If you like to get those old, well played with, battered and bruised diecast vehicles and restore them then I am sure you have had to use reproduction parts at some stage. Some of the diecast, brands like Matchbox, Siku, Hot Wheels and others have been around for over 50 years; this means that while you have a lot of different vehicles and brands to choose from you will also invariably run into the problem that some parts just do not exist in their original form any more. Some of the parts that you may have to use reproductions for include the decals, stickers and other markings to be found on the originals as well as things like the windows or wheels.
Some time ago these parts were hard to find and in some cases quite expensive to purchase even if you could find them, fortunately today with the internet allowing us to purchase items from foreign countries and the obvious increase in demand for these parts, it has now become easier to locate the part you need and at a reasonable price, with the advent of 3D printers you can even ”print” your own. So what can you get from spare part manufacturers? Well pretty much whatever it is you require for your project, stickers, decals, wheels, windows, tyres and even the boxes or packaging that the cars originally came in.
Starting with stickers and decals, you will find a wide variety of suppliers and pricing and like most things in life you will get what you pay for so be aware. Some manufacturers use a poorer quality paper and computer generated graphics, while others will use a more accurate silk screened method on die-cut film but of course these better quality labels will cost slightly more, but in my opinion are well worth the small additional cost. Of course if you have a good colour printer plus the time and patience you can create your own labels right from the comfort of your own home saving you money and time. Making the labels yourself also allows you to be a little creative in your restorations so that you can customise the end result even further, you could take the classic Matchbox London Bus and add your own advertising on the side.
Next we look at the tyres and other plastic components; these are most commonly required because over time the original plastics will degrade or more often than not will have been destroyed by the children owners. If you were anything like me as a child then you too will know the joy of recreating a perfect crash scene with your Matchbox cars, a scene that would include bent and damaged vehicles with burnt, broken or missing parts. The manufacturers of these components all to me appear to be much the same in quality, I guess this is because plastic is the same no matter who makes the part, with these parts the most important aspect to be aware of is the accuracy of the recreation.
Lastly there are the boxes, many of the earlier Matchbox, Siku and other brand diecast vehicles came with very well design packaging and just like the labels, quality of these reproduction boxes and pricing will vary depending upon the quality of card used and printing process and again just like the labels if you have a good colour printer, preferably one of the laser type then you will be able to produce your own in very good quality.
So in conclusion if you want to restore that old Hot Wheels you just picked up at a car boot sale or want to create a copy of that missing piece of your Matchbox collection or even just add a missing box to your Models of Yesteryear collection, then reproduction parts are easily found and readily obtained to help you solve your issue. The only thing I could add is that the moral thing to do if using reproduction items is to mark the base of the vehicle or the inside of each reproduction box so that in the future they cannot be passed off as legitimate. Sadly there are so many people in this world that are after a quick buck and will purchase a well-made reproduction model from a collector and then on sell it as an original box or vehicle, marking them will ensure this can never happen.