Scale auto renaissance?

395 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Well I'm amazed at all the good stuff coming out over the next year. I mean between the Hudson, '48 Ford, Revell's other new kits, IMC bringing back some old favorites, and Round 2 knocking our socks off we're are smack dab in the middle of a great time to be a scale auto modeler. Not since the 70's have we seen so much interest from the model companies. AND, wonder of wonders, it seems aimed towards the older, more established builders. No donks, tuners or monster trucks (or at least not much) which are released mostly to bring in the kids.

It seems that the companies have realized that the older established builders that are buying 2-100 copies of each kit are the demographic they should be aiming for and it and it's about time I say.

Are we seeing a scale auto renaissance?

Edited by Jantrix

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Posted

Perhaps a little bit of one, Rob. I don't know if we'll be back to the really high-points of the mid-1990s, but with some of the stuff coming out over the next 6-8 months and items that are already out, I think yes, right now is a good time to be modeling.

Charlie Larkin

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Posted

I think we've had it good since the early '90s when the new Revell was reborn and started putting out top notch new tools like the '69 Camaro, '64 Ford T-bolt, etc.

The problem with now is that IMC (Johan), Round2 (AMT/MPC/Polar Lights), and Lindberg/Hawk are only re-issuing kits, rather than creating and releasing newly tooled subjects. Even so, these are great times to be a modeller indeed.

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Posted

It's always been a good time to be a modeler. I can't wait to get my hands on that Cutlass and the '50 Olds. The Olds might my first un-shiny build. I kinda sorta remember a kid building one years ago. Everything was done except the paint. He was waiting to get some funds to do a proper SHINY paint job so he drove it around in black primer. I have to start trying to remember what engine he had in it.

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Posted

I said it when it happened - the big box stores getting rid of model cars would be the best thing that could have happened to the hobby. It's forced the model companies to listen and cater to the enthusiast market. So what if there are tons of reissues, they're the kits we want, a lot of times restored to the way the remember them (or better), not just some moldy oldie with 20"+ wheels trying to appeal to some kid in a Kmart...

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Posted

One nice thing about the re issues of kits is it gives a guy like me a chance to buy kits at the store versus paying ungodly amounts on eBay. Case in point: I've been itching to kitbash the Ecto 1 but refuse to pay $50-100 for one on ebay.

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Posted

Doug- have you ever checked out Dean's Hobby Stop? When he gets them in, the sealed ones sell for 35-40.

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Posted

It's nice to see the model car genre catching on. Aircraft and armor has had a nice little revival going on for the past 4 or 5 years.

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Posted (edited)

Spotting a swallow doesn't mean it's Summer, as we say in Austria.

But:

What is clearly noticeable is that the model companies seem to 'listen', i.e. reflect on what is discussed in the 'scene', among other on forums such as this one here (I mean you guys!).

They had to do something, since they must have realized by now that their target market hitherto - kids or at least younger people - aren't really buying model kits. I daresay the model kit has generally not made it into this millenium as a mainstream recreation-oriented product.

What the 'industry' is starting to realize is that model kits can only be sold if they target them to 'niche' markets. And what can be clearly seen in what has been announced for immediate and near future release, is that they probe various 'niches'. I would say, they have started to fight for each and every customer, which is a good thing. This strategy is probably the only one which will ultimately lead to success. Let's face it, it is a difficult road to take and certainly not easy money. But the times for easy money are over, or at least suspended for the time being. This can be felt in all industries, not only the hobby sector.

There are a few not so obvious factors, which could work in favour of the kit industry for the time being:

- Increased labour costs and tremendously improving social conditions in China led to an unproportionally high increase in prices for good quality diecasts over a very short period of time. At the same time, there is a decrease in spendable income in large parts of the population. You can read all about this on every diecast forum, or just check your bank account balance. Also, the diecast industry moans openly about dwindling sales figures, which in turn will again hike prices, a vicious circle. This will drive a lot of people who had left the model kit scene in favour of collecting good diecast models to return to building model kits.

- Many people are looking for cheaper recreational activities. The times where everybody could afford to go to the pub 3 nights a week and spend the weekend away are over. Just fill her up at the petrol station and you know what I mean. Recreational activities will more and more return to the confines of one's home and it is not unlikely that a few people who once were into modelling will take it up again.

- There is a sort of renaissance of family activities. For one thing, the novelty factor of the game consoles has worn off to a degree,and many games became very expensive. Another thing is that people start to realize that each member spending the evening in front of a different screen does not constitute a family life. Quite a few people told me they feel they have lost contact to their children to a large degree. I kept telling them to try to introduce them to modelling, something they can do toghether. And I was surprised how often they reverted back to me after a while and told me how well it worked.

Last Sunday was the largest toy and train fair in the North West of England. I had booked a table there (after more than twenty years of not attending such a fair) to sell a few kits which are truly surplus to my requirements. It turned out that there were only two other model kit vendors and I was the only one offering car model kits.

The rest of the fair was the usual array of toy trains, vintage Corgi/Dinky and other diecasts and toys clearly made for adults to collect, i.e. exactly teh same stuff I saw there last time over twenty years ago. However, I was surprised how many people stopped at my table and spent considerable time looking through my kits and starting to chat about them. Most of them were not unfamiliar with them, but hadn't tackled one in ages. Quite a few left with one or two under their arms.

When the event turned to a close, most sellers complained about not selling much and blamed 'the crisis' to a large degree. I told them, that I cannot share this view. Yes, comparatively little money had changed hands at my table, but there was constant custom throughout the event. A guy who had two tables full of very high end diecasts next to me said, sales are terrible compared with what they were like just three years ago. Which made me think again. Spending 150 quid on a diecast car to do exactly what with it? I can buy ten model kits for that kind of money and do whatever I can imagine in my twisted mind with them. Plus I can get my kids involved in building them. Aaaaaay!

The model kit isn't dead. The market has changed, that's all. But there is a small, loyal and devoted group of people out there, who will put their money where their heart is. This group may even slightly increase in numbers. If the kit industry plays it smart, we could face a very good future.

Edited by Junkman

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Posted

Brillantly put Christian.

The future is indeed bright for us all.

Bob

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Posted

Brillantly put Christian.

The future is indeed bright for us all.

Bob

What we need to do much more in future is say what we want and say it loud and clear. They do listen. You can see they listen.

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Posted

Perhaps a little bit of one, Rob. I don't know if we'll be back to the really high-points of the mid-1990s, but with some of the stuff coming out over the next 6-8 months and items that are already out, I think yes, right now is a good time to be modeling.

Charlie Larkin

I actually see the mid nineties as a low pint. Between AMT ertl and revell, we has a total of 7 1994 Mustang kits (IIRC) 4 1993 Camaro kits, along with lindberg , there was 5 Ford f-150 kits, etc. You get the point. sure we had more new releases but everyone was releasing the same old stuff. For a little while we got a ton of impalas,a nd belairs, a couple of new mopars but it was still the same old same old.

Now we are getting hudsons, oldsmobiles, really nice vintage re-issues, old tools that were lost or detroyed being re-cut, like the tijuana taxi and the rommels rod. Other old tools like the AMT Gremlin are being restored. The Model companies are starting to see the value of the old tools in their catolog, and realising that for a lot less money than it takes to do an all new tool you can restore a much missed old tool and reissue it. (I believe we can thank Dave Burkett for teaching them that trick) Yes I think today we have it better than we did at any point in history, including the sixties.

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Posted

We were talking along similar lines at our model car club meeting. Lots of good kits available, and we have a rich selection of aftermarket parts.We also have a great selection of paints. That counts for a lot too.

I figure that you can build a nice model for $35-40 if you already have a basic paint inventory. That's a reasonable cost for 10 hours of recreation. It makes economic sense in tight times. As we get more people back, we're get some percentage who stay for a long time. In that sense, Tight times work in the model industry's favor.

At least in the US, we're collectively retiring credit card debt at an astonishing rate. Once that gets down to a reasonable level again, people will start spending some , but not extravagant amounts of money. That will be good for the industry too.

Sorry kids, you're just too fickle. :)

Me, I'll be a marginal participant. I have enough models to last me for a few years, so I'm acquiring selectively.

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Posted

The model kit isn't dead. The market has changed, that's all. But there is a small, loyal and devoted group of people out there, who will put their money where their heart is. This group may even slightly increase in numbers. If the kit industry plays it smart, we could face a very good future.

Christian, not to completely disregard everything else you said in your post (which I really enjoyed reading, by the way), but I think that last paragraph there absolutely nailed it as far as the current situation with the model car hobby goes. The market has changed. That has already happened in the world of Military, aircraft, and shipping modeling, and guess what happened? Those three genres are much more diverse, and the quality of the models built even to out of box standards, are leaps and bounds above what they were when those kits were geared to 'kids'. It just seemed it took longer for that shift to happen in the auto modeling arena than in other areas of scale modeling.

Someone mentioned the big box stores turning their backs, for the most part, on model car kits being a factor. I agree with that- while I won't argue that a great many of us purchased kits at Mallwart and other such locations, we always went to the hobby shops because they had the GOOD stuff. Now the hobby shops do the lions share of the sales, and the lunatics are running the asylum. Yeah, prices have increased, but quality and selection is better than ever, and improving all the time.

Everyone refers to the late '80's/early '90's period as 'The Second Golden Age of Modeling'. I think we're well poised to see the beginning of the third.

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Posted

Forums like this have probably helped the manufacturers a lot. We give them tons of feedback and wish lists instantaneously and free to them. They didn't have this instant marketing info in past decades.

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We have been in a Renaissance for some time now. The model car aftermarket has been putting out so much great stuff for over 20 years now that plastic kits are almost superflous! Detail sets, decals, resin parts, complete resin kits and etc. make it almost unnecessary to start with a plastic kit. If you like racecars there are so many small companies throughout the world making very cool kits that it is hard to keep up!

Don't get me wrong, the plastic stuff is great and I am impressed with some of the new kits that are coming out but that only tells half of the story for the enthusiast adult model car builder.

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We have been in a Renaissance for some time now. The model car aftermarket has been putting out so much great stuff for over 20 years now that plastic kits are almost superflous! Detail sets, decals, resin parts, complete resin kits and etc. make it almost unnecessary to start with a plastic kit. If you like racecars there are so many small companies throughout the world making very cool kits that it is hard to keep up!

Don't get me wrong, the plastic stuff is great and I am impressed with some of the new kits that are coming out but that only tells half of the story for the enthusiast adult model car builder.

I didn't overtly mention that, but that was one of what I consider to be one of the side-effects of the mainstream retailers dropping hobby kits. The 'hardcore' guys have been embracing it for years, and I know of quite a few guys who started going to hobby shops and online sources for kits and supplies after the big box stores dropped them and discovered model car aftermarket parts there. There is more resin, photoetch, and aftermarket details out now than any other time in history. That is another aspect of the hobby that has grown and improved as the hobby has become, shall we say, more 'specialized'. Even if you discount new styrene kits, there is a huge array of kits and subjects available from the aftermarket concerns.

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Posted

A lot of great comments and insights posted here and pretty much what I was thinking of saying. I think the internet has helped the kit companies because in a matter of a few minutes they can check the pulse of the market just by visiting a few forums. Are they listening and making changes? Oh, you know it! Think back to when the Revell Nova kit came out and it was blasted for the incorrect gas filler tube, that got fixed before the next version came out, a clear sign that someone at Revell was watching!

The nice thing about some of the recent kits and the announcements this week is that some of us that have been around this hobby for a long time will get the chance to build some of the kits of our youth a second time, hopefully a little bit better this time around!

My biggest problem is going to be limiting the multiples of kits as I am running out of storage for them!

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I have to think technology factors into it. I would think it's cheaper and more efficient now than ever to clean up derelict and damaged molds. Software programs can design new subjects and tools faster and with less labor. Dies being cut with speed and precision we didn't have five years ago. Who knows, there might be more start up companies watching the success level of Moebius with intense interest.

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Posted (edited)

So us younger modelers get left out for the most part, I cant relate to the older cars that they are bringing out/ reissuing, so where does that leave us?. shouldn't they put some effort on my age range?, I know they are a few kits coming that are a little newer. But most of the kits for next are on cars that are what 40 to 50 years old.

I would like to see them do more newer cars that are not aimed at the street racer's or the low rider crowd, but for all the kits that are being released next year, there are three that I would want to buy. So I guess if you are young and support this hobby you get left out inless you like building cars that were around before you were even thought of.

Don't get me wrong, I understand they have to make what the majority of the market is going to buy, but at the same time they need to keep in touch with ones that like newer cars , or will move on to the foreign kits manufactures that produce kits that we can relate too.

And I am not saying I have anything against the kits coming out , I just can not relate to most of the cars, so I am happy for the ones that are in the target demo, but its kind of cold out here.

Edited by martinfan5

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Posted (edited)

I figure that you can build a nice model for $35-40 if you already have a basic paint inventory. That's a reasonable cost for 10 hours of recreation.

Ten hours!? Even if I built a model out of box *shudder* I couldn't do it in ten hours.

I would like to see them do more newer cars that are not aimed at the street racer's or the low rider crowd.

Not busting your chops, seriously curious. Regarding your statement - such as?

Edited by Jantrix

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I actually see the mid nineties as a low pint. Between AMT ertl and revell, we has a total of 7 1994 Mustang kits (IIRC) 4 1993 Camaro kits, along with lindberg , there was 5 Ford f-150 kits, etc. You get the point. sure we had more new releases but everyone was releasing the same old stuff. For a little while we got a ton of impalas,a nd belairs, a couple of new mopars but it was still the same old same old.

Yes. a lot of the same kits - but also a lot of kits that would not have a chance in today's market (and maybe weren't such a good investment in the mid-nineties either) such as the Ford Explorer and Tauras, Chevy S-10s, etc.

I would say I see a definite rise in modeling. A little over two years ago when I get back into models, one of the shops I purchased from had gone out of business and the other had only a handful of car kits. Now, they have enlarged and greatly expanded their car section - and I don't think I am the only one buying.

I hope we continue to see more kits and that the makers are financially successful going forward.

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I already have more kits than I'll probably build in a lifetime but I plan on getting a few more once they become available. I can't think of a better time to be a modeler than now. I need to get off of here and get back to the bench...

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Posted (edited)

So us younger modelers get left out for the most part, I cant relate to the older cars that they are bringing out/ reissuing, so where does that leave us?. shouldn't they put some effort on my age range?, I know they are a few kits coming that are a little newer. But most of the kits for next are on cars that are what 40 to 50 years old.

I would like to see them do more newer cars that are not aimed at the street racer's or the low rider crowd, but for all the kits that are being released next year, there are three that I would want to buy. So I guess if you are young and support this hobby you get left out inless you like building cars that were around before you were even thought of.

Don't get me wrong, I understand they have to make what the majority of the market is going to buy, but at the same time they need to keep in touch with ones that like newer cars , or will move on to the foreign kits manufactures that produce kits that we can relate too.

And I am not saying I have anything against the kits coming out , I just can not relate to most of the cars, so I am happy for the ones that are in the target demo, but its kind of cold out here.

You are not only completely right, I can hardly believe to what degree you are right!

I'm a 'second generation' modeller myself. I started in the Seventies, exactly when the whole hobby entered what must be it's darkest period in America so far. New kit development practically stopped altogether, once the real car industry stopped commissioning promos. Yes, we then got our share of ponycars, sportscars, vans and trucks, but there are hardly any 'ordinary' American cars in kit form, with the notable exception of the Johan Cadillacs and the lone Oldsmobile. Just to put this into perspective, there is no shortage of Japanese car kits from the period, lots of which quite recently tooled.

And yes, despite I like old cars, early Fifties Hudsons, Oldsmobiles and a baseline 57 Ford are certainly not anywhere near even the middle of my 'want' list. The reissues of the Vans and the Jo-Hans by IMC are more my cup of tea by lightyears. I wish the industry would start picking up where it left off in the early Seventies.

But this is how it goes: The industry tools up this Fifties stuff because people shouted loud enough. We have to learn the lesson. If we want something, we must shout.

So hey, kit industry, if you read this. Where is my '73 Dodge Monaco, '73 Pontiac LeMans, '71 Cadillac, '77 Caprice and '77 Continental Town Car?

Edited by Junkman

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So hey, kit industry, if you read this. Where is my '73 Dodge Monaco, '73 Pontiac LeMans, '71 Cadillac, '77 Caprice and '77 Continental Town Car?

These cars may seem interesting to you over in england, but here in the states they are seen as a serious low point in our automotive history. They were oversized, slow and boring. With so many iconic classics, muscle cars and sports cars not having a kit of them how can they justify kits of late 70's flotsam and jetsam.

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