Diecast Car Collectors Zone
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The Diecast Car Collectors Zone is an online community of scale model car collectors. The focus of these collectors is on pre-made replicas rather than those constructed from kits. The idea was to transform a solitary hobby and use the universal access the web offered so collectors could interact, show off collections and learn from each other. It has been in operation since July, 1997.
The Zone has helped fuel the meteoric expansion in 1:24 and 1:18 diecast car brands. Through its reporting and reviews, collectors got their first exposure to a new breed of modelers dedicated to bringing much higher level of detail to the 1:18 scale. These brands included Exoto, GMP and CMC. The Zone has also propelled the growth in 1:43 scale by publicizing new modelers and also in the bigger *museum quality* scales of 1:12 and 1:10.
Resources on the website represent the contributions of a core of over 25 volunteers. The site provides a permanent online repository for model issue listings, reviews and photography. The lists update information on over 100 brands as of July 25, 2016 and contain over 20,000 individual listings. Access to the listings is free.
The Zone provides a valuation tool (Price Archive) that gives collectors a means to place a value on apiece. It is based on auctions conducted on the zone. In May 2009, a Pierce Arrow model that once sold for $109 in 1989 was purchased off the auction for $3,300.
Other resources include new model announcements, how-to instructions, polls for favorite models, and interactive discussion forums. Once a year a group Wish List is run, in which collectors vote for the cars they most want to see modeled in the future. A list of the winning cars are communicated to the manufacturers.
The Diecast Zone founded the Diecast Scale Model Hall of Fame to recognize leaders and innovators in the hobby. Recipients of the award have included company founders who shaped the hobby by raising the standard for quality and authenticity as well as broadening the subject matter.
Raffi Minasian was The Franklin Mint's Design Director for Precision Models and Engineered Products from 1995 - 1999. Of the importance of the Diecast Zone, he writes: "a pioneering entity, recognizing the value of the extended Die Cast model car community, the Zone developed such a large membership to directly influence the selection of images that would be developed by The Franklin Mint."
The Diecast Zone was founded in 1997 by Michael Knab and Jay Olins. Knab had created the website on behalf of his ad agency client, Revell-Monogram. Revell had created a new brand and scale (Creative Masters, 1:20th), of precision scale model cars to compete against Franklin Mint. Franklin Mint had popularized the hobby of mass-produced collectibles. Knab convinced Revell that it should be first to exploit the direct marketing advantages of the emerging Internet to gain a “first mover” competitive advantage.
Before the site was launched, Hallmark purchased Revell and terminated the recently introduced line and the fledgling website. By then, Knab had found Olins, who had just created the Diecast Car Collectors Club, and together they decided to continue the site.
The backbone of the site was the Car List which catalogues the issues by model makers. One of the first forums on the internet was created. Jay Olins foresaw the popularity of auctions to collectors and created the zone’s version, inventing a feature to automatically extend auctions in the closing minutes if bidding frequency reached a certain velocity.
In 2002, volunteer Dave Milne launched a new feature "Picture This!" - presenting an opportunity to collectors from around the world to showcase their inventive dioramas built around scale model cars.
As a founder of the Zone, Jay Olins had amassed a collection of every Franklin Mint and Danbury Mint scale model vehicle they made, reaching over 400. So that the public could see his collection he donated it to the Nethercutt Collection in 2004. The Nethercutt is permanent home to more than 130 of the world’s greatest antique and classic automobiles.
The Diecast Zone supports local charities through supply of expensive automotive replicas as auction items, proceeds going to the auctions.
Kelly, Jr., Joe (2009). "Into the Zone", The Car Room. Holbrook, New York: OK Daddy Productions, Ltd. p. 15. Check date values in: