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The Crisis Of Plastic Model Industry


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#1 Mr King

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 1308 PM

 

By Nakamura Takahito of Response emerging media
 
At the “57th Shizuoka Hobby Show” held at Twin Messe in Shizuoka for the four days from 10th to 13th May, a press conference was held where the leaders of manufacturers gathered.
 
At the beginning, Shizuoka model teaching cooperative representative, Mr. Shunsaku Tamiya, president of Tamiya model, talked about the current state of the model industry. To my surprise, as far as the plastic model is concerned, Shizuoka Hobby Show is now the most fulfilling show in the world. Previously, the Spielwaren Messe held in Nuremberg, Germany lived being said to be the world’s largest hobby show, but with regard to the plastic model, mainly because of the economic downturn in southern Europe, the spot is lacking in spirit It is said that it is. On the contrary, Shizuoka Hobby Show says that due to the collection of buyers from Southeast Asia, which has shown remarkable growth recently, Twin Messe, which has been held for many years now, is in a state of capacity shortage.
 
The Asian market including China and Japan seems to be booming now. And it seems that the hobby show is being held in Shanghai and Beijing etc. in China, but many buyers in Southeast Asian countries gather in this Shizuoka because there are distrust of mutual makers and no new products are displayed in the show . That is the driving force to push Shizuoka Hobby Show to the world’s best show.
 
It is certainly the world’s best trade fair as a plastic model show globally. Also, looking at miniature cars, a number of brands, mainly in China, are entering the Japanese market. However, even if it is a plastic model or a miniature car, there is no doubt that it has come to a corner.As a big news in the model industry, a company named Hobico, a big North American Distributor, applied for the application of the Corporate Rehabilitation Act in January 2018 and was effectively sold. Along with this, in Japan manufacturer Hasegawa Co., Ltd. has been hit hard by a relationship that had exported plastic models throughout this country through this hobby. Furthermore, the long-established store of Plamoel, which was Hasegawa’s import source to the Japanese market, the level was the relationship which was acquired by Hobico as mentioned above, and this also stopped production in April 2018. The current level says that all dies and molds are being transferred to the German level.
 
As a result, as a model manufacturer in the US, only a few brands including the AMT under Round 2 survive. It is a situation where you can not see the future how the American level will go.
 
Incidentally, under the umbrella level, the brand called Monogram which blew the world in Japan in the 1960s was also included. On the other hand, in Europe, there are model makers at the top of the German level, for example, the largest hobby maker in the UK, Hornby (with Plastic model brands, Air Fix under the umbrella) will also be transferred to Phoenix Asset Management Company in 2017 Management has changed with the sale of shares, the management of Elele in France has been changed many times, now the management is continued under the new owner in 2016, the feeling of tapering is extraordinary. There are emerging plastic model makers in China, especially Macao, especially the transponder with mold factory in Macao has made a breakthrough brand and has grown rapidly to threaten Japanese manufacturers.
 
Even in the Japanese market, Kyosho who swept the market with radio controlled computers worsened management, sold all the shares to Shinsei Bank investment fund, Rembrandt HD, and plan to regenerate. The project itself is continuing.
 
Tapered hobby demand
 
Change in the world of miniature cars also stand out. As it used to be, mini cars are no longer being sold, and if you make a mold for production of one model, you are in a situation where it can not be sold enough for its mold cost to be amortized. For this reason, the resin model is making a difference in width, replacing the die casting model that requires a mold.
 
When comparing die casting and resin, you can not make a gimmick that was possible with die casting such as opening a door or opening a hood, for example with a resin. There is also a fear of deformation due to aged deterioration. However, as it is possible to produce small quantities accordingly, many manufacturers are turning their attention to resin models at present. Especially recently the quality of the resin has dramatically improved, and the production method is also changing due to the appearance of 3D printers. Of course, if it says to the manufacturer, he seems to feel a big appeal to die casting, but at present it seems that there is a fear of breakage of profit and it is impossible to get out at hand.
 
As you know, the plastic model also needs a mold by injection molding, and it is necessary to make a number more than a certain number for its amortization, but it is difficult to clear it, and when it comes to miniature cars it raises a new mold The fact that the number of plastic models produced is decreasing.
 
Consumer preferences have also changed. It is certain that few children are interested in making things. Tamiya also admits the fact that consumers in the hobby industry are aging. Even if you look at the hobby show, it is remarkable that many of the end users occupy most middle-aged elderly people. Whether the hobby that makes up things will be lost as it is, I feel like I am having a real turn at this moment. Specialized the talk with the car and attracted the attention stock of this year’s “Hobby Show”. Plastic model is incredible …
 

 

 
 
I need to get my nephews interested in this hobby. They are getting old enough. Maybe even the nieces. 

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#2 Colin

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 2115 PM

Sad that demand is dying, but the ability to make super detailed models at a fraction of the price is increasing.


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#3 DougRichards

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0401 AM

Part of the problem is the nature of kits.

 

In the good old daze a box contained plastic, sometimes enough to make more than one variant of a particular aircraft / ship / vehicle.  It also contained the transfers (decals) for those variants.  The pieces usually only needed at the most a simple set of tweezers for the smaller parts.  So anyone could build and enjoy.   Sometimes in say five or six sessions over a weekend.

 

Now: lots of etched brass.  Lots of really small pieces.  Only one variant per kit.  Lots of excess parts in some brands - Dragon kits have a huge number of parts that are not used in some kits, but you still pay for that plastic and the larger box and everything that goes with that. 

 

Individual link tracks.......  now, sure, in some kits almost fair enough, but when a simple universal carrier kit has individual links?  What kid, what normal non fixated adult, is going to assemble that?

 

Kits that simply don't go together well: the recent Scammell kit from Thunder:  I was hoping to build a 1/35 scale version of a 1/76 Airfix model from my younger days, but so much of this kit needs scratch building to make it reasonable why would I bother?  So I will not buy that kit.

 

So, give me a reasonable kit that goes together well, with decent instructions, no need to cut bend and glue brass in a scale where only someone with a magnifying glass would notice, that I can assemble over a weekend and still have fun.

 

Tamiya still makes kits like that.  Mostly old kits.  Dragon is something else, and whilst Trumpeter started well with inexpensive kits they have also moved to the upper end of the market.

 

It is as if companies have moved to to older more experienced modeler and forgotten that to get to that level you have to start with simpler kits for those starting out.


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#4 Rick

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0439 AM

Revell still in business? Built the majority of my kits from them along with a few Monogram and Linberg Line kits. Taimya was the expensive, high end stuff for me. 


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#5 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0503 AM

Im not surprised there are issues. My favourite modelling magazine, Military Modelling, which has been trading since the early 70's, has just folded. Bit of a shock because there was absolutely no indication it was coming.


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#6 DougRichards

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0510 AM

Revell still in business? Built the majority of my kits from them along with a few Monogram and Linberg Line kits. Taimya was the expensive, high end stuff for me. 

Revell is still in business, both Revell USA and Revell Germany.  Still releasing new kits.


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#7 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0523 AM

Airfix has a skill level for a modeller on their kits, which I believe they have done since the 1980's, commendably. Some people knock the detail of their kits, but there is no denying they remain easy to build.


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#8 TonyE

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0620 AM

New Airfix kits are quite good and exellent kits for beginners btw.


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#9 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0623 AM

Some of the new selections they have made have been pretty intelligent. For example, they even do a groundcrew equipment set for RAF and Eighth air force bombers. Pity its in 1-72 scale though, but they have done some nice 1-48 scale vehicles.


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#10 Panzermann

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0644 AM

Revell still in business? Built the majority of my kits from them along with a few Monogram and Linberg Line kits. Taimya was the expensive, high end stuff for me. 

 

Yes of course. Biggest on the german market. https://www.revell.d...-2018-d-gb.html

 

There was a hubbub about a nazi flying saucer brought to market in Germany by Revell a few weeks ago.

 

 

 

 

I think we have several problems combined. for one a fashion trend to ever more detailed kits for the enthusiast lots of etched parts etc. At the saem time I haven't seen those super simple styrofoam warbirds for a long long time in toy stores. REally the most simple entry drug. Next up the simple plastic kits that just click together seem to have been less in umber. Then you have children mostly playing with computers, video games, tablet computers. And the old enthusiat clientele is simply getting old and has bad eye sight and well dying.

 

 

Oh and I think there is a customer overlap with the detailed Lego kits. Those Lego Death Stars and whatnot are not bought by children, neither for children really. But when you hve the Lego, why buy it again as a model kit?


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#11 lastdingo

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0649 AM

The merchandising for Star Wars et cetera may be a contributing factor. It's no good entry to building an air force worth of 1:72 or 1:48 aircraft models.

 

Toy railroads and even Carrera car racing kits have suffered from poor demand for many yers as well.


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#12 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0711 AM

Airfix again have been pretty good at that. Im not sure they have any out at the moment, but I recall back in the early 1980s they licenced models of Star Wars at the time. I remember they did a really nice model of Boda Fett's spacecraft, complete with a frozen Han Solo. Wouldnt mind building that one again. :)


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#13 lastdingo

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0908 AM

Companies sell such merchandise, but that's not growing a lifelong model builder.


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#14 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 0948 AM

No, but it might give them an excuse to start making models. Particularly with the high cost of some of the merchandise these days.

 

When I was a kid, I built the monogram model of Blue Thunder. It was the only way to get one. Still Is I think.


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#15 lastdingo

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 1317 PM

No, but it might give them an excuse to start making models. Particularly with the high cost of some of the merchandise these days.

 

When I was a kid, I built the monogram model of Blue Thunder. It was the only way to get one. Still Is I think.

 

My first one was a F-104G in 1:144, second a Sea Harrier in 1:72, but the first I bought myself was an A6M in 1:72.

Save for tiny scale warships (I was considering a USS Atlanta as first purchase) I built but one car (a gift) and one tank (Challenger 2 - never again, almost 20 parts for the stupid tracks!).


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#16 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 1327 PM

I think the Airfix Challenger 2 (which I still have in the box somewhere) is a rebadged Trumpetter one. Not quite sure how that worked.


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#17 Marek Tucan

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 0305 AM

I agree that the shift to hyperdetailed models is kinda offputting. I want top build a model for fun, not as a month long project - which is why I am nowadays looking more at 1:144 or other tiny scales for planes as they have the extremely simple nature. For tanks I kinda draw the line at "semik-separated track links" where the single links are only for the heavily curved bits. 

 

One thing is that the typical model building audience now does a lot more with the computers - maybe the companies should look into making/selling gaming merchandise as well (and sci-fi)? I mean I would love to build the Rocinante or Donnager from the Expanse etc.


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#18 JasonJ

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 0328 AM

Photo etched is tricky stuff. Can bend easily. Some are supposed to be bent to a certain way. Too much bending can snap it. Worse part is that stronger cement is needed that dries really fast. Sometimes there isn't a second chance. Which is why I sometimes don't use it. Too risky. Admittetly though, plastic can't match photo etched grill covers.

Level of detail in the plastic itself is more tolerable. Dragan is very detailed, and a bit of a challenge in the first go with one of their kits. But once getting used to, the detail can be appreciable.

Plastic model kits are in full force here. Lots of brands, some I've never seen before, like some Russian or other sort of slavic lookng or czech looking in origin, well some sort of European anyway. Lots of selections as far as afvs go, lots of the tin can mid 30s stuff. Although still no US M2 medium or light tank. Not even M2A4.. Among all the 1930s stuff was a Vickers 6 ton in Nationalist Chinese camo and decals. Tiny little pricy thing but it got added to the collection. 1930s and 1940s Imperial Japanese afvs has also seen an increase in selection, many by Finemolds and Dragon.
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#19 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 0517 AM

I bought a trumpeter T90. I was doing quite well till I got to the 200 tracklinks bit. Ive not touched it since. I can see the point when you have a working, 1-16 model, but I dont get it for 1-35. I was perfectly happy with resin tracks, or even segmented ones like they had on dragon models.


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#20 FlyingCanOpener

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Posted 30 June 2018 - 2148 PM

The model companies chased the older market with higher-priced models and ignored younger people. Now their industry's core group is the same as diabetic testing supplies, catheters, and Life Alert pendants, and have zero clue about how to market to anyone younger than 50. On top of that, most modeling groups I've tried to get into (Face-to-face and online) were a bunch of bolt-counting douchebags who tut-tutted the fact that I was fine building tanks straight from the box and didn't try hard enough to weather everything to the point it's overdone to their tastes. Got an Academy 1:48 Su-30 I'd love to build, but I need to build my plane-building skills up to the point where I can do it justice. 

 

Building Gunpla (Mechs from the Gundam metaseries) is nice though; no glue, the parts are generally molded in their correct colours, and you can do a simple kit in a couple of hours. Got a couple of Master Grades on my desk--one to mess around with a camo pattern, and another one I want to paint and attempt to detail correctly.


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