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Model kits have existed since ancient times. Archaeologists have opened royal tombs to discover model chariots, ships, and other unique scaled miniatures inside. In the ‘50s, model kits became popular when the world took an interest in knowing history, understanding how things worked, and dreaming of life’s possibilities. Made of wood, plastic, and metal, some of the first models to come to market in 1936 were made by British model companies Frog and Airfix. Several model companies including Renwal, Varney, Hawk, Empire, and Lindberg appeared in America during the ‘40s. During the ‘50s, the craze took hold with companies including AMT, Revell, and Monogram competing for the marketplace. Over time, the secondary marketplace has grown as well.
Since the ‘70s, model manufacturers have popped up around the globe. Companies including Japanese Tamiya and Hasegawa have created some of the finest models on the marketplace today. Brands from Russia, China, Korea, and Central Europe have taken the market by storm. Still, original model kit companies from Great Britain and the United States still dominate the secondary market, rising in levels of collectability and prices every year.
The general demographics of plastic modeling have changed since their modern introduction in the ‘50s. Originally intended for young boys, now older adults enjoy model building and collecting as well. Often, adult collectors assemble large collections, bringing back memories of long ago. Collectors today look for unopened, unassembled, and rare models with short production periods.
In the ‘90s, numerous countries banned Formula One race cars from advertising tobacco sponsors, thus ending the same on model kits which were meant for youths
Ship models constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries for the Royal Navy were known as Admiralty models. Some of these models were so finely made that today they can command more than $50,000
Engineering, architectural, and movie prop models are particularly sought after. In October 2006 at Christie's, a Star Trek production model of the Starship Enterprise used in the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series sold for $576,000, a record price