July 13, 2001EXCLUSIVE! WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN...
I've been watching the current thread on the Polar Lights Bulletin Board discussing those beloved Exclusives. The first post notes...
"Just announced!! The new Polar Lights Godzilla will be a Toys R Us exclusive for the first 4 months of production!!"
It's presently up to four pages worth of posts, pretty much evenly divided between pro comments and con. I'm pretty much in the camp that states that the right of TRU to buy an exclusive contract is a good thing. The number of kits that they guarantee to purchase up front make it possible for a model company to produce not only the kit in question, but probably lays the groundwork for the production of another kit as well.
I have to admit that I'm not sure how these exclusives effect the small Hobby Shop, since as noted in the thread, by the time four months goes by, TRU will have slashed the prices so low inorder to get rid of leftover stock, that if a Hobby store later stocked this kit it probably wouldn't move off the shelf.
And if a Hobby Shop out there somewhere is hoping to make a good living just selling kits that interest our modeling habits, they're in a heap of trouble to begin with! So I'm assuming that Polar Lights' having exclusive deals with large stores isn't the only model company doing this. But does a TRU or K-Mart or Wal-Mart exclusive really hurt the Hobby shops?!
Well, in order to find that out I took a trip over to my local shop... (yeah, like I need THIS excuse to swing by there!! Damn shop sucks my truck right off the main thoroughfare any time it thinks I might try passing it by!!)
So I zipped down to ol' Lee's Toys and Hobbies around 4pm on Saturday afternoon. On this day the shop is open til 7pm, but when I walked in I was the only customer.
Lucky for me, right next door is a nice bar... ah, I mean Pub, which features, in the summer months, a nice outdoor area with extremely comfortable chairs and tables. Taking the corner most table allows Rich to easily see if anyone approachs his shop, and since we know most of the folks who go in there, we can usually get quite a gathering [and good business] for the old Salt that runs the Pub!!
But I digress!....
After entering the shop and yelling to Rich way in the back area, I invited him over for a brew or two, and with the first page of the PL BB thread printed out earlier, two cold, icy brews sitting in front of us, I handed the printout over to Rich and asked for his thoughts on this subject.
Well, actually he laughed, then ordered another round.
"Soooooo... that laugh means...???", I asked, accepting a 2nd beer and wondering if I would end up calling Roe to pick my ass up before 7pm came around.
"This is bullshit!", he replied.
He went on to tell me that personally, exclusives in the end help his store out more than it takes away. He said in the case of Polar Lights, it's brought in a number of people, mostly older males, that never came in his store before their arrival on the modeling scene!
See, Rich's shop is about the size of one of your typical HobbyTowns. Being about 10 aisles wide, and going back pretty far (and by the 4th beer I couldn't tell you exact measurements, so sod off!) The majority of folks, he calls 'steady customers' are mainly military or car modelers, with a hefty dose of railroad dudes. The figures and SF/Monster side of the house is pretty slim. In fact he went on to say there's only a handful of adults he can name off the top of his head that buy exclusively that type of stuff... with me being one of them. Most of the time the only one's buying the PL stuff or the AMT Star Trek/Star Wars stuff is kids of parents coming in for their stuff. He also mentioned the fact of the lack of much SF or Monster type models available today as compared to the other genre's.
So, he goes on to tell me, if Pop takes his kids to TRU and while they are running around the store, spies one of those old Aurora Monster models, or the old POTA kits, and use to do them when he was a kid, he'll usually snatch um up! But guess what he doesn't find at TRU? Yep! Glue and paints... and what do you think he does when he gets home?
He looks in the phone book for a Hobby Shop and the next weekend in he pops!! And being the slick salesman Rich is, by the time the guy leaves he knows all about sanding and the different types of sand paper, putty, cuz you don't want those pesky seams showing, primer and paints, and of course a good brand of glue made just for that styrene kit you bought! He gets into his head and finds out what subjects he likes and points him to the magazine counter where every modeling mag can be found that will bring you up to date on the advances in the hobby.
Believe me, I've seen it happen a couple of times, now that he mentions it!! He always shows them where he stocks those kits that would interest the guy so that if he wants to continue building, he can come back and get it there. And if he see's something that's not here, let Rich know and he'll order it for him in 3 days!
Yeah, Rich doesn't have any problems with exclusives!! "You tell Polar Lights to rock on and keep it up!!", he says!
And me.... well, besides having to call the wife up and tell her to come get my semi-drunk ass, I did pick up the C-57D and some more Matte Finish!
....oh, and the ol' Salt thanks you for the business too!! (psst...get him talking about the Philippines and drinks are free, boys!!)
Around the hobby...
If you are a regular visitor to the 'Rec.Models.Scale' newsgroup, a lot of folks have been posting photo links from the recent IPMS Nationals just held in Chicago. Some nice pages have been put up so far!
Well, the proverbial shit hit the fan over on the Hobby Talk bulletin boards last Sunday night!!
The 'Johnny Lightning' boys did a posting raid on the 'Polar Lights' BB, flooding the place with weird and obscure posts all night.
Hank, the owner of the HobbyTalk boards, wasn't pleased in the least and directed some of his anger over on the 'Clubhouse' BB, as well as deleting accounts on his boards and before you knew it messages started flying all over the place!
July 13th will mark the last day of the 'Modeler's Forum', 'Johnny Lightning', 'Die Cast Collecting', 'Movies for Modelers', 'Die Cast Swap & Sell', and the 'Model Swap & Sell' BB's, leaving only the 'Polar Lights' and 'CultTVman's' BB (which have been the only two paying rent on HobbyTalk for awhile now).
And truthfully, their lifespan in future months is anyone's guess! In the case of Polar Lights' BB, Suzi put in her papers to leave the company and was the last PL Moderator filling those shoes after Lisa's departure. And the problems this latest episode caused just proves my earlier cries of Wolf that running a Business BB with a clubhouse mentality is akin to trying to be your kid's Best Buddy instead of his/her Parent. In the end everyone loses!!
With the establishment of Harry's CLUBHOUSE BB, forming a collection of areas that are free of any corporate ties, allows modeling members to post messages on a wide variety of topics, each having there own particular forum to express themselves in. My advice to Polar Lights is to streamline their board on Hank's HobbyTalk to be just what it should be. A place to discuss PL product. Leave the clubhouse mentality where it truly belongs, on the Clubhouse BB!
But hey!! That's just my opinion!! :)
The post that had me laughing my ass off was good ol' Iverson's!! After babbling for awhile, he utters the following flowery bullshit...
"...And I can only encourage everyone to bite their tounge once and a while. Just cause you don't like what someone says doesnt mean you have to get indignent and feel insulted. Take a deep breath. Have a teflon coat. Let the water roll off your back. Sticks and stones. (*) Man, if I responded to every vindictive comment from unhappy boobs, you would not want to be around me. There comes a time when you just don't dignify people with a response. We all have the opportunity to be leaders and create a postive environment for the hobby."
(* at this point even good ol' Cult-Man realized his hypocrisy, and spends the next few minutes trying to remove his bloody foot from his mouth!! Gawd, do I love this hobby!!!!)
Hank came back to the Clubhouse BB three days later and explained his somewhat erratic actions, reinstated all the accounts he deleted beforehand, and once again things go back to more or less normalacy!
Hey, Steve!! Now there's integrity!!! I-N-T-E-G-R-I-T-Y!! Look it up!! It's between idiot and irony!
As for the news concerning Suzi Klimek leaving PL, Suzi was kind enough to post the following (long gone now) on the PL board Monday morning.
Good luck, Suzi!
So.... Til next week...
[Disclaimer Clause: No models were injured or mistreated due to the huge quantities of brew Buc & Rich drank that day! The following sacrifice of healthy brain cells were brought to you in an attempt to bring you the true story and possible consequences of Exclusives to our beloved Hobby! Semper Fi, True Believers!!)