POCHER KIT BUYING GUIDE
Buying a Pocher kit, anywhere, carries a risk, because Pocher is no longer in business. While there are still many pristine kits to be found on eBay, there are also many defective kits out there. I’ve bought and sold many Pocher kits on eBay before. I’ve had my share of good deals, as well as some “bad apples” too. In my experience, about one out of every 6 unstarted Pocher kit on eBay is not perfect, and have some kind of defect (missing parts, damaged parts), some major, some minor. Some are due to factory defects, some are due to lost parts, or storage damage. Here is what I can share with you on what to look for when buying a Pocher kit. I will also update this guide from time to time as I think of more information to add.
Clarification: I received a comment that this Guide is overly negative. Please keep in mind that when I say 1 in 6 kit has some kind of defect, I don't mean that the entire kit is completely "junk". I just mean that the kit is not perfect in one way or another. It may simply be a small issue that is easy to correct. The purpose of this guide is to bring about a more realistic expectation of Pocher kits, and to help you shop wisely for a kit, NOT to discourage buying/bidding. Perhaps it would be better to say "about 5 out of 6 unstarted kits are truely complete". The reason for mentioning all the negatives is so you will be expecting them, when they do come up.
POOR QUALITY CONTROL FROM THE START
This is a factory sealed kit so everything should be perfect, Right? Well, let's hope so... Even buying a brand new factory sealed kit does NOT guarantee that all parts will be inside, or that the kit will be perfect. Some of the most common defects are missing metal parts inside factory sealed bags, an incorrectly manufactured metal part, an entire bag of plastic parts missing, the entirely wrong metal parts bag stapled to the cardboard (so you get doubled of those and none of the other), and deformed plastic parts due to manufacturing flaws. Some clear parts may have hazy spots. Of course, you sometimes find extra parts too. Here is a photo of a defective Bugatti engine valve in a factory sealed bag.
Or how about a deformed Fiat exhaust header in a factory sealed bag:
For example, the deformed exhaust header shown above can certainly be puttied up and used. But I would count this as the "1 in 6" defective kit. You would almost never find anything like this in a Tamiya kit.
Many people buy Pocher kits on eBay, and put them away as collector's kits. They never unsealed the kit, never did an inventory, or don't know what all the parts are supposed to look like, so they are not aware that they have a defective kit.
A retired hobby shop owner told me that even when they were selling Pocher kits back in the 70's, there were frequent missing parts issues in new kits that customers complained about.
A guy once told me that he had a brand new Bugatti kit, open the seal to find NO metal parts flaps inside. I also heard that somebody had a kit with 2 of the same metal parts flaps inside. That means all those metal parts present are doubled, the other half are missing. Then there is the guy that got 2 left fenders in his kit instead of left and right. I also heard that somebody had a Pocher Porsche with TWO front suspension sub-frame on the vacuum sealed blister pack instead of front and rear sub-frames.
In a way, we cannot really blame Pocher for all this. After all, packing a Pocher kit is not a matter of throwing 4 plastic sprues in a box. Imagine what the workers had to do at the factory. It was not an easy task. For example, the Volvo truck has more than 40 bags in the box, and that is not counting the metal parts bags. Obviously, the chance of mistakes is high.
POTENTIAL STORAGE DAMAGE
Because many Pocher kits are from 20 or so years ago, there is a chance of possible damage from improper storage. Some of these kits were stored in hot attics or hot warehouses. This can lead to heat damage. Because Pocher kits are combination metal/plastic, the metal parts can heat up and start to melt the plastic part that is tightly packed next to it. I’ve seen metal wheel rings leaving their imprint in the plastic fenders. The heat can also cause plastic parts to warp or even melt down altogether. I've seen Fiat yellow rims that are melted. The plastic bags can also melt onto the parts, causing permanent damage. One possible evidence of heat damage is a faded box.
Water/moisture damage is another problem. Some people store their kits in basements. Some kits on eBay are from flooded out homes/warehouse. These show up as rotted assembly manual, rotted leather/cloth/foam, and rusted metal parts. I once bought a K70. When I opened the box, the smell of mildew was enough to make me sick. One good hint of possible moisture damage is water stains on the box or a rippled box (which means the cardboard got wet before). I've even seen parts that got chewed up by rodents.
Improper re-packing can also cause damage, especially with the older K72 Rolls and Mercedes kits. These are very tightly packed kits. There are only a few ways to arrange to trees/sprues in order to fit everything back in the box. For most people, once you take the parts out, it is almost impossible to fit everything back in the box nicely. If the parts are not arranged correctly, there is a tendency for the sharp corners to scratch the other parts. Some people try to force fit everything back in the box, causing warped or broken plastic parts. This is especially true if the parts are forced to fit, and then stored in high heat location, leading to warped main body, and other warped or broken plastic parts.
As you know, Pocher kits come in BIG boxes and take up a lot of space. Unfortunately, this means they may end up at the bottom of the "stack". Furthermore, the earlier Pocher kits are packed in relatively thin cardboard boxes. This can lead to crushing damage such as warped or broken plastic parts. One sign of potential crushing damage is a caved in box.
Lastly, there is the test of time itself. I've seen the K74 foam sheet crumble into dust. Dried up sticker is another very common thing in older kits (although they can still be used). Some plastic becomes very brittle with age, such as the brown plastic in the K72 Rolls. I’ve seen K72 Rolls brown trees crack apart with the slightest force. When buying a K72, always look for the condition of the brown plastic parts. These include the seat frames, the inner windshield frame, and the inner door panels. If you bought a very old Tyco version K72, you can pretty much expect some kind of damage on the brown trees. Fortunately, the parts can be repaired using regular model glue.
NEWER OR OLDER KITS?
The newer and older kits each have their advantage and disadvantage. The plastic parts in the older kits tend to be more accurate and clean, because the molds were new and fresh, whereas on the newer kits, the wear and tear on the molds can be clearly seen. They show up as small chips and bumps. These parts can still be used, but may require extra time to clean up. Conversely, the plastic parts on the older kits tend to be more brittle due to age, whereas the plastic parts on the newer kits are stronger.
Like many other companies, Pocher has done cost cutting over time. Some metal parts in the older kits are of a higher quality. For example, the vintage version RR radiator and the Vintage version Alfa wheel rings are a very high quality chrome that shines much better than the newer kits. Also, the spokes on most older kits are of a high quality shiny polished steel, whereas the spokes on the newer kits (i.e. K89 Coupe Elegant) are made of plain dull metal. The wheel hubs on the Vintage RR and Alfa kits are a heavy solid cast metal, whereas in the later kits, they are hollow pressed metal. The wheel center cap on the older Bugatti kits are a very shiny, whereas in the newer kits, they are a dull metal.
Most Pocher fans are aware of the Mercedes wheel change to plastic. Kits K91, K93, K94 and K95 have plastic wheels instead of the metal wheels. These newer kits also have some other minor chassis details deleted.
Pocher constantly makes small changes to improve the parts fit. For example, the older RR tires have very thick inner edges, and fit the rims poorly. The newer RR tires have paper thin inner edges that fit the rims much better. The fenders on the newer K72 RR have been modified to fit much better. If there is a choice between older and newer kits, I would recommend a newer kit due to the stronger plastic, and improved parts fit.
WHY THE PRICE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SIMILAR KITS?
You may find that the popular K71 red Alfa Monza sells for so much less than the white K78 Muletto, although the Muletto is basically the same kit, and with fewer parts. Why?
Pocher only made 5 chassis in the Classic Kit series. They are the Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Mercedes, and the Bugatti. Each chassis are then fitted with different bodies to produce the various kits. Some kits were mass produced so they are easier to find at a lower price, while others were limited production kits, so they price is much higher due to collectors bidding a higher price them. For the Fiat, the K70 is much more popular than the K77 or K88. For the Alfa, the K71 Monza and K73 Spider are the most popular kits. All others are very hard to find. For the Rolls, the K72 is the most popular followed by the K75. The green K83 Ambassador is very rare and much more expensive. For the Mercedes, the black K74 is the most popular. For a while, the K91 True Roadster was also very popular. Now it’s hard to find one under $650. All Bugatti kits are very hard to find and expensive, but the yellow/black K76 is the most popular, followed by the K86. The blue/silver K84 is the hardest to find.
If this is your first time building the kit, there is really no reason to spend the extra money for a rare kit, because the chassis are all the same, and most bodies only have minor differences. For example, if you prefer the red K80 Mercedes, you can always buy the cheaper black K74, and paint it red. However, some bodies are quite different, such as the Alfa Coupe. If you want one, you're limited to finding either the K89 Coupe Elegant, or the K92 Dinner Jacket, both of which are extremely hard to find and very expensive.
FERRARI TESTAROSSA SHRINK WRAP PAINT DAMAGE
The Pocher Ferrari Testarossa has the smaller metal body parts packed on a shrink wrap cardboard sheet. The plastic shrink wrap film is in tight contact with the painted surface. Unfortunately, the plastic may react with the paint, causing patches of light discoloration. These discoloration are NOT removed by polishing or waxing. It is quite disappointing to see. It affects only the red models (I have not seen this on any other color model, but please correct me if I'm wrong). Also, this condition is present only on some kits. One possible explanation is perhaps storage in high heat area, causing the plastic film to react with the red paint. This problem is difficult to check for, and it may not show up in photos. Also, it is only visible after the part has been removed from the shrink wrap.
Another problem with the red Testarossa is the Testors issued kits. Ferrari experts know that the Ferrari Red is not the regular deep red, but a slight orange/red. While the Testors issued K51 Testarossa has the correct color on the main body, the smaller body panels are painted with regular red, causing a slight color mismatch. Therefore, I would recommend an original Pocher issued K51 over the Testors issued K51.
POSSIBLE CLEAR PARTS DAMAGE AND DEFECTS
The Ferrari Testarossa and F40 have very large windshields. Unfortunately they are only packed in a regular plastic bag, and tightly packed together with other parts. If the parts are not arranged correctly, the windshields can easily be scratched by other parts, or even crack. There is also a problem with producing the windshields in the first place. Some Testarossa and F40 have blemishes in the windshield, such has hazy spots, or visible lines. These are usually INSIDE the plastic and cannot be removed by polishing.
I've also come across clear parts that have some kind of hazy residue on them. These residues are only on the surface and are removable by polishing. Here is a photo of some residue on a brand new Bugatti rear window.
I highly recommend wrapping all clear parts, body, and fenders with additional protection. This is with ALL model kits, and especially Pocher kits.
POSSIBLE PROBLEM WITH SELLERS
Majority of eBay users are honest people. The problem with Pocher kits is that many sellers don’t know about the defects, they honestly think their kit is in good condition when it is not, and a few purposely hide the problems. The following descriptions are like saying nothing:
"Looks complete, but cannot guarantee…."
"Everything is there as far as I can tell….."
"This kit is complete to the best of my knowledge….."
"The person I got this from assured me everything is here…."
"It appears complete to me, but I’m not an expert on this…"
And then there is the occasional seller that firmly states "this kit is complete and mint". But you wonder how does he know for sure? The description goes on to say "all parts in the box are in their original factory sealed bags", but when it comes to Pocher kits, I guess that really doesn’t say anything about completeness either. There are only a handful of sellers on eBay I’m aware of, who are able to guarantee a Pocher kit as complete. For most sellers, there is really no way for them to know. Even if you buy a kit that was claimed to be "untouched" but later turned out to be missing parts, I would not blame the seller 100% because it's really not all within their control. In other words, you were not purposely lied to.
A seller once put up a K72 and described it as mint condition. He mentioned how detailed the kit is, how everything works, that he really wanted to pass it on to his grandkids, but had to sell it. Upon asking for more photos, I told this seller the kit is partially assembled, and obviously missing the entire engine and transmission (I’m sure he knew. Maybe he wanted to pass it on to the grandkid that he hated the most). I advised this seller to disclose this defect; he never did. The auction ended at a much higher price than what the kit is worth.
I've also come across many Pocher kit auctions where the seller only posted a photo of the box, with no other photos. The description only state what the kit is and what working feature it has, with nothing said about the kit being started. Only upon asking for more photos, are you then shown the partially built kit.
There are some eBay sellers that just go to estate sales to pick up items. If you look at their seller’s list, they got plates, purses, personal and household items, plus a Pocher kit. These sellers truly know absolutely nothing about Pocher kits. In that case, you can pretty much discredit all their descriptions. I once read a description that says it was the neatest thing he’s ever saw. Description says "I’m sure everything is here" but it was just a box of loose parts.
And then there is the occasional naive seller who does not know what he has. I once saw a new K90 with a "Buy it Now" of $189. It was gone less than 10 minutes. To catch these, you’ll have to have great luck, and be watching the listings all the time.
Pocher is not a word in the English language, so some inexperienced sellers misspelled the word Pocher, or leave it out of the description altogether. These auctions also tend to end at a lower price. You find them under Tyco, Rivarossi, Testors, Porcher, Poucher, Posher, Poocher, Potcher. I once saw a barely started "Potcher" Ferrari F40 that sold for $150.
THE SAME WORDS CAN HAVE DIFFERENT MEANING TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE
I once saw a Pocher kit on eBay described as "unassembled". Upon asking for more photos, it was obvious that the kit is partially assembled. I asked the seller why he would say "unassembled" when the kit has clearly been worked on? His said, "Unassembled" means the model is not FULLY assembled (can you believe that! Actually, if you think about it, he is not really wrong either). The lesson is, don’t just take his word for it, and always ask for more photos if what is posted in not clear. To some sellers unfamiliar with models, the word "unbuilt" can mean the model is not completely finished, so it can be a partially "built" kit. Search eBay for 170315066945 to see an example of an "unbuilt Mint in Box" kit, but the photos clearly shows that this is a partially built kit.
From time to time, I also see Pocher kits described as "has not been assembled" or "has not been worked on", but the photo clearly shows some assembly already done. I've also seen kits described as "All bags are still sealed", but the photo clearly shows some bags already opened and some assembly already started. Do these sellers really know what they are talking about? Obviously not.
As a model builder, you know what it means when you say a model has been started, but you'd be surprised how many people don't. I once saw a partially built Pocher kit described as "has not been started". I had a very difficult time explaining to this seller that partially built engine is NOT how it is supposed to be. He seriously and honestly thought the kit came like that.
POCHER KIT SCAMS
When they say eBay has everything, it is true! Including the scams, so watch out. Pocher kits sometimes become the "choice of bait" for scammers because of their high price. These criminals copy other people’s listings and repost them as their own items for sale. The scammers obviously do not have the kit in their possession. They are offered with a very low “Buy it Now” price. But of course, once you pay them by wire transfer, your money is gone, and you will NEVER receive anything. The Golden Rule again: "If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is". Signs of a possible scam may include too good to be true price, Western Union or bank wire transfer (no way to recover your money), no feedback but selling lots of expensive things at once, all of a sudden selling lots of unrelated expensive things at once (hijacked account), short auction duration (for a quick escape and no time to report them), mfg photos or copied photos, asking you to contact them by email for their own secret "Buy It Now" price (DO NOT ask, it's a scam!), etc...
Majority of eBay listings are genuine, but eBay can be a very dangerous place. If you are going to do any kind of buying and selling on eBay, a course on fraud awareness is a MUST. Experienced eBay users know how to tell a scam from a real listing, it's usually the new users that are getting ripped off. The best protection you have against scams is education, so protect yourself by becoming fully educated on all forms of eBay/internet scams. Don't become a victim. In fact, I think eBay should make this a MANDATORY course before allowing anyone to trade on eBay.
BRAND NEW KIT OR A PARTIALLY BUILT KIT?
There are many partially built kits on eBay (because so many have tried, and failed). A barely started kit may be the best bargain. A partially built kit can save you hundreds of dollars sometimes, but you are taking a bigger risk with missing parts, broken parts, poorly painted parts, or incorrectly glued together parts. There is always the likelihood that the original builder stopped because of missing/broken parts. Of course, the price also depends on whose bidding. I’ve seen partially built kits sold for higher price than unstarted kits.
This is very subjective. I’ve seen a new K71 Alfa sold for less than $250 and as high as over $1,400. Again, it all depends on whose bidding. Bidders (especially new eBay users) sometimes let their emotions take over and get carried away. Always have a pre-set price in mind. If the bidding goes over that, let it go. Remember there is always the next one (unless it is an extremely rare kit, in that case, you may have to wait awhile). When you get into a bidding war, the only winner is the seller. It’s never fun to pay more than what the other guys got it for.
Always include the shipping/insurance cost to determine the total cost of buying the kit. Some sellers overcharge on shipping ("handling" fee) as a way to make an extra buck. Within reason, it is OK, but sometimes you'll find sellers grossly overcharging. Don't get ripped off by this. Some sellers charge sales tax for buyers within the same state. For certain countries (Canada, most European countries), you also get hit with an import/customs tax.
International shipping obviously will cost more. For Pocher kits, one additional problem is size. For kits going out of USA, you can check the USA Post office website at usps.com, and find the size limit for your country. Packge size are measured as length plus girth (circumference around the smaller side).
NEW POSTAL RATES
Pocher kits going out of the US is best shipped by Priority Mail International. The BIG problem here is size. Most countries have a limit of 79 inches length plus girth except Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macao, Malta, marshall Islands, Micronesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vatican. If your country is not listed here, the size limit is 79 inches length plus girth. Only the Fiat and smaller Alfas in a tight box will qualify under this. There is no way to pack the bigger Pocher kits within this limit. If the package is over the limit, it must be shipped by the more expensive Global Express Guarantee, which can cost over $200.
One of the overseas buyer told me that by shipping packages out of USA using EMS (Express Mail Service), sometimes you can bypass the size limit if you do the shipping online. EMS is slightly more expensive than Priority, but not as rediculous as Global Express Guarantee. Delivery is usually 5 days.
POTENTIAL SHIPPING DAMAGE
Experienced seller will know how to pack a Pocher kit properly. But if you bought a Pocher kit from a new sellers. Always insist that the kit be well packed. I once got a Pocher kit that was only wrapped in paper. Needless to say, it suffered some shipping damage. Also, the further a kit has to travel, the higher the risk of damage. Try to buy a Pocher kit that is on the same “continent” unless you got a good reason not to. A trip across the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean is no fun for a Pocher kit. I once bought a kit from Europe and it arrived in USA with one corner flat as a pancake. My heart sank when I saw that.
PRAY TO GOD!!!
Lastly, pray to God that the kit you just bought is not a "lemon". "Oh God, please let this kit arrive with nothing damaged or missing!" Yes it works sometimes, but God also gave you wisdom and good judgment. If you don’t use it, then don’t expect miracles.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY KIT IS COMPLETE?
Unlike Tamiya kits which provides you with a parts diagram, Pocher kits do not. Although the metal parts flaps have part numbers, but they do not tell you which is which. You can kind of go by the quantity in each bag to match the parts up, but that's no easy task either, and it still does not ensure that the you have all the correct part. Unless you really know models, and you know Pocher kits well, it would be very difficult to know.
One other option is to use the parts photos on the Pocher Supplemental Assembly Instruction CD-ROMs. These photo will help you perform an accurate inventory of your kit. Please see the last paragraph regarding the Pocher Supplemental Assembly Instruction CD-ROMs.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT MISSING PARTS
Fortunately, most spare parts can still be located thanks to the internet. There is a great website scaleautoworks.com. There is a parts wanted message board. You can try posting a message there. There's a good chance that somebody will reply you. Another way is to look for parts/parts kit on eBay. There are some Pocher kit auctions where the seller clearly states the kit is incomplete and for parts only. Some sellers are even buying incomplete kits, and part them out on eBay. It's a good way to make some money and help people at the same time. if you have a kit that is missing significant number of parts, you may want to consider parting the kit out on eBay, rather than going through the frustration of trying to locate the missing parts. You'll likely get more money than what the incomplete kit is worth.
BREAKING THE PARTS WHILE BUILDING IT
This is a thousand dollar kit, so you think all the parts should be unbreakable, right? Think again!!! Pocher kits were originally designed as a "snap tight" assembly kit, that’s why all the fit is so tight. This idea simply does not work, and is the cause of all the breakage. You’ll find that all the holes are too tight, and because of the age of the kit, forcing the parts together creates high stress in the plastic, leading to cracks. Even if the plastic does not crack now, it may eventually crack later on. The fix is to adjust the fit until it is just right, and then reinforce with glue if necessary.
This part is made of metal so it must be tough, right? Wrong again!!!!
Those who have built a Pocher kit are all too familiar with the broken screw. Turning those screws into a tight plastic hole is enough to break the screw. Forcing a metal part into plastic holes can break the metal part, or crack the plastic part. It can really be frustrating.
POCHER SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION CD/DVD-ROMs
Please take a look at the Pocher Supplemental Instruction CD-ROMs in my eBay Store. These CDs are all self produced products that are only available through my eBay Store. It literally took me thousands of hours to make them possible. Over the years, I am constantly making them better and better. Each CD now contains full parts photos to help you inventory your kit. All metal parts are carefully laid out and labelled. There are thousands of step by step assembly photos, and hundreds of building tips. Many tips are from my personal experience of breaking those parts. Please take a look. I guarantee that you will find them worth the asking price or your money back. To visit my Pocher store, just click on the link below. I call it Pocherphile’s Forum, meaning a place for people who love Pocher.
If you find this guide helpful, please vote "Yes" below so this guide will become more visible to other eBay users. Thank you. Paul.