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Buying model kits from eBay?

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  • Member since
    June, 2018
Buying model kits from eBay?
Posted by Plastic Mechanic on Saturday, June 23, 2018 9:33 AM

Does anyone on the forum buy kits from eBay sellers with any success? My city has only has a couple of real hobby shops and even though they are well stocked with kits I have been looking through eBay and see a few models that are not offered here. 

I am new to the hobby and would like to focus on fairly easy kits until I get more builds under my belt. I have only built 4 snap kits and one glue and paint kit. I did a nice rattle can paint job just for practice on the body of one snap kit before trying it on the regular glue model. I am happy with the results and want to do more. I know I can do better.

Now I see quite a few 1:32 scale glue and plastic kits that really interest me on eBay which are hard to find here with free shipping and very good prices. Also some cool discontinued 1:24 and 1:25 scale kits as well.

  • Member since
    April, 2018
Posted by jchrisf on Saturday, June 23, 2018 10:24 AM

I have bought off eBay with success but I find Amazon to have the better deals though I am a prime member.  Also Hobby Lobby with the 40% coupon.  I've gotten kits off Amazon for much cheaper than eBay and I didn't have to wait for the bid time to be over and have a bidding war with someone.  However, if Amazon doesn't have something you want eBay might be the best place to shop. 

  • Member since
    November, 2003
Posted by bert on Saturday, June 23, 2018 10:59 AM

I've bought off ebay with no problems, but I've noticed that since the thing with Revell, Prices have gone up some. for example the foose truck that was released not too long ago had prices of $100.00, Thats ridiculas.


  • Member since
    February, 2008
Posted by justmike on Saturday, June 23, 2018 11:34 AM

I buy off ebay a lot. No choice because as you hinted, hobby stores are going the way of the Dodo bird. Haven't had any issues yet with kits I've bought

Feelings are like scents: The more they are analyzed, the worse they smell.
  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by gbk1 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 12:04 PM

I have to disagree with the initial reply poster to the degree that my experience has been that I consistently get lower prices and better selection on eBay than Amazon. I suspect this is both because eBay prices overall tend to be lower at their lowest than Amazon. Additionally, because I'm an infrequent user of Amazon, I have found it unecomic to pay the annual Prime membership fee of $119.00 per year. I do most of my non-local buying of sundries and major purchases on eBay - primarily using Buy It Now; more below.

I have been an on-line buyer of merchandise for many years. I was a very early adopter of Amazon when they first started offering more than books. In those days I used multiple on-line vendors. I found that the internet was a powerful price discovery tool and could get me into the most efficient supply channels for whatever I was looking for, whether it was electronics, musical instruments and software, or hobby items like model car kits, paints, or hobby specialty items like decal paper or photo-etch parts.

In the beginning I shied away from eBay which at the time was kind of the Wild, Wild, West. This was before eBay introduced Buy It Now. Everything had to be bid on, and I couldn't ever be sure I would win. Also, I had to wait for the auction to be over before an item could ship.

That was nearly 20 years ago (has it really been that long?). Even as recently as 8-10 years ago eBay still wasn't sure on whom it should focus, Buyers or Sellers. Of course Amazon had the same problem, but at least they were clear on their focus. For one thing there are no Auctions on Amazon. And at Amazon they've always had their priorities. At Amazon the house always wins. Buyers have always had to be concerned whether they are just providing Amazon with the information Amazon needs to compete against its independent retailers. At Amazon the priority ladder starts with Amazon, then the buyer, and the independent retailer comes last.

Because of the auction platform eBay attracts millions and millions of what can be be thought of as micro-retailers. Tiny businesses selling in many cases surplus items and cast offs from their personal lives, in other cases the stuff they acquire from garage and estate sales at little or no cost."FleaBay", if you will. With so many retailers it was inevitable that there would be fraud and thievery on eBay. In the early days eBay tended to side with their sellers in these matters. Sellers were the ones who paid the fees that kept eBay going and made it profitable. So eBay gradually gained a reputation for being a dangerous, tough environment for buyers, and in the first decade of this Century it probably deserved it.

Then, as the negatives piled up, eBay realized that without Buyers there could be no Sellers, and that the simplest way to keep their house in order was actually to favor the Buyer in any dispute. They tightened up their standards when it came to managing how and what their sellers offered, often with really severe new regulations. The Sellers screamed, and many are still complaining even today. But very quickly the word got out among Buyers that eBay has changed sides and now was on their side in any dispute. The probems with false representation, fraud and unshipped items disappeared quickly and eBay became the reliable buying environment it is today.

Buy It Now was probably the key to eBay becoming a practical alternative to Amazon. Everything on Amazon is Buy It Out - as I said, there are no auctions on Amazon. With Buy It Now on eBay you can buy something instantly, knowing what you will pay, and can expect fast and efficient fulfillment. eBay is very strict with its sellers and most items ship within 24 hours of purchase. Disputes, which have become rare, are generally solved within hours of inception, and more often than not in favor of the buyer.

So today I'm pretty committed to eBay for most of my on-line buying. Here's how I use it. I'll use my model car hobby buying as the example, but it holds true for most things.

If I'm buying kits my choices, as I see it, are to buy from my local hoby shop (LHS), buy from a national crafts chain like Hobby Lobby, or buy on-line, either from an on-line vendor directly, like Model Roundup, M&S Hobbies, or The Sales Shack. If avaialble is the same, and the price differences are small among these choices, I'll choose the LHS every time. I'm fortunate to still have several choices of LHS where I live (Seattle). This is increasingly not the case for many modelers, so the other two options can be important.

If it's a common and recent domestic model company release here in the USA then the crafts chains like Michaels can be an option. The 40% off coupon can make Hobby Lobby an option. But the crafts chains have mediocre to poor kit selection. At least one of my local LHS stores (Skyway Model Shop) even sells out-of-production and used model kits that they obtain from estate sales.

But by far the best environment to buy kits has proven to be eBay. From funky glue-bombs and trashed out model car part junkyards to sophisticated and expensive limited run European and Asian multi-media kits, and everything in between, it can all be found on eBay. You can find Model Factory Hiro on Amazon, for example, but search tools are limited and poorly organized, selection sketchy, and prices are higher than on eBay sonsistently. And searching for used and worn items, like at a flea market, results in pure noise. EBay makes this far simpler and is often the only option for rare and out of production items.

With Buy It Now I can easily buy suppplies, too. Again, my LHS is my first option. For example the other day I had an idea for a color for an upcoming Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder I have planned. Choosing colors on-line with any subtlety or accuracy is an impossibility. And, because of shipping costs, small items like a can of paint don't reprsent a great cost savings. So I'm greatful that stores like Skyway and Galaxy Hobbies are full-line stockists for all the major hobby paint lines. I landed up going to Galaxy and, after some discussion with the sales staff, selecting a color I confident would work.

For paints, on-line is the poorest choice, and the crafts stores offer only limited selection. Again, if I didn't have good LHS presence in my area I would have to develop an alternative method. Here I suspect eBay would play a major roll. There are huge model stores on eBay and communication with them via e-mail of eBay messaging can be very effective and fruitful. Kind of like an electronic LHS. Not as good as examining the kit and discussing it with staff, but a good second choice. With Buy It Now I can buy right away, too. Vendors will combine shiopping, too, which can make a huge difference in final cost.

When it come to the after market, like resin parts and bodies, photo-etch, and even 3D printed stuff, the only option is the vast internet. Amazon is hopeless. Their page design alone makes them almost useless and selection is muddled, poorly organized and generally expensive. eBay is far better, and at least a practical option to search for the best prices and instant availability. In the past few years several of my favorite resin supppliers, for example, have discovered eBay and have stores there. In one instance they have no other on-line presence, and in another they have largely abandoned there on-line site. But this isn't always the case so there's no substitute for good internet search engine skils.

And a final note about eBay auctions. In the beginning I tended to avoid eBay auctions. It was time consuming, with no ceratinty I would actually get what I was bidding on. And there was always the dreaded bidding war which could prove frustrating at best and ridiculously expensive at worst, The blood-lust of the auction itself held no fascination for me, so when Buy It Now came along I simply avoided auctions.

But gradually I found that auctions were my only option on some items, like hard to get, rare and hard to find kits, or in cases where I thought if I could get a kit cheaply, rather than at its usualy nose-bleed price, I would buy it. I'm not a kit collector, nor am I a trader - I'm more a "build it and kill it" kind of guy. So if I buy something its with the intention to eventually build it or use its parts. So I had to learn to bid effectively and succesfully if I was to use the auction system.

Without going into all the details, I eventually did. I made all the mistakes, paying far too much at the bitter end of a bidding war, getting snookered in the last 30 seconds on something I desperately wanted because I cheaped out on my maximum bid, bidding too early and too often; I've made all the mistakes. Sometimes I still do. But if I need something right away then I can always Buy It Now. If it's only available via auction, chances are its something rare or obscure enough that I can wait. And if I''m skilled, or lucky, I will most likely get it, perhaps even cheaply. And for sure I won't find it on Amazon!

Bernard Kron Keep On Buildin'

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Portland Oregon: Tree Country. Most beautiful area on the West coast.
Posted by Treehugger Dave on Saturday, June 23, 2018 12:38 PM

Been with Ebay since 2005. They seem to have everything in most any condition you want. A lot more than just model car kits.

Their so easy to go to for anything I can't find where I live. Sellers most of the time are easy to deal with and honest. If not, ebay has a guarantee refund policy that I have used a few times with no problems.

Also PayPal is a really safe way to buy anything on line, not just on Ebay.

Many online venders offer or even require PayPal as a payment option which I always choose.

Finally, in the past Ebay was a great place to get rare and hard to find kits at reasonable prices and I'm glad I stocked up over the years. For some reason prices have begun to skyrocket just recently on the rarer kits of Johan and early AMT kits as well as older rare resin kits $400 to over $600 and climbing week by week. I think investors have entered into the hobby with some big money. I don't think most builders spend that kind of money on kits.







  • Member since
    May, 2015
Posted by Goofy62 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:12 PM

Treehugger Dave

Finally, in the past Ebay was a great place to get rare and hard to find kits at reasonable prices and I'm glad I stocked up over the years. For some reason prices have begun to skyrocket just recently on the rarer kits of Johan and early AMT kits as well as older rare resin kits $400 to over $600 and climbing week by week. I think investors have entered into the hobby with some big money. I don't think most builders spend that kind of money on kits.


I think a great deal of that is due to the fact that Modelhaus has closed up shop.

It used to be that you could buy resin copies of a lot of those old annual kits from Modelhaus for around the same or less money than the original.

Now that they are gone, there is no choice.

Especially with parts!

I used to have no problem buying an old rare kit with a few missing parts because most of the time those parts could be replaced with Modelhaus copies.

Now, if an ebay auction kit is even missing something as simple as a fender ornament or steering wheel, I think twice before I pull the trigger.

Am  going to be able to find those missing original parts?

That could be a large part of the reason that complete vintage kits have become so expensive.

People are not quite as willing to bid on that builder with some parts missing.

Instead they are hunting for complete ones.



  • Member since
    April, 2018
Posted by jchrisf on Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:44 PM

Bernard.. we probably just like different style kits.  I like racing kits, especailly Tamiya. 

And I am posting this just so someone here can get a deal... this is as cheap as you can find this one, $19.95.  I actually got a couple a month ago for 16.99:

Somebody better snatch these up because they will go fast and if you are a prime member it is free 2 day shipping.

  • Member since
    July, 2014
Posted by tachyonbb on Saturday, June 23, 2018 4:02 PM

Like jchrisf I use Hobby Lobby, Amazon and Ebay for most of my purchases.  Hobby Lobby with their 40% off coupon and their hobby manager lets me know when things are going on closeout. Just bought 2 kits for under $8.00 each. I usually compare Amazon and Ebay for other purchases.  Make sure the Ebay user has a good reputation.  Look for number of feedback and % positive. You should be wary of someone with only a few transactions or a lot of negative feeback. 

  • Member since
    June, 2018
Posted by gorilla1 on Saturday, June 23, 2018 6:15 PM

Yes I do.In fact I have 4 major hobby shops local and e-bay has every model I've seen in all of them.Shipping cost's raise the price but it's convenient.Checkout,I've bought from them through e-bay,huge selection.

  • Member since
    June, 2018
Posted by Plastic Mechanic on Saturday, June 23, 2018 7:59 PM

Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses! I really appreciate your opinions. I forgot to mention that I also collect diecast car models and I have bought a couple on eBay with no problems. Also I live in Canada where for example the average retail price for a new Revell kit is around $30 plus tax. Some can be found for $20 as well but that would be the least expensive. Canada is expensive for every thing. Including Amazon Canada.

I see kits that I like on eBay for around $20-$30 shipped to my door with no extra fees or taxes so that is why I am interested in purchasing from sellers there. I don't mind paying that much if it's a kit I want and cannot get it locally. I am not looking for super duper deals but if that happens all the better. 

I don't have much interest in "auctions" and always use the buy it now option. I do have a Paypal account so no worries there. 

Thanks again for the responses. I think I will buy a kit on eBay and see how it goes. Smile

  • Member since
    November, 2004
  • From: UK
Posted by PatrickW on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 2:58 PM

I'm in the UK and buy kits off of ebay all the time as we have no hobbystores nearby, saying that we have one Hobbycraft and they only sell Tamiya kits but at a price!

I normally buy already started kits from ebay, and bhave done very well that way! I do buy the odd kit that is still wrapped/sealed. 

  • Member since
    February, 2016
Posted by smitherreen on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 3:59 PM
With out a doubt E Bay is the best way to go in my mind. You have to be patient. To give you an example I have been looking for 1/20 Union BMW for about 2-years now and one popped up but was to expense for my taste and everyone else. So once the time frame ended for bidding, I emailed them with an reasonable offer and he took it. Doesn't happen all the time, but you can get closer to YOUR number.
  • Member since
    January, 2017
Posted by 195X on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 4:51 PM

I go ebay because there aren't any hobby shops within a 100 miles of me.

Couple things to remember! ALWAYS check the seller's feedback rating and shipping costs.

2: Keep in mind, more often than not you are looking at something that there are thousands of out there. Don't freak if you lose an auction and don't bid like a maniac just to win. There will be another one. Good luck.

My favorite color is clear. I am also ambidexterous, I can screw up equally well with either hand. I am 53 years old and been building for most of that time. :)

On the bench... somewhere. Pink Panther show car, 1978 Dodge Magnum Charger Daytona Midnight edition SE 300. Mongrel T.

  • Member since
    December, 2017
Posted by Dale Gribble on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 5:49 PM

 I buy almost exclusively on eBay .... Only a few clicks to find the best price ,  and if you are quick to check out the Feedback of the seller ,  it could be a great experience at a fair price

your friendly neighborhood spam eliminator... 

build it, dont let it sit on the shelf.....rareity is for sissies ! 

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Sweden
Posted by chromecop on Thursday, November 08, 2018 2:37 AM

Over the last 20 years Ebay has almost been the ONLY source for me when it comes to model kits.

You've got one life.... - CUSTOMIZE it !!!!!
  • Member since
    October, 2008
Posted by oldcarguy on Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:58 AM


   I will occassionally buy a car model on the Bay . That said , Most of what I buy is model ship related . It has been said well , in the other answers you have recieved . Know the seller , Review what is for sale , then make the deal if possible . I got a very old Monogram Torpedo Phaeton Deusenberg that way . Pristine and perfect !

   I usually watch the day and hour count then when it hits " Buy It Now " and the price is reasonable , I pounce ! Hasn't failed me yet .    O.C.G.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
Posted by ambman on Saturday, January 26, 2019 6:33 PM



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