|First in Line |
Editorial March 2007
In model collecting particularly, it can be a long wait between news slipping out of a new model and the model becoming available to collectors. During this time desire builds up as that much wanted model comes closer. Finally the model arrives on the dealer's shelves and collectors place their orders eager to own the new model. For some there is a keenness to share their opinion of the new model with other collectors. However does it pay to be first in line for a new model?
There have been a number of occasions where patience would have served a collector well either because a range of special liveries were introduced later or the model itself was improved in some way following the first issue. Many collectors would prefer to have a model in specific colours which they like to collect. Although there is no certainty that any model will be available in other than 'factory' colours, there have been two examples recently where collectors were led to believe there would not be special editions only for such special versions then to appear. Both of these were made by TWH.
The Manitowoc 18000 Crawler Crane was originally stated to be made in strictly limited numbers and when the batches were complete, no more models were to be made. Collectors bought the model. Then new liveries started appearing; Lampson, Aguado and Demont. Anyone who had bought the standard model but really wanted a special livery was faced with buying a second model. A similar thing happened with the Bucyrus 495 Shovel. Some collectors were advised only standard colours would be available only to find a version in 'Syncrude' colours appeared later.
The other circumstance where buying a model when it first appears is not always in the collector's interest concerns models which have had design faults or other issues which get corrected after the first batch of models is made and sold. There have been a number of examples of this. Conrad's CC8800 was sold first with metal tracks with links which clipped together. These tended to spring apart however and later models were supplied with better engineered individually pinned track links. Another example is YCC's Liebherr LTM 1800 Mobile Crane. This model has been revised following its first release and now incorporates easy access to the winches as well as other amendments. Again the early buyer has paid a price for being first in line.
So what is the lesson for model makers and collectors? Model makers need to be careful what they say about their plans for models in different colours or batch sizes. Probably the advice is to say nothing, or if they say something stick to it because otherwise they risk creating some unhappy customers. Also do not release models to market unless the engineering is sorted. If there is a problem, then make the correction available to buyers of the early version without trying to further profit from it. For collectors the advice is to appreciate the risk of buying early and balance this against possible future price changes, or the possibility of missing out on a model altogether.