Friday, March 10, 2017
Sci-fi and Fantasy modeller magazine to close
For those not familiar with the publication, it's very high quality quarterly publication for model makers interested in TV and film science fiction projects. There's a lot of studio model refurbishment alongside build articles on kits produced by people like Round 2.
I've bought a few copies over the years from the Birmingham branch of Ian Allan bookshop. Apart from the IPMS show, it's the only place I ever saw copies.
And I suspect this is part of the problem. You had to be keen to get your hands on a copy. Yes you can buy on-line but as the worn carpet by the railway section of my local WH Smith attests, people like to look at the product first.
This is something they highlighted in the e-mail announcing the demise. Turning casual readers into subscriptions didn't happen in sufficient numbers.
A big part of the problem was the price - £14.95 per issue. The UK model railway press will give you three issues for this money and we know British modellers prize quantity over quality. Shame, as this was something SFFM didn't have to worry about. Each issue is beautifully presented on A4 size high quality paper with full colour photos on every page. The cover is a much heavier paper, it's like holding a Wild Swan book, albeit with a matt finish cover, in your hands. You would happily have the entire set on a bookshelf.
Advertising was very limited indeed. There aren't many people worldwide producing kits for this market and I guess that the general trade wasn't interested. Mind you, when you see how some modellers howl at the presence of any adverts in a magazine (presumably they only watch the BBC on TV) then at least this will have led to a quieter life for the editor.
The market for a dedicated sci-fi mag is going to be limited and combined with the price, they won't get it into WH Smith so the maximum number of people can take a look.
Some of the more practical articles could be "interesting" too. One covering building a replica of the Hawk spacecraft from Space 1999 mentioned that the modeller happened to have the studio original to hand and took a mould from this for his project. That's not something anyone else can do (he didn't make the casting available for sale) so interesting as the article was, it wasn't something you could follow. Mind you, I always felt this was more of a "coffee table" publication that you'd read for the pleasure of reading rather than finding huge amounts of practical advice. We can't all restore a studio model of the starship Enterprise but then we will still enjoy reading about it and looking at the photos. For many of use, that model was part of our TV watching youth!
All this doesn't detract from the great shame that with a world-wide market, a specialist magazine can't attract enough readers to be economic. Closing a magazine is hard on those who have put a huge amount of effort in to publishing it. Let's hope they get to move on to something else.
More details on the Sci-fi and Fantasy modeller website.