Many people who want to get into diecast car collecting are puzzled by the different scales. Some think that scale does not matter at all, while others randomly collect an assortment of vehicles of different scales without giving it a second thought. By having a firm grasp on the ins and outs of the four scales, you will more thoroughly enjoy your collection from the start.
The four main scales are 1/18, 1/24, 1/43 and 1/64. They indicate how much smaller the diecasts are from the vehicle they are based on. In other words, a 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept diecast that is 1/24 scale is literally 24 times smaller than the real-world supercar. The actual length and other dimensions for each scale actually varies from car to car, since they're based on the real-world measurements of vehicles that aren't all the same size.
One of the biggest differences between the four scales is the number of opening features. Usually the larger the diecast, the more opening features such as doors, hood, trunk, etc. Of course this does not always hold true, but if you are looking for vehicles that can be opened up in multiple ways, you should in general stick to 1/24 or 1/18 scale.
Larger diecast cars also have more points of articulation. The steering wheel might not only spin, but actually move the front wheels, which is admittedly pretty fun. Some larger vehicles have spring suspension for the individual tires, giving them a different feel. Of course, these types of features also vary among manufacturers.
Another important point is price. In general, the larger the diecast, the more expensive. Younger collectors or those who have a smaller budget might want to stick with smaller options. Of course, there are some expensive 1/43 scale vehicles, so this does not always hold true.
The level of detail in general is greater on the larger scales. While there are exceptions to this rule, this is a factor to consider when starting your collection. For purely practical reasons, it's far easier to include details such as rearview mirrors, engine air filters, fuel doors, etc. when the vehicle is bigger. If you find yourself obsessing over the little things on diecasts, then going with more 1/18 and 1/24 scale diecast cars is a wise move. With greater detail also comes greater accuracy, so if you want your diecasts to be more true to the actual vehicle, larger options are best.
Many beginning collectors simply do not think about space constraints. Diecasts actually can consume a considerable amount of space, especially as you build up your collection. If your living arrangement is smaller, you should give some serious thought to going with smaller cars. Also, your significant other might not share your passion, making it necessary to keep the diecasts in a small room or a small shelf.
If you still have more questions, our size chart is a great resource to have open while you shop.