One of my biggest pet peeves as both a retailer and collector is when a diecast manufacturer neglects to update their web site. Don’t even get me started why some companies fail to have an Internet presence at all. That, in 2017, is highly inexcusable and inexplicable, something that can be built for possibly a few hundred dollars by a professional if they don’t have the expertise in-house. When new tooling costs upwards of $250,000 or more to create, that’s a drop in the fiscal bucket, no matter how you slice it
No, what bothers me to no end is when a manufacturer goes the extra mile and obviously plunks down big bucks to create their virtual storefront, only to let it languish in Internet purgatory for months on end with a nary a word said. If we had to break it down, web sites are, without question, the cheapest form of communicating with one’s audience, able to put a public face on their merchandise and direction for all the world to see at any time of day. Its easier to update than sending out monthly mailings, and its cheaper than having someone call a vendor to keep them informed about what’s going on. Yet several key model makers seem to overlook this vehicle on a regular basis, either not realizing how important the site is to existing and new viewers, not caring, or perhaps lacking the technical expertise to update it themselves without calling in a professional. Trust me, it isn’t that hard, and once you learn the nuances, can be refreshingly simple and enjoyable to maintain. C’mon guys. Some of you are missing the boat by not keeping your web site current, and its something that could be addressed and fixed in the blink of an eye.
Last month, as part of our preview of what to expect in 2017, we alluded to the fact that French manufacturer, Solido, was planning on getting back into the military game in a “big” way. By “big”, we weren’t necessarily referring to the fact that they intended to offer a large number of SKUS – rather, by introducing both a 1:72 scale range of military vehicles and aircraft repurposed from the War Master line up, along with larger, reworked 1:43 scale military vehicles originally made by Eaglemoss. In fact, the banner image on their Facebook page even showed several former Eaglemoss vehicles as part of their 2017 vehicle lineup to bolster this claim. However, when we paid a visit to their Facebook page earlier today, their Nuremberg Toy Fair booth didn’t include any Eaglemoss vehicles at all, but rather several 1:43 scale vehicles that we haven’t seen before, including both a German and US tank transporter, King Tiger heavy tank, and what looks like a modern era US AFV sitting atop the US tank transporter.
Currently, we are awaiting further information concerning this intriguing development, which will no doubt help to reignite interest in the 1:43-1:50 scale segment of our hobby.
Its been said that when training for the next military conflict, generals typically do so by fighting the last war, taking lessons learned from the most recent conflict and then attempting to apply them to the battlefield of the future. While its certainly important to dissect why a particular campaign succeeded and how it was carried out, military planners must nevertheless keep a wary eye on what’s to come using the latest technological breakthroughs, thinking outside the box to come up with new ways, platforms and doctrine to take on even the most determined of foes.
For some reason, this very same allegory seems to apply to today’s diecast manufacturers. Rather than modelling many of the latest weapons destined to be used by today’s warfighter, the current crop of modelmakers seem more content to offer an array of replicas tied to former conflicts instead of following today’s headlines. Thus far, there have only been a smattering of replicas aimed at today’s air forces, the most notable coming in the form of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, largely due to their connection to the voracious US/UK markets. However, there are other aircraft types now setting foot on the world stage that are screaming to be modeled too, most notably the Russian PAK-FA as well as the PLAAF’s pair of J-31 and J-20 stealth fighters. Yes, Air Force 1 did a credible job of recreating a prototype PAK-FA several years ago that is no longer available, but with Russia scheduled to deploy upwards of 100 PAK-FAs to its front line aviation units later this year, I would think that collectors would be equally happy to add one or even several updated operational schemes to their collections.
The same holds true for the newest Chinese aircraft nearly ready for operational use, which will likely be sent to defend their interests in the South China Sea. Bear in mind that I’m not advocating for a military conflict to settle geographic disputes, particularly with the change of administration in Washington DC taking place today, however, I do think its important that military enthusiasts, collectors, analysts and even those people that could care less about a regional confrontation have some sort of point of reference to look upon, as we enter, what many believe to be a Second Cold War.