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April 2009

Archive for April, 2009

Model Kits: I’ve been spying on people for almost a year now.

posted by JamieH 2:12 PM
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

jamie0004Well, maybe more like 9 months but who’s counting. Like I said earlier, I’ve been poking around the popular sci-fi modeling message boards, taking it all in. Reading what folks have to say about our Star Trek model kits and all of our other offerings (and everyone else’s for that matter) and trying to get a feel for our fans and consumers.

I’ve found that there are lots of talented modelers out there and they all strive for perfection. (okay, maybe occasionally just yearn for a level of fun once in a while) Not everybody is an expert but there are plenty out there with great source material and huge amounts of time invested in determining ship scales by closely comparing one onscreen ship to another. All of this is in an effort to painstakingly build their models with the utmost care towards craftsmanship and accuracy to the original source material. Many take it to the next level by creating their own visions of new or off camera ships. They’ve got it all figured out and they love the hobby.

But there is a flipside to the coin. In this Internet age, many hunger for news of the next big thing. Many offer their opinion of what their next dream kit would be while others join the chorus or scream foul. Emotions range from overwhelming joy to disparaging rage, with attitudes of sincere curiosity to “tell me now or I’m taking my ball and going home” dastardly-ness.

Hmmm… Is this a pool I want to jump into? If I do, what can I say? If someone asks about a potential project, I can’t really comment on stuff that’s further down the pipeline. If whatever it may be doesn’t happen, my (and the company’s) name is Mud with a capital M. If someone asks a question and I can give an honest answer that starts a conversation. With all that we have going on here with limited staff, I can’t be expected to come back and track a conversation to give replies, retorts or excuses even when I want to.

Here’s what I can say. We hear you. We see what you want and everything else needs to be addressed. We want to give you everything on your list but we can’t do it all right now. Patience, grasshoppers. Tooling and new licenses are heavy investments. We have to roll out slowly.

In the meantime, whenever you have a question, feel free to ask me on this blog via the comment area. I won’t guaranty answers to every one but I’ll answer what I think is appropriate. My answer may even take up an entire blog post.

So, without searching for all of the common questions, here are some select answers…

  1. The neck was corrected before our re-release. Any kit with a Round 2 logo on it should be straight.
  2. Yes, we are planning a 1/350 TOS Enterprise.
  3. I agree, that would be a good follow up but tooling on larger kits is expensive so don’t expect new large kits every year.
  4. We do not plan on selling refit Aztec decal sets at this time.
  5. Yes, we plan on re-releasing all of the AMT vintage kits eventually.
  6. I agree, a 1/1000 scale Reliant, K’tinga, New Movie Enterprise, Romulan Bird of Prey (anyone got a definitive measurement on that one, its gonna be tiny) and Enterprise D (qualifies as another large kit. See above.) among many others could all make great kits some day. (Keep discussing, btw. It may or may not influence what comes first.)
  7. We don’t have the license for that because a) someone else already does and that means that even though we may have a tool for it, we don’t have permission to make it or b) many other reasons I’ll get into in another entry.
  8. I don’t mind the design. Sure there are things I would change (like the skinny rear end of the 2nd hull and maybe redistribute the mass of the nacelles a bit) but for the most part the distinctive elements are there and it is definitely more recognizable as the Enterprise than the NX-01.
  9. No comment…

Be sure to come see us at Wonderfest.

From Star Trek model kits to Batman and on it goes.

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Friday, April 17, 2009

r2models0002When I found out we were considering acquiring the tooling assets of Polar Lights, AMT and MPC, I was incredibly excited. I love sci-fi and fantasy subject matter from Alien to Blade Runner, from Star Trek model kits to Batman and on it goes. I couldn’t wait to finally dive into working on product that fed my passion for sci-fi. When we took on the brands, I had been with the Round 2 for a little over a year, helping with the development of our Forever Fun line of licensed product (and I still do that too) working with great licenses like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Peanuts. These were properties that I loved as a kid and still have fondness for but my real passion was always sci-fi and comic book stuff. I loved Star Wars growing up and had a fondness for Star Trek but I’m a die hard comic book collector (Batman, X-men and the best of the rest), have been for as long as I can remember and plan to be for the rest of my life.

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Hi. Thanks for stopping by. I’m Jamie Hood, art director for Round 2. I am part of the team that develops Polar Lights, AMT and MPC model kits. My primary responsibility for our products is coordinating day-to-day development of our Sci-fi/ pop-culture kits. This means I research the subject matter, advise sculptors and outside service providers, spec’ colors, work on artwork, contribute to instruction sheets, check test shots, supervise tooling changes and otherwise try to keep my fingers in as many cool projects as I can manage (and sometimes more). I’ll do my best to share some of the stuff that goes on around Round 2.

The first big hurdle to jump in developing our Polar Lights, AMT and MPC sci-fi model kits isn’t so much “what to do?” but “what to do FIRST?”. There are a ton of factors to consider.

  1. What is in demand?
  2. Does the subject matter have a wide appeal or is it a favorite subject of the devoted few?
  3. Does it require committing to a new license?
  4. Are there enough subjects in the property to make enough profit to pay the guaranty that comes with the licensing agreement?
  5. Is it a property that we are passionate about, know and understand?
  6. Is the license holder interested in having their subject made into a model kit?
  7. If the tool exists, where is it?
  8. Is the tool in good shape and is it the way the fans will want it?
  9. What work will the tool require?
  10. Does it need any repair due to the decay of long term storage?
  11. Will correcting details or other modifications warrant the expense of a tooling adjustment?
  12. What tools are already in place that have enough demand to warrant producing the kit again?

Ultimately it comes down to… What can we do to make a great kit even better?

And… If the tool doesn’t exist, is there enough demand to warrant the huge expense of (re)creating it?

This is just the beginning. We start with the benefit of having a vast tooling bank to pull from but we all want to see the next brand NEW kit. Everything will come with time and success. It’s just a matter of careful planning and attention to every detail along the way. I’ll touch on some of these questions in upcoming entries and also throw in a little bits of progress on projects we have coming down the pipeline.