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Alfa Romeo Miniatures

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At the bottom of this page there is a slideshow of some of my little Alfas.

Here's an article I wrote for the AROC UK club magazine in 2008:

Collecting Alfa models

Building up a collection has a strong resemblance with writing an article. If you want to do it properly and work towards a perfect result you should make a plan in advance, determine your goal  and decide what to include and what to exclude. Not just start anywhere and end up somewhere.

Talking about models
Doesn’t that sound like a nice point to start from with this article? I happily accept Chris Savill’s invitation to write about collecting Alfa Romeo scale models, because it really is such an exciting subject to talk or to write about. Sometimes when people visit my little museum at home I forget my role as a good host .

Standing in front of my cabinet I keep talking and talking, taking models on my hand as I tell about the special details and remarkable features, comparing them to other models and explaining why I think something is good or not. Until somebody starts to cough a little, trying to make clear that he is dying  for anything to drink!
 
How it started

Alfasud Sprint, start of the Alfa Romeo models collection
I’ve been collecting Alfas for about 30 years. During our childhood my brother and I had some Matchbox Models of Yesteryear and a lot of Wiking and Herpa cars in H0 scale. Just because we liked cars in general, like almost any little boy. My father owned some Simcas. At that age the car your father is driving is always the best car in the world. So were the 1000s and the 1100. Then he got a red Alfasud. What a difference! Such an agility, such a pleasure to drive. Actually the very first yards of my life I drove myself were in this Alfasud, at the age of 15. Then that exciting boxer sound! Almost at once the Alfa virus got me and I’m still infected. At the same time a Dutch car magazine that I used to read had a column about model cars. Interesting! I started to buy some models, any brand,  just to display and look at, rather then playing with them. At a certain point I realized I had become a ‘collector’! Soon I began to specialize in Alfas. Any model, manufacturer, scale or color was fine with me, as long as it were models of the cars I had started to admire so deeply: Alfa Romeo.

About numbers

Within those 30 years I have developed a strong opinion on collecting (yes, I know that ‘strong’ does not mean ‘right’). My first rule:  the number of models is not important! A fine collection reflects the passion of the collector. A 20 piece collection can be more impressive than one of several hundreds. If the owner has purchased his models well considered and is able to tell something about the history of the model and the original I think it is far more interesting than a collection from someone with an unlimited budget who buys four or six models a week.

Being asked how many models I have I always reply ‘over 400’. Because of my opinion on numbers, but also because I just don’t know. Yes, you are right, I should keep a record of it, database, pictures, insurance, etc. In my cabinet there is a little bit of chaos. Models are not displayed in a straight alignment but in groups. Valuable handbuilts are sitting next to cheap plastic toy models.

Track Stars fetish

A Track Stars Alfa 155 V6 TI (DTM/ITC style)
About pure toy models, I do have a kind of fetish for Track Stars models. I once stopped buying  ‘all colors’  or ‘all liveries’, but from these 1:64 scale Chinese  155 V6 TI (DTM/ITC) I want them all! The models were sold under different names in many countries in large quantities. Because they were meant as toys most of them ended up in the hands of young kids and got heavily playworn. So mint and boxed samples are rare. Thanks eBay I found 19 different liveries, and bought them from Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK. I’m still looking for two or three others. (see YouTube movie)





Internets perpetual swap meet


OK, I dropped the name… eBay. It’s not the only but certainly the most important online market for scale models. Thanks to eBay you can find almost any model you are looking for, no matter how rare it is. On the other side, because there are so many potential buyers on eBay the chance to find a real bargain has almost vanished.

Disco Volante by Spark Models
Sure, eBay definitely has changed collecting and offers a lot of great opportunities, but nothing compares to a real swap meet where you can take the intended purchase in your hands and check for flaws or shortcomings. And more important: talk to fellow collectors who share the passion. For me the social aspect is important. I hardly ever envy another collector because he’s having something I’m still after. Because I know that special emotion of finding that particular model, I would grant it to anyone.

Gadgetism

I see an important difference between older and younger collectors, generally speaking of course. Where older collectors (in my perception anybody over 30 – 35) still have a feeling for the charms of older, simple and sometimes crude Alfa models like Politoys, Mercury, Mebetoys and Penny , the younger go for modern supercars, most of them in scale 1:18. Since Alfa only has the 8c Competizione in this segment of the market, the brand it is not very popular. BMW, AMG Mercedes, Lamborghini and Ferrari it must be, with a glove compartment that can be opened, real carpet and an engine made from at least 50 parts.

Not the atmosphere it is breathing is leading but the accuracy of the model and the number of features. Young collectors judge the models  the same way as they do with their mobile phones. I call this gadgetism.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Every collector has his own motives, but sometimes I get the feeling we’re not speaking the same language.

What do I want?

Erm…  about my own motives, what am I aiming at? Well, what I would like to achieve is the complete history of Alfa Romeo in models. Nice, decent models with a neat accuracy, scale 1:43. OK, I have ‘over 400’ but there are still a lot of gaps in the range. The main reason is that most of the early vintage Alfas can only be obtained as expensive handbuilt models. Of course I could save some money for a while and then buy a RL of RM. Or an Alfa Mille Truck.

Odd Alfa models

Ultraman Max Dashalpha
Yes I could, but then I see a plastic ‘flying’ GT with jet engines and guns in the front. It’s a design retrieved from a Japanese manga style kind of superman movie: Ultraman Max saves the world with his Dashalpha (that’s how it is spelled…). Ow, I’ve GOT to have this odd thing and its little cartoonish brother too. And gone are the savings for the Alfa Mille… It doesn’t matter.

When I look at the Dashalpha I smile. And that’s what ‘s it all about. A couple of years ago I put some pictures of my collection on the internet. Somebody remarked: “that’s quite an eclectic collection you have”. I think it’s one of the nicest compliments I ever had on my collection. The man precisely recognized the passion I had put in it.

My favourites

So
Giulia Polizia by Edil Toys
me other important items in my collection: the 1:24 apple green Alfasud Sprint, the first Alfa Romeo in my collection. A rare Giulia Polizia by Edil Toys. I bought it 28 years ago, mint & boxed  for the equivalent of GBP 16. At that time that was a lot of money for me (being a scholar) but I only realized how much it was worth when I saw one being sold on eBay for GBP 350… Still, it is not the value I like, but the model. Four opening doors, fully detailed interior, ‘diamond’ headlights, and with the leaflet en protective foam sheet still like it just comes from the shop, a true jewel.

A little dream come true

Giulietta Polizia Urbana Firenze
Another nice story:  I write about Alfa Romeo scale model news on the forum of the Dutch Alfa Owners Club SCARB (you should really check out these pages on Alfa scale models). Once I mentioned a Giulietta (116) ‘Vigili Urbani Milano’, an elaborated model, offered on eBay. I wrote that the livery was wrong, it never occurred on the Giulietta. Another forum user responded with a picture from another Giulietta in the ‘Polizia Urbania’ of Florence livery. A couple of weeks later I see that car with that livery as a model on eBay. From the same seller… In the description he said that some Alfisti from Holland had suggested him the idea. So he had read my topic! And now the best part…  Of course I just had to make an offer. And I won the auction! Yeah!

I could go on for pages with other stories and collectors experiences, but I’m sure Chris would have to shorten the article. So here it ends and I’m curious about what other collectors will share with us in the next episodes. Happy collecting!

Oops...

Oh no, what have I done…? Reading back what I have written it occurs to me that I have completely forgotten the structure of the article! What a chaotic piece it has become… Hmmm,  I started the article with a remark about the similarity between writing and collecting. Well, here it is…




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