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1950s Plastic Space Model Kits:
Buyer Beware
1950s space books
Glencoe Reissues
Lindberg Spaceship kits
Monogram / Willy Ley kits
Revell model kits
Strombecker / Disney kits



Related reading:

classic-plastic-model-kits.jpg (9199 bytes)
Classic Plastic
Model Kits:
& Value Guide

by Rick Polizzi

Feature Article
Strange New Worlds  Issue 14 - June/July 1994

Vintage Spaceship model kits and popular publications of the 1950s [page 2]
by Elliott Swanson

Buyer Beware:
What to Look for When Buying Vintage Model Kits

It is economically advantageous to sell collector-to-collector, but this entails a little effort and some added risk when the transaction takes place through the mails between those who don’t know each other. People have been known to advertise things they don’t actually have to sell.

Packaging Your Model Kit for Shipment

Some of the vintage items are very fragile, and some morons will send things without adequate packing. Model kits should always be plastic-wrapped and double boxed in solid, preferably three-ply, containers with lots of foam peanuts. Poor packing practices can result in significant and unnecessary reduction in the value of an item. And collecting $300 insurance from UPS or the Post Office for a damaged kit with a price of 98 cents printed on the box is not easy. The wonderful box art on most of the vintage kits is well worth going the extra mile to protect.

Beware of "Skimming"

A scam to beware, practiced by some unscrupulous model collectors and dealers, is called "skimming." The person may buy a kit, claim it was short a part, and return it. Sometimes this is an honest call. Sometimes a part gets lost in the bottom of the box of a poorly packed kit; but sometimes the receiver has "skimmed" a part he needed to complete his own kit.

So, count all parts, one-by-one, before shipping (and when receiving) a kit. Parts counting should be discussed in advance by the buyer and the seller, and a course of action agreed upon if a problem is encountered. If a seller is too lazy to count parts before sending a big ticket kit, then he deserves all the problems he’s sure to get.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Never buy any collectible mail order from someone who won’t agree in advance to give you a full cash refund if you don’t like what you get. Always check references if an expensive item is changing hands. If it’s important to you, ask about the condition of the box. There is a ready market for boxes alone because of the high caliber of the artwork. Ideally, the exchange of expensive models should take place face-to-face.

When "Factory Sealed" Isn't

Unless you are an expert, never trust shrink wrapping. I’ve seen people try to sell "sealed" kits that were never manufactured in that state! Many early models were simply closed with a few pieces of tape on the side and bottom of a box. Some were sealed with old-style cellophane film.

I suppose if something really expensive were being sold as "sealed," it would be worthwhile to pay $25 or so to get the box x-rayed at a medical lab. I’ve heard a rumor about a "sealed" $2000 Lost In Space kit that changed hands and was later discovered to be full of junk plastic.

Because shrink wrap will continue to shrink, especially in warm climates, it can eventually crush the box. An increasing number of collectors are taking the kits out of original shrink wrap and loosely covering them with Saran Wrap or the like to protect the box.

When I buy a "sealed" kit, I immediately open the packaging and do a parts count in front of the seller, having first made the agreement that if the kit is incomplete due to factory oversight or whatever, I get my money back or we renegotiate. Something "sealed" that you can’t see is a complete bogus concept as far as I’m concerned. What fun is it when you can’t even marvel at the pieces?

Despite all the caveats, I’ve generally had excellent luck buying and selling direct. A classified in KCC, Strange New Worlds, or Toy Shop is usually one of the best investments you can make when selling kits.

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