O F F - T H E - S H E L F

The following editorial reflects the personal thoughts of Doug Breithaupt relating to our common hobby of miniature cars. It is intended to generate discussion relating to 'Tales of Toy Cars'. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via the 'Guest Book'.

A Matter of Scale

It can be confusing, especially to newer diecast collectors, when references to the many scales are made. Toy cars have always been offered in a wide variety of sizes and while this has not changed, the industry has adopted common scales in order to simplify production and marketing. Scales of diecast are popular today that did not exist 15 years ago and some of the older scales are dying out.

In order to review the many toy car scales, I have selected from my Jaguar collection. All of the images were taken with the camera in the same position and the cars displayed on the same shelf. While this results in fuzzy images for smaller models, it does help demonstrate actual size. I some cases I selected representative models for a particular range of sizes. It would be possible to have examples in every increment between 1:55 and 1:64 scale but it is sufficient to address just a representative few. A quick review of the variety of scales currently offered to the diecast community shows the following to be the most common offerings. I have given each scale an identifying name. These names are of my own design. Let's start with the smallest and work up.

MICRO - less than 1:87 Scale
This scale is primarily the territory of Galoob's Micro Machines. While the bodies are plastic, the bases are usually metal. The variety of models produced in the Micro Machine line is staggering. While the image is blurred, the model represented is of the 1957 Jaguar 'D' type in British Racing Green. Many of these micro models have opening doors and hoods. Matchbox even did a 1:200 scale Jaguar XJ6 but I can't find mine!

H.O. - 1:87 Scale
Thanks to the success of the H.O. scale railroad enthusiasts, 1:87 scale is alive and well. Many non-railroad collectors now focus on this scale. New manufacturers are joining the H.O. ranks but Wiking and Herpa are the best-known manufacturers. Many larger-scale producers like Mattel has done 1:87 scale cars. Most bodies are plastic and metal is used for bases. The levels of detail in this scale continue to grow.
OLD SMALL - 1:66
Before Hot Wheels came on the scene, 1:66 scale was the most common scale for toy car makers. Matchbox, Schuco, Majorette, Polistil (Penny) and others offered 1:66 scale models. Recently, 1:66 scale has made a modest return. Hot Wheels did a four-car Jaguar set in 1:66 scale and the XJ13 shown here is an example.
NEW SMALL - 1:60 Scale
The term 1:64 scale is used to describe all small-scale cars from 1:66 to 1:55. Most cars of this scale are closer to 1:60 scale. Welly's new Jaguar 'S' type is 1:60 scale, as are many Matchbox, Maisto, Majorette, Johnny Lightning, Ertl and Tomica models. Hot Wheels tend to range from 1:60 to 1:64 as a rule. 1:60 scale could be considered the most common scale for 3-inch diecast cars.
TRADITIONAL - 1:50 Scale
The diecast cars produced in Europe and Britain from the 1930's through 1950's were often in the 1:50 scale range. Dinky was the industry leader and others followed suit. The model shown is a pre-war Dinky Jaguar SS100. The French, Italians and Germans all produced 1:50 scale cars until many moved to the accepted scale for collectors, 1:43 scale, in the 1960's. Siku of Germany is unique in continuing to produces many 1:55 scale models today.
COLLECTOR - 1:43 Scale
Since the 1960's, 1:43 scale has become the premier scale for 'serious' collectors. These are not toy cars as one can see from prices that range from $10 to over $1,000 per model. Every production and racing Ferrari has been done in 1:43 scale as have ever Le Mans winning car. The car shown is a modern Dinky Jaguar 'E' type, produced by Matchbox. If you really want to find a specific car, 1:43 scale is the most likely place to look.
FRICTION - 1:40 Scale
Many Asian manufacturers have produced diecast toy cars in the 1:40 scale range. Maisto, Welly and Road Champs are the primary players in this scale. The Jaguar XJS Cabriolet shown is from Maisto and like many of this scale, sports a friction pull-back motor. While these are toy cars, they should not be dismissed as crude or cheap. Many are quite well-detailed and often sell in the $2-5 range.
JUNIOR - 1:36 Scale
Corgi and Matchbox were largely responsible for the majority of cars in this scale. These were the senior models that offered the opening features and rugged play life that made them favorites of children from the '60's through '80's. When found today, most show that they were toys first with considerable wear. The Jaguar XJ12C from Corgi offers an opening bonnet and V12 motor. This scale is not common today.
KIT - 1:32 Scale
Diecast cars in 1:32 scale are rare as this scale is more common to plastic kits. The Jaguar XK8 shown here is from New Ray and is friction powered. It is un-likely that we will see many other diecast cars in this scale, however, more diecast kits are being offered today and perhaps that will lead to more 1:32 scale offerings.
PRECISION - 1:24 Scale
The best-known 1:24 scale models are the 'mint' offerings from Danbury and Franklin. At prices of more than $100 each, these beautiful models are not for the financially disadvantaged. At the same time, Bburago, Maisto, Polistil, Anson, Welly and others have produced many very nice 1:24 scale models for $5-10 each. The model here is Bburago's Jaguar XK120 fixed-head coupe.
LARGE - 1:18 Scale
The explosion of 1:18 scale has been the major trend in diecast cars over the past 15 years. The Italian firms of Bburago and Polistil were the early players in these large-scale beauties. Today, everyone seems to have a 1:18 line and the quality just keeps getting better. Prices range from $15 to $200 although the majority are available for about $25 each. Soon, 1:18 may rival 1:43 scale for variety. The challenge in 1:18 scale is making space to display even a modest collection. Ertl's fine Jaguar XJ120 in racing form is shown.
EXTRA LARGE - 1:16 Scale
Polistil of Italy produced many of their large cars in 1:16 scale before 1:18 became the accepted scale for this range. These models are close enough in size to be displayed side-by-side with 1:18 scale models. Polistil's Jaguar 'E' type is shown here.
JUMBO -1:12 Scale
A handful of diecast manufacturers have produced cars in 1:12 scale. At this scale, these cars look ready to drive. Maisto did this lovely Jaguar XJ220 and offered several other models in this scale. Anson also offers 1:12 scale. Prices run from $75-100 per model.

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