by Peter Johnstone



Like all hobbies modeling can become expensive as time goes by and you just have to buy the special kit or extra tool. I have gathered a small stash of highly desirable kits ( at least to me ) by very careful shopping. Like most of you I have worked too hard for my money to give it away. Most of what follows applies to second hand kits but can also apply to new purchases.

Some of what I am about to say may also not apply to some modelers, especially modelers in big cities who can purchase kits without the additional cost of postage and freight. People tend to forget that country modelers are already paying extra for freight at the local shops and if we purchase mail order it usually adds around $10.00 to the cost of each kit. Airmail from some of the Asian suppliers is a bout the same to my town as it is from Sydney or Melbourne.

There are few simple ways to save on purchases and there is nothing better then feeling you have made a good deal. I will use examples of 1/48 scale aircraft kits because that is what I am familiar with but the advice applies to any scale and any type.

My first tip is never get into the situation where you just HAVE to buy that special kit RIGHT NOW. There will always be another coming along in the future. There are not that many kits that are so rare that if you don’t grab it now you will never get it. Some Aussie aircraft modelers have an overwhelming desire to purchase Liberators and Lancaster at ridiculous prices on Aussie Ebay  when with a bit of shopping they can be found quite cheaply or at least a lot cheaper.


Ebay can be a source for cheaper models but this avenue is starting to dry up and I have not managed to find many bargains on Aussie Ebay for a very long time.

If you are after a particular RAAF aircraft try the overseas Ebay, the demand for Aussie aircraft is not that high and can usually be bought substantiality cheaper at auction. The Boomerang is a good example, in Australia you won’t get much change out of $100 but on USA Ebay you can get for at least ¾ that price and even cheaper if you go surface Mail. This scenario also applies to B24J liberators, Currently they can be landed in Australia for as little $70.00 from an Ebay auction if you shop sensibly.

Another tip is look for overseas ebays auctions that close in the early hours of the morning their time, why people do this is beyond me but it happens and you will find you are not biding against as many people.

This can also be a benefit if you find a Aussie subject for auction which closes in the early hours of the morning our time, simply because the Americans are not that interested and a keen Aussie will have to set the alarm to get up early to bid. I have won a few auctions by doing this; there are not a lot of modelers in Australia biding at 3 am.

When buying on Ebay always ask for a shipping costs that includes postage and packaging, some sellers jack up the prices for these if they feel they have not made enough money. This is one area that can turn a good deal sour very quickly never accept an”about this much figure” they invariable go up. If the seller cannot give you a firm price give it a miss the kit will come up again.

Postage from overseas can be a killer especially from some parts of Europe. If you are not in a hurry ask for surface mail, it is considerable cheaper but can take up to 3 months to get to you. I tend to spring for airmail because 3 months in transit leaves a lot of room for a box to go missing.

Sale and Trade pages

Some of the modeling web pages have for sale sections and these can be a real source of good bargains. I have probably made more bargain purchases from these avenues then any other. I once purchase 2 Revel/Monogram B-25s and a Accurate miniature B25 for $75.00 AUS delivered to my door from plane trading on Hyperscale. If you’re not sure on how good the seller is just ask on the web site you will soon find out. The seller should not take offense from this. Unfortunately not all sellers will sell outside of the States but enough do to make it worth you while.

Bargains can still be made when looking for newly released kits. It is not uncommon to find new kits on Ebay and Plane trading before they have even made it to Australia. Limited release kits that sell out very quickly can still be bought from these avenues at reasonable prices just be prepared to wait. Remember they might be rare in Australia but they might not be overseas. The export version of Classic Airframes kits are still popping up for sale all the time and at quite reasonable prices.

Check out the special sections of the online hobby shops, this is a great source of bargains . Recently I picked up a CA Canberra for $27 for the Comsale section of Squadron and I know a few other people from this site did as well. I have paid similar prices for CA Ansons from Great models too, a lot of the local on line traders have very good specials as well.

There has been a trend recently for local people to buy their kits from some of the Asian suppliers and then resell them in the For Sale sections of their countries scale model web pages. I don’t have a problem with this because most of them are still providing good prices. This is a great avenue for getting cheaper new releases. You can save yourself a lot of money buying them from Aisa direct yourself though.

A good rule of thumb when purchasing kits for the best prices is as follows
If the kit owner is USA based buy from the USA, Asian kits can a best purchase from Asia and Aussie and European kits are best purchased in Australian.

If you really want to save of freight get a buying group of modelers together, this will cut down of freight but check with customs on how much you can spend because I think once the cost goes over a certain amount you my have to pay customs duties, I am sure others will know more.

Local Retailer / LHS

By now some of you are wondering about the local retailers. I suggest you support them as much as possible because they are a no risk way of purchasing kits and you need to pay a for this insurance. You usually have little or no comeback when purchasing kits from Ebay or overseas. There are some avenues to sort out any problems but usually it is more bother then it is worth. I have found all the local people great to deal with and still buy kits from them but usually when they are on special. It is rare that I need to purchase the latest and greatest kits immediately but I do have some  future releases already on order from local companies. A lot of local retailers give discounts to club members so the joining fee can easily be recovered with discounts. If you don’t like the club in your area join one of the major clubs in another area.  I know my local hobby retailer will still give a discount for clubs from out of town.

Never get into an argument saying that if I spend my money locally it stays in Australia this is simply not true, most kits still have to come in from overseas in the first place. Financial advisers will tell you that if we didn’t trade overseas the Australian economy would collapse. If we don’t buy off foreign countries they won’t buy off us and we make a lot of money selling overseas. So don’t feel guilty about buying a little from off shore just be sure to still spend some here as well. My total purchases from overseas are miniscule compared to what I spend on models in Australia anyway. If you save on buying a kit from overseas it gives you a little extra to spend locally.

Paying for kits has always been a worry. I use Paypal for overseas purchases where possible, if they don’t take Paypal try and use a credit card that will protect you from misuse. Amex and Master card are pretty good for this. I am lead to believe the most debit cards offer no protection so check before using. Be aware that some sellers try and charge extra for using Paypal, I refuse to use them because it is their advantage that Paypal be used. When buying from Australian sellers I try and use direct deposit for private retailers and Credit card for companies.

When shopping for tools check out some of the shops that your wives or partners shop they often have the same or similar tools much cheaper then the bigger modeling shops, just learn to think outside the box.

I am sure other people may have more tips for savings and I would be interested to hear them.