Saturday, June 23, 2007

Expensive kits

plastic kits
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
This morning involved a quick trip to Howes to get the mechanical bits for a boat my Dad is building. It’s an interesting shop with an excellent model railway section in the front, a room of plastic kits and then a large radio control section at the back.

The kits in the picture were two I bought because the plastic kit room has a 25% off sale on. Because it’s being closed down to be replaced with yet more RTR tanks, planes, cars and boats. Apparently plastic kits don’t sell.

This is terrible news. Plastic kits are one of the ways people get into model making. Most people remember sticking Airfix Spitfires together. From this humble start they get the bug for making things and move on to more specialised areas.

If I think about the town where I live, should I want to buy a plastic kit my only option is Woolworths – and even there I’ll have a very tiny selection. Now Leamington is notoriously rubbish for shopping but other towns aren’t much better served. The traditional toyshop has gone. The model shop is a rare find.

Now I understand the retailers problem. Millions of different plastic kits are produced and you can’t afford to stock even a small selection of them. I bought a Russian ice-breaker. Why does anyone even contemplate tooling up such a kit ? Then why does a shop tie up money in sitting it on the shelf to await someone buying it just because it’s in the sale.

“You can still buy kits on the web”, I hear you cry. True but that’s only any good when you are an established modeller. Where does the impulse buy, or even more importantly the “pester power” buy come from if you don’t see the seductive kit box sat on the shelf ?

These may have been cheap kits, but in the long run they and their kin might be very expensive for the hobby.

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