Industry News

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Industry News - August 2008

Published: July 14, 2008
Märklin's Dietz resigning at end of year
Turnover at the top continues for German train manufacturer Märklin as managing director Axel Dietz has announced he's leaving his position at the end of 2008. According to several German publications, he cited personal reasons for the move.

This year, Märklin has seen the loss of its head of finance, its chief developer and the longtime sales manager of the Trix line.

Dietz has headed the company since 2006, closing two factories and outsourcing some of the company's production to Hungary and China. This summer, he informed Märklin's workers of wage cuts as the company needs to slash another 5 million euros ($7.5 million) in costs. The cuts are on hold pending an external audit.

For the first half of 2008, Dietz says sales are up 22% and orders are up 12%.

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Joe Ambrose
Ambrose tapped to head Horizon
Joe Ambrose is to replace Mike Gillette as CEO and president of Champaign, Ill.-based Horizon Hobby.
Ambrose, who joined Horizon two years ago, first serving as vice president - distribution division, and then as the company's chief operating officer, is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management, a former partner at a law firm specializing in business law and served as an executive at a large financial services company.

Rick and Larry Stephens will continue to serve in a strategic capacity as Horizon Hobby's chairman and vice chairman, respectively, working closely with Ambrose.

"We are excited about where the hobby is going and look forward to providing our dealers with the innovative products and services they need to grow their business successfully," Rick Stephens said in a press release. "Joe will help lead us to embrace the future of what the hobby will bring while maintaining the level of service and support you have come to expect from Horizon."

"I'm energized by my new role at Horizon because we have so many creative people who are capable of leading dealers and our industry into a very bright future," said Ambrose. "My job, now, is to simply provide all of those talented people with the resources they need to help you be even more successful."

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Lional going 'old school' with new line
Lionel Electric Trains has announced it will be reissuing some of its iconic postwar items in its Conventional Classics line, slated to debut in the company's catalog this August.

According to a release by Lionel President and CEO Jerry Calabrese, models in the series will be rolled out over the next three years. The models will be equipped with Pullmor motors and the patented Magne-Traction system. The freight and passenger cars will feature postwar-style die-cast trucks.

Calabrese says the line will be produced "using the very same existing tools with which the postwar originals were built." He adds the Conventional Classics "will be moderately priced, and among the most affordable products we offer."

Initial offerings will include: 2124W Brunswick GG-1 Passenger Set with Madison cars (1947); 1562W Burlington GP-7 Passenger Set with 2400-series cars (1956); 2219W Lackawanna FM "Thunderbird" Freight Set (1954); and the 1484WS Hudson Passenger Set with 2400-series cars (1952). Add-on items include the Sager Place Observation Car and 2445 Elizabeth Coach.

Three locomotives are also coming: 2340 5-stripe Tuscan GG-1; 2338 Milwaukee Road GP-7 with orange band on cab; and the 2331 Virginian FM TrainMaster with yellow-and-black decoration.

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Miniatures prices rise due to metal costs
Privateer Press, publisher of the popular Warmachine and Hordes tabletop miniatures wargames, and Reaper Miniatures, maker of Chronoscope and Dark Heaven Legends figures, have announced price increases for their metal miniatures.

In press releases, both Privateer and Reaper cited skyrocketing metal costs and more expensive shipping costs due to fuel as reasons for the price hikes. According to the London Metal Exchange (www.lme.co.uk), tin - the primary metal in Privateer's figures - was at $7 per pound in January 2007, the last time Privateer Press made a price adjustment. As of mid-June 2008, the metal was trading at almost $11 per pound.

By exploring new manufacturing techniques, Privateer is hoping to reduce the use of metal in its miniatures to combat further price increases while still bringing high-quality products to market. Reaper is looking into new alloys to reduce tin consumption. However, the company has stated that using lead is not an option.

With the cost of zinc causing the price of die-cast models to rise, it shouldn't be a surprise that the price of tin and other non-ferrous metals would affect other hobby segments.

The price increases for a "significant" number of Privateer's miniatures went into effect July 1. Download a complete list, along with new prices, on an Excel spreadsheet from Privateer Press. For more on Reaper's price increases, contact Kaitlynn Clark at (940) 484-6464 ext. 104.

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SCORE offers new online resource
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) "Counselors to America's Small Business" and SBTV.com are working together to make new resources and information available to aspiring entrepreneurs and small-business owners. SBTV.com, as SCORE's online media partner, will produce podcasts with SCORE clients and help promote the value of SCORE's mentoring.

SBTV.com (Small Business Television) will include information from SCORE in its daily news broadcast, which reaches 40,000 viewers. SCORE will be a featured content provider for SBTV.com's weekly eNewsletter, which reaches 300,000 readers.

SCORE CEO Ken Yancey said in a press release, "SCORE is pleased to form an alliance with SBTV.com, a leader in providing cutting-edge resources to America's small business community." Yancey adds, "SBTV.com will help SCORE reach new markets and provide clients with additional tools and information that can help them succeed."

"SBTV.com and SCORE are a perfect fit," said Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO of SBTV.com. "Both our organizations are committed to providing small-business owners and entrepreneurs with the resources they need to start and build a successful business."

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Osprey launches new Web site
Osprey Publishing recently launched a new Web site, www.ospreypublishing.com. Among its features are a database that includes 8,000 aircraft profiles and 2,000 zoomable, printable maps, available to those who become Osprey members; and My Osprey, a private area that includes Library and Wishlist functions in which users can make note of the Osprey books they own and keep track of the ones they wish to acquire.

Osprey's blog, first launched in 2007, now has its own page on the Osprey Web site and includes information provided by the company's employees, authors, illustrators, editors and enthusiasts. A forum is also available for those who wish to chat with authors, editors and readers about military history and Osprey books.

Also new at the site is Osprey's E-books feature, which allows readers to download books directly from their computers. In the next few years, the company will make its entire list of out-of-print titles available in digital format.

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Manufacturer change for Overland Models
Model railroad importer Overland Models' South Korean manufacturer, Ajin Precision Manufacturing, is ceasing production as of July 31. According to a release from Overland's president Brian Marsh, a new company, Ajin Model Train, has been formed and will be Overland's new supplier.

The principals at Ajin Model Train are the production line manager and main engineer from Ajin Precision. Marsh says, "The staff … are very familiar with our line of products and there should be no interruptions in product quality, operation or delivery."

The first products built under the new company name will be a group of Canadian Pacific GE ES44AC locomotives and ES44AC Evolution Hybrid 2010 in HO scale.

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More seminars at Gen Con Trade Day
Gen Con, Aug. 14-17, Indianapolis, Ind., is offering nearly twice as many seminars and programming for retailers, librarians, educators and other members of the hobby game industry for Gen Con Trade Day on Aug. 13, than it did last year. Registrants for Trade Day will also get early access to the exhibit floor on Thursday, Aug. 14, the first day of the convention.

Programming tracks for retailers include panel discussions about POS systems, the future of collectible games, the growth of board games, retirement plans, retail management, retailer-educator and retailer-librarian collaborations.

Educators can learn about using games in education and to foster creativity in the classroom, retailer-educator collaborations, and a three-hour program on increasing academic and social achievement with board and card games.

Rounding out the seminars for game industry professionals is an international panel of game experts set to discuss international game licensing.

Tracks for librarians include sessions on video and tabletop games in library activities, circulating games and on collaborating with retailers.

All Gen Con Trade Day attendees, panelists and exhibitors are invited to attend a special cocktail reception at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Visit www.gencon.com for more information.

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'Crawler' from Air Age
Kalmbach Publishing Co. is distributing RC Rock Crawler, a new special issue from Air Age Media devoted exclusively to the fastest-growing segment of the radio-control car market. Pro driving tips, must-have gear and a rock-crawling motor guide are some of the features included in this issue. On-sale will be Aug. 12. Cover price is $7.99 in the US and $10.99 in Canada. E-mail Kalmbach Trade Sales and Service or call 800-558-1544 ext. 818 for more information.

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Aoshima through MRC
Model Rectifier Corporation has announced its partnership with the Japanese plastic model manufacturer, Aoshima Bunka Kyozai Co., Ltd.
Originally established in 1923 as a full-scale airplane research institute, Aoshima began making wooden model kits in 1929. The success of those kits allowed Aoshima to expand its hobby production to now include science fiction items, miniature to large-scale plastic model cars, trucks, motorcycles, tanks, ships, waterline models and planes.

MRC expects that it will be ready to begin delivery of Aoshima's kits in August 2008.

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Rapido into N scale
Rapido has entered into the N-scale passenger car market due to the number of requests it's received since releasing its Super Continental Line of HO cars.

For 2009, Rapido is introducing the Panorama Line of N-scale passenger cars. These cars are super-detailed and the initial offerings are the lightweight coach and duplex sleeper in CN paint scheme. Other car styles and paint schemes are to follow.

The order deadline for this initial release is Oct. 1. Rapido expects the new line to reach retailers in the first quarter of 2009.

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Ace offers Starlight
Ace Hobby Distributors, Lake Forest, Calif., is now carrying the full line of Starlight Model Rockets' products. According to Bob Jablonski, president of Starlight Model Rockets, Groverton, Ind., Starlight is the only line of model rockets that Ace features at this time. Ace offers primarily R/C products.