SEARCH FINESCALE.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

How Plastic Kits Are Made

490 views
9 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: Mansfield, TX
How Plastic Kits Are Made
Posted by EdGrune on Sunday, July 21, 2019 8:09 AM

While cleaning out the back warehouse of an old hobby shop I came across a stack of old FSM magazines.   One had a cover headline of a question I have often heard asked by people who may be new to the hobby, "How Plastic Kits Are Made".

In a December, 1988 article by Paul Boyer, he visited Revell/Monogram facilities in Illinois.   He talked about the separate histories of Monogram and Revell,  only just then being brought together under Odyssey Partners -- nothing about Binney & Smith, Hobbico, and the eventual demise and rebirth under complete new ownership.

He discussed how models start as overscale carved basswod masters,  how the fits is tested, and how the masters are pantographed into steel dies for injection molding.  He discusses the sprue layout, test shots, and the production run.   He presented some cost & production metrics;  800 man hours to make the masters,  $100,000 (1988 USD) for the steel tooling, 40,000 initial production run at 120 shots per hour.  Only after the kit has been molded do the tech writers begin writing the instructions and the decal artists do their tasks.

So here is my suggestion.   Update this article to the 21st century.   Update how the state of the industry has changed, including the players and a world-wide market.   Update the process in light of the rise of 3d CAD to cut the dies.   I suspect that while man-hours required to make a model kit have been reduced, machine hours required to do many of the same tasks have increased

 

  • Member since
    March, 2015
Posted by JohnnyK on Sunday, July 21, 2019 4:44 PM

That's a great suggestion. I always wanted to know how those really fine details, such as recessed panel lines, are machined into the steel die.

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Franklin Wi
Posted by Bakster on Sunday, July 21, 2019 4:48 PM

I like the idea too. 

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Monday, July 22, 2019 12:09 PM

EdGrune

...So here is my suggestion.   Update this article to the 21st century.   Update how the state of the industry has changed, including the players and a world-wide market.   Update the process in light of the rise of 3d CAD to cut the dies.   I suspect that while man-hours required to make a model kit have been reduced, machine hours required to do many of the same tasks have increased 

Yes

It's a great idea for an article, Ed!

Careful, though-they might ask you if you'd like to write it Wink

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    July, 2018
  • From: The Deep Woods
Posted by Tickmagnet on Monday, July 22, 2019 2:22 PM

Thumbs up on that one. Yes

 

 

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: Mansfield, TX
Posted by EdGrune on Monday, July 22, 2019 4:48 PM

the Baron

It's a great idea for an article, Ed!

Careful, though-they might ask you if you'd like to write it Wink

Okay, Ill do it.   Going to need to wrap up the Revell/Monogram story with new Revell in Germany.  Then pop over to England to see Airfix.    I really should see how Tamiya does it, so I guess I will need to travel onward to Japan, and while I'm in the neighborhood check out China for Trumpeter, Meng, and a few others.
 
I'll just submit my expense report.   I'm sure it will get paid.  Wink
  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 8:47 AM

You Know;

        Don't laugh! I have thought about going to the "How it's Made" show website and see if they would do it. Problem. It has to fit in a short segment. I will have to say it is an intriquing idea. Having had a Foster Father ( R.I.P.Dad ! ) who worked as a Tool and Diemaker for Houdialle - Hershey industries in Buffalo N.Y. I had an inkling at an early age.

        Dad made some items and showed me how they Pantographed them down to the size they needed for the Tool. He did the "Spirit of Exctasy" as an example. She was ten inches tall. When she was done in wax she was only an inch tall!

     The resulting figure was as detailed as the bigger one. I learned this about the time I went into High School.There I had to create a home model( framing )  at 1/16 inch equals a foot. Small but busy looking !

       Immediately after leaving Uncle Sam's Marines , I tried to get hired at Revell in Venice, California. I should've lied. They asked what my hobby was .I told them Model Building. They then said, at that time, They didn't hire folks who built models as a hobby.Why? Because this kept theft down on the Line .!!!!

      They only hired women as assemblers of their display pieces. They were more careful than Men . Go Figure ! Anyway, just thought I would throw that in .. T.B.

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 12:23 PM

EdGrune
 
the Baron

It's a great idea for an article, Ed!

 Careful, though-they might ask you if you'd like to write it Wink

Okay, Ill do it.   Going to need to wrap up the Revell/Monogram story with new Revell in Germany.  Then pop over to England to see Airfix.    I really should see how Tamiya does it, so I guess I will need to travel onward to Japan, and while I'm in the neighborhood check out China for Trumpeter, Meng, and a few others.

 
I'll just submit my expense report.   I'm sure it will get paid.  Wink
 

Big Smile

Seriously, though, a book on Monogram and Revell covering the period from the merger to the present would be great, too!  I have Graham's books, and I've always been a little disappointed that he didn't go beyond the merger.

I know many people have come to rely on Scalemates, but it's not the same thing.   I've got a small collection of books about various makers, like Airfix.  And some books are on my grail list, like the out-of-print book on Eaglewall in Britain.  They produced a series of 1/1200 table-top navy kits, among other things.  I've built some of those for my wargaming navy collection, and I'd really like to get that book.  But it hasn't surfaced.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, August 09, 2019 6:18 PM

Ed, while you are over sipping sake, check out the model railroad company Kato. The “Tamiya” of trains.

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Franklin Wi
Posted by Bakster on Saturday, August 24, 2019 9:13 AM

EdGrune

 

 
 
I'll just submit my expense report.   I'm sure it will get paid.  Wink
 

Be sure to submit the report in triplicate.

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

SEARCH FORUMS

FREE NEWSLETTER
By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.