Industry News - November 2009
Published: October 1, 2009
MTH files suit against Broadway Limited Imports
MTH Trains has filed suit in Baltimore, Md. U.S. District Court against Ormond Beach, Fla.'s Broadway Limited Imports, accusing BLI of unauthorized use of patented technology that synchronizes an HO scale locomotive's sound and smoke to its track speed.
Columbia, Md.-based MTH, founded in 1980, claims it first developed the technology in 2000, according to the suit filed October 8. MTH's suit asks for declaratory and injunctive relief relating to its two patents, issued in 2002 and 2003, as well as compensatory damages and attorney's fees.
This is just the latest round of legal battles involving MTH Trains' Mike Wolf and BLI president Bob Grubba.
Grubba was chief engineer at Lionel Trains when MTH sued Lionel in federal court in 2000. MTH accused Lionel of stealing trade secrets and won at trial, although on appeal the case was later sent back to a lower court and was later settled out of court.
Grubba started Broadway Limited in 2002.
In 2004, MTH received a favorable verdict in federal court against Korea Brass (now MKT). Korea Brass, a model train manufacturer for Lionel and other U.S. companies, was a co-defendant in the Lionel case. The Asian manufacturer was found liable of misappropriating MTH trade secrets. After another lawsuit was filed in 2006 claiming the transfer of assets from Korea Brass to MKT was intended to avoid the court judgment, the case was settled in 2008 with a cash payment and the surrender of BLI and Lionel tooling for eight HO scale locomotives to MTH (MTH to get some Broadway Limited tooling).
After leaving Lionel, Grubba took the chief engineer position at K-Line Electric Trains Inc. In 2005 Lionel sued K-Line in federal court, claiming Grubba had conspired to steal Lionel's trade secrets, including one involving realistic sound effects for model trains. The case was settled in favor of Lionel.
K-Line afterward filed for bankruptcy protection and is now part of Lionel (see K-Line files for bankruptcy protection and Lionel takes over K-Line brand).
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Aerotech starts Facebook page
Aerotech Consumer Aerospace, makers of hobby rockets and engines, has posted a page on Facebook. The company says that it will post product development and test results to its "wall."
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HMA offers Nuremberg Toy Fair Space at low rate
For the second year, the Hobby Manufacturers Association will have a display pavilion at the Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany. The show is February 4-9, 2010.
"This is an effort to assist more members gain a foothold in the European toy market," said Pat Koziol, HMA Executive Director. "Eleven member companies shared the pavilion booth in 2009, and we hope to have as full a complement of companies for the 2010 Fair."
Koziol added HMA officials are trying to make exhibiting in the Toy Fair as efficient and economical as possible. Each booth space will be $1,500. The HMA has 45 square meters of space in general hobby hall 7, Booth C-26.
The booth is a shared opportunity for members to exhibit promotional materials, some products and banners. The space is less expensive than normal Spielwarenmesse rates, Koziol says. Shipping of products and catalogs will be handled by each individual exhibitor. There will be no joint shipment through HMA.
Many HMA Members already exhibit in the general hobby, radio control, and model railroad halls. "We hope to present a mix of model hobby products from among our member companies," added Koziol.
For additional information, contact HMA at 973-293-9088 or go to the HMA website.
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End of the line for Athearn Blue Box kits
Athearn Trains has announced its signature Blue Box line of kits is being discontinued, effective immediately. The company, part of Horizon Hobby, cited the decision was due to a number of factors, primarily "around affordability and ensuring that our Blue Box kit pricing remain aligned with what the market can bear," a release stated. It went on to say higher manufacturing and labor costs prevented the company from offering the kits at affordable process versus its ready-to-run items.
The Blue Boxes have been a staple item in hobby stores for more than 50 years. The company will continue to support service and warranty needs on Blue Box kits from its headquarters in Long Beach, Calif. Click here for contact information.
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Amazon campaigns for share of hobby market
Internet retailer Amazon.com has confirmed a campaign into the market with the launch of a Hobbies & Model Building store within its Toy category in August (see Amazon.com making hobby push).
Sarah Wood, Amazon.com's director of the Toy store, said the company offers "hundreds of hobby products shipped and sold by Amazon.com as well as products sold by third party retailers and will continue to expand this selection." Among the hobbies represented are coin collecting, die-cast, hobby tools, models, radio control, rockets, science, sports trading cards, stamp collecting, games and model railroading.
Wood says the move has been driven by shopper feedback, and the company's customers are looking for "selection and value" in hobby products. In short, it wants to become "a one-stop Hobby shop.
"We aim to offer customers everything they are looking to buy online," she said.
The e-retailer says it will be price competitive, and also offer programs like Free Super Saver Shipping and Amazon Prime, as it does for other products.
As for other retailers selling on Amazon.com, "We have great relationships with our third party sellers and we will continue to work together on increasing our selection of hobby related products," Wood said.
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Casemate starts blog
Casemate, Havertown, Pa., publisher and distributor of military history books, recently launched a blog, which includes news about the company, its distribution publishers, book releases and the history community.
Michael Harter, head of sales and operations, said the site will feature contributions from employees, authors, illustrators, milbloggers, history buffs, museum curators, collectors, wargamers, modelers, re-enactors and others.
Exclusive highlights, offers, reviews and competitions are other elements of the blog.
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New ideas can bring more business
Looking to pump up your store's marketing or grab and retain more customers? Sometimes you just need some new ideas. Model Retailer has again teamed with retail experts Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender to bring you a seminar at iHobby Expo to help revitalize your business!
The seminar is scheduled for 7:30-9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Donald P. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. It's part of the Hobby Manufacturers Association's Hobby University seminar series. These retailer business seminars are designed to assist new and current retailers in maintaining and growing a hobby store. Sessions focus on business-related issues such as inventory control, financing, advertising and promotion, and product buying.
Kizer & Bender's "25 Top Tips to Survive in a Tough Retail Economy" seminar will give you:
Techniques to attract new customers and bond with the old
Proven ways to get customers to choose your store over the competition
Ideas to entice shoppers to visit your store again and again
Strategies to increase your add-on sales potential
Tricks to romance your merchandise and sell more stuff
Plus a host of other "Street Savvy Strategies" to increase your sales and improve your profits!
Other Hobby University seminars include:
4-5:30 p.m., Oct. 22: In-Store Demos and Make & Takes Make Money!
Presented by Tom Grossman
Make your store a community hot spot and build your customer base at the same time! Get the basics on presenting demos and hosting "make & takes" in your store and in your town from Tom Grossman, HMA/iHobby Expo education and make & take coordinator.
7:30-9 a.m., Oct. 23: Today's Inventory Buying
Presented by Bob Jacobsen
Find out how buying and managing your inventory efficiently is the key to success in today's hobby marketplace. Learn how and when to take advantage of specials, dating and seasonal trends.
4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., Oct. 23: Make More Money: Global e-Commerce Made Simple
In this special seminar and networking reception for retailers, Shopatron executives will show retailers how a few sales each week add up to a significant increase in profits.
Attendees of any Hobby U seminar will receive a certificate upon completion of each course. The curriculum consists of nine courses; and three courses will be offered during the 2009 Expo. Graduates of the Hobby University will be recognized at future shows. To learn more about Hobby University seminars, click here.
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