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Industry News - July 2008

Published: June 13, 2008
'Hobby University' set for show
Are you ready to go to school to help your bottom line? The 2008 iHobbyExpo, Oct. 16-19 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., will see the Hobby Manufacturers Association (HMA) Education Committee's first ever "Hobby University" - Education for Hobby Dealers.

Intended to help both new and current retailers maintain and grow their hobby stores, sessions will focus on business-related topics such as inventory control, financing, purchasing and advertising and promotion.

"Hobby store owners are encouraged to send their top managers and new employees to each seminar where they will receive a certificate upon completion of each course," said HMA Executive Director Pat Koziol.

Courses and instructors will be listed in the iHobby registration brochure to be mailed and online in July. The three sessions to be offered this year will focus on how to grow a hobby store, motivating employees and training current and new staff.

HMA is still offering the full battery of seminars developed in conjunction with the National Retail Hobby Stores Association (NRHSA) members that it has in the past. These programs are contemporary and reflect current industry trends. "These seminars are created with hobby dealers in mind," said Bob Staat, HMA Education Committee chair.

Seminars this year will focus on selling robots in retail stores, using e-commerce to augment store sales and introducing the hobby-game segment to a wider audience of hobby retailers.

Exhibitors at iHobby will present product workshops on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 16 and 17. For complete information on all of HMA's educational offerings, visit iHobbyExpo or call 877-TO-HOBBY.

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Hornby goes die-cast with Corgi acquisition
International models and collectibles company, Hornby Group Plc, has purchased the brand, tooling and intellectual property rights of Corgi Classics (Corgi). A venerable manufacturer of collectible die-cast truck, bus, car and airplane models, Corgi started making metal toys in 1936. The Corgi brand for die-cast models was born in 1956 and has produced such iconic models as the Batmobile and James Bond's Aston Martin DB5.

Hornby's nearly $15 million acquisition (plus an additional $1.5 million for existing inventory, pending a post-closing valuation) adds Corgi to its list of hobby brands, including Hornby, Lima, Jouef and Rivarossi in model railroading, Scalextric slot cars, Airfix models and Humbrol Paints.

Also acquired in the deal was Bassett-Lowke, a high-end O-gauge model railroad brand. Purchased by Corgi in 1996, the company's railway locomotive products were re-launched in 1999, on its 100th anniversary.
Hornby CEO Frank Martin said that the acquisition was part of a strategy to build an international hobby and collectibles business. "Looking to the future, we are extremely excited by the potential growth that Corgi can deliver," he said.

In related news, Humbrol is rolling out a line of acrylic paints that can be thinned with tap water this June. Hornby America will be supplying North American retailers. The paint will sell for around $2.09 per bottle.

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UltraFly from Global
Global Hobby Distributors, Fountain Valley, Calif., has been named the exclusive North American distributor for UltraFly Models.

Founded in 2003, UltraFly offers foam and wood electric R/C aircraft for all types of flyers. The list of new planes for 2009 from UltraFly is said to be ambitious. For more information, visit www.globalhobby.com.
Bind-N-Fly takes off
Horizon Hobby has taken a step forward in the RTF field with its new Bind-N-Fly option. Typically, when a customer purchases a ready-to-fly airplane, it comes with a transmitter. Over time, this can add up to a lot of transmitters sitting on shelves or getting tossed out.

Bind-N-Fly allows customers who already own Spektrum, JR or E-flite DSM2 2.4GHz transmitters to bind their controller to the new aircraft.

Horizon is introducing this new format with its micro, ultra-slow flyer, Vapor. Bind-N-Fly products are packaged with everything needed to get into the air, except the transmitter. Transmitters currently compatible with the Bind-N-Fly format are the LP5DSM (supplied with the Blade CX2), Spektrum DX7, DX6i, DX5e, JR X9303 and 12X.

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Udisco exclusive
Udisco, one of Canada's largest hobby distributors, announced an agreement with Athearn for the exclusive production of the Montreal AMT engine and a 3-car set; expected delivery in July 2008. The first in a series of trains to be exclusively produced for Udisco, the HO RTR F59PHI, AMT/Montreal No. 1328 comes fully assembled and ready to operate, with magnetic knuckle couplers, metal grabirons. DCC ready.
Games for educators
In May, www.GamesForEducators.com debuted. The Web site, a joint effort by the Chicago Toy & Game Group and Live Oak Games, focuses on promoting the use of games in schools, libraries and at home. It serves as the anchor for the Games in Education e-newsletter, which is received by more than 260,000 educators and librarians.

As many retailers know, more and more activities are individual-based, like video games, surfing the Internet or TV. Family members, especially children, can become disengaged from those around them.

GamesForEducators.com is looking to promote board games as a platform to encourage communication, get kids excited about school and even bring games home to play with the family.

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Your letters!
Hope for the future
As an avid modeler, I have noticed that many in the hobby community are concerned about the relative lack of interest in model building displayed by today's youth. I would just like to take this opportunity to offer to those concerned individuals a ray of hope about the future of our hobby.

As the education coordinator of the Military Communications and Electronics Museum in Kingston, Ont., it is my job to offer outreach programs to students of all ages that promote the study of Canadian military history. During the March Break, children ages 8-12 were invited to participate in our day camp.

One of our most popular camp activities is the model kit build, where the campers construct models of Canadian military vehicles and equipment. After the construction sessions, the models are then displayed in the Military C&E Museum for a period of one month after the camp. This gives the kids the opportunity to showcase their work, encourages a sense of partnership between the Museum and the local community and lets the campers know their projects are important to the Museum. After the month-long display period, the campers can then take their projects home as a souvenir of their experience.

The participants are always enthusiastic and creative, and the quality of their work is exceptional. Of vital importance to the success of this program is the partnership that has been developed with our local hobby store, Leading Edge Hobbies. As a registered charity, the Military C&E Museum relies upon donations and the generosity of the public. Consequently, without the support of Leading Edge Hobbies, this popular museum program would not be a success.

Not only does this partnership serve the museum and the Kingston community, it also introduces younger generations to the joys of our hobby and creates potential life-long customers for our local hobby retailers. So, take heart! While building models is not for everyone, I have found that there are still kids out there who don't mind getting out the glue and giving the video games a rest!

David McCarey
Education Coordinator
The Military Communications &
Electronics Museum
Kingston, Ont.


Reaction to LCL
Just received the Model Retailer for May 2008. Appreciated the article about the labor issues in China. I do hope they get a fair wage and maybe, just maybe, we would be forced to again make products in the United States.

I am feeling more pressure from my customers to buy "Made in the USA" and not "Made in the US." As prices are increasing, sometimes more than 10%, and fuel hitting $4 this summer, I am wondering how we small shops are going to weather this storm and survive.

The way this country is heading, it will not be long till Mom's apple pie (look at what has happened to Lionel) is outsourced to China. Guess the lead is used to hold down contamination. Ever wonder about the candy and cookies that come in from overseas?

Dana Jackson
Dana's Railroad Supply
Spring Hill, Fla.


KATO's MAP policy
KATO USA announced a Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) policy for this year, and it's a good start.

Under this policy, from the date KATO announces new product, sellers can't advertise prices below MAP. Furthermore, no prices below MAP can be advertised starting on the date the new merchandise is received. This means from announcement date until 60 days after we receive the merchandise, there will be MAP only. How great is that?

KATO's policy only applies to advertised prices and does not restrict actual selling price offered within a dealer's retail location, at selling shows or over the phone.

So, what good is it?

We, the retailers, will be able to sell new KATO product in our stores at any price we choose. We will be able to elect to price at "market" or not. We are not "forced" to sell at market pricing.

How many times have your customers walked into your store, magazine in hand, and asked you to sell them an item at "this advertiser's price?" Too many times. You did not place the ad. You did not order large quantities to sell at a very small margin. You did not need to have your customer dictate what your pricing policy is going to be. You did not need to lose control of your store.

MAP gives your store back to you. It allows you to sell at a price comfortable for you. You can order for your customers and not the walk-in price shopper that is only looking for the best deal he can get and probably will not buy anything else you have in the store. This shopper does not help you grow.

I am not saying the art of bargaining is not part of retailing. In fact, this is a very integral part of our business. Is this not what "fair trade" is all about - a level selling policy we can all profit by?
Did I use that nasty word, profit? Without profit, we would be out of business. KATO's MAP policy helps us sell and also make a profit.

Yes, it's not perfect, but at least it's a start, and I hope many other manufacturers would initiate a Manufacturer's Advertising Policy.

Fred Hill
The Original Whistle Stop
Pasadena, Calif.


R/C on its own
Through the years, we have fielded hundreds of R/C calls. (We got out of R/C a long time ago.) We refer or suggest to the R/C shops.

Perhaps R/C shops should have their own heading in the yellow pages, or at least consolidate together just as medical doctors do under their specialty. This would greatly help the consumer get the R/C service they need.

Gregory M. Kelly
Kelly's Ol' Fashioned Hobbies
Tustin, Calif.


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