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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.

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

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,


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