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Archive for June, 2009

Model Kit: All good things…

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Monday, June 22, 2009

So, many people have picked up on a small detail in our latest press release that our 1/350 TOS Enterprise looks to be pushed back into 2011. We don’t want to be the company that cried wolf so although an explanation isn’t required, I’ll offer up some quick detail.

First, let me address all of the Eeyores out there that say “oh man, that model kit will never get made” Or “I may die of old age before we ever see the model kit”. To them, I offer the hard reality that aliens could invade the planet Earth tonight and we’ll be involved in an interstellar war that rages for a millennia and they’d be right that the model kit may never happen in their lifetime. To them, I say, lighten up lest your bottom lip gets a rug burn.

Development of the model kit has begun. It has beaten the start of the new movie Enterprise by a full month. This is a model kit that MUST be right in every way. It MUST be accurate. It MUST build better than the 1/350 Refit. (yes, I said better) It MUST be special. It will be our best effort to bring a definitive model kit to market that requires nothing more to add to the subject.

Our original goal was to bring the model kit out by the end of 2010. By that, I mean out in late November. We have limited resources and with the economy as it is where banks don’t hand out money as freely as they did just a year ago, we were told the date needed to move back into 2011. By pushing it back a few months, we are allowed to still do most of the other new kits we have planned for 2010. If it was the only new kit we did in 2010, I’m still not sure it could have happened. It truly is out of our control.

So we hope to have it out just after the clock strikes 2011. Thanks to those who have been reasonable and can understand that we don’t make decisions like this to torture anyone. If we had unlimited funds and a time machine, we’d put it out tomorrow. But the invasion starts tonight so it still wouldn’t have happened…

Round 2: Putting It All Together

posted by BobP 8:00 AM
Friday, June 19, 2009

Round 2’s Creative Team consists of a small, fiercely dedicated group of individuals who juggle a variety of responsibilities. As most folks know, we don’t just make models kits (AMT, MPC and Polar Lights), but also have a holiday figural line (Forever Fun), a slot car line (Auto World), a 1:18 die-cast line (American Muscle) and a custom die-cast line (Auto World Custom & Premium). As you can imagine, with such a variety of projects, there’s never a dull moment at Round 2. (Maybe our mascot is a kangaroo because we’re always jumping from one project to another!)

In any case, I’d like to introduce you to the people behind the products. (In future entries, I’ll plan more detailed individual biographies of my fine cohorts.) As seen in the photo above, from left to right:

Jamie Hood is Art Director for Forever Fun and Model Kits, and on occasion contributes to Auto World as well. Jamie’s primary focus is product development, and he has a particular talent for reviewing sculpts, test shots and dealing with production-related issues. (If you’ve been following Jamie’s excellent entries on our model kits blog, you already have a fair idea of Jamie’s many talents.) With our Forever Fun holiday lines just starting to get under production, Jamie has been reviewing test shots and pre-production samples of Rudolph, Peanuts and Little Drummer Boy on an almost daily basis the past month or so. In addition to those responsibilities, Jamie is an accomplished artist; his most recent contribution, art-wise, at Round 2 was his stellar illustration of the Enterprise-E for our Star Trek model kits line.

Bob Plant (that’s me) is Creative Director at Round 2. Mostly that seems to mean that I get loads of e-mail and sigh a lot. (For variety, some cursing is involved occasionally, as well.) Other than that, well, I guess describing my job is a little tricky — mainly I try to make sure that things keep rolling and that I provide any support the creative team needs to get their job done. My background is in graphic design, so I still design some of our packaging as well, and recently have particularly enjoyed working on model kit boxes and instruction sheets. I’m a Trekkie/Trekker from way back, too, so it’s been a thrill being involved with the Trek kits. I can’t tell folks how exciting it is to be bringing back some of this vintage styrene — the Mr. Spock kit and the UFO Mystery ship are particularly thrill-worthy and absolutely make my geek heart jump for joy.

Terri Rach (that’s pronounced “rock,” and she, indeed, does) is Art Director for Forever Fun, but she also contributes to our other lines as well, particularly in a graphic capacity. Terri’s background in graphic design and advertising has been invaluable — she’s equally adept at designing a poseable holiday figure blister card as she is putting a model kit ad together. Terri ran her father’s ad agency, Impact, for many years, before striking out on her own as a freelance designer. Among her many clients were Playing Mantis and Round 2. At last, we convinced her to come on board full-time, and, in addition to her fine graphic skills, she’s proven herself to be an excellent conceptualist and product developer, working on Peanuts, Rudolph and Little Drummer Boy, developing both product and packaging. Terri posts Forever Fun progress reports on our sister blog, www.foreverfunblog.com — check it out!

Mike Groothuis is Art Director for Auto World, American Muscle and Custom & Premium. Mike’s focus is packaging design, but he also has his hand in the development of product as well, and is responsible for much of the beautiful and highly accurate pad print artwork that can be seen on our 1:18-scale American Muscle die-cast, as well as our Custom & Premium vehicles, which cover a wide range of vehicle types, from vintage delivery trucks to dragsters to funny cars. Mike is a fantastic photographer, and recently completed photography and packaging design for our line of classic automotive kits. Mike also specializes in photo-realistic renderings of automotive subjects; his illustrations have graced packaging art for Playing Mantis, RC2, and Greenlight. Be sure to check out Mike’s Auto World progress reports (and his excellent product photography) at www.autoworldblog.com.

John Greczula is Art Director and Brand Manager for the automotive segment of our model kits. A styrene kit fanatic from way back, John knows more about the history and the many permutations of MPC and AMT car kits than anyone I’ve ever met. His knowledge has been invaluable in restoring (“backdating”) these classic kits to their vintage glory. John’s obsessive attention to detail has helped ensure that the kits we release meet even the most serious model kit fan’s expectations. John is also a graphic designer who handles his own packaging, having a particular knack for accurately recreating vintage model kit boxes. John’s obsession with styrene car kits is nearly equaled by his peculiar fascination with the Gorn, from Star Trek the Original Series.

Tony Karamitsos is Brand Manager for Auto World, American Muscle and AW Custom & Premium. Tony has serious real-world experience with automotive restoration (specializing in muscle cars), which makes him perfectly suited for our automotive lines. Tony’s unparalleled attention to detail and intimate knowledge of many makes and models of cars have helped ensure that Auto World’s die cast and slot car lines are the most detailed and accurate on the market. Tony is one of the hardest-working individuals I’ve ever met – Tony runs a successful business as a DJ on weekends, restores cars in the evenings, (and occasionally drag-races them!) while still finding time to spend with his wife and three sons. (Three weeks ago, I saw him doing some serious partying with his wife in Vegas, but perhaps that’s a story for another time…)

Andy Jewett is Art Director Web Services and manages our many websites and blogs, from Forever Fun to Custom & Premium to Model Kits and everything in between. Andy is the most recent addition to our team, and his sardonic wit and enthusiasm helps keep us entertained. Andy is one of those multi-talented individuals who can handle the intricate inner-workings of our many websites while still making sure that everything looks pretty on the outside: he’s a true tech with taste. Andy has a great sense of design, and is also an accomplished comics artist, whose work has a distinctly indie (as in “independent comics”) bent. In the jack-of-all-trades department, Andy recently completed a couple of illustrations for our Rudolph packaging.

There you have it folks – a small taste of the personalities behind the product, and a big, big part of the reason why I look forward to coming to work every day.

Model Kits… Larger than life!

posted by MikeG 8:50 AM
Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hi all, I’m Mike and this’ll be my first post to the Round 2 models blog! I’m the guy who lays out the box art for most of the mass vehicle model kits. I get the pleasure of photographing the professional buildups of our model kits for the photos you see on our kits. Being a shutterbug in my personal life as well, it’s a real joy to be able to present these amazing kits to the world through photography for Round 2.

Most of our model kits use the standard 1:25 scale box size. However, AMT-632 is huge, so we needed to enlarge the box! Though still 1:25 scale, this truck crushes any other scale models in its path. The 1988 TNT Motorsports National Points Champion was Everett Jasmer driving his USA-1 Chevy Monster Truck. I love the details on this truck that make it look larger than life. The realistic tires, the detailed suspension, and the USA-1 decals all come together to create the ultimate model kit. It’ll be as much fun to assemble as it was to photograph this monster!

Round 2 says, “HEY… YOU… GUYS!”

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Monday, June 15, 2009

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You know, like the beginning of the Electric Company? Man, that headline may suck, but it’s actually relevant so please read on…

So, if you’re reading this blog you probably have enough web savvy to know about our Round 2 model kit website. We do our best to update it but with everything else going on, that kind of happens in spits and spurts. That isn’t to say that it isn’t important to us and we love finding new ways to make it pertinent to modelers as a spot to regularly come back and check out.

What I’d like to do is throw a feeler out to see if anyone wants to contribute articles to the site. If you check it out, you’ll see we have spots for articles and a workbench area. We’re interested in finding contributors to help fill out these areas. Contributions to our “articles” area could be historical in nature whether it relates to any of our licenses, individual kits or even our brands. Or, an article could be a review of one of our kits. Workbench articles should be more educational. Workbench articles could touch on general modeling techniques, build-alongs or similar kinds of topics. All content should be specific to our product and should paint us in a positive light, obviously.

So what would be in it for you beyond the fame and glory of being featured on our company webpage? Why, model kits of course. Just give us your pitch and if we like it, we’ll figure out what and how many kits we can give in return. Just go to our site and click on contact. Put “WEB ARTICLE PITCH” in the first line of the comment box or put it in the subject line of an email to the given address.

But don’t fear that if we don’t get any contributions no other web content will be coming. We still have lots of stuff coming down the pipe. We’ve got great Jim Small articles, upcoming interviews and more.

Speaking of more, just like everyone else, we are hopping on the social networking bandwagon. Become a fan on facebook to get notifications of blog and website updates and other news. You can also keep up with us on twitter.

Why didn’t they ever let Spiderman talk on that show by the way?…

When our staff at Round 2 receives and email with that title, cheers can be heard rising from every corner of the office. Oh the joy of a new container arriving. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek here) While it is actually good news that model kit product like a Robby the Robot reorder or brand new stuff like the huge 1/350 Enterprise 1701A has arrived, it throws a wrench in the works from a productivity standpoint. No, we don’t all just run out with mouths watering and dive right into a trove of new model kits Scrooge McDuck style. We actually have to got to work for an hour or more.

You see, we’ve only got a dozen people give or take on staff that handle more than half a dozen brands. We all wear many hats. Brand managers have to handle their own customer service issues for example. On those great days when a container arrives, we cobble together enough able bodies to go out and unload the truck by hand. Usually it takes a minimum of seven people and usually nine when we get the truck pretty fairly unpacked. Trucks used to be a rare thing, coming every couple months but it’s getting to be a weekly thing. We’ve even had a couple trucks in one day. It gets to be tough work when you are unloading 500 25lb boxes of Enterprise from the front (back) of a 45 foot trailer. Throw in 25 degree winters and 100 degree summers and it really becomes quite a treat. Ultimately, it is all done out of love.

Jim Small: The Third Wheel

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Friday, June 5, 2009

I wouldn’t call him that but it’s hard to explain the roll Jim Small plays in our productions. We started out asking him to work up our initial show buildups for Wonderfest last year. Now, there isn’t a project that goes by that we don’t usually ask him an opinion or receive one that is unsolicited. He’s a professional model builder, which seems like a great job to have. I’m not so sure I would be able to part with my work as easily as he does. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and gives us great feedback as to the quality of our and others’ kits. He knows his craft inside and out. He has done 95% of our buildups and he has the job of building everything else we will need as long as he doesn’t break his hands (knock on wood). He does all of our product photography as well and it is world class. On top of all that, he has developed our decal wraps for the 1/350 Enterprise A and Vulcan Shuttle. He works out all of the artwork and sectioning out of parts.

I bring all of this to your attention because as good a job as he does for us, we failed him recently. We had promised that we would make a small tabletop stand up pointing out his contribution as our buildup expert. In our haste to prepare for the show, it fell through the cracks. Meanwhile, he busted his butt getting our buildups done right on time. So, I hope this little bit of recognition is a consolation along with a promise to follow through for him next year.

He does great work and is invaluable to us. If you are interested at all in having a kit professionally built of any sci-fi subject, please look him up.

http://www.smallartworks.ca/

Round 2: These Times, They Are A Busy

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here at Round 2, it seems like I’m always playing catch-up. The only priority is the one that has a date attached. It’s a constant cycle- plan the product, get pricing, draw up the details, create the package, check the test shots, prepare for a presentation, prepare for a show. Mix it all up and start it all over for many products and selling seasons.

Things get hectic and with preparing for and working all weekend at Wonderfest then coming back to catch up on other matters. Then we get a holiday weekend but like everyone else that usually means yard work and family gatherings.

And all I want to do is create the next great Star Trek model kit… or at least figure out how to make repops even better as the new stuff is brewing. Anyway, at times like this my desk and office get to look like a toymaker’s workshop with all kinds of interesting goodies lying around. Here’s a pic that shows what state I’m in now. For the heck of it, I’m showing the shelf above my computer monitor that shows my varied taste in toys. Some other time I’ll show my shelves of Batman or Marv figures for anyone that cares.

Some things are blurred for our protection.

Star Trek Model Kits: The Why’s And Why Not’s

posted by JamieH 10:31 AM
Monday, June 1, 2009

Isn’t it better to have than to have not? Lost in the buzz of naming our next great release is the fact that we are producing Star Trek model kits and other sci-fi model kits. While hard at work on our past releases, our competitors have been busy with their own creations with their various properties. The sci-fi model kit market has been flushed with product where a vacuum had been left just a few years before.

I don’t say this to pat ourselves on the back, but to point out that we’re churning out the product as steadily as we can with all of the resources we have. Starting with our first release of the classic AMT Enterprise kit, we’ve been at this for only about six months. In that time, we’ve come out with 12 sci-fi kits from three licenses, Star Trek, Forbidden Planet and Speed Racer. By the end of the year, we will have released another 10-12 kits. All this is in addition to another 40 (or so) automotive kits combined by the end of the year. That sounds like a pretty good start.

Sure there have been bumps in the road and none more significant to our fans or us than our delay on the Akira Class Star Trek ship. To be honest, we just announced it prematurely. It was in our plan from the beginning to do that as our first new tool to cut our teeth on. It would have been something we could have learned from in preparation for other significant kits down the road like a 1/1000 scale Refit and 1/350 scale TOS Enterprise. We learned but not the lessons we had hoped. Several factors derailed the kit.

  1. When originally planned, we didn’t realize how big the ship would be at 1/1000 scale. We figured it would be another 11”- 12” long kit. When we realized the size issue we figured we could still proceed even at the larger size. So, we presented it as such at Wonderfest last year.
  2. We had made an arrangement to have the kit digitally created by a respected source. When the source had to back out for very valid reasons, it was getting a little late and we didn’t have a backup lined up.
  3. By that time, we had made the decision to sign the licensing agreement to do the Aurora Batmobile kit. Mockups had to be fast-tracked on this to start earning our guaranty. It was a case where we were presented with an opportunity that we could not pass up.
  4. By that time we also knew that even though we didn’t have a formal agreement, we would probably be signing on to produce kits based on the new Star Trek movie.

So to summarize…

Big kit + Late development + Other high priority kits = Push back the Akira.

Then we took a look at our rough ideas for the next year and found another problem. We couldn’t just push it back into next year. We had plans for the 1/350 TOS, new movie kits, and other kits for previously signed licenses and all of this in a stiff economy that limits our tooling budget. Our plan for next year is still in flux but it is just too crowded to plug in the Akira. I can say there will be new kits coming soon and we’ll also keep rolling out improved repops that we’ve established our first six months upon.

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