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A visit to Signifer

Business
How can a small manufacturer like Signifer survive in today´s modelling business? To tell you the truth it´s quite difficult. The only way for a West European resin manufacturer to be succesfull is to keep it´s business small and find a "niche" market. M. Meissonier said it is impossible for him to hire employees. The conditions are much more favorable in Eastern Europe (Czech republic) and Asia. So the only argument he can throw into the battle is the quality and the originality of his products.
Sometimes, other manufacturer released the same kits he designed... shortly after his. It happened for the Latécoère 298 (wich was produced by Azur) and for the Grumman "Goose" (wich was produced by Czech Models). Such coincidences can happen but are detrimental for such a small company as it reduces the already small number of potential customers.
M. Meissonier is aware of that and takes it with philosophy. He knows he can´t fight against that but still wants to remain independant. I suggested he could probably earn more money in doing masters for other companies but he thinks this wouldn´t suit him as he prefers to do what he wants and run his own business. It´s a choice of living, maybe a philosophy.

Conclusion
Visiting Signifer was a very enjoyable and interesting experience. I learned a lot during my conversations with M. Meissonier and his father and I want to thank them for their cordial reception, kindness and availability. I wasn´t surprised though as both the father and the son are very passionate people when it comes to aviation history and modelling. M. Raymond Meissonier still enjoys to build outside under a big pin tree and hopes to get is scratchbuild 1/32 scale Hawker Tempest finished soon.
I hope "small" manufacturers like Signifer will continue to produce such original and detailed model kits for the enjoyment of the modellers. As I said before, these are the companies that represent the heart and soul of our hobby. Without them, a lot of interesting subjects wouldn´t see the light of the day, and without them, we couldn´t speak of a "Golden Age of Modeling".


Nota Bene
M. Meissonier allowed me to take pictures and talk about everything but he didn´t wanted to appear himself on the feature. It´s not that he is a shy person but he wanted the feature to focus on his work and not on his personality. He also didn´t wanted me to reveal the nature of the subjects he is currently working on... for obvious reasons (see "Business" chapter) and because he simply doesn´t know how long it will take to finish those new kits. He is working on a big 1/48 scale project as well as on 1/32 scale Allies and Luftwaffe airfield accessories. He will inform the Aeroscale readers as soon as possible when the new references are about to be released.


Signifer kit reviews at Aeroscale:
Grumman J4F-1/J4F-2 Widgeon by Rowan Baylis
Grumman JRF 5 "Goose" by Jean-Luc Formery
Luftwaffe Oil Cart by Jean-Luc Formery

Signifer Build Feature at Aeroscale:
French Rescue Goose by Jean-Luc Formery

Signifer's website
http://signifer.chez-alice.fr/
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About the Author

About Jean-Luc Formery (TedMamere)
FROM: MOSELLE, FRANCE

I'm mainly interested in WW2 aircraft and I build them in 1/48 scale.


Comments

Jean _ Luc Thanks for bringing this to the light of day, very informative. I am familiar with resin casting and know Eric Hight from Copper State Models. I swear I have heard him make identical comments on the very same subject. It seems smalll business' like resin companies all face the same problems.
OCT 27, 2006 - 03:15 PM
Hi John-Luck Great read ... i like such stories! Some notes: Could you please change the bottom nav bar ...the numbers of the following sites are hardly visible. .... I saw Stephens comment and thought "what tthe heck he is talking about" .. I had to search a moment to find where I had to click ... that maybe does not speak for myself, so if I am the only one who gets fooled from time to time .. it is maybe lack of intelligence ... If you look for a subcontractor ... better do not give it to eastern companies, at least make sure you have a contract that assures your intellectual property ... I wonder how Jules Bringuier, Mr. Classic Airframes, protects his rights ... this is from experience (luckily not my own but from a friend) and is not aimed against anyone here .. In one of the cases I know the model was faster out under another label than the customer got the parts he had ordered (and he was providing all the research and so on) cheers Steffen
OCT 27, 2006 - 04:44 PM
Greetings Jean-Luc: A very interesting article, a good read, and well written. Thanks for taking the time to present it.
OCT 27, 2006 - 05:08 PM
Hi all! Thanks for your kind comments! Yes, the modelling business is a jungle. Sometimes one can live peacefully in it and sometimes one is eaten by predators. Always keep in mind, when complaining about the price of a resin kit, all the work involved in designing and production... Steffen, unfortunately I can't change the bottom nav bar. You must ask the Big Boss for that! If you have any contacts with small (or big) manufacturers, don't hesitate to write a feature about it... Jean-Luc
OCT 29, 2006 - 03:44 PM
Hi Jean-Luc thanks for the info .. i won't ask Mr. Starkweather, as we seem to collide always when we have a communication try .. I just will have to live with it and miss one or another page of the articles. best wishes from rainy Schwerin Steffen
OCT 29, 2006 - 06:13 PM
Nice article Jean Luc, interesting reading it.
OCT 29, 2006 - 06:23 PM
Great article Jean-Luc! Keep them coming, they're always a interesting read.....
OCT 29, 2006 - 07:30 PM
Hi all! Thanks again for your kind words! I just noticed the Signifer feature was the most read article in the past weeks (see here ). I think M. Meissonier will be happy to know that! Jean-Luc
NOV 13, 2006 - 11:20 PM