Archive for November 25th, 2009

Round 2 Model Kits: It’s been awhile…

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Have you ever had, I dunno, one of those years when you just can’t seem to catch up to your workload? We at Round 2 know how that is. Keep in mind that Bob and I work on two of our brands, Forever Fun holiday product and Round 2 model kits. Like most companies trying to survive in the current economy, Round 2 is run on a skeleton crew. We’ve got less than 20 people running things. (We could use 20 more.) To say the least, things have been hectic. (I don’t think I’ve ever written an understatement as massive as that one right there.) So, I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks… check that, a month.

For Forever Fun, our year starts with the Hong Kong toy fair, so product planning starts months in advance for that. Once that’s over, there are numerous sales appointments with buyers that require tons of product and packaging mockups and other sales information. Also during that time, we finalize product mockups, spec colors, etc and generate revised RFQs (Request For Quote). That leads into finalizing packaging and reviewing test shots in the late spring and early summer. Production is done during the summer. Basically as soon as (or before actually) we get done with one year, we start planning the next. We hold our sales summit in late summer and head directly into show season based on feedback from that meeting. We do our two biggest trade shows in the fall (which requires catalogs, signage etc) and start sales presentations in the late fall which again require tons of mockup work. Keep in mind, that’s just Forever Fun. Bob and Terri, another art director, and I cover all of that plus more. (this paragraph doesn’t even begin to cover it)

While that is all going on, we also have to develop our model kits and as fun as “Forever Fun” is, sci-fi is my kind of thing so I’m always anxious to get to it. With everything that goes on, that’s almost impossible to do sometimes. We try to work as far ahead as possible but that has turned into 3-6 months and that should ideally be a year. I’ve had test shots sitting around for so long that I couldn’t find some of them when I found the time to review them. (which I do at home) We get buildups done just in time for our shows and we hardly even get a chance to enjoy actually looking at them. Preparing for a show whether it is Wonderfest, iHobby or any other trade show takes about a month of planning and at least two solid weeks of work which usually goes right up to the panicked day before. One or two of us goes off to work the show for a weekend only to come right back to work to give attention to all the stuff that had to be put aside while doing the show prep. Hundreds and thousands of emails are received and written each week in our department to further distract us. We work long hours and weekends (others even more than me).

I hope I don’t sound like I’m venting. I’m not looking for sympathy. These are all good problems to have these days. It is all worthwhile when I see or hear how much our fans enjoy the product. I finally had a half a day today to clean my office and assemble a big batch of test shots to take home for review. I think I can devote the next week to model kit development that is sorely behind.

Despite our very best efforts, our two highest profile kits may not be out for Christmas. The Enterprise Refit looked like it would make it in time but delays completing the package and instructions seems to have set it back a bit. Buying, shipping and refurbishing the original Batmobile tool is the cause of that kit’s delay. We’ve been further hindered in getting its packaging artwork approved by the licensor. These aren’t indefinite delays. The refit will leave the orient well before the end of the year. All of the materials have been handed in and approved. I think we should have a breakthrough on the Batmobile soon too. It shouldn’t arrive any later than sometime in January. Believe me this news hurts on many levels. I worked as hard as I could to get my part done on time. I felt physically ill the morning I read the email telling us the latest “closing” (shipping) date of the Enterprise. These things happen and we’ll learn from them to keep it from happening again in the future.

I may seem like Uncle Scrooge but I’m actually just a tired monkey…

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