Among many other internationally produced small editions of models, the German company Wiking – today still producing modelcars for modelrailroad - is historically recognized as being the main contributor to collectors of ship models in the scales between 1:1250 and 1:1200. 


That was before the Second World War and the very simple models were intended for strategie games at admiralities or as recognition models for submarine or aeroplane commanders. This was time that veteran collectors of today started buying their first models. 



As well as the German company Wiking, another major producer was Pilot, in Denmark, turning out very simple, but astonishingly striking  models for many years. Today models like this live out a sad existence hidden away in boxes in attics, dspite their inherent beauty. But models like these have been the start of some of the most impressive collections around!


When the war was over, new producers established themselves by supplying a growing market with mainstream thematized ship models, such as the vessels of the German "Kriegsmarine" or the merchant navy.  The quality level at this time was a very mixed bag, really high quality products comparable with some of the models on the market today were rare. But the general trend moved towards greater improvements as better detailing and more realistic modelling, painting and improved casting technologies became available.


umfeldnorbert.jpg It's a carnival evening in the late sixties and a small boy is sitting at a table building shipmodels from polystyrene foam, working with Weyers Flottentaschenbüchern. The boy is Norbert Bröcher and he has helped to establish collecting in a way few others have achieved. He was the man behind the beginnings of a lot of the producers of today!


In the late seventies, a new sub-culture of so called "kitchen-table-producers" started making models supplimenting the established big producers. The level of quality of these very restricted editions was very often surprisingly high and brought a breath of fresh air to the producers range.


umfeldsoem.jpg One of the many small editions Norbert Bröcher helped to start with, was the Pontos brand of Dr. Michael Götz, who made this fantastic model of the Norwegian bark "Soem" in only twenty five copies.


So a kind of boom started in which new producers and new collectors, in Germany as in other mainly European countries found a good climate for departing for new horizons!


Bigger companies as well as small labels have come and gone since then; a number of "kitchen-table-producers" have established themselves and others have even dared to take the step into starting their own business as an alternative to unemployment. 



Risawoleska had a very modest start. On a carnival evening as well but years later, this „Patricia“ of Swedish Lloyd was scratchbuilt from wood and paper following a painting in a Laurence Dunn book. The masts were stolen from Mercator ....


So today, there is a huge number of labels, but very often these have not produced a new model for years. Some labels have just been created with the intention of making one or two models that are not planned from other producers.


Others produce frequently produce new models of a very high quality, that may cost a little more than the average. It is normal for some producers to "claim" particular categories of models as their own field of expertise. 


Of course, some ships are interesting enough for more than one producer. There are not less than a minimum of four models of the RMS Titanic produced so far.  An unfortunate consequense for a producer may be the chance of direct competition with the quality of another producer. This will reveal errors, each model version will include at least one! This may lead to a the tarnishing of a good reputation for a producer. 


But as producers and customers have a close contact, most of them work together with the intention of achieving a good result. . 


umfeldkassel.jpg Every two years, a huge internationl collectors meeting is held in Kassel in the centre of Germany. In addition to the Internet, this is a perfect place not only to make contact with producers and dealers, but to find rare and out of stock models. We all meet here, collectors, producers and dealers from the whole world. Here is collector Bernd Walsberg chatting at Risawoleska display in Kassel in 2001.


Finally it is reasonable to say that each producer has own company and product philosopy, and some of them are not even profit-orientated.


Compared with other collection fields such as car miniatures or model trains, the total amount of models produced is between about five and ten thousand models per ship. Editions can be very limited.


The biggest collection communities can be found in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but also occurr in the Benelux-countries, France, Skandinavia, Italy and even Australia.


Great Britain is a big collecting region as well, even though the style of collecting is slightly different to the nations listed above. British people like to improve models on their own, so it is perhaps more active than otherwhere.


The USA is booming with collecting right now. Possibly due to the Internet, not only new collectors, but new shops and producers are appearing at a rapid rate.


umfeldkontraste.jpg The stadardized scale 1:1250 enables fantastic comparisions. Here, one of the biggest Risawoleska models, the Swedish liner "Stockholm" of 1941 is located close to the first car ferry of Norway, the little "Salhusfaergen". As the ill-fated  "Stockholm" never really came into service, the ships had not chance of ever meeting each other.....


The initial reason for starting a collection may differ. Some people may only "collect" the one ship, a vessel they may have done his military service on, another may be interested in the national fleet or special ship types.


Many are pleased by the high quality of craftsmanship, others impressed by the beauty of the original ship. Some just collect without rules, following their own intuition.


Mostly a combination of these motives lies behind the collector's interest.


Of course, there is a financial aspect to collecting, too. So-called second hand models were once too cheap. This was because there were problems of co-ordinating particular collectors to particular models in which he or she could be interested. But now, with the internet and global auctions the price level has become more sensible and sometimes even inflated, so that today models keep the value they once had.


But even though this is a positive development, please, if you are  standing in front of your first potential model, do not buy it for investment reasons, but for fun.


Trying to make a good dividend by buying models will be followed by disappointment, exemplified by trademarks such as Schuco or Märklin.



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