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Oldtimers Lead the Way
Editorial August 2005

Models produced on behalf of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are usually of a consistent quality for a given price point.  The variable aspect seems to be the market at which the models are aimed.  Liebherr are generally looking at the collectors end of the market so Conrad has been a traditional model supplier of good quality.  Others look to cheaper models closer to the toy end of the market and would go to a supplier such as Joal, or if you want something really cheap and nasty then it's a low quality far east manufacturer that gets the business.

However in recent years when it comes to pushing the boundaries of quality the lead generally hasn't come from any of the OEMs.  It has been the oldtimer models which have excelled for detail and quality.  In particular NZG has produced some very high quality models of old machines without the sponsorship of an OEM to fund the prototype development.

Cranes Etc reviews of oldtimer models have consistently scored amongst the highest.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that the model makers have to ensure they are good as they cannot rely on guaranteed sales from an OEM.  Perhaps there is no OEM to pare back on the quality in pursuit of a budget.

It does appear that the high quality oldtimer models have had an impact on the general standard of models, and there has been a marked improvement in the offerings of more recent OEM sponsored models.  Two which come to mind are the Manitowoc 555 and forthcoming Manitowoc 18000 cranes.  The 555 scored highly when reviewed and initial indications are that the 18000 looks as though it may be even better.  A common factor involved is that NZG's oldtimers, and the higher quality new models mentioned above have been manufactured in China.  The low labour costs have enabled high quality, relatively low run models to be produced at a price serious collectors can afford.

Looking at Conrad, their oldtimer offerings are a little mixed.  Liebherr commissioned Conrad to create a model of the historic TK8 tower crane to celebrate Liebherr's 50th anniversary.  This model in its own way set some new standards for casting details and has been highly rated in the Cranes Etc review.  Recently Conrad has been manufacturing some oldtimer Poclain machines but these are not new.  They appear to be re-using the old castings rather than setting any new standards.  Maybe once again when it comes down to man hours involved Conrad cannot compete with the Chinese in making highly detailed models.

Cranes Etc
NZG's Menck M251 - high detail, high quality.
Conrad's Liebherr TK8 - excellent casting details.
NZG Weserhutte W180 - opening doors and working mechanisms.