Ten top tips for serious model collectors

Models can be so much more than ‘just toys’. Any serious collector knows that. A toy is made to be fiddled with; poked and prodded and eventually thrown away. Models, however, exist to replicate (often in extravagant detail) either existing vessels or those yet to be built.

There is something incredibly satisfying and rewarding about amassing a collection of finely crafted models and the best thing is that whatever your interest, there are bound to be models that reflect it.

From the space marines, orcs and elves of Warhammer and the die-cast model cars we all enjoyed as kids to the immaculate model ships carved from the finest woods and put together with stunning precision, it’s nothing if not a varied hobby.

But it is also a hobby that can prove daunting for the uninitiated, which is why we’ve put together our top ten tips for those just starting out in the wonderful world of serious model collection.

1. Of course, you don’t want to be a model collector who just ‘collects models’; you want to be a collector of model cars, model trains or historic figures. So, the first thing any collector should do is single out the thing that truly inspires him or her and choose exactly what it is they are going to collect. The beauty of collecting, of course, is that it can be as specific or as vague as you wish!

2. If your chosen field of collection is still too vast, focus your sights on a more specific line, style, or ‘brand’. If you are collecting model ships, for example, narrow your focus to warships if that’s what really interests you. Otherwise, you are likely to end up with a vast collection that doesn’t feel cohesive and you are less likely to feel satisfied.

3. Start with the more traditional and ‘common’ models and then move towards the desirable end of the scale as you build your collection. If you start with what you covet most then everything else in your collection will feel small and insignificant by comparison. So don’t start too big – save the ‘holy grail’ items for later in your collection journey.

4. Space is always going to be an issue as your collection grows. If your home is relatively small, for example, you might want to consider sticking to smaller models. You are probably going to have at least one room in the house where you keep most of your collection, so take the size of that room into account too.

5. Storage is also something you’ll need to consider. Will you have your models on display or would you prefer to have them hidden away for your eyes only? If the former is the case, then you will either have to invest in prefabricated display cases or build your own. Which route you choose to go down will depend very much on how deep your pockets are and how handy you are with your DIY skills.

6. You also need to consider the surroundings where your collection will live. Will it need to be well-lit and what will it be set against? Indeed, the surroundings in which you display your collection can be almost as important as the collection itself!

7. If the models you choose to collect come in boxes, decide at the very start of your collecting journey whether you’re going to be an ‘in box’ collector or an ‘out of box’ collector. You can have it both ways, if you wish (keeping some rarer models in box and displaying others) but the more valuable collections are always the consistent ones.

8. Maintenance is key with any collection and model maintenance is particularly important. Dust is the greatest enemy of any hobbyist, so keep your models dusted regularly. You should also ensure that the location where they are kept is dry and not too warm. If your models are largely plastic then this is especially relevant.

9. When out hunting for new models, don’t be afraid to check charity shops and car boots. You would be genuinely amazed what people are willing to let go when they don’t know what they have and you might be able to pick up something for a few pennies that would have cost you hundreds of pounds on eBay.

10. Finally, don’t forget to have fun! This is why we all get into the hobby in the first place and it can be all too easy to forget.