Monday, August 7, 2017

Your stash when you die

Like most of you, I have a lot of models in my stash. I have great affection for them, and I have a good idea of the paint scheme and markings I intend to apply to each one. In my mind’s eye I can envision how they’ll look when complete.

Then reality sets in when I do the math and realize that I have more kits than I can build in my lifetime, at least at my current rate. Some evenings I’ll sit and look over the models and come to the harsh realization that that Hasegawa 1/72 EF-111A or the Tamiya 1/48 F-16C may be sitting in that exact same spot when I die. It’s downright depressing. All that inspiration and ambition is pointless when I face reality.

To be sure, there are ways we can increase our output. A couple of years ago I suggested painting your cockpits black, and I offered five ideas to speed up your builds. But even doubling or tripling my rate of completion may not be enough, especially considering all the great kits that will inevitably be released over the next 20 years. Heck, just today I received the new AMK 1/72 Kfir, another kit I may never build!

I’ve been thinking about this dilemma a lot recently. The ripe old age of 50 is clearly on my radar. Reading on Hyperscale of the passing of several modelers. A friend who's been selling a collection of die cast models for the widow of a friend who died. And my fiancee, who casually asked me what she should do with my models if something were to happen to me.

I can hear many of you already. “I’ll be dead. I don’t care what happens to my models.” We can laugh at a flip, apathetic response like that, but I’ve come to believe that leaving behind an enormous collection of models to your heirs to deal with is a burden. It’s inconsiderate and unloving.

The prospect that one of your friends might leave you 500 models, for example, has an element of opportunity to it — once you get past the grief. But then the reality of the situation would set in. How are you going to get the models from their home to yours? Where will you store them? How will you sell them? Are they complete? Are they even desirable?

Clearly, there’s potential for a collection of models to have significant value…if they’re sold individually. But if you’ve every sold models on eBay, on Facebook, or via the forums you know what I know, that being a seller is a total pain in the ass. Determining a viable price for each model, the logistics of posting them, responding to email, acquiring shipping material, packing the models, printing postage, mailing the items, tracking the packages, responding to follow-up communication…it can be a full-time job. Yes, the money is nice, but I’d rather be building a models than packing them en masse.

“My wife can call one of the second-hand model dealers and sell them in bulk,” you say. True, but she's likely to get pennies on the dollar. Those twenty WingNut Wings models in your stash might earn your wife $100 amid all the other models she’d offer to the buyer. That doesn’t seem fair to her.

So what’s a guy to do? Here are a few suggestions.

With each passing year after 50 take a hard assessment of the kits in your stash, and those that don’t excite you should go to a sale pile. Sell them online or buy a table at a local contest and sell them there. The goal is to have a reasonable number of unbuilt models in your stash, knowing that nearly anything can be found on the secondary market if you “accidentally” sell a model that you decide you want to build 10 years from now.

Give some of your kits away. There are organizations that will gladly send models to our troops overseas. If you’re a member of a club, give some to new members or to a junior member. Or to your friends; having been the recipient of many kind offers over the years, I can assure you it’s greatly appreciated.

Slow your purchases. For example, the next time you're at a contest and see an enticing kit at a bargain price, be strong. Ask yourself if you really need another Hasegawa P-51D when you already have 10 of them at home, even if the price tag says only $5.

Make arrangements for the disposal of your unbuilt kits upon your passing. If you’re going to bequeath them to a modeler-friend, first, make sure he's up for the task, and if he is, be sure to designate him in your will and communicate that to your family, and let them know whether you're giving the models to your friend outright or whether you expect him to sell them on behalf of your family. If you’re content for your family to sell them in bulk to one of the second-hand retailers, make sure they have contact information for two or three of those retailers. (And it wouldn’t hurt to call out any models that are of particularly high value.)

Look, the goal isn’t to have zero kits in your stash when you die, just not to have hundreds that someone has to deal with amid all the other estate issues they’ll be managing at the time. As we get older, protecting our friends and loved ones is incredibly important, and it extends to the assets of our hobby as much as anything else.

Live long and prosper. And downsize.


  1. Interesting topic Steve and one I have thought of but done nothing about to this point. It's like buying an Aston Martin multimedia kit and then thinking I will build this when the kids are a little older....well being the wrong side of 50 now and two very young ones when is the time to build it. But reading this makes me think I should talk to the wife or at least start with some tips on what to do with the large stockpile I have.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I think I sold you that Aston Martin kit! :)

  2. We're going to pick up the collection from one of our passed members in a couple weeks. We've sold off the collection of another recently as well. I'm starting to think a bit more about mine, and this essay lays it out very nicely. Now I need to get my wife to start thinking about her Barbie collection...

    1. LOL. The last place you want to find yourself is sitting in the vendor room of a Barbie convention. :)

  3. This subject is the same as giving your child up for adoption. Very difficult to do, and you would rather not want to see it happening. I say keep them all but just value them at the lowest cost you would let them go for. Your family then has an idea of what they should get for the collection that is left over. To answer the question "do I really need another" YES!! You can never have enough of any kit. :-)

  4. I like the idea of indicating a low price for the models in your stash. Good advice!

  5. I have been a builder / collector since I was about 8. My father would find out about a hobby shop going out of business with 75% off prices. We would jump in the 1960 Buick LeSaber and off we would go returning with stacks of models. He bought some for me and himself.. I am now 62 (Ugh) & have between 12,000 & 14,000 in my collection.. I even opened an E-Bay store too sell off a ton but there is a limit you can sell off your models.. By the time you sell a $15.00 model & E-Bay & Paypay get their cut you feel like you are giving them away.. I have tried other ways to sell my collection but the best way is to realize Old Age comes on fast.. Don't over collect.. With that being said I am still adding models to my collection.. I'll never learn (HaHa)

    1. You're a prime candidate for renting a few tables at a model contest and selling your stash...or at least a portion of it. :)

  6. Hi all,

    I am from India and new into model building. I am 27 years old. The thing is India has a zero penetration of this hobby. I started as a diecast collector, but then I stumbled upon scale modelling on a Facebook page. I absolutely loved it. Why buy expensive Diecasts if I can build models and customize as I like it!

    I am really willing to buy kits from you fellas if you are willing to sale or are downsizing. Please feel free to reach out to me on

    Till then, wishing y'all good health and God Bless ya!

    With respect,