PERFECT HALF MEASURES

BY ANDREW FRANCIS,

DIRECTOR, THE SIGNATURE STORE

Considering it’s a relatively young area of collectibles, the half-scale helmet market has exploded in recent years and has become big business, both for collectors, the teams and drivers themselves.

 

There are many pros to half-scale helmets; they’re easy to display, usually incredibly well made, easy to sign or get signed, and some examples are quickly becoming very valuable.

 

Minichamps began making the first half-scale helmets during the 90s and back then they were quite basic; made by a model producer, not a helmet manufacturer. The range was mostly MototGP riders, but Ayrton Senna also featured.

 

Bell was the first helmet manufacturer to change the game when it began offering the ability to commission half-scale helmets, alongside ones they made for the teams, sold under the Bell SPORTS brand, with the selling point ‘the same technology as the real ones’.  Michael Schumacher, Jean Alesi and Jacky Ickx were in the range, only a few of those original helmets survive, and even less in their original boxes, so as a result their value has skyrocketed and signed, some can change hands for four figures – not bad for an item that originally cost less than a hundred pounds.

 

Initially Bell were painting the shells, but as numbers increased they changed the process, which often resulted in ‘bubbling’ around the base and visor opening, which effects values today, so look very closely if you are buying used. There was a limited run of Ayrton Senna , 1984 Toleman ‘Segafredo’ helmets - almost the entire run ‘bubbled’ and were returned to the factory, so if you can find one that made it onto the market, the price will be very high.

 

Today a lot of teams and drivers are waking up to this market and taking control of their own half-scale replicas. Now if an F1 or IndyCar driver has a supply deal with a helmet manufacturer such as Bell, Schuberth or Stilo, there is often a limited run of half-scales made alongside their full-size helmets, which they sell through their own channels to fans or are sold by the teams as official replicas.

 

Max Verstappen led this trend; you can only buy his official half-scale helmet from his own or the RedBull website. Pierre Gasly does this too – and he hand signs them, adding a special touch, and every signature is authentic!

 

If I were giving tips, there are many lids to choose from these days, so buy your hero or the designs you like, look out for condition and try to buy with an original box. There is such a joy in seeing a half-scale helmet displayed in a nice case, and these days the choice is outstanding, with a half-scale helmet offered for every driver on the F1 grid.

 

Happy half-scale hunting!

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If you're after a Max Verstappen 1/2 scale helmet, buy it from his own online store

BY ANDREW FRANCIS,

DIRECTOR, THE SIGNATURE STORE

ARTICLE FIRST PUBLISHED, OCTOBER 2021, MOTORSPORT MAGAZINE