I miss the kits that had the opening doors, hood, trunk and posable wheels. Somehow that sort of stuff really made a kit IMO.
Also when there were extra goodies in the kit. I had one years ago that had several chromed tools in it, a 4-star and a couple of wrenches. Now you have to pay thru the nose for those extras. Also had a few that had an extra set of wheels, extra engine etc. Great kits!
Even a lot of armour modellers don't 'weight' their plastic tires, so I doubt many car modellers would. Better to give them a tire with realistic texture and colour rather than expecting them to paint a realistic finish.
Besides. 'real' tire can just as easily be flat spotted with sand paper. Who knows, you might able to heat and squish the 'real' tires. Something even fewer armour modeller will do to their plastic tires for fear of ruining the entire wheel/tire.
'Real' hollow tires are best for model's tire and can easily be 'weighted'...
For starters, styrene tires cannot be made with anything at all resembling realistic tread patterns, simply because you couldn't get the tire out of the mold if you did. PVC (which is pretty much the norm for US car kits, and Neoprene, which is pretty much the standard for Japanese car kits, can be pulled from the mold with excellent tread detail.
Also, I believe the marketplace (read that, model car builders) in general have made soft tires an expectation in model car kits. Hard plastic tires have been offered many times over the years, and generally meet with a fairly cool reception.
As for posable steering, that does get included in a lot of model car kits, or at least front suspensions that can, with a minimum of effort, be built up with the front wheels posed in a turn--not too hard to do, really.
Opening panels raise tooling cost issues. Always keep in mind that there is a cost for each and every piece put into a plastic kit--if a kit has all the bells & whistles, the price can go up dramatically, witness the MSRP of the upcoming Trumpeter 1960 Pontiacs. Opening doors were seen as a selling point in the 1960's by AMT and Revell, but it seems again the marketplace voted against this feature, for whatever reason. A few kits, as you probably know, have been done with opening trunklids, but again, I believe the jury is still out as to whether that is something that would "sell more kits" than if it wasn't done. If nothing else, kitting such hinges as are needed is at best a very toy-like compromise, just as it often is with diecast ready-built cars.
As for the working steering setups on diecast cars, this feature comes at a price in another way: To make these setups work, the scale fidelity of the front suspensions, spindles, even the steering linkage has to be seriously compromised if the setup is to work reliably, and the resulting suspension components are going to support the weight of the model (typically a 1:18 scale diecast car averages about 2.5lbs in weight, and some actually can tip the scales as high as 3.5 lbs). As the typical diecast car is done with a diecast body, and ABS plastic everything else, it goes without saying that the ABS plastic has a big responsibility to uphold.
How do I come to know all this about diecast? Simple, after working in the design of 1:64 scale diecast for almost 2 years, I have just completed the design projects for my employer for two 1:18 scale replica projects, the mockups for the first one being in my office as I write this. Addtionally, my office is just down the hall from a small, but very active player in the plastic model car kit field, and I have also participated in the development of
1:25 scale car kits in that side of the operation as well.
How about....kits of WWI aircraft (or any fabric covered aircraft) molding those sections in "clear", so that the semi-transparent quality of clear doped linen, and visibly darker ribs, can be duplicated; by painting in a "glaze"?
Had an old (late 60's kit) Revell I think, 56 Chevy with all that stuff. Loved the kit. As for hinges, they worked just like the real 56 Chevy I had at the time, I needed a stick to keep them open (lousy hood springs & I don't know about the trunk)so the model of my real one was quite realistic.
I don't mind paying a bit more if the quality is there but so many of todays models are BOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIING! Mass produced with little thought given to detail - thats most kits, not all.
I have quite a few examples of OmniChargers and the earliest years came with styrene tires as well as vinyl ones. The vinyl tires were used and the others clog up my parts box.
Opening doors are great for those who like that. I've been known to glue those doors shut whilst building the kit. I do have two car kits with opening trunks - an AMT '49 Merc and a Hubley '59 Rolls-Royce. The Merc came off quite well, the Rolls not as well.
I salute Grandpa for actually getting one of those Revell Chevys built. They dissuaded me from buying any more Revell car kits for years.
It doesn't have to be mounted. Marcus shows how to 'weight' the tires of the new Tamiya HUMVEE in TMMI #100. He just uses a insert inside the tire thats a bit shorter, glues it to the wheel and then CAs the inside of the tire to the insert giving the same weighted effect as my Kübel's tires. I'd probably use epoxy rather than CA.
Now, *that's* a good idea! A lot less risky than cutting off the bottom of the tire, and a lot easier to make sure they're all the same. I'll try it next time I build a model car with that kind of tire. Thanks!
All sound points that are well taken Art... BUT... I do think there is room to elevate the bar with the auto kits similar to the manner the bar has been raised with military kits. It's time to push the envelope and start building up some enthusiasm and expectation among car modelers the way the armor and aircraft lines enjoy.
I saw an old AMT Ford kit in the model shop I haven't seen in a while. Nice boxart. Same old sloppy kit. From memory: A clunky chassis with one solid piece floor pan and rails, leaf springs, gas tank and exhaust system. One big solid chrome piece for the front grille and bumper and another piece for the rear. A big pod to slap a dashpad on and a couple of seats and jam the whole thing up in the painted body. Oops... forgot the completely unrealistic one piece of clear plastic glued to the inside roof. It functions more as an obstruction to mating the interior to the body than it does to replicating scale glass. Throw on some shiny vinyl tires on their metal axles and voile, yet another toy car masquerading as a model kit. There's an engine, transmission and driveshaft thrown in there for good measure. Kit cost: $11. Whoopee.
I guess what I'm complaining about is more the lack of choices for the older cars. Most of the newer kits with their newer subjects offer a sharper treatment. The big question I guess would be is there a market for someone to cut new molds for older cars. My gut reaction would be no. Not as long as someone can hold up an existing old mold with fancy boxart for one half or one third the price.
Which makes me wonder if the way to go is to start to develop premium lines of
1/18th scale kits. Not so much bigger than 1/24-25th like the 1/8th and 1/12 attempts over the years and the diecast products have already softened up resistance to 1/18th. I know that when I saw the ERTL line of 1/18th American Muscle cars that I was impressed with the results they got for $25, my cost. I started collecting a few of those and all but quit building models for a while.
People naturally associate increased size with increased cost. With 1/18th you can work in the innovations, bump up the costs. No one can hold up a cheaper 1/24-25th and make a fair comparison. If that's what it takes to sever the umbilical cord that ties mainstream car kits with their promo car past then hurrah! The traditional kits will still be around. They'll be the training wheel solution that companies have been trying to foster with their snap build efforts.
Rant off. Not trying to bust on anyone's love affair with the old standbys, but I know that you never get better quality unless you demand it. All the messages in the world will not make a difference either so this is just typing practice. It will take one risk taking company to step forward and build a better car model that the market will respond to. The formula is complex, the answers are not simple. The rewards may be illusory. Such is a life worth living.
To reply, get the HECK out of there firstname.lastname@example.org