Strelets Forum

Welcome to the Strelets Forum.
Please feel free to discuss any aspect of 1/72 scale plastic figures, not simply Strelets.
If you have any questions about our products then we will answer them here.

Strelets Forum
Start a New Topic 
Author
Comment
View Entire Thread
Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

Two points:

First, us baby boomers from the 50's and 60's now have disposable income for our childhood (and similar trends have been seen in other nostalgia based hobbies)

Second, the accessibility to China's production facilities at ludicrously low prices (and Russia maybe) mean that it is easier and more economically viable to tool up for injection moulding.

Either way - great news for us. The sad part is that my children have no access to these toy soldiers as (at leqast my experience of the UK shows) toy shops/Woolworths etc do not stock them at all. As a result, they just do not have that exposure to them, outside of me and my hobby, and what kid wants to copy dad???

Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

I think it is because of the internet. This has made it much easier for manufacturers to get their products in front of the customers, and for customers to get the products. It's also allowed keen buyers (like us) to communicate. Before the internet, any new manufacturer had difficulty in marketing his product - now it is marketed for him by PSR, Strelets and HAT forum, etc. Also, sellers like Harfields can advertise and sell online.

Much easier to get whatever is available! The ease of knowing what is available and of getting what is available has surely encouraged enthusiasts to buy, and this in turn has encouraged manufacturers to produce new products.

Re: Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

That's right, (1) Babyboomers willing to risk a startup company to produce what they didn't get in their younger years, (2) Babyboomers with disposable income to buy what is now being made ($0.50 vs $10 for small boxes, and $2 vs $25 for Fort Sets), and (3) the internet to spread the word, or give these small, niche companies a global market.

Toy soldiers, one of the oldest hobbies in the world, but one that requires "active imagination", now have to compete against newer, more flashy ones such as the Sony Play Station video games generation where the action comes to you. Electronics and the video games sell themselves via Department Stores and Video/Game rental shops. But, we are lucky to get one or two shelves in a traditional hobby shop, and I still have never seen 1/72 in Toys-R-Us.

And don't you think Hollywood and Pinewood Studios should do more to give us some updated newer Waterloo, Zulu, Custer etc movies. A good movie always plants the seed of interest in younger and older minds.

If not for the internet, I'm sure I would have never discovered HaT, or Strelets*R or the others.

Happy Collecting!

Re: Re: Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

Good point about Hollywood David!

As a kid I had boxes of Airfix Napoleonics and WWI, but then I saw "March or Die" with Gene Hackman as a slightly mad major in the French Foreign Legion (best quote, "If the Arabs don't get you, I will"). I rode my bike all over town until I found a shop that had the Airfix FFL kit.

Those hobby shops are few and far between now, and forget any major chain stores. My sons wouldn't know where to begin looking.

Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

Dear Roscoe,

this explosion shall be considered from two angles: supply and demand.
While we saw several good explanations to the demand side in this thread, we will try to contribute from those who took part in it from another side.
It's obvious that the first push to this hobby's revival in terms of supply was made by HaT. At that time in the late 90s, as you may recall, other makers were gradually phasing out of this business and there were no visible alternatives on the horison. That opened a window of opportunity for smaller companies to pick up the business. To a great extent, in our case, it was driven by insufficient knowledge of the market: we thought that it's as vast as the world. Had we known at that time the real size of the market we wouldn't have gone into this project. At the beginning the volumes were reasonable just because the supply was very short and "hungry" collectors could afford to buy almost anything. With gradual growth of ranges on supply side demand on each individual set started declining. The production run of each set was cut in comparison to 2000 very significantly. That's when companies started migrating to China in order to cut their costs and maintain their presence in business. At the beginning this migration caused temporary decline in standards in sculpting and molding but gradually these problems were rectified and you get first class products out of there though the costs are rising there as well. To compensate for lower sales some, like us, had to diversify the range, sometimes even cutting the corners. Any way, this diversification was, hopefully, beneficial to the consumers who saw some sets that otherwise they would have to wait for years and, secondly, satisfied a lot of our own personal dreams and ambitions of our childhood, when we were lacking plenty of subjects and had to play with what was there (cowboys and Matchbox ANZAK were used as Boers, etc., etc.). At this pace we can expect that in a couple of years all major gaps will be filled and makers will have to turn their eyes to increasingly obscure or specialised subjects that won't sell in great numbers and, therefore, won't be that attractive to the makers. That might trigger exit of the makers out of this business and the pendulum will move in other direction. Hopefully we will still have enough of those fanatics, who will carry on this business without thinking about their profits motivated by the dreams of their youth.

Best regards,

Strelets

Re: Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

Why the explosion. The price to manufacture a set of figures in plastic is down considerably from what it was in the Esci year. Also many of the people doing them are doing them for the love more than the money. If most of the current companies had to pay regular bussiness expenses and income, instead of this being a second job or hobby, much less would be on the market.

When Esci was no longer making many new items I believe it was Imex, then Ehmar, then HAT that filled much of the gap and demand in items. A few years later HAT was know for making sets most of us never thought we would see. Then Eastern Europe opened up and thier cost was very cheap to make. They also had a market for thier product, unlike China. So as demand went up with the opening of Eastern Europe they helped greatly with supply.

Then most of the bigger companies started shifting to China and thier cost went down and new products have come back from some of them. This has also helped supply.

So today we have most of the issues of supply being very well dealt with. But demand is going down every year.

I do not believe the explosion in the hobby is from demand, as I do believe it due to the ease and cost of supply today.

The internet has helped also with supply, but very little with demand.

This is my view, hope this helps

Larry Thompson
Pegasus Hobbies

Question for Larry

When you say demand is going down every year, do you mean overall or on a per set basis? I used to buy virtually everything produced. Now I buy only the eras that interest me - but I still think I buy the same amount overall. Just curious. And thanks for contributing (along with Strelets) to the forum. Your views are both interesting and valuable.

Hobby explosion

I am very pleased that my post has stirred so many knowledgeable people to reply. I can honestly say I had no idea that the market for figures was so small -though I had my suspisions- so I am very grateful that so many are still being made. I have to agree with the baby-boomer theory regarding the popularity of figures now, as it was a pack of Italeri Austrians that I happened to spy on a hobby store shelf that rekindled my interest in a pursuit I left behind 20 years before. Still, it seems like a golden age inspite of the small demand when you look at the list of future releases posted on PSR. Even if the supply bubble suddenly bursts, it's nice to know that enough kits have now been made to keep most of us busy through any dry-spell that might overtake the hobby in future years. As for the demand side, I promise and pledge to consume all good Napoeonic sets at a steady rate as long as I have any disposable income. I would rather spend 10 dollars on another set of Italeri Hussars than on a movie any weekend of the year.

Re: Hobby explosion

OK, so we've tackled the supply side.... what can we do to increase demand? Now I know some of my colleagues buy 50-500 sets of stuff they like. Me, I've a limited space available, so I tend to be a 2 to 4 sets type of guy. Nonetheless, this is still expensive enough.

We clearly need to produce items that will sell, but I find local hobby stores to be the chief impediment - Woolworths (and probably Walmart, Marks and Spence etc) tend to ignore plastic figures and local hobby stores, where they haven't been totally corrupted by GW and WOTC tend to have patchy coverage. Even my current mail order shop missed a couple of Strelets sets I wouldn't have minded and have only just released the Pegasus Mission Indians (on my must have list).

I think it is the marketing and distribution channels that need to be revamped - how do we excite youngsters (and others) to collect, to model and to play? Strelets delivers on time, has a great website and great figures. But if we only reach out to the converted, we will continue to struggle with small markets. I notice that some of the Pegasus items are clearly aimed at school projects and their website supports this - what a great marketing ploy (of course I've no idea how successful it is!

In marketing, the five P's are all important - product (yes, most companies have reasonable offerings), price (most of us middle aged types are fairly price insensitive, within reason but I note that several younger contributors have raised issues with costs), promotion (it doesn't happen outside of a fairly limied market and this is probably the main issue), place (In Australia, it is is hard to gaurantee you'll get a particular set!) and presentation (packaging, painted samples on web sites and articles are probably getting there - we just need to increase their 'coverage'). So the challenge is to grow the market and I dare say innovators like Strelets should be able to rise to this challenge.


Have a great day, Frank

Re: Re: Hobby explosion

It is interesting to see the replies here - clearly an issue for all, on both the supply and demand sides. How manufacturers get their product back into the retail market is a question beyond me. Games Workshop managed it by dominating their market, then setting up such powerful barriers to entry that competition was stifled. This is unlikely to happen with 1/72 plastic toy soldiers as the figures are (generally) compatible with each other. Whether Italeri are setting themselves apart deliberately is a question for others, but as they do not seem any more predominant in the market than others I would be surprised if this works.

It is sad to me (in the UK) how hard it is to access toy soldiers, but am old enough (41) to remember how the pacifist movement poisoned such toys in the 70's and 80's, so maybe the major stores are just not interested in the controversy. My sons are far more interested in GW's fantasy products as the imagery is out there in the media, and is not discouraged by self same media. None of the historical wargaming magazines yet provide the level of appeal to my children that White Dwarf does. They like Zulu and Waterloo etc, and Saving Private Ryan caught their interest, but without the highstreet exposure such interest soon wanes.

As a result, I wait (but with little hope) for the plastic manufacturers to combine their efforts with a marketing push that sees them return to the high street. Perhaps an indicator of how likely this will be is if Hornby can re-invigorate the Airfix brand. At the moment I see or hear nothing of interest from Hornby.

Re: Re: Re: Hobby explosion

When marketing is reduced to a very limited group of potential customers, it is hard to reach those customers, that's for sure. Any attempt to reach out to the crowds has to be cost effective. How about making a couple of Roman personality sets for the series 'Rome' on HBO/BBC, which is now running in the second season. It would only make sense if they were to let you sell all your Roman sets on HBO, similar to the cooperation between Corgi and The History Channel.
http://www.hbo.com/rome/

Re: Re: Re: Hobby explosion

perhaps what's lacking in our hobby is a set of very simple and free rules, printed in color, with attractive design, background and stories, which would allow to attract young people to enter into historic matter. G W backs his business on a universe of fantasy and then the kids simply want to materialize the universe they like with figures.

Re: Re: Hobby explosion

When I was a kid, nearly every boy my age had at least a few Airfix soldiers, which were available at nearly every toy store. One friend had the ACW sets and always forced me to take a large group of Northerners to face-off against his FOUR Southerners. Even though his little force looked like they up before a firing squad, he always insisted that his army was winning no matter how persuasively I argued. So, I think retail stores are the key and it Is usually an era that kids can recognize from tv and movies that attracts them. I was the only one I know of who actually moved on to Napoleonics, and then to paint them and try to make a diorama.

Re: Re: Re: Hobby explosion

It was the same in the UK when I was a kid Roscoe. Our local stores stocked Airfix soldiers, as did Woolworths, and most of my friends bought at least some. Now the hobby seems more specialised. Most of the big stores seem to stock either a very limited range of soldiers, or none at all. I buy mine from the internet or from model shops. I also get the impression that the young kids are not buying them the way we used to. This could create problems in the future for the hobby.

Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

For me it was quality which brouth me back to colecting 1/72 plastic-I stoped to buy pl.soldiers when I was 17-18-but than I think in 2000-or 2001-I have bought Italery frnch dragoons-than next day french carabiniers-and than Hat russians cuirassiers.I was astonished by buty of these sets-than I was trying to get french curissaiers and with winter coats franch dragoons&cuirassiers and russian curissaiers and dragons in winter coats-and at least some russian line infantry in coats-but stil nothing!any chance of produsing these STRELETS?-to my dissapointment there was no set in the same quality for fr.cuirassiers-and none for cavalry in coats for fr&russ and russ line infantry.

As for napoleonic like strelets set french nap.comand 2 mounted-I have never had oportunity to get it-or to see it in shop?To STRELETS;Did you sell them out allready?
That show interes in that period.I think some armies need some more etention 1.french for napoleonic
2.germans for ww1,ww2
3.romans for ancients
4.armored cavalry for
13-16 centuries
they will always sell well!these armies were fighting more enemes than others and so are more popular in evrage!

Best regards to all
Pavol.

Re: Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

I agree Pavol. The difference in quality between the old Airfix sets and the sets available now is huge. The variety of sets on offer is also great. I just hope it lasts.

Re: Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

Dear Pavol,

we are seriously considering a winter series (but not only) for Napoleonics with the primary focus on Russian campaign. Our plans will be announced later on. So there are always chances of something happenning these days.
Mounted Napoleonic General staff is almost sold out, only a couple of dosens left but, we believe, there are still plenty around in shops.
Best regards,

Strelets

Re: Re: Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

Thank you strelets for fast replay and for excelent figures.Grait news finaly War 1812-[winter is coming up.

cpaciba za vsio eto ochen Xarosie zvesti!Mne ochen nravitcia ruckaja historia

Re: Re: Re: Re: Why the sudden explosion in this hobby?

Ia toje lioubliou strelets produkti.ix mne otchen nravitsa
bolchaia spassiba