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For the First Time, I’m Worried

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Over the past five years or more, numerous online postings, magazine articles, or just word-of-mouth comments have foretold the demise of modeling as a hobby. Some of them predict an imminent slide while others envision a slower, more predictable decline. I typically found myself disagreeing with these comments and saw modeling as a hobby holding its own and persevering over the long term. I could not agree with the “Doomsayers” who said the population of older modelers was declining too fast or those who claimed video games would keep new modelers away from the hobby. My view had always been that modeling will prevail and excel regardless of the challenges.

 

However, there is one factor that only got mentioned from time to time and is the one that I now believe will ultimately spell an end to modeling as we know it – economics. Nearly everyone understands the basic principles of economics and has seen the recent increases in modeling costs across the board, but I wonder if everyone truly understands just how great and how fast these increases have been. The speed and degree to which the prices are rising is the primary reason why I am now incredibly worried about the sustainability of model building in its current form.

 

I read online (Dept. of Labor) that median income in the U.S. was somewhere around $53K per year and rising. Great statistics, but we all know “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Anytime I hear about an average, it sets off alarms because a small anomaly at one end or the other (like approximately 4.5% making over $200K per year) can seriously skew the average. Yes, average income is not bad, but the FACT is about 23% of households and 35% of individuals earns less than $25,000 per year before taxes. Now for someone like me who is single with no children, it’s enough to live on, but for a family…I shudder to think about it!

 

Over the past 4 years, the Global Inflation Rate (Statista.com) has averaged approximately 4.3% per year. Modelers from the U.S. might be somewhat surprised by this average because the inflation rate in the United States has averaged a bit less than 1.7%. So, while a $1.00 item has only risen to about $1.07 in the U.S., in the rest of the world, that same $1.00 item would now cost about $1.18. But this doesn’t sound too bad over 4 years, right?

 

If you are like me and live on Retired Military Pay or Social Security (or both), in 4 years your pay has risen by about 7% while the cost of a model kit produced overseas (from an existing mold) has seen a price increase of about 18%. Let’s extrapolate the inflation averages over the next 10 years or so. If the rates were to hold somewhat steady, income in the U.S. would increase by about 18% while the prices for those model kits would increase by over 52%!!! Even if you work at a normal job making either hourly or salaried income, there’s no way in the world you are going to see a 4% pay raise every year, year after year to keep up with this inflation. Speaking plainly, the disparity between income and global inflation with a corresponding rise in model prices is unsustainable in the long run.

 

I have personally tracked the inflation of existing model prices ever since rejoining the hobby about 11 years ago. Most of the model kits that I purchased during the years of 2003 through 2005 have had their prices increased by anywhere from 20% to as much as 70%. If your model purchases are of the lower priced variety – say $20.00 kits – then these increases don’t “seem” quite so bad…$24.00 to $34.00 for what was a $20.00 kit 8 to 10 years ago. However, with higher end kits, the inflation not only looks bad, it actually prices some customers out of the market. The 1/35 scale Tamiya Dragon Wagon that I purchased in 2005 for $99.00 now retails for $167.00…ouch!

 

The problem with pricing becomes even more apparent with new models produced from brand new molds. Let’s look at a new Tamiya offering, a 1/35 scale Toyota Model AB Phaeton. This is a small, Japanese sedan from WWII and in 1/35 scale is of a comparable size to a German Kubelwagen or a French Citroen. The new Tamiya kit has an MSRP of $43.00 while the older Tamiya Kubelwagen kits have an MSRP of only $20.00. Between these two releases was the Tamiya Citroen Staff Car and it has an MSRP of $30.00. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the evolution of pricing over time (about 5 year increments) on these three kits, with similar size, similar level of detail, and all from the same company.

 

While the economy of the U.S. and even most of the world may be improving overall, there is a large difference between the rising costs to produce models and the rise in the incomes of those of us who build models. Once again, in my opinion, this difference cannot continue without adverse consequences.

 

Speaking only for myself, I have very little to worry about. At 52 years of age and with over 300 model kits on-hand, I have more than enough “hobby” to keep me happy for the rest of my life. However, for those modelers who are just being born or perhaps have just discovered the hobby in their teens or early twenties, I now have serious apprehension about their ability to enjoy the hobby the way we have for the past 40 years or more. I honestly think that unless there is some significant change in the current climate, model companies may very well price themselves right out of business in the next 10 to 20 years.

 

I hope I’m wrong…

 

Your comments or observations on this issue are greatly encouraged.

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Robert - I found your post very interesting in terms of trying to quantify the statistics of Model Prices on a US and Global scale. Many Model companies such as Tamiya are in fact truly pricing themselves out of the market. But the problem is that I believe that the purchasing of Model Kits is more of an Emotional issue and not a purely a financial one. I cannot speak for all modellers of coarse, but speaking for myself and most of my modeling friends we tend to find and buy the models we want/need no matter what it takes! I have almost 3000 unbuilt kits and when I walk into a Hobby Shop I still get a rush of excitement if I find I a kit I really want. I believe I have gotten more patient and careful in trying to find the best price that I can, sometimes waiting for a future swap meet or event where I might purchase the kit at a better price, but honestly if that "got to have it" factor is high enough I will buy it no matter the price. Fortunately over the years the number of kits that fall into that category has been reduced. Incidentally I am also retired on a fixed income, but spend all my available discretionary income on models and hobby magazines. I do think that ultimately most of the model companies will realize they have to lower there prices to stay in business but that may be in the distant future.

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Maybe we modelers are the problem and not the model companies? I agree with a lot of what you are saying,but I myself do not help my cause. You see in a world where getting the right detail and as true as we can get it right model. I will spend say $40.00 to $75.00 on a good kit, plue in most cases $50.00 on a set of metal tracks, another $100.00 on PE, detail sets and stowage sets. Not to mention the model supplies. I think we modelers somehow have a hand in driving up prices in our ever ending need for detail on a kit. I'm speeking strickly on behalf of the armor modelers here, but I'm sure that all modelers do this to some point. Are the model companies taking advantage of us? Yes in some case they are. Are we modelers helping with that cost increase? IMO Yes!

 

Just a different take on this topic from my stand point. Good topic, interesting to see were this goes.

 

Chris G

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Robert and all:

 

Some good thought so here are mine.

 

I think the companies are pricing them fairly for the modern technology. If we wanted kits like 1970's Monogram they would be a lot cheaper but no one would buy them so the demands for accuracy, recessed panel lines, rivets and the like have expanded the line of what we want but at a cost. I would also say that we should look at a Finescale modeler survey which is not about 12 (?) years old asking what were the most wanted kits. Most all the kits have been done but with added detail and the like raising the prices. We are even getting photo etch, masking sets, turned parts and the like in many kits and it drives the price up....which leads to Dannie's point.

 

 

We will still buy a kit if it is a "must have" in most cases. If Tamiya came3 out with a 1/48 B-17 or a 1/32 A-10 which might cost $300, would it sell....heck yes, sign me up. The effect it does have is to reduce other sales. I spend $100 on a kit and some other things and several other kits might on the maybe list. I also think there is a thriving aftermarket sales. Dannie says he has 3000 unbuilt kits. I know many modelers paring down as they realize that they aren't going to build them. that has led to E-bay, the trader forums all over the Internet and the like. I know that other modelers are leaving their estates as they pass and then leaving a lot of work to others so many are selling which is a good way to get a cheap price on a good kit.

 

I also agree that we modelers have driven up the price as Chris stated. I also think it has forced people to choose what matters to them most- accuracy or cost (in my case, I do not care much about accuracy- I like painting things). As many of the aftermarket companies like Eduard and Aires have thrived, the kit companies have seen the money and started adding to the kits and then that has caused the prices to rise.

 

I don't think the hobby is dying any time soon but I do think we are pricing it up quite a bit. One thing that always comes up is video games. in the same time frame we are talking about, a video game cartridge has gone from $20 to $60....and the consoles are now $3-400 so prices are rising as people demand more.

 

On the other hand, some companies have thrived like Moebius models with the relatively inexpensive yet great quality kits that people want. Revell of Germany has made some great kits at reasonable prices. It still can be done. I guess, in the end, I am still hopeful the hobby will continue but the dynamic has changed and wilolo continue the shift. More detail will beget more cost and while numbers will drop some, quality will rise.

 

Dave

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Robert,

 

I don't pretend to understand economics, but projecting trends very far into the future (or past) generally doesn't work. Over the long term money shifts back and forth between countries, generations, and social classes. Exponential growth is never sustainable: for example, world population can theoretically double every 25 years and it has roughly done that since 1950, but if we keep that rate up for another 2-300 years humans will make up all the living material on the planet - clearly that won't happen. Sometime in the next 50 years something will "give" (we're already seeing signs that population is leveling off).

 

Kit prices are more complicated than exchange and inflation rates. The cost of a Tamiya kit includes the cost of developing the tooling plus the cost of the styrene and kit boxes, the cost of running the molding machines, the cost of shipping the kits, a cut for the distributor and a cut for the hobby shop. The $43 you pay for the new Toyota Phaeton kit gets divvied up among people in various countries, not just Japan. According to HLJ, the Japanese retail price is 2400 Yen - about $20 - so there is nominally another $23 involved in getting the kit to the US. HLJs discounted price plus the cheapest shipping makes the total price about $23. But in the US it is rare to pay full retail price for anything; many retailers automatically knock off 10-20%. Tower Hobbies has the Toyota kit for $33 and claims $2 for their budget shipping to my door, which means the real cost of these kits isn't quite as extreme as it first seems.

 

In the big picture, supply and demand takes care of setting reasonable prices. If kit prices are too high, sales will go down and the kit makers will set more reasonable prices - or some other company will come along and offer similar products at lower prices. I think what we're seeing now is a generation of modelers hitting their prime earning years (worked our way up through the ranks, kids have moved out, mortgage is paid) so we're indulging in pricey kits. It won't last forever, so enjoy it while you can!

 

Don

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I was thinking about this last night and today, about the hobby dying and video games making that happen sooner. Speaking stricky on this one point I do not agree with this point. I too was concerned about this and the younger folks not wanting to pick up the hobby. I have three kids all in their teens now and all have at one point built models. My two boys both competed in local and regional contests and did very well. My youngest (my daughter) enjoyed building models but never competed. Yes my two boys enjoy the Video game as I do to. But here is why I think video games are good for our hobby. A lot of the gamers shop at local hobby shops that sell model supplies geared to the video gamers.

 

We have had several young people stop and sit in on our local model club that are gamers. All of them enjoy scratch building the things they see in the games. This has spun off to building regular model kits. So as I see the seeds are planted. Remember a lot of us if not all of us have taken a break from the hobby for long periods of time for one reason or another.

 

So Is the hobby dead or dying? IMO NO way. Is it changing? Yes! As a armor builder we are seeing a great amount of newer kits with modern subjects being released. With all the recent conflicts many people that severed in these conflict will someday want to build that plane,vehicle, or depict what they did to honor their time in service. It just happens that way.

 

And let's not forget about the rest of the world. The hobby is very alive and well in other parts of the world. No I do not see the hobby going away anytime soon. Yes we will pay more as a lot have pointed out as kits get better and better. But let's face it if you had the choice to buy a old piece of crap kit knowing that you will spend ten time more on it to fix the things that are wrong with it, or wil you buy the state of art newer kit that you can build basically OOB and enjoy way more. I think most of us will buy the newer kit. And yes there will always be the ones that want the older kit, just because.

 

Chris G.

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Since my original post, there have been some interesting and well reasoned replies which added valuable information to this discussion. I wanted to post a follow-up to clarify my thoughts.

 

Let me be clear – I believe there will ALWAYS be models, model manufacturers, and hobbyists who build models. Modeling as a hobby is not “dying”. Models have been around since the dawn of man and will likely exist until man disappears from this pale blue marble. Where my primary concern lies, is in the possibility – perhaps probability – that the “Golden Age” of modeling is coming to end very, very quickly. This doesn’t mean I think modeling will end, but it will have to evolve into something which may or may not be as good as the hobby we now enjoy. My assertion is that run-away pricing is leading this evolution and unless business changes are made, I don’t believe it can continue.

 

Please, keep the comments coming…

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Robert,

 

I hear you,but I must disagre with you about you view. I do belive and have seen some manufactures jack up prices on their kits. That does make me shy away from them,but most cost I see is due to better quality of the kits themselves and what you get for your buck. I personnally believe that this is the Golden age of modeling. With all the wide range of kit offerings and the many many aftermarket company's. not to mention the many new manufactures out there has created a healthly business competion amoung the manufactures.

 

I remember when everything seemed to be from Revel, Monogram,Airafix, or Tamiya. Now you have MENG, Trumpiter, HobbyBoss,Dragon, Tamiya, etc., etc. The selections out there is endless. Also now that 3-D modeling is coming into it's own, I see that the future is very bright and will only get better. Just my two cents.

 

Must say that this topic has been very enjoyable so far. Great post and great comments.

 

Chris G.

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I think Robert may be partially right in that the hobby of plastic modeling that we grew up with-kits designed to be built by kids for fun- may be dieing. The hobby of plastic modeling, as in selling to the "serious" hobbyist, is alive and well!

 

As for prices, it's all a matter of perspective. I vividly remember when Hasagawa released their 1/48 F-4 Phantoms back in the 80s, and they were priced at TWENTY DOLLARS! I recall thinking "I can buy 3 Monogram 1/48 F-4s for that price, they'll never sell"! Man was I ever wrong! Not only did they sell, they set a new bar for manufacturing. In fact, I point to them as being the spark that lit the fire of better detailed and more expensive models.

 

That $20 price tag was at least a 100%, if not 150-200% increase in price over its nearest competitor, yet those Phantoms sold like hotcakes and started a trend. I see today's prices as not much different. If a manufacturer finds a new way to market something wanted, and perhaps adds some bells and whistles not seen before, we've proven we'll pay through the nose for them!

 

Think of the innovations over the last decade or so....slide mold technology that allows for shapes that weren't possible to mold before and that also more easily allows for multiple versions of the same subject. The inclusion of resin, metal, and pe aftermarket IN kits, as well as their exclusion; both serving as marketing gimmicks. Even the aftermarket pe and resin has gotten more sophisticated with the use of vacuum molding, hollow casting, and pre-colored self adhesive materials. And now we have 3D printing! Just wait til the first ship kit with completely accurate and assembled cage masts are offered; ship guys will gladly pay $20-$30 more for those kits! People are willing to pay for these things as long as they're perceived of saving them time and effort, or bettering their end result with less effort.

 

I predict we'll also see more of the WNW business model in the future, as this is a tool to keep the cost of that new expensive kit as low as possible. Brick and mortar stores are already almost dead, paving the way for internet shopping. Why should a manufacturer continue to sell to wholesalers so their stuff can be stockpiled elsewhere (with their mark up, as well as the retailer's who gets it from them) when they can sell directly to the customer and reap every dime themselves? Mind you, I do NOT think there will be a complete change over; just more new manufacturers doing BOTH, with less stuff available in "stores", on line or in town.

 

Roberts numbers do prove one thing to me, kits will only get more expensive with time. So, the lesson (which many of us learned long ago) is to buy it NOW, especially if you find any kind of a "deal". Those stashes we've been building over our lives don't look quite so silly now, do they?

 

GIL :smiley16:

Edited by ghodges

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Gil,

 

Good points,but i still believe that the hobby as a whole is alive an well and will be for the forseeable future. You have as well as Robert stated the age when we as Kids could pick up a model kit for a couple of bucks are over, long over in fact. That as Robert said is a point of concern as it prices out young kigs and adults for that matter who want to try their hand at modeling. So yes we now have to live with a hobby that is totally geared to meet our (modelers) needs. That need is as we modelers aged and complained year after year that we wanted better manufatured kits with all the details i.e.PE, turned metal barrels, flash free parts etc.. Well the hooby manufactures have come thru for us and have provided it to us. They will continue to do this as we buy up all this wonderful stuff.

 

So to recap; Yes Robert is correct in that the hobby as we knew it (cheap kits that built up fast) is dead IMO. Is this a cause for concern as Robert stated? IMO YES as it does price out some age groups and beginners. Is the Golden age of modeling over? Some may see it as that way, I see it that this is the golden age. Is there concern that the manufatures and our (modelers) need for better and better kits will drive the price of kits to the point that very few of us will be able to buy kits anymore? Not sure on that one, IMO I do not see that happening. With e-bay and other on-line store site competeing for the manufactures dollars it makes very little business since for them to price themselves out of reach of all modelers. It's a good question and one that us hobbist need to watch and hold the manufactures in line. After all we are their bread a & butter to speak. Without us they are nothing. I guess only time will tell. I for one am enjoying this great age we are in and loving every bit of it.

 

Chris G.

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I agree with Chris, the quality of armor kits in terms of detail, parts count, accuracy, multi media items, research, along with where items are made (Far East vs. USA) you get a lot of product for your money.

 

In the armor world, I generally see only two companies that jack up their prices for less than quality kits. Italeri and Revell of Germany tend to reissue time worn armor kits at premium prices. Trumpeter and Academy tend to have very competitive prices for their kits. Dragon's kits have so many parts and extra goodies that they seem to be worth the price. Tamiya prices are high, but they've always been more expensive.

 

As far as incomes, I see co-workers who think they've hit the jackpot with factory jobs in the $25-30,000 hourly jobs.

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Another point that I failed to adequately mention is that I'm approaching this subject from the point of view of someone in a very specific modeling genre - 1/35 scale (only), pre 1945 (only), military subjects (armor, artillery, softskins, and figures). Perhaps my chosen area of modeling is simply the one where the inflation of prices is occuring at this pace.

 

I don't think kids or even casual newcomers to the hobby are in any way completely shut out in terms of affordable kits. There are literally hundreds of 1/72 scale A/C kits for under $10.00. There are hundreds of car models in all scales for under $15.00. There are even hundreds of 1/72 scale military models for under $15.00. Like I said, even wtih the inflation of prices these kits will never become so expensive that modelers can't afford them. As long as modelers are not tied down to a specific genre or scale, there will more than enough choices available to them.

 

Affordability in general is a very subjective thing. If someone has $400 or $500 in a monthly hobby budget, they are not going to think this thread is even worth the time of day...I know I wouldn't. Those modelers are the same as the guy I saw walk into my local hobby shop and drop nine $100 bills on the counter and carry out the 1/35 Dora Railway Gun the day after it came in. I would have loved to have gotten one of those kits, but I just plain couldn't afford it. While I can afford something like the brand new Roden 1914 British Armored Car, I will NEVER buy one at full MSRP of $73.00 - excellent details or not. I can pick up at least 3 armored cars from other manufacturers with a satisfactory level of detail for the same price. I wish Roden well, but just shake my head.

 

The one other thing mentioned a couple times in this thread is the effect of the "middle men" on pricing...I agree. I also honestly think the days of distributors are numbered. Hobby Shops will survive a bit longer because they can order direct from the manufacturer in the same way customers are starting to order. The hobby shops may have to live with a lower mark up on some models or diversify their product lines to help out (our local HS is big in selling gaming sets and holding tournaments), but they aren't tied to a single profit line like distributors are.

 

There have been some more great points brought up...thanks for all the feedback!

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While I was still on active duty, I was one of those guys who could have walked in and paid full retail price for the latest hot kit and not think twice about it (retired as an O5 in 2011).

 

But, I was not one of those guys who would have walked in and paid full retail price for the latest hot kit. I've never felt the need, urge or desire to have to have it.

 

Even the favorite tank of my childhood (Aurora MBT70) and favorite AFV from my youth (Renwal M50 Ontos, as a kid I always wanted when I saw it on the shelf in my best friend's big brother's room) I held off buying when modern versions were released by Dragon and Academy. As I've gotten older, I've learned that there will be plenty of guys who have to have it, but then end up selling them later at a reduced price. That's how I normally get the latest hot kit, on the secondary market.

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Robert,

 

Maybe what you're really asking is whether in a few years there will be anyone left with the disposable income for a hobby. That isn't a philosophical question any more; we're awfully close to having technology to automate a big fraction (50-60%) of existing jobs, including a lot of professional positions. For example, self-driving cars are getting pretty good: there are something like 20M commercial driving jobs in the US. The entire US economy is built on the assumption that families have a 40 hour/week income, but soon (like before we die) there may not be nearly enough jobs (at least the kind of jobs we have today) to go around.

 

That's sort of like the population growth problem; something has to "give". It makes no sense for half the people in the richest country in the world to be homeless or living in poverty, but I don't think anyone knows how it will shake out and the transition could well be painful. Still, I'm betting on human nature: there will be leisure time and disposable income and people building models.

 

Don

Edited by Schmitz

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Something I missed or was not covered. THE STASH! I have a very small genre also. Middle East Wars. So my niche of HAVE TO HAVES is really small. Even if I quit buying new kits, I have enough stash right now to build until I pass. Yes, I will still need supplies and such and maybe the occasional after market item but kit wise I am sure I am set. Until I retire and live on a smaller fixed income, I will still buy the kits I want either via LHS, Mail Order or Evilbay. A recent purchase is an example. AFV Club's Shot-Kal Gimel. I held off over 6 months before finally purchasing it. Mostly because I had other purchases or completely forgot about it for a while.

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Bob, et. al.,

One thing you are forgetting is the trends among the bigger European companies - making new molds to a fixed price point.

Airfix And Revell AG have both been "guilty" of this, and their products sell very well. Airfix has two basic price points in their new tool models. The smaller 1/72 planes are engineered to the 5GBP price, while larger kits are set at 8GBP. While not a big player in the US (mostly because of the scale), if you go into almost any general store in the UK you will find some sort of Airfix model section. In some shops, it is an entire wall of Airfix - and I'm talking about their Woolworth and ASDA (WalMart owned) stores.

Italeri also does this this to some extent, but the point is lost when it is imported to the US. MRC was good to add 25-50% to the cost of a kit, but their exclusive deal has now expired I am told. No idea who will import it next, perhaps Hornby would be a good choice if they do not decide to go the direct import route.

Revell US has also done so, the 1/72 Gato being a case study. I was marginally involved with this kit, supplying lots of info (blueprints, plans, etc.) to them thru Ed Sexton. They designed the kit such that it could be sold at the $100 price point, and the hull has it breaks at the frames I advised so they could easily make other subs with the minimal tooling expense. Could they have gotten more or better detail? Absolutely, but not for a SRP of $100. Some of their newer aircraft kits follow this philosophy as well.

What is the common thread to all of these companies? They have finally listened (to some extent) to the hobby shop owners and have realized that no matter how much detail they pack into a kit, at the cost of unit sales via higher prices, there are guys who would never build it out of the box. These companies have learned that a lower price, thru lower "quality" and tooling costs, will often lead to higher unit sales and more profits as the guy who REALLY wanted the new 1/72 Flopwopper will now buy 6 at $10 instead of 1 or 2 at $25, much less $40 for some of the other imports.

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Volume. Because there are fewer modelers, fewer kits are produced. Cost per unit rises, and also remember styrene plastic is a byproduct of petroleum.

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Interesting reading guys. Over here in the UK the hobby has suffered a multiple whammy.

Firstly about 80 percent of the independent hobby shops in the UK have closed down in the last 20 years due to a number of reasons. About 20 years ago company named Beatties bought out many of the independent model shops whilst they rapidly expanded throughout the UK and after a while promptly went bust. More recently a company named Model Zone tried to emulate Beatties with a nationwide network of model shops and the same happened to them. I tend to rely on traders at model shows and on line buying these days.

Many youngsters now prefer to play computer games as the graphics get better and better, although some of the content is questionable that they watch however

Kit prices have increased to the point that many imported kits are becoming prohibitive, Especially ones from the Far East to the point that what remaining model shops we have do not stock them any more. So what we see is wall to wall Airfix and to a lesser extent Revell Germany products mainly for sale as they are a lot less expensive than their Far Eastern counterparts. For example a 1/24th scale Tamiya Aston Martin car kit costs about £45.00 here in the UK as opposed to Revell Germany's 1/24th scale car kits at about £20.00, who's latest releases quality is now well up there with any Tamiya and Hasegawa kit.

The whole industry depends on people having disposable income and I for one would love to buy certain kits to build but simply cannot justify the expense no matter how desirable. Such are the times we live in.

I think the hobby will survive. But its heyday in the 60's, 70's and 80's have long gone.

I would guess that things are somewhat similar Stateside judging by previous posts.

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Wow ! This topic has gotten big and I am gonna take off track, a bit I agree with almost all of you guys but there is some stuff I am going to bring up, here I go one of the people who posted to this forum said he would spend 300-400 dollars for a 1:48 scale b-17 from tamiya dam go big or go home I guess and if you have that ability go for it but as for me I can't afford that the most expensive kit I have ever built was a 40 dollar tank from tamiya that I got as a gift most of the expensive stuff for the hobby I get I got over a long time like a year or two or as gifts from my extended family . after all the cost for the model I am about to build the kit ,paints ,glue etc I never spend more than 50 dollars on my hobby every couple of months because thats all I can afford I wish I could buy the metal tracks or aftermarket equipment but if my wife found out I spent our bill money on that stuff she would kill me. And I am always I the mood for a deal we shop at thrift stores for allot of our clothes you find a lot of good stuff I keep a eye out for models or stuff I could use for modeling, I found a ship for 5 dollars with all the peices I bought it took it home looked it up it originally a 80 dollar model for five dollars

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Acidently hit post continuing I will pay the prices if I have to but it would be nice if it was cheaper .

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Z: prices will NOT be coming down, if only because we've proven we'll pay those prices. The main reason that kits cost so much as compared to "way back when" is mainly that they don't produce as many copies of each. Back in the 60's, they'd make a mold and pop out 100,00 or more over 2-5 years, not to mention the numbers produced in those molds later lives. Today, the molds used won't handle those numbers AND they don't expect to sell that many. So, they tune it to produce anywhere from 1000 to 10,000. With an average cost of not less than $50,000 and often more like $100,000; they have to make their money back while selling less in quantity. Thus, models cost $30-$100, and the really big 1/32 molds/kits like the B-17 you mentioned go for several hundred dollars.

 

My advice is that IF there's something you really want: shop around, but pick it up at the best price you can. There's no guarantees it'll ever come back once it's out of production, and if it does, it'll cost more. On the other hand, a NEW kit will generally be a little cheaper a year after it's released, so if you can wait that first year out, you can find it for 50-75% of it's original price when it's not so "new". Cheers!

 

GIL :smiley16:

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Fifty years ago gas was .30 a gallon. It is at least 10 times that now. A new Volkswagon was $3000. in 1971. It is at least 10 times that now. The tuition and room and board at my Alma Mater was $3000. annually in 1971. It is 15 times that now. An Airfix single engine 1/72 scale fighter was .69 to a $1.00 in 50 years ago. It is about 10 times that now for a far superior new mold kit. What is the problem with pricing? I just do not understand what all you Cassandras are so worried about. Good cheap kits have always been available and always will be because it is good business. Sure, $10. today buys what a $1.00 could 50 years ago. But then you could buy a pack of gum for a nickel 50 years ago. Nick Filippone

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I agree with you Nick, to a point. Disposable income is just that, and it varies by the individual. I see model building as a VERY affordable hobby when compared to many others, especially when you break it down to "by the hour". Any hobby we choose will cost a substantial amount if and when we totally immerse ourselves in it (as we do with modeling), and plastic modeling compares very favorably under those conditions to golf, fishing, boating, shooting, or even RC modeling hobbies.

 

However, what has changed is the ease of getting into modeling at the starting levels. We could do that for the cost of our allowances when we were kids. It was looked upon as a cheap, fun thing to do; especially because it had not evolved into the elaboration of making engineering miniatures that it has today. I can't see any average kids being able to afford that these days! The manufactures didn't have to invest as much in tooling back then because the kits were simpler, and we didn't know better or care. They can no longer do that today and be competitive, which is just one of the things that drives kit costs into a higher range. Want to buy and build a 1/24 car kit? It'll cost you no less than $30 for kit, paint, and glue, possibly more; and when you want to do the next one it will cost almost as much! I'm sorry, but that "$30" just does NOT equate to $3 in people's minds, even if the economics of that is true. Do you know any kids getting $30-$50 every couple of weeks? Remember, we could buy models and supplies for the $2-$5 we got every couple of weeks when we were kids!

 

Personally, I do not bemoan the hobby's future on the whole, as I agree with you in that it's going strong in the form it's evolved into: building miniatures that you do NOT play with! However, I do bemoan the loss of of plastic modeling being a part of almost every boy's growing up, like it was in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Even if kits were still relatively cheap I'm not sure plastic modeling could hold its own against the electronic "toys" of today. If I was 12 today, I don't think I'd be as interested in building a model for all the obvious reasons. From our perspective, that would be my loss, and THAT is where I worry for the hobby.

 

GIL :smiley16:

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Fifty years ago gas was .30 a gallon. It is at least 10 times that now.

 

Prices and wages don't always go up uniformly. My daughter is a newly graduated Graphic Designer (a fairly technical job in the internet age). She was lucky to find a job fresh out of school. She makes 2x as much as I did as a newly graduated engineer in 1982, but she pays 3x as much in rent. If I hadn't helped with tuition, her school loans would have been about 5x what mine were. She can't afford to buy a car, and if I helped her with the down payment she couldn't afford the gas and upkeep.

 

That's a long of way of saying disposable income is not what it used to be for young people, including the 30 somethings that are traditionally the new comers to our hobby. I don't think the costs of kits are a big barrier to getting into the hobby - a much bigger problem is that few if any toy stores still sell kits - but I don't think its negligible either.

 

Don

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How about the "disposable" income that goes into cigarettes? When I put $50 into my car's gas tank (lower lately, thank you), I see the signs in the gas station (convenience store) window for a carton of some brands on sale at $100. $100! Holy smoke (pun intended)! For less than one month's supply of cigarettes (one carton per week) you can buy that 1/32 B-17G and have enough left over for the resin, PE, paints, and glue, too. A visible wispy $400 smoke cloud curling in the air vs. a tangible B-17G model in the display case . . . hmmm. :smiley6:

 

Ed

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