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General Aircraft: What If?
For those who like to build hypothetical or alternate history versions of planes.
Is plastic scale modeling a dying art?
Staff MemberEditor-in-Chief
England - South West, United Kingdom
Joined: May 14, 2006
KitMaker: 10,954 posts
AeroScale: 290 posts
Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 10:27 AM UTC
I attended an IPMS show today at the Yeovilton Naval Air Station. AirFix had a very large presence at the show with a fair selection of their latest products, however they also had a very large group of kids covering a wide age range building 1/72nd scale Spitfire kits (I think). Judging by the number of smiling faces in the large room where this was occurring I would have to say that there is the interest to varying degrees and it is perhaps that parents no longer have the time to sit down with their kids while they engage with this past time. I do accept that money comes into it, but a 1/72nd Airfix model and some glue is not going to break the bank and may encourage further engagement in a hobby that does equip them with some life skills.
Tennessee, United States
Joined: September 20, 2005
KitMaker: 1,747 posts
AeroScale: 1,673 posts
Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 01:33 PM UTC
That is great to hear Darren, it really is. I didn't mean to be too "dark" in my appraisal of the state of model building. We have a 3rd annual show coming up next Saturday, November 2nd in Kingsport, Tennessee and I hope to see many children there. I still think my first looks into the world of history accompanied my model building efforts. When I was young, I learned about WWII and more by building models and of course talking to my dad who had been a Marine Corp veteran of the Pacific. Russell
Quebec, Canada
Joined: April 19, 2008
KitMaker: 595 posts
AeroScale: 507 posts
Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 08:27 AM UTC

Interesting post today on Hyperscale about the state of the Hobby, I copy it here to illustrate the point to those who doubt it is in trouble: It is from Ken Lawrence of Pacific Coast Models:

When the Hobby Shops go, the hobby goes out too. October 27 2013, 1:59 PM

In our experience over the last 13 years in what is basically dysfunctional industry, we can state with certainty that the e-commerce channel will not be able to provide enough sales volume to support the level of profits required to invest in new kits. They cannot introduce new modelers into the market, but only serve the older demographic which is dying off.

I use the word "dysfunctional" because this industry allows:

1) Violating the basic sales principal that new items, which are the source of most of their sales and revenue, should NEVER be discounted. This is especially true when the item is available only from one manufacturer.

2) Violating the second basic sales principle that old items should Never be discounted. If there is a very large overstock, to protect their brand value, they should write off those items (taking the expense which reduces their taxable income) and hold the kits for sales later when the retail channel is almost or is, empty for those items.

3) Violating the third basic sales principle of NEVER doing anything EVER which will reduce the chances of success for your distribution channel. It does not matter how good your products are if you do not have an active, excited and profitable distribution channel.

4) FIRMLY controlling and directing your distribution channel members so that they are working to achieve the goals you have set for them and for your company. After one warning, quickly cutting out any member who violates your company policies.

5) NEVER allowing sellers to reduce their brand value by discounting, thereby negating their advertising expenditures and undercutting their distributors and retail shops.

6) Since many makers are not located in the U.S., establish a Sales Office here and have your distribution contracts subject to U.S. laws so that you can control your distribution channel.

Failure to take all of the above actions can have only one result. The hobby will die. It will only take longer to do so. Thanks and

Best Regards,

Ken Lawrence
Pacific Coast Models, Inc.
New Hampshire, United States
Joined: November 09, 2008
KitMaker: 615 posts
AeroScale: 459 posts
Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 08:37 AM UTC
Is plastic scale modeling a dying art? Nope
'nuff said
California, United States
Joined: April 26, 2010
KitMaker: 346 posts
AeroScale: 292 posts
Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 09:28 PM UTC
In my industry, it's called "Darkpathing"... Chicken Little and sky is falling. Video killed the Radio Star? Not acknowledging that business shifts and adapts to change... etc.

FAQ by Mig Jimenez has a closing opinion piece on downfall of modeling as a hobby (published in 2006), yet this is 7 years after and beginning to look like man-caused Global Warming (we should have all broiled by 1990's predictions).

I had the very same argument about scale modeling with someone in send mode ten years ago - it's dying, all kids will just play Call of Duty etc. It's constant fear of something destroying what we have and reality is that it simply transitions into something better - name one good that has gone away and became unavailable (short of disposable income) because of passage of time.

You can't. Now go and enjoy your hard earned craft - it will be around tomorrow
Scotland, United Kingdom
Joined: February 15, 2013
KitMaker: 1,273 posts
AeroScale: 200 posts
Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 12:51 AM UTC
Well said....
I only joined the modelling fraternity about 5 years ago, and surely I am not the only new comer to the hobby. Prices do seem high for kits, but the kits are getting better, more in them so less to spend on AM items.

United Kingdom
Joined: March 08, 2009
KitMaker: 719 posts
AeroScale: 691 posts
Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 04:41 AM UTC
In response to the PCM comment quoted from Hyperscale by Gaston:
I didn't restart my interest in modelling from a physical shop: in fact I have not been in a dedicated modelling shop since I was a child.

In fact the internet, and online shopping, allow young people better access that ever to modelling. The boxes on the shelves of a shop would not have motivated me to restart my participation in the hobby: it was the photos of real modeller's builds, and what could be achieved that got me interested (and I saw them on sites such as this one). When I was a child, we had a huge model shop nearby: it had more boxes that I could comprehend, but never built models on show.

There is a certain stigma attached to scale modelling, especially for kids these days, so not having to actually risk being seen entering a model shop is actually an advantage to young modellers starting the hobby today, in my opinion.
Washington, United States
Joined: September 21, 2010
KitMaker: 1,846 posts
AeroScale: 103 posts
Posted: Monday, February 03, 2014 - 06:05 PM UTC
Maybe now, with your passing, it is.

Every great champion of the hobby we lose, like you Russ, causes it to die a little, sometimes a lot. For those of you reading this pick up the torch that Russell was forced to set down. Teach another generation what we have been so fortunate to learn and grow up with. Start a neighborhood building club or a weekend workshop to teach another generation. Russell's enthusiasm and positivity on this site has helped so many of us continue building and become better modellers. Pass on that enthusiasm and joy to as many as you can. Russell was a giant sequoia of building. We need hundreds of saplings to fill the hole he has left.