Just as carbon fibre is changing automotive engineering, synthetic resin has revolutionised the world of model cars – it’s a smooth material for small rarities.
However, it does not have to be the choice of one or the other ; many collectors love both types of scale model cars. Let’s look at four reasons why resin model cars are increasingly popular.
1.It is easier to reproduce complex shapes and curves because of the nature of resin
Resin is a more flexible material than the zinc alloy used to make diecast models. Diecast models are made of metal which allows them to be a bit stronger and allows to have lots of doors and panels that can be opened. It also gives them the feeling to be more substantial, which many collectors prefer but is not really true.
It is usually easier to make opening doors and bonnets in diecast as resin is more fragile than metal. However, the problem of fragility does not entirely disappear in diecast as one is still often left with the choice of over scaling the hinges and catches or else making them so delicate they also break easily. Collectors of scale model cars still need to make up their minds on whether they want opening parts or not. These can be very successful in some vehicles but not necessarily on all. Shut lines can also be an issue if they are too wide. On a resin model, the shut lines are very thin, and mimic exactly the reality, meaning the gaps don’t break the line of a beautiful designed car. If you are looking at a perfect shaped model car, then do not hesitate to go for resin over diecast.
Collectors know full well that all accurate scale models are delicate and need to be looked after. It is hardly ever the bodywork of a model that breaks with careless handling but rather the various small attachments such as wing mirrors and spoilers that break off. This can happen just as easily to a diecast model as a resin one. Of course, if a spoiler is injection moulded and overscaled, it might well be more durable, but many feel this is an unacceptable price to pay in reduced accuracy.
2. Resin allows high levels of details (interior, photo etching) because of the flexible nature of resin
Even if you cannot implement easily or at low costs openings as in diecast, the level of details you can reach with resin scale model cars is absolutely astonishing.
The details of diecast cars aren’t as crisp as resin cast ones. This is due to the nature of the moulds. Molten zinc alloy is injected into it, but as it is thin, the metal is inevitably rounded off a bit.
Resin, on the other hand, allows sharp details. A resin model car will look more realistic than its diecast counterpart because of the resin cast, which is made of soft silicone.
Lots more manual work typically goes into resin scale model cars to add extra details such as antennas, seatbelts, spare wheels and a vast amount of interior detailing. Fabric for seat belts and carpet are also often included, and many different colours. At DNA Collectibles, we love to include the tiniest possible details into our model cars. Look behind our perforated front grilles and you will find the matching radiator behind them. Even more detailed is our fantastic Audi R8 where you can see through the rear grilles and see the exhaust pipes as well!
With the finer details, the soft mouldings go underneath and reproduce every fine texture and are hand-built very carefully over a long time.
3. The paintwork of resin model cars tends to be smoother plus there is no need to be worried about zinc pest
The finish of the paintwork on resin scale model cars is fantastic and lasts longer than diecast paintwork, which is more likely to flake and chip due to the surface of the metal. The texture of resin is generally fine and smooth, so paint adheres to it better than zinc alloy.
Another primary reason why many collectors prefer resin models is the fact that zinc pest is not a danger, especially not for modern cars which never come into contact with lead during the manufacturing process.
Zinc pest can affect model cars made from zinc alloys in the 1920s to 1950s and has been known to cause some older diecast toys to warp, crumble or even violently explode in reaction to stress and changes in temperature. The issue was mainly resolved when all manufacturers finally realised the utmost importance of ensuring there was absolutely no lead contamination at any stage of the manufacturing process.
Although the zinc pest problem is no longer a factor in modern die-casting, it remains a hot topic for collectors of diecast cars who are now wary of investing money in a product that may not stand the test of time as well as a resin model car.
4. More cost-effective for small limited production runs
For many manufacturers, the question of whether to use injection moulding or resin casting often boils down to the size of any given production run. Depending on the model, if an initial run of a particular version of a car is a few thousand or more diecasting is a more suitable option.
However, it must also be said that some models are, quite naturally, better produced in resin even if the production run is in the thousands. This has to do with moulding techniques, parting lines and the complicated shapes of some cars where it’s clear that a given model will be more recreated more accurately in resin.
Die-cast moulds – make a lot of cars from a few hundred to several thousand. The mould of a resin cast is made of soft silicone, which gives all the fine details. This cannot make as many models. A limited production run means that the models are much rarer and therefore, more collectable.
As well as producing scale model cars in minimal quantities, sometimes as few as ten, there is even the opportunity to have a bespoke resin model car built to your own specification – your very own dream car. Of course, this will carry a hefty price tag, but the possibility is there. If you try to customise a diecast car, it would need to be fully dismantled and is just not a realistic prospect.
With more collectability, finer details and better paintwork, it’s clear that resin offers many advantages over diecast cars. However, these have a charm of their own and remain a key player in the model car market. The last word obviously goes to the collector.