A model airplane is a miniature plane that can be a replica of a real or fictional plane. Wind tunnel models are used by aircraft makers to test aerodynamic qualities, conduct primary research, and develop new designs. Static, display, and shelf models are all terms for non-flying models. For collectors, model planes can be sold at a premium price because they are luxury items. So, people buy them. But why are models planes really expensive?
There are many reasons why models planes can get expensive, such as the cost of their materials. This is particularly true when getting a diecast plane. Additionally, some are expensive when the model is more life-like—basically, the more life-like the model, the higher its labor cost, which leads to higher prices.
When companies design a model plane, it’s a matter of determining a price that most individuals will remain interested in and are prepared to pay. Bearing in mind that it should not be too expensive or cheap, it depends on your ability to pay based on how much value you placed on the item. Many factors cover the price of a plane and why it gets expensive. I will try to cover all of these within the article.
If you are interested in the best commercial airplane models, feel free to check out this article: Best Commercial Plane Models.
Why are model planes so expensive?
Model planes can get expensive due to many internal and external factors. Internal factors include labor, material, company reputation, and research, while external factors include competition, certifications, and economic conditions.
Just as there are two sides to every story, there is a buyer and seller perspective to the price.
The manufacturer of model planes, when deciding the pricing of their products, always considers the internal and external factors that go into their products and how to stay profitable while delighting their customers with exceptional products.
Here are the factors that affect the price of model planes.
1. Variable and Fixed Cost
When determining a product’s pricing, the companies consider the costs of production. Both variable and fixed costs are included in this cost.
Variable costs include labor and material costs, while fixed costs include advertising, rent, and depreciation costs.
The compensation of the people who create the prototype model and dismantle it is inclusive.
As a result, the firm must recoup both variable and fixed expenses when setting model plane prices.
2. Business objectives & priority
Every corporation, including model plane manufacturers, aims to maximize shareholder earnings or increase market share.
These objectives also impact product pricing; for example, if the goal is to capture the market, the company will most likely use a market penetration strategy in which they sell a high-quality product for a low price.
This is to endear themselves to more people; later, when people know, like, and trust them. Then, slowly, they can gradually raise the price.
When businesses realize that individuals who love them are willing to pay more for the product, their goal becomes making the consumers happy by providing exceptional service/product while charging them the most they can. This is a regular occurrence with high-end brands.
3. The Brand or Company Reputation
Brand and company reputation are significant factors in product pricing.
For example, Apple tends to charge a premium for its products because of its reputation.
Another example is Lexus and Toyota.
Lexus and Toyota product lines are proudly manufactured by Toyota Motor Corporation. However, Lexus vehicles are more expensive because of the companies’ reputations, whereas Toyota vehicles are more inexpensive.
You might be wondering how this relates to model planes. It’s straightforward.
JC Wings, a diecast plane brand that sets limited production and quality, will be more expensive than, let’s say, Hot Wheels.
Different people have different reasons for loving a specific brand, and owning a model of such a plane is always a source of pride for these people, helping them relive some of their best memories.
Modeling firms are aware of this and can take advantage of it by selling at a premium, even though their production costs are likely to be expensive.
For example, when talking about Tamiya, we would always be sure of the quality and attention to detail. That’s why it can still charge a premium for a plastic model plane.
I don’t think this is bad as long as the company would live up to the expectations of their buyers.
4. Newer Models and Older model price are different
It is most likely more expensive when we have a brand new model.
Most new models get an instant hit. But some would take a long time to build traction.
The price of a model plane is also affected by where it is in its product life cycle.
For example, at the early launch phase, the company may offer a lower price to attract hobbyists, and during the growth stage, when demand exceeds supply, the company may raise the price.
5. Credit period offered by financer
Entrepreneurship necessitates a lot of guts, resourcefulness, and risk-taking. Extended credit facilities are one such risk, and the credit period supplied by the corporation has an impact on the pricing of model planes.
6. Promotional activities made by marketers
Even though national advertising is expensive, it is crucial for raising awareness among enthusiasts.
The firm’s promotional activity also determines the pricing.
If the company spends a lot of money on sales promotion, the model’s price will be kept high to pay the costs.
7. Mock-ups and aerodynamic research when designing
Wind tunnel and free-flight research investigations require aircraft models. For production development, full-scale static engineering models are also built.
They’re frequently built of different materials than the original design, or they can be swapped out to reflect alternative in-flight configurations.
8. Competition with other companies
Reading the internal factor, one may conclude that manufacturers can set a price, and customers will buy, but this is not the case.
There are other aspects to consider, such as competition.
When determining the pricing of model planes, the company will consider the level of competition in the market.
When there is a lot of competition, companies can maintain prices low to compete effectively.
When there isn’t much competition, prices may be kept high, which is why a monopolistic society is never recommended.
9. Government control such as taxes
When determining prices, take into account government rules and regulations.
For example, government-mandated prices may be announced for particular products, and producers must consider these laws when determining prices.
10. Middlemen and Retailers can affect the price
The manufacturer must take into account a variety of distribution channels and their expectations.
The more middlemen, the higher the price since they also need to profit.
11. Economic conditions
While setting prices, the manufacturer may have to consider the current economic situation.
Because customers may have less money to spend during a recession, firms may lower prices to influence purchasing decisions.
Why Do Hobbyists Buy Expensive Model?
Not all hobbyists buy expensive models. There are numerous factors to look out for when purchasing an expensive model, such as the quality of the product, rarity, popularity, and many more. However, the chance of a person to buy a model is usually higher due to their hobby.
It’s not all because they can afford it. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s tackle it one at a time. It might sound like a cliche, but it is true that we take both sides of the coin.
The seller and the buyers are partners in every successful transaction. Below are some of the reasons why hobbyists buy expensive toys:
1. Model’s Quality
True, there are some low-cost model planes available, but those who purchase high-quality model toys of any kind understand that it is better to spend a little more money on something you know is reputable and durable.
It is better than to pay multiple times for the low-cost contemporary because they understand that buying cheap will cause you to buy twice or more times.
2. Model’s Collectibility
Hobbies are willing to spend a higher price for models that will keep their value over time.
When you buy a premium model plane, you can be sure it’s diecast and made of steel. Even if it’s made of plastic, it’ll be robust and won’t break down quickly, and it’ll keep its worth as old models fade away, making it more valuable like paintings or gold.
If you want to buy high-quality model planes, you’ll have to spend a little more money, but it’ll be well worth it.
If you know they’re very valuable and will appreciate over time.
It’s worth investing money to buy them now because you’ll be able to resale them for a large sum of money later.
3. Model’s Viableness
Because it’s a collectible, you’ll be able to sell it for money in the future.
It’s good to spend a bit more money on it now since you’ll make more money if you finally decide to sell it, and you’ll save money in the long run if you buy it now.
It’s always a joy for hobbyists who enjoy collecting model planes to invest in what they appreciate.
4. Collector’s means of Validating
Sometimes back, I visited a friend at his place. No joke, his apartment was awesomely beautiful.
A few minutes into my time there, I can’t notice that almost everything in his apartment was branded with his favorite football club logo, from the key holder to the foot mat, window blind, throw pillows, mascots, and many other items.
The moment I complimented him, I could literarily see him brighten up and start talking about their best players, moment, and what’s not. I was happy for him too because he is living his dream.
Some hobbyists don’t need validation from other people. Instead, they validate themselves by collecting the hobbies they love.
Furthermore, online forums are an excellent way to share photos of their collection, which other collectors worldwide would appreciate.
5. Collectors feel it as something Gratifying
One of the winner’s mindsets is that when they win, they must celebrate. This is true, and it will motivate them to accomplish more. You’ve worked hard to achieve your objectives; now it’s time to treat yourself.
Hobbyists buy models because they deserve it, just as some believe a Rolex when they make their first million dollars.
You put in a lot of effort, and every time you look at that model plane, you’ll remember what you accomplished and how you did it. Buying one when you’ve made millions may seem a little shallow, but it improves your self-image.
6. Models are Masterpiece
Your admiration for each designer and their creation will grow as you learn more about their passion and craftsmanship.
Some model planes are one-of-a-kind, high-end, limited-edition works of art, and purchasing them is more than simply a purchase of valuable models; it’s also a tribute to the minds who created them—a feeling of admiration for a genuine piece of art.
It’s worth noting that understanding something before paying a high price for it is essential. As a general guideline, don’t buy to impress others; you can end up hurting yourself or purchasing worthless items masquerading as valuables.
We hope this doesn’t feel like an MBA crash course on pricing. However, you get the idea why model planes are expensive.
The costs of running the business, machinery that molds the parts and produces the boxes, and the costs of selling them to stores. How much they believe they can sell it to a small group of people.
That last sentence is crucial. Model planes are unnecessary. Few people are interested in constructing them. However, they can be requested at a premium price since they are a luxury item, and someone will pay it.
Then it’s a matter of determining a price that most individuals with interest are prepared to pay while also making it worthwhile for you to do so.
Some models are valuable because of their history, while others are more valuable for their rarity and craftsmanship. And according to The Law of Supply and Demand: If something’s hard to get, people will be willing to pay more.
“Only the things I love”
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So, here are the things I love when taking care of my Diecast Models.
Cleaning the Models
The first we are going to talk about is cleaning the models.
- Air Brush – For me, this is the best since it not just removes dust but you can use it in painting/clear coating.
- Air Duster – This is a good alternative to Airbrush
- Normal Brush – If you are short on budget, you can use a normal brush. However, make sure that the brush has soft bristles because there are some hard brushes than can cause scratches. That’s why I recommended a good brush that can do the job properly.
Cleaning and Shining Hacks
Well, here are some of my cleaning hacks for removing scratches, oxidation, and so much more.
- Removing Decal Adhesive – Use Goo Gone on those hard-to-remove decal adhesives. It works fast and works like charm!
- Waxing and Polishing – Here is something a lot of people don’t know. Waxing protects the clear coat and paint while polishing shines the model. Instead of buying it separately, use a 2 in 1 to save money. Get this instead.
- Beginner Wax – The wax I recommended earlier is good and provides the best results based on my experience. But a beginner might have a problem especially if they’re not good at applying wax. Solid wax reaching hard to reach surface can be hard to remove. You have two choices here. One is to use a qtips to reach those surfaces, another is to use a liquid wax I recommended.
- Cleaning Wheels, Rubber, Plastic – Do not forget that rubber and plastic surface are quite different, especially in the cleaning process. Just wiping it down won’t do the job. That’s why I use Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Cleaner and Conditioner. Works like charm!
- Make the Wheels Shine! – Making our models look good won’t be complete without tiny details such as shiny wheels! Do not forget this because however small this is, the difference can be as big as night and day.
- Remove Scratches Easily – Tiny scratches are not the end for your model. Here is a simple trick I’ve been using to make my models look scratch-free even without repainting. Use T-Cut.
Painting the Models
Make sure when you paint models, have these ready.
- Tape – A tape is important if you are painting a straight line. Furthermore, it will prevent your paint to scatter on other parts. I recommend Tamiya Tape since it is really made for models. Furthermore, they stick really well preventing paint splatters.
- Brush (Beginner) – Find a good set of brushes to paint your models. Of course, you can opt for an airbrush but it’s quite expensive.
- Airbrush (Intermediate/Expert) – This will yield a significantly better result than an ordinary brush because you can easily spray the paint evenly. I recommend this if you know what you’re doing.
- Stand(Optional) – Stands are good because it can be hard to manually hold the models while painting. It is optional but in my opinion, the price is well worth it for the comfort it gives.
- Drop Cloths – Drop Cloths will protect your surroundings from the paint.
- Primer – The most common beginner mistake I see is painting models without any Primer. A primer will prevent imperfections such as bubbles or paint not sticking to your models. It is a small price to pay for quality results.
- Clear Coat – A clear coat will protect the paint of your models. This will make the paint last longer. Also, it is the one responsible for making your models shine.
Of course, you can’t do painting properly without paint. So here are the ones I recommend.
- Acrylic Paint – Good for beginners because it dries quickly. However, it doesn’t produce results as good as enamel paint.
- Enamel Paint – Provides a good quality finish and longer-lasting paint. However, it takes longer to dry and requires expertise to use.
- Simple Wood Cabinet – While it doesn’t let you display your models, wooden cabinets are good storage for these models. For one, they are not heat conductors which means that the temperature inside will remain constant and remain cool. Furthermore, they prevent light from reaching the models which can cause oxidation.
- Clear Cabinet with Lock – If you want to display your models, then I recommend this. It closes so dust won’t easily get to your models. I also recommend you don’t put more than 1 model in each compartment since metals are good conductors of heat.
So you want to show off your models to others? Well, I got you covered.
Here is my beginner-friendly model photography tutorial that teaches everything from taking pictures to the editing process.
You will also see me doing hands-on photography in that tutorial.