Friday, November 15, 2019

It’s not a seller’s market

I’ve been slowly downsizing my stash over the last year, and I’m learning that it’s not a seller’s market out there. I recently listed a number of models on ARC and Facebook and got no offers. Then I took them to eBay and subsequently realize very low prices. Here are a few examples:

  • Italeri Jaguar with Eduard details, $4
  • Airfix Spit Mk 22 with Eduard details, $11
  • Hobby Boss T-50 PAK-FA with Res-IM details, $8
  • Trumpeter JS-7, $19
  • Italeri Su-22, unsold

A quick search through completed sales on eBay shows that other sellers’ sales have been mediocre as well. Again, a few examples:

  • Hasegawa 1/72 F-4 Phantoms, which used to sell in excess of $30, are now routinely selling for under that.
  • Trumpeter 1/35 armor can often be scooped up for around $20.
  • Trumpeter 1/48 aircraft are selling for under $20.
  • Similarly, Hasegawa 1/48 aircraft are also selling for under $20.

(I’m looking only at auction prices, not the retail prices that professional eBay sellers set on their products.)

I think other modelers are seeing the same trend. I see a lot of models listed on the forums and Facebook that aren’t selling. I’m not talking about the guys listing models at near-retail prices (it's obvious why they don't sell), but those pricing their models at discount. Even well-priced models seem to be lingering unsold for months.

So what’s happening on the secondary market? I believe there are two big factors contributing to the soft sales.

First, a lot of modeler are, like me, realizing that they’ll never build the models they already have, so they’re reluctant to continue buying more, even at discount. Many of my friends share this sentiment, and I see it in discussions online as well.

Second, the cost of postage is detracting from what otherwise might be a bargain. For example, a $25 kit offered at $10 isn’t a bargain anymore when the buyer has to add $10 for postage. (The bigger the kit, the bigger the impact of postage!) The only bargains that can truly be had anymore are found at contests. Even then, I’ve seen plenty of sellers — especially professional vendors — pricing their models above what I’d consider a bargain. And…these are sellers sitting on huge inventories!

I reflect on this phenomenon to warn those of you who are downsizing your stashes to set your expectations accordingly. I also suggest that those of you who are new to the hobby to buy models very selectively; you don’t want to be sitting on a huge stash like many of us in our 50s and 60s and find you can recoup only a fraction of your investment.

1 comment:

  1. I use eBay as a buyer. I’ve never sold anything there. I'm in my early 50s and have been building since I was a kid with large gaps as other interests and real life got in the way. One early choice I made is to stick to only 1/48. I still like to think I might finish the 250 or so kits in my stash. I used to buy a lot of stuff off eBay. Things I’d never seen before or just couldn’t find in a LHS in the Midwest. Now it’s mostly for aftermarket items Sprue Brothers doesn’t carry. I was never there to bargain hunt. I always preferred a buy it now option even if it cost a little more than an auction should. While writing this I checked my history and my last auction was in March 2016 for a 1/48 Vautour IIN at 67€ shipped. Even with auctions I’d make a decision on how much a kit was worth to me, put in a bid and walk away. If I lost out, there would be othedr chances.

    Just to keep the stash somewhat under control I’m only adding to it when it’s something really unique that may not be around on the market for long. I have no need for another F-4,F-14,F,15,F-16,etc. I have stacks of decent kits that are perfectly fine to build. No need to buy someone’s old Airfix or Monogram kits or even most new tooled kits. My last 3 complete kits from e-bay were all recently released resin kits for aircraft that are not likely to ever be tooled by a mainstream manufacturer. But, I'm still frequently ordering aftermarket to help out the older kits in my stash.

    Most of the old kits in my stash just aren’t the rarities they once were and I know wouldn't command the prices they once did. Many have been surpassed by new tool Chinese kits in the last decade and even the old molds have been put back in service with repops. As a buyer I’ve noticed a steep decline in the true rarities over the last couple of years. I don’t mean not being able to find a specific release of a special edition Hasegawa F-16. For me the rarities are aircraft that were usually limited run kits briefly available from manufacturers that are no long around. Note I refer to aircraft and not kits. I build post-WWII aircraft exclusively. If I wanted a Dassault F1 that used to mean the Esci kit released in the late '70s. I have one I paid over a $100 in the early days of eBay because it was the only game in town and I had been looking for over a decade when I found it. Just a few years later I picked up an Italeri repop at the LHS for around $30.