April 20, 2001


A thread that's beat to death every few weeks is the one that insists on the need to get kids re-involved in the modeling hobby or the hobby will die.

It quickly garners replies from both sides of the fence, but usually the one's who say "...forget it!" are accused of being unable to see the forest for the trees.

I myself would love to see the spark of building a good model kit be once again taken up by kids of all ages, but the reality of the world today doesn't hold much hope for that happening.

And in a rather selfish vein, I truthfully hope it never does.

Before you start burning torches, let me explain!!

When talking about the modeling industry today, be it our favorite SF ship or Monster figure, or even Military planes, tanks, or ships, cars & trucks, the majority of profits made by the model companies come from a bunch of 'kids' who grew up over the 60's and 70's and are now in their prime of life.

Do you really want these companies to seriously attempt to draw in the 'kid crowd'?

If you do, then forget drafting these long-ass 'War & Peace Part II' wish lists that contain subject matters from our youth and not their's.

If a model company seriously goes after this crowd you're not going to see any Seaviews, or Land of the Giants, or the 1001 other kits we'd love to build. I especially love the thinking that if the old Aurora's were just repackaged and if you threw in some 'Glow' parts, that kids would snatch these puppies up by the millions! Get it through your heads, people...the kids of today don't give a flying damn about the Frankenstein monster, or the good Doctor Jekyl or any other 1930's Universal freaking Monsters!!! Those are our icons!!

Crash Bandicoot and the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine didn't do anything for me. And if truth be told, probably didn't do that much to line the company with golden pockets either. Tom Lowe, himself, told us that the three Dinosaur kits were a flop!

And I can't think of too many subjects in today's world that appeal to kids that appeal to me as well (and that includes the Gundam kits!...although there's a lot the US companies could learn from the overseas styrene kits when it comes to details and part fit!).

The generation interested in building model kits today remain the same generation that loved it 40 years ago, and the modeling companies still have 30 or 40 more years to tap into their pockets. And since we're in that phase of our life where we have ready cash, the smart move to me would be to continue to target that income base. Face it, we're in that phase where our kids are striking out on their own, and our spare time is increasingly free. We're THE perfect target!!

The odds of making a profit with us are more sound then trying to bring in a new crowd. And if your profit margin is such that you can occasionally produce a throw-off kit aimed at kids, then by all means do so.

This 'Calvin & Hobbes' cartoon pretty much depicts todays generation when it comes to models.

The 'Baby Boom' generation is the largest generation this country has ever seen. It was this generation that made AURORA profitable. Most of the recent movies that have been block busters have been movies that tapped into those we grew up on. The rash of old TV shows being remade, Gladiator pictures, good ol' WWII pictures just like the ones we grew up on!

If you sat your kids down and made them watch reruns of 'Lost In Space' or 'The Fly', if they didn't fall asleep, they'd definitely look at you slightly worried! I recall raving about how great an experience it was sitting in a theatre watching & participating in the crazy antics during a showing of 'Rocky Horror Picture Show'! When it played on TV I made um' watch it with me. They didn't come near me for 2 months!!!

(Okay, okay...throwing rice was probably a bad idea!!)

Yes, we are a marketeer's dream come true! A whole generation with money burning a hole in our pockets!! And you want the modeling companies to worry about some little kids??! Hey, if enough of those kids liked Gladiator, or Pearl Harbor, maybe they too will go out with their Fathers or Grandfathers one day and say, "Hey! Can you buy me one of those neat Japanese Zero's, Pop!!"

I wouldn't bet the farm on it though.

But if these same modeling companies DO target us, and they want to be profitable, there's a few things they need to realize. We're not as easy to please as we were when we were ten years old! When we use to pedal our bikes down to the local Western Auto, snatch a kit off the shelf, run home, slap it together and cover it with Testor's enamel paints and start playing with it, even though the paint was still tacky!

Today we pride ourselves in taking weeks, sometimes even months to assemble and paint our kits. And more importantly, we insist on a well made and well thought out product. If you don't realize why the Star Wars: Episode 1 kits didn't fly off the shelf, if you're scratching your head over why the Star Trek Kazon Ship's are still collecting dust in the shops, then here's your wake-up call...

...They SUCKED!! We'll support this hobby and your products, but only if you respect our considerations in return! I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but the bottom line is, we don't need you as much as you need us!! We have a whole Garage Kit industry who KNOWS what we want, and if push comes to shove and there's no more U.S. styrene kits being made, believe me when I tell you, we will get our fix of model kits, regardless!

The internet is making the whole world smaller. Getting kits even from oversea sources is just as easy as it is going down to our local Toys R Us! In fact, you U.S. model companies might just want to invest in a few Japanese styrene models and learn some lessons from your oversea's competitors when it comes to kit detail and part fit!!

The faster these companies realize we can BOTH have our cake and eat it too, the better off we'll all be!

I say let the kids enjoy their toys...but give me more kits from MY youth!!

Thanks for all the email on the Number of Modeling Boards column. Some good points made and as many pointed out, each one can be pointed at by someone as being their favorite.

The important thing that one person said was true. The open communications and sharing that each of these forums bring to this hobby of ours results in a bunch of solitary modelers finally able to reach out and share their hobby, their fun and their learning experiences with everyone who enjoys putting a good model together.

We're no longer alone...and that, my friend, is a pretty nice feeling!

Amen, brother...well put!!

By the way, has your e-mail inbox been filling up with Spam Mail lately? That's Yahoo selling all our names to third parties. So for every Yahoo Club or Mail List that gets born and we end up subscribing to, we also win the chance to up our daily ration of incoming e-mail! Ain't America great!!

STILL getting mail on the POLAR LIGHTS BB column! Man, you folks definitely have to forward these to the PL staff!! They need to know how all you folks feel about their board!

By the way, have you noticed that if you express an opinion that is contrary to someone else's, then you must be "...bitter about something"!?? Not frustrated, not concerned... just bitter.

Well, if that's true, then there's a whole bunch of folks out there that also seem to be pretty bitter about the PL BB! See, if we're just bitter, you can just put your mind at ease and stick those rose colored glasses more securely on your face, and simply dismiss the whole thing as mindless blathering! But as I told ya, my goal in life is to wheen you off them there glasses, buddy, so you can see the WHOLE picture and not just your own personal fantasy.

I'm a pretty patient might take awhile, but I'll get you seeing clearly before you know it!

Big Hug!!

It's one week away from CHILLER THEATRE weekend!! I'll be working the Model Contest room all day Saturday, so drop by, introduce yourself and buy me a drink!!

Feel free to drop me an e-mail anytime!

Happy Modeling - Buc (April 01')  Archives