The Delusion Of Restore

Early in my collecting days, the thought of paying full price for a New In Box (NIB) kit was a little overwhelming. I naively assumed I could just buy a reasonably priced used car and then spend some time fixing it up. It didn’t take long to realize that this was a much more difficult task than expected.

Off I went to eBay looking for some nice looking used cars and trucks that I didn’t already own. After tearing apart my first few acquisitions I realized that even nice looking versions almost always had missing or broken parts after you dismantled it completely. Missing a part you say? I’ll just go get a few extra parts and we will be done, problem solved. Unfortunately, because every car is “vintage” and no longer produced it was often very difficult to find replacement parts. The only viable alternative was to buy a SECOND used car and then scavenge the needed parts. It is usually hard enough to break even cost-wise reselling a restored car with the few parts you needed. You can throw the idea of actually making money out the window if you include the cost of a second runner.

If you were not able to find replacement parts and you couldn’t find a roller to scavenge because of availability or exorbitant cost then the only option left was to buy some parts from a newer re-release. If this happened to me and become my only option then I felt obligated to add the disclaimer to the sale listing which of course diminishes its resale value. There have been a time or two I have taken this route but conscience always prevails and I make sure to add that fact to the listing. I have always wanted to make sure that if I was going to advertise something as vintage that it was in fact vintage.

One of the things that disappoints me about Tamiya is that they decided to introduce re-releases. I understand it is easy money to bring back an early classic for their fans but it also dilutes the history of their kits. I would have much rather seen them spend that effort modernizing some new kits while keeping their unique attention to detail and realism. In case you are interested, there is a good overview of Tamiya’s re-releases at Black Hole Sun’s. This site contains lots of great information, part of which is a very good summary of the existing re-re kits.

With the existence of re-releases I was always suspicious of cars being sold that looked completely perfect. While I understand that “Shelf Queens” do in fact exist, that little voice inside me always has doubts. Another unsettling moment is when sellers pull the “I am not an RC expert” card as an easy way out of liability. It’s hard enough to try to determine the authenticity of a purchase on eBay but this just immediately screams “problem child” whenever I come across it.

I get it, it’s hard to try to verify everything you have is authentic and complete. Even with as much effort as I put into making sure things are vintage, there is always the possibility that a previous owner snuck in a re-re part in their haste to get it on eBay. That does bother me but it is unfortunately part of the risk.

As I continue to work on some of my new projects with full video documentation I plan on creating some blog posts about a few cars that I have purchased and restored over the years.

Stay tuned!

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