Starting Out: My First 1:400s
I have been collecting 1:400 scale models for over a decade now but if you asked me what was the reason for the move to the scale I’d struggle to explain coherently. It was more like a gradual transition punctuated by a few events. I had been collecting 1:600 scale Schabaks since I was a kid and was well known in that community, however Schabak’s bankruptcy in 2006 rather killed the 1:600 scene even after they were reborn as Schuco Schabak. I was also increasingly frustrated by the low quality of the products but as a big model airport builder 1:600s allowed for more impressively sized layouts.
At the time they were just some window dressing in relation to my larger 1:600 collection (which I still own and is over 1700 models strong). I recall my intention was at this point simply to get one model of each aircraft type in the larger scale. As you can see in the image below Schabaks were still king and this was only about a third of the 1:600 fleet:
The next more serious step was the purchase of some more Dragon Models from an actual bricks and mortar Hobby Shop. At the time Dragon Wings were the only models that could be acquired in NZ and they were sold at a ludicrous price. However, this store had a few on sale and I picked up the following:
That seems to have spurred my acquisition and focused it towards US airlines. My new plan was to acquire a representative selection of models from the 1960s-1990. I recall there was an initial cap of about 200 models that I was sure I could stick too. What a fool I was! However it wasn't all acquisitions and since the first set of Dragon models didn't fit my new US criteria I sold them all on except for the Western DC-10. I still regret selling the Lufthansa 747 and in later years had to repurchase the Air Canada 747-100. Unlike the first set of models I acquired the Dragon 720 and Connies still have a place in the current collection.
My purchasing quickly shifted to overseas sources, initially mainly eBay. I didn’t really know what I was doing so made some silly errors, like bidding high on a Gemini Eastern 727-200. I was also less familiar with Aeroclassics at this point and most of my purchases were Gemini Jets. Gradually I educated myself in the ways of 1:400, primarily via the DAC forum.
At the time I was childless so had a perfectly good spare room going free in which I placed a bamboo bookcase (wholly unsuitable for models really) to display the collection. This was separate from the 1:600 scale collection, which had its own airport room under the house. By January 2010 the collection had already started to grow alarmingly (for my wife anyway). Below is the entire fleet on January 10, 2010:
Even at this stage the fleet was split temporally. At the top due to size was the 1970s. Then the shelves below followed 1950s and props, first jets, mid-60s, 70s narrowbodies. In a small bookcase to the right were intra-state carriers and the 1980s.
Below is the top shelf. I still own most of these models aside from the United and TWA 747s:
The initial collection consisted primarily of the Gemini 727-200, 707-320C and DC-8s with a sprinkling of Tristars and 747s from Gemini and Dragon. As more unusual (and prop) types joined the fleet the quota of Aeroclassics grew accordingly.
Once I learnt more the old Gemini 707s and DC-8s were replaced with Aeroclassics versions, as were some of the Gemini 747s. Sadly the paucity of BigBird/Aeroclassics 747s limited my replacement of the Gemini 747s and in fact I still own 8 old pre-2005 Gemini 747-100/200s today.
I also at this early stage owned quite a few early model Aeroclassics DC-6s and they too have mainly been sold. There are still a few about where Aeroclassics haven't remade them on the newer mould.
Even at this point 727s were an important component of my collection (they are still no 2 in terms of aircraft type). I quickly recognised the superiority of the Gemini and Aeroclassics 727s plus the superb Aeroclassics DC-9s.
It may have been the imminent arrival of my son in late 2010, or perhaps the collection had just grown too much, but eventually my 1:600 model airport went into storage and the 1:400s began to take over the airport room.
By April 2010 you can see the collection had already moved to a custom built storage unit (which I still own and use). Each cube was to be for one of the major trunk airlines:
Free to fill an entire room the collecting shackles were thrown off, I discovered Waffle Collectibles and the rest is history. Attempts to keep the collecting to just the USA persisted for a time before first the UK intervened (ostensibly to access new aircraft types), then other global classics, Russian and finally Chinese modern aircraft.
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I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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