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What's current state of plastic modeling hobby?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Biding my time, watching your lines.
Posted by PaintsWithBrush on Monday, April 9, 2012 8:02 PM

MJames70

I kind of find the 'it's just too expensive, that's why it's dying' to be more than a bit of a 'straw man' argument. There are values out there, as others have pointed out. And it doesn't mean buying cr*p 40 year old kits, either. 

I've never seen anyone on here saying that expense was a detriment to the industry as a whole. As has been pointed out, we are older people with the money to "indulge ourselves" with and as far as "indulgences" go, it's not too bad. I would not consider any of the +40 models "crap". They paved the way. Everything has it's origin and evolves. What does the current crop have "over" it's predecessors? Tons of interior detail that no one will ever see? Accurate wheel well appointments that can only be viewed if the casual observer lays hand to your lovingly crafted creation and "handles" it? Who ever offers that option to their friends?

A 100% rider on a 70% bike will always defeat a 70% rider on a 100% bike. (Kenny Roberts)

  • Member since
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Posted by Old Yeller on Monday, April 9, 2012 8:19 PM

This hobby should not be looked at years from now as a "fad" that came and went.  That would be a shame.  Model manufacturers and sellers need to expand their thinking to realize that targeting advertising only to those already immersed in the hobby dooms their business to extinction.

Modeling has so many positive attributes.  Advertise to get the attention of children and their parents.  Convince children how rewarding and "cool" modeling is.  Convince parents that the $50 they spent on that video game would have been far better spent on models, and that some of the many  hours their child spends frantically flipping their thumbs on a video game controller would be far better spent on a modeling project.

Maybe I'm a dumb dinosaur, but I bet there are advertising people out there who could grab this concept and run with it.  It's an easy sell if you think about it: modeling would provide an enjoyable and productive diversion for any child living in an empty world of exclusively computer-generated entertainment.

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  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Monday, April 9, 2012 11:08 PM

One thing about spending $50 on a video game is once you've beaten it, you can chuck it up on eBay or bring it in to Game Stop and recoup some of the money back. My older boys used to do that; turn in some older games they no longer played and used the credit to defray the price of an even newer game. Selling it on eBay brought them more money though.

  • Member since
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  • From: Carmel, CA
Posted by bondoman on Monday, April 9, 2012 11:28 PM

Easy answer, better than ever.

Want a B-25J? No problem.

Want that Revell 1/32 spitfire or the corsair with the working wings? The Mono Kingfisher?

The Red Baron car. Sonny and Cher Kustom Kar?

All out there, all easy to buy with Pay Pal or what ever.

No longer your paper route money in your pocket and a two mile ride to the LHS that was run by a nasty old lady with a cat.

Tell you where they've all gone to Valhalla- the model railroad guys. About ten years ago they all got what they'd been dreaming of- Southern Pacific Black Widow EMD F3 A-B-A set in 1/87 with accurate couplers? No problem. Florida Central "Citrus" scheme Alco PA-1's. Got it.

Why? As they all came into their 60's they put the word out through clubs and magazines that they wanted accurate models at the hobby shop for less than $ 50.

Time to fly, wing nuts. We have to get around the fact that the Chinese manu's dump out good castings with bad research on the finishes. Research will save you. Aftermarket decal and detail outfits can't be expected to always catch up. Models are the best they've ever been, finish and decals not so much. But that's a skill that's achievable.

Hammer I know you'll never build a ship. There's a gestalt that enables most ship builders to have a little license. Used to be that way in railroads until the rivet n z i s invaded and yes we flange weirdos did invent that term.

Best time in the hobby, ever.

But I digress.....

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Iowa
Posted by Hans von Hammer on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 7:09 AM

I've built ships...  Well, boats, anyway.. PBRs, LCMs, SSCs, whatever I can find in 1/35th that will work with 1/35 Armor and figures...

Did a coupe forced-perspective shadow boxes as well, one with a 1/48 SBD and another with an SB2C... The SBD was dive-bombing the Soryu at Midway, the Beast was about to put one down a stack on the Yamato at Leyte Gulf... Used those small scale "Waterline kits" of the ships...  Primary models were the planes though...

As far as Model RRing went, the Rivet-Counters in the clubs drove me out of that hobby about 25 years ago.. I personally think that they just couldn't stand the fact that I could landscape for a tenth of the price, and I could out-weather rolling-stock better than any of 'em...  Told 'em if they'd never built armor dios, they'd never understand..Wink

 

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  • From: NYC, USA
Posted by waikong on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 12:06 PM

To the previous point someone mentioned about the hobby in the rest of the world.  It seems UK alone have at least a dozen magazinese devoted to modelling, while we have maybel 3 or 4. I was in Hong Kong recently, and visited 7 models stores all withing a few blocks of each other.  They were stocked to the hilt.

Another point not mentioned was exactly what part of the hobby was in decline. Most kids I know that are in the hobby are not building tanks or airplanes, they are building Gundam models.Here and in Asia. As far as I can see, it seems to be a quickly growing segment.  If you ever stop by a Japanese book store in the US, you will see at least 3 ro 4 dedicated Gundam model magazines. Even general interest magazines will devote 1/2 their content to Gundams.

One last thing, we should put model prices in perspective. $4 in 1970 is the equivlaent of  $23 in 2012 (accoring to online inflation calculators).   According to the US gov., avg wage was $6186 in 1970 and $41K in 2010.

My website: http://waihobbies.wkhc.net

   

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  • From: Iowa
Posted by Hans von Hammer on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 12:38 PM

I was in Hong Kong recently, and visited 7 models stores all withing a few blocks of each other.  They were stocked to the hilt.

That tells me that they have a lot of inventory that they can't move..

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  • From: NYC, USA
Posted by waikong on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 1:01 PM

Well, I wouldn't say that. I went in the middle of the day, right about when schools' out.  In one store, there were about 15 shoppers (not including me).  I was there for about 30 minutes, they made at least 6-7 sales, and then I bought my kit.  I walked to the 2nd store, much smaller, 4 customers came in when I was there for about 15 minutes. 1 person bought a kit.  The other stores varied somewhere between these. 

In the local hobby store here in the states, I've rarely run into more than 2 other modellers within a 30 minute span.

My website: http://waihobbies.wkhc.net

   

  • Member since
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  • From: Iowa
Posted by Hans von Hammer on Friday, April 13, 2012 6:20 PM

I dunno...  Maybe it's because more of the "disposable income" here is going into the gas tanks and the grocery-bags... 

I know that I certainly can't buy, for the same money,  what I did four years ago...   Heck, my Military Retiree's COLA went up a whopping 3.6 % this year, and IIRC it was 3.5% in 2011, and we didn't get one for 2010, but everything it was supposed to cover went up about 35%...

Guess I shoulda retired after 20 in 1996, instead of 30 in 2006.. Then I'd already be more'n halfway through a second career...  

Come to think of it, models kits themselves took a helluva jump in in price in 2000-10 time-frame.. In the 90s, the 50.00 kits were 25.00, and 25.00 kits, ten bucks...  Guess that's why I kinda sadly shake m' head when I see a kit I bought the 80s come outta the stash to get built, still bearing it's 1986 price-tag, knowing what it would cost to buy NOW, lol...

But no matter what, inventory costs money and just having it sit on the shelves isn't making money..  Now if these stores are moving it out as fast as it comes in, well, maybe they onto something... But I rather doubt it's that way..  That's why my LHS guy doesn't stock much, but will order anything he can get for you... In his sotre, I've seen the same 150.00 model ship and 70.00 Armor kits sitting there, dusty and un-moved (without even dust getting removed from where one would handle it to look at it), for the last four years or so...

Doin' what I can to help change that though... 'Cept buy those kits... Too damn expensive... But he's my paint, Evergreen & Plastruct,  and tool guy, for sure..

 

 

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  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Friday, April 13, 2012 11:14 PM

I remember seeing the DML (as Dragon was known in the 90s) Sherman kits priced at $36.95 at the Ben Franklin's craft store in Huntsville, Alabama and thinking they were nuts. These were the original issue ones that were heavily based on the Italeri kits (going as far as including Italeri sprues). Italeri kits were still around the $20 mark give or take.

That store went out of business sometime one summer during my tour at Redstone Arsenal (Jan 96 to Jan 99). I remember grabbing the M4A3E8 Korean War tank kit when it was 30% off and eventually grabbing the M4A1(75) early tank when the store dropped prices to 50% off. At 30% off I thought I was overpaying, but at 50% off it seemed like a decent price.

The local closeout store (it was like a Big Lots) in Huntsville had stacks of 1/35 scale Esci M60A1 Blazer and Ti-67 for $4.99 and $3.99 respectively around the same time. I remember buying a bunch of those two kits. This was about the time Toys R Us stopped carrying model kits. I do remember buying theTamiya LVTP7A1 for $9.90 there.

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Posted by mitsdude on Saturday, April 14, 2012 1:51 AM

waikong

To the previous point someone mentioned about the hobby in the rest of the world.  It seems UK alone have at least a dozen magazinese devoted to modelling, while we have maybel 3 or 4. I was in Hong Kong recently, and visited 7 models stores all withing a few blocks of each other.  They were stocked to the hilt.

Another point not mentioned was exactly what part of the hobby was in decline. Most kids I know that are in the hobby are not building tanks or airplanes, they are building Gundam models.Here and in Asia. As far as I can see, it seems to be a quickly growing segment.  If you ever stop by a Japanese book store in the US, you will see at least 3 ro 4 dedicated Gundam model magazines. Even general interest magazines will devote 1/2 their content to Gundams.

One last thing, we should put model prices in perspective. $4 in 1970 is the equivlaent of  $23 in 2012 (accoring to online inflation calculators).   According to the US gov., avg wage was $6186 in 1970 and $41K in 2010.

I totally agree on the magazines. Bad thing about some of the Japansese and European mags is I cannot read them!!!!

There are a few guys on youtube that have posted videos of their trips to Japanese hobby shops. Pretty interesting.

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  • From: Iowa
Posted by Hans von Hammer on Saturday, April 14, 2012 1:25 PM

Well, in Japan, Japanese kits aren't imports, lol... Same-same for Chinese kits in China, I'd wager, lol..

I'd also imagine that Revel-Germany kits are far cheaper in Gutenberg, Germany than they are in Guttenberg, Iowa...Whistling

Kinda like the gas prices in Kuwait... About 88 cents US per gallon...

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  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Saturday, April 14, 2012 2:45 PM

Hans von Hammer

I'd also imagine that Revel-Germany kits are far cheaper in Gutenberg, Germany than they are in Guttenberg, Iowa...Whistling

Yes, that was one of the perks of overseas time in Germany. The ability to go into a German Toy/Hobby Store and hit the Revell Germany Armor aisle. I could find those great Bundeswehr AFV kits like the Luchs and Fuchs that were very HTF stateside, and for a much cheaper price. Even when the price went for DM to Euros I still found great bargains. Just wish I had picked up some of those Leopard 1A1As.... But your ruck will only hold so much safely that an AF crew chief will try to destroy when packing his bird...Super Angry

 

 

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U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

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Posted by Tojo72 on Saturday, April 14, 2012 2:53 PM

I think it's great,more selections,a lot of quality choices,plenty of AM products,weathering products.The Internet has opened up choices in that you don't just have to rely on what the local 5 and dime store might have.Forums like this one teach us many tricks and tips.I would say its better then ever.

 

The future,I don't know,once the older ones are gone,not as many young people on board.Will the hobby die out,possibly,but I will definitely enjoy the golden age right now.

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  • From: Denver
Posted by tankboy51 on Monday, April 16, 2012 4:30 PM

I agree with Tojo.  There are kits in release now that I thought I'd never see.  I remember back in the early 80's when hobby shop managers were telling us that there would probably not be anymore new kits coming out because of the video game craze.  I also remember a Tamiya rep telling me at a IPMS national convention in the early 80's that they'd never do any Israeli armor because there was no market for it.  This was right before the first Merkava was released. 

It's never been like this.  How long it lasts is anyone's guess.  They could all quit making new stuff now and I would be good.  But,  I'm going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.  I do keep adding to the pile, I've lost count now. Honestly, I don't see it slowing down anytime soon.  I guess as long as the market is there in some number it just purrs along.

Doug

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Posted by Gaston on Saturday, April 28, 2012 4:52 PM

Old Yeller

 

I haven't read a response that changed my impression that, unfortunately, modeling is on a steep decline caused by rising cost of the hobby and by a change in culture.  A perspective was offered that adult modelers will continue in strong enough numbers to sustain the hobby.  I suspect that for nearly all adult modelers, the "seed" was planted in their youth and they are continuing or returning to the modeling hobby as a result of that.  Today's youth don't build models, and therefore won't as adults either IMHO. 

Every generation generally considers their "good old days" as superior to "improved" modern times, and I suppose that for me this topic is another example.  The argument can be made that the gaming and computer technology-driven hobbies of today's youth make them quick-thinking tremendous multitaskers.  

Maybe some new hobbies provide a lot of these lessons, but I'd have to be convinced.  

Regarding today's youth:  Attention Deficit Disorder is often discussed.  Most youth now spend countless hours on video games, computers, iPhones, etc, and become accustomed to the rapid pace turn on/turn off control of their world.  This does not appear to create students who can focus and absorb material presented by a teacher over a 40" class period.    As discussed in many of the replies, the first hurdle is to make modeling affordable for a parent who wants to share modeling by introducing the hobby to their child.  If the modeling manufacturers and retailers recognize that their future possibly depends on meeting this challenge, they need to address this now before the next generation of parents are not interested.

Sorry for the long post, but I guess that covers my perspective.

 

 

  I agree 100% with everything you say, except for the part about reduced attention spans from current youth habits being speculative: Studies have already shown, despite a huge an completely unexplained rise in IQ scores for over a century (requiring periodic adjustment of IQ tests, and now stagnating in precisely the countries that were "wired" the earliest and most massively -UK and Finland- and always stagnant or even declining in the "text comprehension" part of these tests since the 1980s),  that there has been, for some time now, a decline in vocabulary, verbal, reading and writing  skills, especially notable in other kinds of less abstract tests where visual classification is of less importance.

  More "culturally neutral" tests that are purely visual (more favoured in Europe), "the Raven" etc, show a continuing performance increase as people get ever better at classifying rapidly based on visual clues, but even math scores are now stagnant or declining. See " "The Shallows"-What the Internet is doing to our brains" for a fascinating exploration of the consequence of the Internet on adult brain functions, not just kids.

  I think the decine of the Hobby is a consequence of the decline of true intelligence, which is based on more on retrieving long term memories, to establish a "context" to knowledge, than on short-term "operating" memory that is being emphasized in those tests. See also "The dumbest generation" for numerous statistics on the staggering decline of general knowledge  among the young...

  Gaston

 

 

 

 

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Posted by waikong on Monday, April 30, 2012 10:10 AM

Interesting points, while I agree that I would love to see the current generation of teens to up that general knowledge quotient, I'm not sure I buy into the whole premise of the 'dumbest generation'.  Here's an interesting counterpoint to the book's premise, written by another academic...

http://blogs.princeton.edu/librarian/2008/09/the_dumbest_generation/

 

My website: http://waihobbies.wkhc.net

   

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  • From: Bent River, IA
Posted by Reasoned on Monday, April 30, 2012 11:43 AM

Interesting perspectives on this subject.  You know, I have a 7yr old son that I've build several of the 1/72 Testors WWII planes with.  I let him paint w/brush the acrylic paints included, aasemble what he can, put the decals on (I usually have to adjust them a little) and he seems to really enjoy them.  That being said, if there is a kit waiting for completion vs my wife's Ipad (with Angry Birds on it) he will choose the later, I suspect many other kids would too.

Science is the pursiut of knowledge, faith is the pursuit of wisdom.  Peace be with you.

On the Tarmac: 1/48 Revell P-38

In the Hanger: A bunch of kits

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Posted by Ninetalis on Monday, April 30, 2012 12:29 PM

As I'm 18 years old I think I can give a good perspective on this...

First of, many of the points who are pointed out by some of you guys are completly right,
The price of modelling has become higher than ever, but allowance has risen to,
I get about 20 euros a week, which is pretty common, even a bit on the higher side,
as you all know, you could allready buy yourself something decent with that, so the price? hmmm, maybe, it could be a factor, but I think the main reasons are that,

Back in the day, you bought yourself a normal kit,  which contains something about 20 parts,
If you buy a normal kit today, you allready get a kit with a whopping 80 parts or more, and most kids want something big, which is often not good because it also makes it harder to complete it, and never hits the finish line, so he will never ask for a second kit, and never discover what a great hobby this is, I was lucky, bought myself a C-47 from revell, a BIG kit, who doesn't contain that many parts and fits together OKAY.

In my eyes, the biggest factor is, there are to many, easier options to go with,
when you go to a toy store, a child can't choose what he wants, because there are to many things to choose from, and lots of parents think of modelling as a dull, maybe even stupid hobby to have
(offcourse we would disagree, but we aren't the common people to, and we know what modelling holds inside) so when the kids points to a box saying, I want that, the parent will go, but don't you want some lego's or playmobil?
When you shuv a Playstation 3 (game) under a kids nose with a model kit next to it, 90% of the kids will choose the playstation 3, xbox 360 or whatever...

But what should also be known is that, the hobby isn't dying, it's changing.
I know lots of kids who model, but they don't build planes, tanks or boats, or actualy they do, but they build Warhammer, lord of the rings, star wars planes, tanks ,boats or whatever it contains, in which they can play boardgames with.

And there are kids who build models, but most of them stay hiding in the shadows, I know my LHS-keeper very well, he tells me that it's true that I am the only one of my age (14 - 25) that builds models, but there are kids who do build models, he has about 5-8 kids from around 6-12 that get there mom to the store to buy a kit, so it's no so bad as we often think it is, but if we keep on buying kits in expo's, internet and various, which makes our LHS dissappaer, then modelling is doomed to fade away at some point...

But I don't think that is how it will end, even if it will end, look at all these brands who make so much new kits that we have to many options on buying the same plane but from three or four different manufacterers,
you can't say the hobby is dying, but it is true that, modelling isn't as popular as it used to be,
but main reason is, there are to many things to do, with not enough time to try even half of 'em.

I just think, that instead of dying, the age group has changed, and we can't even say what the modelling society looks like in country's as Japan, Korea and China. Because from some pictures I have seen on the internet,
I just think that the largest modelling society, can be found over there. Especially in the first two examples.

With regards, Ninetalis.

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Posted by andy_usa on Monday, April 30, 2012 11:14 PM

What is the state of our hobby? I'll put it to you this way my LHS closed its doors for the last time this weekend. Now there is not a hobby shop within 30 miles of me,except Hobby Lobby, and I don't count them. However new subjects and re-pops keep coming out. I suggest buying while you can however you can esp. Sci-Fic guys.

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Posted by Hans von Hammer on Sunday, May 6, 2012 9:18 PM

If you were a diorama-builder, Hobby Lobby would definitely count.. It's a "One-Stop Shop" for all diorama materials... Many tools as well... With their 40% coupons, you can stock up a lot of supplies, tools, and paints.. And by paints, I mean the various craft paints that are the same colors we commonly use in military modeling, but just have different names, like "Mushroom" and such... 

Also, oils, acrylics, and water-colors in tubes, fine brushes, compressors, air-brushes and accessories for them, benches and lighting, storage, etc...

All at 40% off... IF you do it right...

 

 

 

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Posted by Gaston on Saturday, November 8, 2014 12:28 AM

 It's been over two years since this thread has started, and some interesting perspective can be added into the fray.

 New or continuing trends that I can discern during those past 30 month(!):

 -More closures of Local Hobby Shops.

 -Internet retailers now starting to show signs of trouble themselves...: Squadron's steep decline being particularly  ominous. Online sales volumes were always low overall, now they are declining...

 -From the boss of one small but well-informed kit manufacturing company: "Internet sales volume will not be enough to finance new moulds": Abundantly confirmed if you look at the volume of new releases in the past two years: The slowdown in pace is nothing short of remarkable, even in previously growing areas like 1/32 scale aircrafts...

-Releases that do happen show no inkling of awareness of widely discussed subject gaps... Companies seem to live in a world of their own, but that's not really new...

 In spite of this, I would say duller more mystifying releases are definitely trending...

-Airfix continues to be the exception to an overall gloomy picture, now investing in bigger kits while most others try to cut costs by going for smaller subjects. Trumpeter briefly invested in huge bigger scale ships, but now that seems to have slowed down.

-Quality of new releases is definitely down, way down, the recent Eduard Me-109G debacle indicating some serious methodology problems... Trumpeter/Hobby Boss quality shows no sign of improving after 15 years, quite the contrary(!), as their low-standards home market gains in buying power (Chinese consumers don't care to do research, so poor kits will likely continue to flood the market, if at a now diminishing pace)

-1/48 Jets and WWII Russian aircrafts are trending, for a little while at least...

-Old trend that is accentuating recently: Most shows are getting smaller, while a few choice ones are still bigger from time to time. Shows in general seem to be in a very recent decline, despite these bright spots...

-At my local club a new trend: People talk about their lives, not modelling, because there are too few interesting new releases to talk about...

  To this I would add a significant slowing down of postings on most modelling forums... Trending are purely utilitarian posts like "What color is this wheel well?", or "What paint do you use?"

 My overall impression is that the decline of the hobby has significantly accelerated in the past two years, since this thread was started, and for the first time this is in actual industry overall numbers, though what is included in the "industry" is so much beyond plastic modelling, it's actually very hard to know what it means... "I Hobby" moving from Chicago to Cleveland is kind of memorable though...

  Gaston

 

  

  

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Posted by Gaston on Saturday, November 8, 2014 1:27 AM

 Interesting take from a Hobby Shop owner (In 2011) in the Model Retailer magazine site:

How has the hobby industry changed for the better in the last ten years?

Published: January 4, 2011

Rusty Brooks, AAA Hobby Supply, Marietta, Ga., answered this way:

I have been in the hobby industry for more than 25 years. It has not changed for the better from the viewpoint of the local hobby shop. During the last five years, I've seen manufacturer support of local hobby shops evaporate. In the past, we were called by various hobby marketers (Revell, Polar Lights, Lindberg), and they asked us what were good sellers and sought input for future reissued kits. Occasionally, we were surprised by boxes filled with samples and other promotional goodies. Now, we have trouble getting restocks of newly issued kits from the distributors, and we never hear from the manufacturers. The trend of the industry towards smaller and smaller production runs for kits, combined with the ever increasing prices as the manufacturers try to add details to the kits, which are often replaced by aftermarket items anyway, has led to our area (metro Atlanta) declining from 12 model shops 20 years ago, to just two in an area of five million people!

How has this possibly been a change for the better? I guess you’d have to be one of the companies that bought a manufacturer and decided to sell direct to the public instead of using the traditional supply chain America has always had. At this rate, there won’t be any local businesses left to buy anything from, much less hobbies.

Paul Scopetski, The Spare Time Hobby Shop, Marlboro, Mass., wrote:

That’s a tough question to answer in a positive mode! 1999-2001 were our peak years. Since then, our retail gross sales have been down 45%. 35% of our inventory doesn’t generate 5% of our sales, yet occupies space and rent! It has stagnated (trains, slot cars, science and educational kits, games and radio control). The youth of America do not care about our industry any longer, and the hobby industry has abandoned that age group. In the past 10 years, we have had yearly price increases, oversaturated lines of product, not a single hot category developed, and absolutely a zero future.

Take the recent iHobby show. DML pulled a no-show, and Tamiya refuses to attend. Osprey bolted in 2008. No book or small market companies attend. So what kind of messages is that to the small store trying to survive? If the industry doesn’t care, why should we? We’re all dying slowly. Nothing has changed for the better. Sorry!"

 Worthy of note:

 I Hobby 2013 was held: 2013 iHobby Expo, held Oct. 3–6 at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill.

 Gaston

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Posted by modelcrazy on Saturday, November 8, 2014 1:48 AM

Unfortunately, This is what I feared. My LHS, Hobby Town, is doing fair, but they are a franchise and have name recognition and are able to absorb slow times to some extent.

What really disturbs me, and this is something I already knew, is the younger generation has no interest in the hobby. I cant' even get my grandson interested no mater how much I try. He is too interested in his Xbox.

Steve

Building a kit from your stash is like cutting a head off a Hydra, two more take it's place.

 

 

http://www.spamodeler.com/forum/

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Posted by jtilley on Saturday, November 8, 2014 2:44 AM

I can't argue with any of the above; I don't claim to have any special inside knowledge. But I am worried about the subject.

It looks to me like a number of forces are clashing with each other. The quality of detail and accuracy that manufacturers physically can achieve is the highest it's ever been. One result of that, it seems, is that the sales of particular kits have been reduced by the fact that there's so much high-powered competition. I'm thinking, for instance, of the Tamiya and Zukei-Mura P-51Ds in 1/32. Are there really enough modelers around who can appreciate products of that sophistication to justify (in terms of the manufacturers' investment) both of them?

I think one big problem is the plethora of new, high-quality releases, which come out so fast that the retailers seem unable to keep up. The web dealers can sell you a new Tamiya 1/32 Corsair all right, or an Airfix 1/24 Typhoon, or a Revell 1/32 Spitfire II. But try to find a Tamiya Spitfire IX online - let alone in a hobby shop. Last night, out of curiosity, my computer and I went looking for an Airfix Swordfish Mk I. We checked about half a dozen online retailers, and found one that seemed to say it had the kit in stock (i.e., "normally ships in 1-3 business days"). The others either had marked it "out of stock" or didn't list it at all. Should we blame them for putting their money into the more recent stuff?

I have to disagree with a couple of generalities in Gaston's last post. I'm a ship modeler and, though there certainly have been some disappointments among recent releases (I'm still steaming about that allegedly "new" Tamiya 1/700 Yorktown), I don't agree about the alleged drop in quality of what's coming from Trumpeter. I just bought its 1/700 Dreadnought, and I'd describe it as equal to any 1/700 kit I've seen. The planking detail on the decks is as fine as that in the best resin kits on the scale, and the use of photo-etched parts is outstanding. This is not a product from a company that's universally letting its standards slide. (I can't speak for its aircraft or armor.)

I'm no aircraft modeler, but I've been following with some interest the Eduard BF-109G "debacle." I didn't read the apparent mass of criticism that came when the kit was released, but sober heads seem to have established now that a lot of the criticism was unjustified - or at least blown out of proportion. The magnitude of the problem seems to depend largely on which set of plans one consults, or which other kit one considers the best.

In any case, I have to ask what I guess is an heretical question: If a kit's dimensions work out to 1/47 instead of 1/48, what difference does it make? Just why do we build models? What awful fate is going to befall us if we build something that's 2 percent off the scale dimensions? If I'm working on a wood ship model and I cut a piece 1/32" too big, have I committed some sort of unpardonable sin? To what standards is it reasonable to hold the manufacturers?

I've been at it for 58 years, and I just can't see what some of the fuss is about. The notion that a kit is no good because its wingspan is off by 2 mm (the biggest gripe I've seen about that Eduard kit) strikes me as almost irrational. From the manufacturer's standpoint, just how many people are out there who'll decline to buy a kit because it's 2 mm off? What percentage of the market do those people represent? Should the manufacturer really care about them?

It looks to me as though the local hobby shop is almost extinct. I'm lucky to have one 35 miles away - and it really specializes in railroads and RC.  The decline of the hobby shop makes me sad. I have so many nice memories of the shops I grew up with. But I'm afraid the future lies with the internet sources. They're the only ones who can come close to keeping up with the manufacturers. (Can you imagine a small, local business trying to stock, say, five of each of Eduard's new detail parts every month?) It seems that even the big internet stores like Squadron only stock the very most recent releases - and the older ones that nobody has bought. I strongly suspect that's a matter of economic reality, though, rather than bad intentions.

In terms of product quality, I think we're in a golden age. (The fact that people are getting emotional about a dimensional error of 2 mm seems to prove that.) But I'm afraid that economically, the air is draining out of the balloon. If I had to predict what the hobby will look like in ten years (a risky enterprise), I'd guess the number of new releases will go way down, it will be almost impossible to find decent kits that are more than a year old, only big cities will have local hobby shops - and nobody under 30 will be building models.

But I've been wrong before. I can clearly remember the mid-seventies, when all sorts of people were predicting that the day of the scale plastic model was just about over.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: clinton twp,mi
Posted by humper491 on Saturday, November 8, 2014 8:56 AM

well, about the same as mr tilley stated, but.... my 1st daughter(16 years old) has been working on a 1/48 hasagawa f4u-7 for a couple years(you know, here and there sorta thing) but when she gets to it, she shows real enthsiam for it!! my youngest daughter(15) is an aspiring graphic artist, sometimes she helps me with painting and decaling.

so, it's not dead to the younger folks, they just need the right people to sorta nudge them a bit:))

far as on-line purchase, check out scale hobbyist.com, very reasonable prices

Humper Beam

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, November 8, 2014 8:57 AM

The hobby will survive okay without a major interest by young people.  Look at model railroading. It is as strong as ever, even though youth has never been a big part of model RR.  Many people enter our hobby as they near retirement age- folks who had a latent interest but not the time.  I started modeling in the late forties and joined a club in mid fifties.  Older folks then were worried about not as many youth entering hobby :-)

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, November 8, 2014 10:24 AM

Don's comparison with model railroading is interesting. I have the impression that it is, indeed, an almost exclusively adult hobby today. But kids used to be pretty important to it.

I worked in a small local hobby shop from 1975 to 1980. Its biggest month was always December. The owner bought most of the store's merchandise the rest of the year on credit, with the bills coming due January 31. Sometime in January he'd do the books, and find out whether the December sales had been good enough to keep the store in business for another year. I have the impression that lots of small hobby shops operated that way.

The big reason for strong Decembers, of course, was Christmas presents - most of them for kids. In November we started selling those great staples of the business, HO Train Sets. And the biggest sales day of the year was December 26, when the kids got tired of watching the train go around in circles and the parents came in to buy turnouts, extra track, buildings, cars, etc., etc. And to get balky locomotives fixed. The big discount stores sold train sets, but didn't know how to fix them. I wish I had a dollar for every Tyco engine I fixed by scraping carbon off the commutator, which took about a minute. The kid's face would light up when he saw the locomotive running again, and his father would be so happy when he found out there was no charge for the service that he' buy $10 or $20 worth of track or accessories.

The other day a Chistmas catalog came in the mail from Walthers, the big model railroad supplier. As I was browsing through it, it occurred to me that I have a four-year-old grandson who's approaching train set age. But he'd have no idea what to do with one. I suspect he has only a vague idea of what a railroad is. Besides, the cheapest of those sets costs close to $200.

Where I live there are no downtown department stores with toy departments. I wonder if such places still set up train layouts in their show windows for Christmas.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Saturday, November 8, 2014 11:09 AM

Most 4 year olds know all about railroads from Thomas the Tank Engine or Chuggington. My sons loved the old wooden train sets and plastic sets from those lines.

My 10 year old is interested in modeling, but only really how it relates to another current interest, Star Wars. We've bought and built many of the Revell kits. He plays with them like we would have buzzed around with the old Airfix 1/72 scale fighter kits.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, November 8, 2014 3:05 PM

Rob, I do hope you're right. None of my five grandkids (the oldest of whom is a senior in high school) has ever shown the slightest interest in trains. I don't know whether they've ever watched Thomas or not. I hope so.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

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