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Author Topic:   Resin space model companies
Apollo14LMP
Member

Posts: 188
From: UK
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 12-29-2012 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo14LMP   Click Here to Email Apollo14LMP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anyone tell me why so many of the companies such as ReHeat models and many others no longer produce and sell models?

I looked through a website earlier today and there were an extensive range of kits but sadly many companies were no longer producing resin kits. Thanks.

Norman.King
Member

Posts: 225
From: Herne Bay, Kent, UK
Registered: Feb 2010

posted 12-30-2012 02:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Norman.King   Click Here to Email Norman.King     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sadly most of them simply went out of business due to lack of demand for their products.

Those manufacturers that are still around but no longer produce space models probably stopped making them because of a lack in demand.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 12-30-2012 05:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, the reasons vary. The main thing is cottage industries require a lot of personal attention from the creators for relatively little gain. The products created will always be niche ones at best and the prices for them need to tread a thin line between being affordable for the consumers and profitable for the producer (price too high, nobody buys, price too low, they might sell well but become a losing proposition financially).

Sometimes, the person who forms the company either encounters poor health and has to quit for other reasons (or dies as was the case with the owner of EVA models). Rho models in Europe had to give it up when his company with its business classification had to provide a certain amount of taxes after the laws changed, which pretty much ate up all the profits. There have also been numerous examples of resin companies who might produce excellent products, but their business practices aren't great and they develop a bad reputation from taking money, yet not delivering product (usually a sign of money trouble). So many others end when the person producing the stuff loses interest. Then you've also got the unsavory characters that produce recasts of resin models which eats into the profit margins even further.

Thankfully, in the real space market, there have been a few companies who have stuck at it for the long haul. Realspace models is probably the most well known. But we've also got New Ware in the Czech republic, Fantastic Plastic (which sprinkles in a few realspace subjects in with mostly SF creations) and a few other small companies that have popped up over the years. Usually, if one resin company goes, another typically comes along in a year or two to take its place. Although some products never see the light of day ever again.

apolloprojeckt
Member

Posts: 756
From: arnhem netherlands
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 12-30-2012 06:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apolloprojeckt   Click Here to Email apolloprojeckt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How do you come so on the Rho story? He told me another story by me at home that he does now something else (speedboat models), and not tax problems?

ea757grrl
Member

Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 12-30-2012 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having had some experience with this (with the decals for "Old 66"), here's some of the challenges I faced:
  • Doing this on top of a busy day-job; this meant once I came home from work, I also had to pack orders and get them ready to go out the next day. That's in addition to anything else that may be going on in my life at any given time. It's one thing if it's one or two orders, but when I had to get 10 or 12 ready... ouch. That's just with decals, which were already printed and packaged; I shudder to think what it would have been like with resin parts, which are often cast to order.

  • The "customer service" aspect can be...well, delicate. This ranges all the way from polite inquiries from potential customers, to the inevitable "where's my stuff?" queries, to sending PayPal invoices to people who underpaid for postage, and addressing the problems of mangled/lost shipments (which will happen no matter the precautions you take). Often you try to address these in the FAQ sections of a website, or on the product pages, but inevitably people will contact you even if it's on the website.

  • There's also, as has been previously noted, the PR issues that come up on discussion boards. Inevitably somebody's going to balk at what you charge for a product or for shipping. Any impulse you may have to respond the way you really feel has to fall by the wayside in the name of good business practices.

  • There will also be costs that will remain constant even when sales aren't. I took down the webstore/shopping cart system because even though I was selling one or two decal sheets every couple months, the shopping cart cost me the same amount regardless.

  • If you're a hobbyist more than a businessperson, it inevitably eats into your time for modeling, your enthusiasm for modeling, or both. For me, the moment a hobby starts to feel more like work is when I ease back from it.
For some people the business is great, and they have the enthusiasm to sustain it. I applaud them, and I wish I had what makes them good at it. I wish I could enjoy it more, because when it's good, it's a lot of fun. But I guess I'm too much of an introvert, for the day another hobby company made an inquiry about wholesale orders of our decals and followed it up with an order for a large quantity of product, I wanted to cheer. I still have a good supply of the decals and will happily sell them to anyone interested, but I'm also happy to share the burden with somebody who's experienced at sales.

One last observation: my experience on this end of the hobby has really made me patient with other cottage-industry companies. Right now I'm awaiting delivery of a resin car kit. It's a few days overdue, perhaps because of the Christmas rush. Before, I might have sent an e-mail to the company asking about the shipment. But now that I know what it's like - and what they must face on a daily basis - I'm giving the package a few extra days (and will follow up with the Post Office first) before I begin making inquiries!

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 01-03-2013 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by apolloprojeckt:
How do you come so on the Rho story? He told me another story by me at home that he does now something else (speedboat models), and not tax problems?

I remember it when he explained it to the Yahoo Space Modelers email group back in 2006-07 or so when he explained he had to close up shop. He ended up selling the molds to Realspace models, but its been slow going to get the kits in production again.

Maybe "tax" wasn't the right word as I believe it was something health benefit funding related (i.e. company big enough that it had to set aside X amount of money for employees to pay for state health benefits because of the laws at the time and with Rho himself being the only employee, the number ate up his profits). But that to the best of my recollection is the reason he gave for it.

apolloprojeckt
Member

Posts: 756
From: arnhem netherlands
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 01-05-2013 02:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apolloprojeckt   Click Here to Email apolloprojeckt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes Jay you have it right. I got a mail from Julius, it's true, did not know that.

Retro Rocket
Member

Posts: 245
From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 01-05-2013 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, the real simple reason that most of these businesses fail is because model makers, like many artists, make lousy business people.

Making a model that can be molded, cast, packaged and delivered isn't difficult but doing it at such a low price point that has a razor thin profit margin or doesn't take into account things like taxes, overhead and production time is going to fail or at least ruin any enthusiasm the modeler has for what's being produced.

The time it takes to do everything other than actually making the product is the main thing most people underestimate and what that usually leads to is delays in delivery and unhappy customers.

It's really too bad schools don't teach more about the dynamics of having your own business. When you're self-employed and all your time and mental energy is spent building things, sitting down and figuring your taxes every quarter can be a real pain.

Customer service is also an area that many model makers don't excel. Often the problem is late delivery and there's only so many times you can put off delivery before clients want their money back, which has usually already been spent.

Taking a full payment for something that hasn't been built yet is probably the number one mistake that's made. If I'm doing a new model I make sure only to do a 50% deposit, 50% upon completion, and the deposit covers the production costs, the rest is for my time, overhead and taxes.

Sometimes you have to take a chance and take everything up front to fund the project but you better make sure you either have enough orders or capital to work with. 20 people will say they'll buy one of your models for $XXX but the reality is usually only 7 or 8 actually purchase one.

I think Kickstarter and things like it could really help small kit companies. The way Kickstarter works is that you have an idea for a project, you offer things for different levels of funding and you have a target amount to reach in a given number of days, usually 30. And if you don't reach the funding level, anyone who pledged money is not charged. I've seen a few models on that site so I know it could be done and these projects are for profit, it's not a non-profit fundraising site though it could be used for that, check it out!

divemaster
Member

Posts: 1341
From: ridgefield, ct
Registered: May 2002

posted 01-14-2013 07:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for divemaster   Click Here to Email divemaster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was chatting with Scott Alexander [aka Captain Cardboard] awhile ago. He mentioned the the price of resin has gone up so much that it is effecting a lot of pricing. It's also fragile and heavy, making it difficult to ship easily. Plus, those molds are only good for so many castings before you can't use them anymore. You also have to be talented [or know talented people] who can make incredible masters. I know that Tomas in the Czech Republic at New Ware has some retired space engineers doing his masters!

divemaster
Member

Posts: 1341
From: ridgefield, ct
Registered: May 2002

posted 01-15-2013 11:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for divemaster   Click Here to Email divemaster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to follow up on some e-mails exchanged with Scott Alexander/Captain Cardboard of Atomic City models. While this crosses into sci-fi, Scott told me that he's just about ready to pack up the molds for the 2001 EVA Pod for good. So, if you want this wonderfully crafted resin model, I'd suggest contacting Scott ASAP. I've worked with a lot of resin over the years, and this has to be one of the finest models I've ever worked with. I'm seriously thinking about getting one to stash away on the shelf. I would just use Paulbo's interior that he has the plans for free on his web site at Paragraphix.biz.

But resin garage kits are becoming harder and harder to find. If you like working in this medium, I'd pick up stuff sooner rather than later. I don't think that any of the suppliers makes much money in the long run - it's a work of love.

But the pod model is a work of art in its simplicity. You can make it as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Lighting it up has been incredible. But the resin pieces are awesome.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 01-16-2013 02:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wouldn't necessarily say that resin garage kits are becoming harder to find. If anything, the number of subjects have gone up. But, there are less new space oriented products coming out after we hit something of a glut in 2010-11 as the retirement of the shuttle brought more interest to space models and persuaded some companies to branch out into it for the first time.

Like with anything else, it is a cyclic affair which tends to be feast or famine. Companies like Realspace, New Ware and a couple others seem to be in it for the long haul while other producers focus more on SF subjects. One thing that is nice as well is while some resin companies fall by the wayside, the ones that remain produce excellent quality product already continue to stick with it as they have a positive reputation already built up.

All times are CT (US)

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