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Why excellent model companies just don't make it ?


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Hi all

Over 40 years of modelling I have seen many great model companies just had their glory moments for a bout 10 years then fold into oblivion. Cases come to mind. Accurate Miniatures of the early 90s that rival Tamiya of the day, Eagle Strike and Aeromaster decal companies in which I think were the best decal markets in terms of accuracy and printing, Wingsnut of the 1/32 WW1 aircraft fame, Monogram (longest surviving member mentioned here) in the 70s and 90s then when they started producing high quality kits like He 111, Ju 52 they then folded shortly after. There are others that I can't recall. Now the major players are from Japan and overseas. What gives? Dai 

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No common denominator.  Business can be unforgiving.   Make a few bad decisions and it's tough to get dug out from the hole.    

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I don't think there is a huge market here. My own kids would rather sit

on the couch , stare at the boob tube with a controller in their hands. The

mentality of my generation has shifted. Times change people change

fads come and go. We are changing, not sure if it is for better or worse

but this world and it's ways aren't what I was accustomed to growing

up in the 50s and 60s. Take it for what it's worth, guess it's time to move

on. jon

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decreasing interest, 10 years ago my LHS in Viareggio mostly had people in their 20s like me picking RC models over static models, I was one of the few young people who could talk about panzers, modern aircrafts and mottled ones with modellers older than me as many others could not discern an F-16 from a Tomcat.

Also since the modern society is more shitter than the society we had 30 years ago, I suppose than even if you have in a group of 50 people, 10 people interested in military equipment, out of those 10 people only a couple of them will probably join the Fill The Shelf Squad while the others will stay away from it for the fear of getting called names.

 

If it is not the lack of interest for the hobby then it's all about modern trends.

I started to collect static figures and the first I had to do was to also go after GK (Garage Kits) because companies are complete 'holes.

GSC (Good Smile Company) and Alter somehow are the Tamiya and the Hasegawa for that hobby.

GSC mostly makes the same character over and over again, if not they pick some odd ones from a niche anime, try to push it because hey we are GSC, sales don't go well and they shut it down, they had and they probably have a satellite corporation called Phat Company which usually made static figures from a couple of GK circles but they stopped doing that.

I can't see GSC=Tamiya but Tamiya bait & switch tactics are getting annoying, I will not buy their 1/72 BF-109G cause the middle finger their raised for the F-16C-52 in 1/72

Alter is the Hasegawa, vast choice they once again pick one or more subjects, release them, pull another bait & switch and never complete a serie

Kotobukiya it's like Revell, they committed errors, they fixed them, then discovered DC & Marvel, dropped everything good, Tokiame went AWOL, simplified many things, QC sometimes felt like a joke and that's it

Can't talk about Megahouse as like Bandai and Banpresto they joined the generic shonen wave of figures and it's a very annoying thing as Megahouse was doing figures for fighting games characters, yet they stopped, Bandai it's just Gundam above anything else and Banpresto is a mess.

 

They follow the trends, NPCs will buy their overpriced crap, while all the others will just switch to another hobby or start to buy figures from niche companies that are willing to invest money and make interesting characters from better anime, manga and novels, and what's happening right now?

I'm buying kits from Modelsvit because they are at least and for now making interesting subjects

From Hasegawa I'm only buying limited kits only if they have specific parts which they refuse to sell separately

From Tamiya I'm not buying nothing and if I do I just take the auction route

From Revell once again I'm buying used kits as newer ones are more pricey and contain less decals and sometimes parts than past version

It's sucks, but they wanted it

 

Luigi

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Historically, on youtube, the maxsmodels channel has interesting and quite well researched historical videos about a number of model companies. 

 

Like 11bee said, no common denominator.  

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Posted (edited)

Accurate Miniatures is a complex case. I don't know the inner workings of what happened, just the outside modeler's perspective. When they first hit the scene, they instantly became the most-talked about company for how detailed their kits were. Trouble first started brewing with the TBF Avenger. There were delays upon delays (think AMK without the hype). I know one fellow club member who built the old Monogram Avenger and threw everything including the kitchen sink into as a joking "spite" to AM because they still hadn't released theirs yet. The rumor was that they were trying to correct some errors, which delayed the release. That brought about the discussion of do you release something that is 90 some odd percent accurate, or do you delay and try and get close to 100%. Those delays cost AM money in both loss of sales, loss of interest, and loss of money making tweaks to the molds. From there, it started downhill. They started releasing other manufacturer's kits (Helldiver and Phantom) and not their own designs. I don't know the timeline, but there was also an illness involved and a second AM that evolved out of the first company. That may have been the one that released the Helldiver and Phantom. Others will probably be able to contribute more specifically. The bottom line is that we modeler's are own worst enemy sometimes. We craved engraved detail, so that's what we got. Unfortunately, those same modelers started complaining that there was too much engraved detail. I remember the Trumpeter Dauntless and C-47 were  prime examples. When they were released, there were some that complained that they had engrave rivet detail when the real things had raised rivets. So, a company is between a rock and hard place. If they don't find the perfect balance, they can easily run into trouble. Sometimes it's self-inflicted while other times it's an innocent oversight. Really and truly, any business is difficult to keep going and make successful.

Edited by Darren Roberts
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22 minutes ago, Darren Roberts said:

Accurate Miniatures is a complex case. I don't know the inner workings of what happened, just the outside modeler's perspective. When they first hit the scene, they instantly became the most-talked about company for how detailed their kits were. Trouble first started brewing with the TBF Avenger. There were delays upon delays (think AMK without the hype). I know one fellow club member who built the old Monogram Avenger and threw everything including the kitchen sink into as a joking "spite" to AM because they still hadn't released theirs yet. The rumor was that they were trying to correct some errors, which delayed the release. That brought about the discussion of do you release something that is 90 some odd percent accurate, or do you delay and try and get close to 100%. Those delays cost AM money in both loss of sales, loss of interest, and loss of money making tweaks to the molds. From there, it started downhill. They started releasing other manufacturer's kits (Helldiver and Phantom) and not their own designs. I don't know the timeline, but there was also an illness involved and a second AM that evolved out of the first company. That may have been the one that released the Helldiver and Phantom. Others will probably be able to contribute more specifically. The bottom line is that we modeler's are own worst enemy sometimes. We craved engraved detail, so that's what we got. Unfortunately, those same modelers started complaining that there was too much engraved detail. I remember the Trumpeter Dauntless and C-47 were  prime examples. When they were released, there were some that complained that they had engrave rivet detail when the real things had raised rivets. So, a company is between a rock and hard place. If they don't find the perfect balance, they can easily run into trouble. Sometimes it's self-inflicted while other times it's an innocent oversight. Really and truly, any business is difficult to keep going and make successful.

 

Thanks for the insight Darren. I knew most of what you said but not all. What I really liked about AM was the fact that their instructions were great and the subjects were really good. I still have several Avengers and B-25 kits. One good thing is that at least the kits are still available but under a different label.

 

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3 hours ago, ytsejam87 said:

Historically, on youtube, the maxsmodels channel has interesting and quite well researched historical videos about a number of model companies. 

 

Like 11bee said, no common denominator.  

Yes I watched all of them. Dai 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Darren Roberts said:

Accurate Miniatures is a complex case. I don't know the inner workings of what happened, just the outside modeler's perspective. When they first hit the scene, they instantly became the most-talked about company for how detailed their kits were. Trouble first started brewing with the TBF Avenger. There were delays upon delays (think AMK without the hype). I know one fellow club member who built the old Monogram Avenger and threw everything including the kitchen sink into as a joking "spite" to AM because they still hadn't released theirs yet. The rumor was that they were trying to correct some errors, which delayed the release. That brought about the discussion of do you release something that is 90 some odd percent accurate, or do you delay and try and get close to 100%. Those delays cost AM money in both loss of sales, loss of interest, and loss of money making tweaks to the molds. From there, it started downhill. They started releasing other manufacturer's kits (Helldiver and Phantom) and not their own designs. I don't know the timeline, but there was also an illness involved and a second AM that evolved out of the first company. That may have been the one that released the Helldiver and Phantom. Others will probably be able to contribute more specifically. The bottom line is that we modeler's are own worst enemy sometimes. We craved engraved detail, so that's what we got. Unfortunately, those same modelers started complaining that there was too much engraved detail. I remember the Trumpeter Dauntless and C-47 were  prime examples. When they were released, there were some that complained that they had engrave rivet detail when the real things had raised rivets. So, a company is between a rock and hard place. If they don't find the perfect balance, they can easily run into trouble. Sometimes it's self-inflicted while other times it's an innocent oversight. Really and truly, any business is difficult to keep going and make successful.

I was fortunate enough to gather and built some kits before they went belly up. The A36 and SBD were wonderful ! With today's standard I have yet to see a company that top the models that they released. Can anyone top the A36 and the early Mustang series? How about the SBD and the Avenger ??? I tell you that Avenger is a work of art ! Dai 

 

Edited by dai phan
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Eagle Strike was an offshoot of Aeromaster.  Aeromaster was definitely prolific and quality was good, but accuracy only so-so.  There were commonly referred to as “Errormaster”.  Some decal artists who worked for Aeromaster said they had been told to make the decals match profiles in common books, even when photographs of the real things were available which showed there were errors in the profiles.

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Speaking just about Monogram.  They were the best kit company I grew up with.  Their kits had good detail and a good price.  The draw back, raised panel lines.  Back before I knew better😵, I didn't care if I sanded some off.  I just completed the kit.  It wasn't until I started reading magazines and forums that I found out that you need to replace them.  About the same time Monogram was being bought and sold by different companies (Mattel, Revell), most did not contribute anything just milked the life out of them and sold them off.  It then became paramount that they begin to produce kits like Hasegawa and others, fine detail and recessed panel lines, etc.  They went from designing things in this country to importing everything from Korea, China.   I think they got away from what made them a great company.  Not saying they didn't make some nice kits, but they were an American company focused for the most part on American aviation, century series, B-17,24,25,36,29, F-15, P-61, etc.  Then the focus went to other stuff, Mig 29, Ju-52, Me-410s, etc.  They were getting into other brands wheelhouse and I don't think they fared well.  It took decades for us to get "better" versions of those Monogram classics. Meanwhile Monogram evaporated.  At least the molds are still around.

 

Geoff M

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1 hour ago, Geoff M said:

Speaking just about Monogram.  They were the best kit company I grew up with.  Their kits had good detail and a good price.  The draw back, raised panel lines.  Back before I knew better😵, I didn't care if I sanded some off.  I just completed the kit.  It wasn't until I started reading magazines and forums that I found out that you need to replace them.  About the same time Monogram was being bought and sold by different companies (Mattel, Revell), most did not contribute anything just milked the life out of them and sold them off.  It then became paramount that they begin to produce kits like Hasegawa and others, fine detail and recessed panel lines, etc.  They went from designing things in this country to importing everything from Korea, China.   I think they got away from what made them a great company.  Not saying they didn't make some nice kits, but they were an American company focused for the most part on American aviation, century series, B-17,24,25,36,29, F-15, P-61, etc.  Then the focus went to other stuff, Mig 29, Ju-52, Me-410s, etc.  They were getting into other brands wheelhouse and I don't think they fared well.  It took decades for us to get "better" versions of those Monogram classics. Meanwhile Monogram evaporated.  At least the molds are still around.

 

Geoff M

 

Good insight. Sending the moldings to Korea wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I believe the Strike Eagle, F-86D, F-84E/G, and a couple of other nice kits were molded there. When the molding went to China is when the plastic began to get weird. I know the biggest disappointment for me was the Super Hornet. Everyone was expecting the quality of the kits I mentioned earlier. What was released was NOT up to that quality. It was still an okay kit, but not top-notch. That's when the visible decline really started to take hold. I'm sure there were issues prior to that, but that was the straw that broke the camel's back, if you will. I'm trying to remember if they even released a new aircraft kit after the Super Hornet (both variants). I can't think of any. 

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1 hour ago, Dave Williams said:

Eagle Strike was an offshoot of Aeromaster.  Aeromaster was definitely prolific and quality was good, but accuracy only so-so.  There were commonly referred to as “Errormaster”.  Some decal artists who worked for Aeromaster said they had been told to make the decals match profiles in common books, even when photographs of the real things were available which showed there were errors in the profiles.

Interesting. I have worked with Aeromaster decals and found the quality to be good (printed by Cartograf). Accuracy I must not doing so well in my research. In your opinion, is there a decal company that is both good in quality AND accuracy? Dai 

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1 hour ago, Geoff M said:

Speaking just about Monogram.  They were the best kit company I grew up with.  Their kits had good detail and a good price.  The draw back, raised panel lines.  Back before I knew better😵, I didn't care if I sanded some off.  I just completed the kit.  It wasn't until I started reading magazines and forums that I found out that you need to replace them.  About the same time Monogram was being bought and sold by different companies (Mattel, Revell), most did not contribute anything just milked the life out of them and sold them off.  It then became paramount that they begin to produce kits like Hasegawa and others, fine detail and recessed panel lines, etc.  They went from designing things in this country to importing everything from Korea, China.   I think they got away from what made them a great company.  Not saying they didn't make some nice kits, but they were an American company focused for the most part on American aviation, century series, B-17,24,25,36,29, F-15, P-61, etc.  Then the focus went to other stuff, Mig 29, Ju-52, Me-410s, etc.  They were getting into other brands wheelhouse and I don't think they fared well.  It took decades for us to get "better" versions of those Monogram classics. Meanwhile Monogram evaporated.  At least the molds are still around.

 

Geoff M

I started my modeling in 1980 although as a child growing up in a war torn country in Vietnam back in the 60s and 70s, you get what ever parents gave you. When I got the US, Monogram was my kits because they were within the price range I could afford. Forget about Tamiya and Hase. When I settled in 1/48 scale I built exclusively M because they offer excellent kits and affordable price. When they started to improve with He 111, Me 410, Ju 52 and PBY they then belly up. Too bad because I would love to see what they can do now. Chinese kits are OK but accuracy is poor so now I stay away from them and focus on oldies but goodies like my recently finished Hasegawa 1/48 F104 and now WIP Hase A7. Dai 

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30 minutes ago, dai phan said:

Interesting. I have worked with Aeromaster decals and found the quality to be good (printed by Cartograf). Accuracy I must not doing so well in my research. In your opinion, is there a decal company that is both good in quality AND accuracy? Dai 


There are a number of good companies.  SpeedHunter, AOA Decals, Flying Leathernecks, and Afterburner Decals for modern stuff.  Pheon Decals for WW1.  Eagle Editions for WW2 decals.  To name just a few.

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1 hour ago, Dave Williams said:


There are a number of good companies.  SpeedHunter, AOA Decals, Flying Leathernecks, and Afterburner Decals for modern stuff.  Pheon Decals for WW1.  Eagle Editions for WW2 decals.  To name just a few.

I look at them all but they do not have what I wanted. Few months ago, I built the VNAF O-1 Bird Dog and I really want the  AOA in 1/48 but all sold out. Dai 

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2 hours ago, Dave Williams said:


There are a number of good companies.  SpeedHunter, AOA Decals, Flying Leathernecks, and Afterburner Decals for modern stuff.  Pheon Decals for WW1.  Eagle Editions for WW2 decals.  To name just a few.

To name a couple of others - Avialogy has some amazingly well researched WW2 (mostly RAF) subjects.  Fundekals has a broader range and equivalent depth of research and quality. 

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2 hours ago, 11bee said:

To name a couple of others - Avialogy has some amazingly well researched WW2 (mostly RAF) subjects.  Fundekals has a broader range and equivalent depth of research and quality. 

 

How could you guys forget Fightertown Decals? Also Caracal. For Russian subects, Begemot.

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Posted (edited)

Accurate miniatures came and went 2-3 times. First ownsership was all original releases, the black boxes. They sold out to another group which Included a few of the original people involved  if I recall correctly . The second ownership group finished the vindicator tooling and reissued kits in the white/yellow boxes. They also reissued kits from other manufacturers including some old monogram kits, the Eduard P-39, Special

Hobby Super Corsair, And Pro modeler  Helldiver. 

Edited by Charlie D.
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On 5/10/2020 at 11:31 AM, ytsejam87 said:

Historically, on youtube, the maxsmodels channel has interesting and quite well researched historical videos about a number of model companies. 

 

Like 11bee said, no common denominator.  

 

On 5/10/2020 at 1:15 PM, Darren Roberts said:

Accurate Miniatures is a complex case. I don't know the inner workings of what happened, just the outside modeler's perspective. When they first hit the scene, they instantly became the most-talked about company for how detailed their kits were. Trouble first started brewing with the TBF Avenger. There were delays upon delays (think AMK without the hype). I know one fellow club member who built the old Monogram Avenger and threw everything including the kitchen sink into as a joking "spite" to AM because they still hadn't released theirs yet. The rumor was that they were trying to correct some errors, which delayed the release. That brought about the discussion of do you release something that is 90 some odd percent accurate, or do you delay and try and get close to 100%. Those delays cost AM money in both loss of sales, loss of interest, and loss of money making tweaks to the molds. From there, it started downhill. They started releasing other manufacturer's kits (Helldiver and Phantom) and not their own designs. I don't know the timeline, but there was also an illness involved and a second AM that evolved out of the first company. That may have been the one that released the Helldiver and Phantom. Others will probably be able to contribute more specifically. The bottom line is that we modeler's are own worst enemy sometimes. We craved engraved detail, so that's what we got. Unfortunately, those same modelers started complaining that there was too much engraved detail. I remember the Trumpeter Dauntless and C-47 were  prime examples. When they were released, there were some that complained that they had engrave rivet detail when the real things had raised rivets. So, a company is between a rock and hard place. If they don't find the perfect balance, they can easily run into trouble. Sometimes it's self-inflicted while other times it's an innocent oversight. Really and truly, any business is difficult to keep going and make successful.

 

I think it was a Maxsmodels video I was watching, where it was explained that the biggest problem for accurate miniatures was the upper management from monogram and Revell that started AM were paying themselves big corporate salaries like they were accustomed to, rather than the more typical scrape by by pay yourself nothing business start up that the company needed. Not sure of the truth of that it was just what the video pointed out. 

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On 5/10/2020 at 8:10 PM, 11bee said:

To name a couple of others - Avialogy has some amazingly well researched WW2 (mostly RAF) subjects.  Fundekals has a broader range and equivalent depth of research and quality. 

 

 

aviaeology is mostly RCAF,  they just look like RAF & RAAF markings. But if you read the instructions super close you will notice that the squadron numbers are mostly 400-449.  Not like the copy cat Aussies with their 450-467, or the Brits with numbers from 1-300 or over 500. 😃

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There's a guaranteed sure-fire way to make a small fortune as a model producer ...

 

...

 

...

 

.. start with a large one. :whistle:

 

I'll get my coat.

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On 5/10/2020 at 12:15 PM, Darren Roberts said:

Accurate Miniatures is a complex case. I don't know the inner workings of what happened, just the outside modeler's perspective. When they first hit the scene, they instantly became the most-talked about company for how detailed their kits were. Trouble first started brewing with the TBF Avenger. There were delays upon delays (think AMK without the hype). I know one fellow club member who built the old Monogram Avenger and threw everything including the kitchen sink into as a joking "spite" to AM because they still hadn't released theirs yet. The rumor was that they were trying to correct some errors, which delayed the release. That brought about the discussion of do you release something that is 90 some odd percent accurate, or do you delay and try and get close to 100%. Those delays cost AM money in both loss of sales, loss of interest, and loss of money making tweaks to the molds. From there, it started downhill. They started releasing other manufacturer's kits (Helldiver and Phantom) and not their own designs. I don't know the timeline, but there was also an illness involved and a second AM that evolved out of the first company. That may have been the one that released the Helldiver and Phantom. Others will probably be able to contribute more specifically. The bottom line is that we modeler's are own worst enemy sometimes. We craved engraved detail, so that's what we got. Unfortunately, those same modelers started complaining that there was too much engraved detail. I remember the Trumpeter Dauntless and C-47 were  prime examples. When they were released, there were some that complained that they had engrave rivet detail when the real things had raised rivets. So, a company is between a rock and hard place. If they don't find the perfect balance, they can easily run into trouble. Sometimes it's self-inflicted while other times it's an innocent oversight. Really and truly, any business is difficult to keep going and make successful.

 

One of the problems with AM is that some of their kits were TOO accurate.  Couple of cases in point: The TBF Avenger is a gorgeous kit...BUT the torpedo will not fit in the weapons bay.  Reason?  They produced a perfectly accurate torpedo, then forgot to allow for the wall thickness of the weapons bay bulkheads.  Result?  The torpedo actually touched the bulkheads at each end of the torpedo instead of leaving a slight gap.  Then there was a GT race car...I forget which one and I don't have the kit easily at hand.  Yes, I still have the kit, still in mint conditon and unbuilt.  That particular kit has the reputation for being impossible to build UNLESS you follow the instructions to the absolute letter be cause it is SO accurate.  Even then it would take a top level expert to finish the thing. 

 

There are times when accuracy can be taken too far, which is the reason I tell people that we build representations, not replicas.  It is impossible to build a 100% accurate replica of a 48th scale aircraft because the thickness of the skin/bulkheads/etc would be so thin that you would be able to read a magazine through them.  What we actually do is to build representations that LOOK like replicas.  To do that successfully is where the skill is.

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1 hour ago, IPMSUSA2 said:

There are times when accuracy can be taken too far, which is the reason I tell people that we build representations, not replicas.  It is impossible to build a 100% accurate replica of a 48th scale aircraft because the thickness of the skin/bulkheads/etc would be so thin that you would be able to read a magazine through them.  What we actually do is to build representations that LOOK like replicas.  To do that successfully is where the skill is.

 

Very true. 

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3 hours ago, IPMSUSA2 said:

 

There are times when accuracy can be taken too far, which is the reason I tell people that we build representations, not replicas.  It is impossible to build a 100% accurate replica of a 48th scale aircraft because the thickness of the skin/bulkheads/etc would be so thin that you would be able to read a magazine through them.  What we actually do is to build representations that LOOK like replicas.  To do that successfully is where the skill is.

 

To quote from the movie Amadeus, "Well, there it is!"

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