model, made the rubber moulds, got the casting out and then I find a new picture with a little bit I have missed. Will anyone notice? Usually not but the trouble is I know, usually resulting in me remaking the entire mould.

This brings me on to scale. What is a scale model? Well no slot car in existence, including my own, is perfectly to scale. It is simply impossible, so what we define as scale is actually something that is as near as we can get it. It is a good representation of the real thing, but just that. I try and get the wheel base about right but I certainly would not say widths and heights are dead on. most major manufacturers add a good bit in the width and I have added the odd mm in one or two models. You have to slightly caricature a car to make it look right and looking right is important. In fact more times I have been told a model has looked off scale when I have done near to dead on than when Ive added to the width. If two manufacturers make a model of the same car they will always be different. Also a lot of big firms design on a computer and this can lead to some awful mistakes. Take a look at the two cheetah models now available (not my ones), they are very different but they are the same bloody car, one is actually pretty good.

The only model I have made wider on purpose is my anglia or Wanglia. I cut an anglia down the middle and added 3mm in the width. It looks ok and in fact I have sold more Wanglias than regular anglias since a certain comment on a forum, I thank you. But most people do not really notice that it is slightly wider until I put the two models next to each other and if I had produced the Wanglia first and not said anything I dont think many people would have noticed or even minded that much.
Just a few words on model colours. First I paint all my red cars with Halfords Nissan Red 526 over red primer, it looks about right I cant confirm whether it really is, I wasnt there in the early 50s or 60s and if I was I wouldnt remember and I doubt anyone else would remember it perfectly either. Dont just go by old colour photos they have a tendency to fade and also was the sun shining when it was taken? It can make a supprising difference on the shade. Paint in the old days was not particularly good, it would fade so a car after a couple of long races would have looked slightly different to how it started. Also people perception of colour can vary a hell of a lot and having a colour mixed to the correct spec wont work when you put it on a model. It will usually look too dark, so if in doubt go lighter. Remember also that restored cars are not always the correct shade. So if someone comes up to you and tells you your model is slightly the wrong shade of blue, tell them too... well you get my drift, its your model after all.

A quick word on decals, I usually get an A4 sheet made up which will have decals for a variety of cars. Alot of research goes into this and before it goes off to be printed I will check it but I will always miss something. The worst one was the Mclaren Elva , when the print came back it said Mclaren Liva. and it is only when you get your decals back that you notice these mistakes, but yes someone will point it out. Believe me I already know but there is not a lot I can do (I did get the Mclaren Elva reprinted).

Information photos specifications are very important when making a new model, you can never get enough. But once the model is in production thats it you move on to the next model and for me that is always exciting. At the moment I am moulding non stop so I have some stock for Gaydon so please if anyone wants to pre order for the show let me know. I have finished the maserati 300S with the Richard Mack chassis and will have some for sale at Gaydon. Then after May the 12th I will get on with the Merc and Jag.

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