Dear Friends, Welcome to the February Newsletter!
The Nuremberg Toy Fair started yesterday. After a two year hiatus, we are coming back to Nuremberg, and as hard as it may be to believe, we have no idea of what to expect. It’s like going back in time thirty-two years, to the beginning of the nineties, when we set out on our first such trip with six bags of photoetched sets with the belief that we would conquer the modelling world with them. As it tends to be with such conquerors, the beginning ended up not particularly dazzling. No one much talked to us at the other stalls and we were often politely shown the door. With two notable exceptions. Mr. Ono of the Japanese firm Beaver, and Chuck Harransky with Jerry Campbell from the Texas based Squadron Signal, all of which gave us several hours of their attention and patiently worked towards an agreement with us. To this day, I am extremely grateful for their efforts and long term friendships, and I acknowledge the fact that without these fine gentlemen and their attitude towards us, Eduard would not have become what Eduard now is. We left the exhibition hall quite a bit of time after it had actually closed with the feeling that the long trip and the expended effort was for something instead of a waste of time and that success was an attainable concept. As you can well guess, the road was not a smooth one, and at times the dejection was intense and incredibly discouraging, but ultimately, the success began to manifest itself, slowly but surely. Over all of the years that followed, we attended the fair annually and we grew, as did the Fair and its venue, and experiences grew along with them.
In 1993, we brought home the Model of the Year award, which neither I nor Karel Padar had any idea we were getting. It was thanks to the efforts of Mr. Lacina , the long-term editor of Modellfan magazine, who made the effort back then to locate us in that massive labyrinth of stalls. He took us aside and presented us with the award in all its glory. This was in front of the Squadron Signal table where two years prior we were able to secure our first international agreement and become the first of the former Eastern Bloc countries to receive a Model of the Year award from Modellfan. It was by a bit of a miracle that I got it home at all. I almost lost it among the toilets in the basement of the exhibition hall, when its case fell from my toilet roll tray. After hitting the floor, it opened for a fraction of a second and a bronze medal came out through the opening, bouncing and pinging between the toilet to end its journey in the only occupied stall between the shoes of a gentleman sitting there, who evidently had no intention of leaving anytime soon. It was probably a shock for him, I don't know what I would do if a mysterious white box landed between my feet at that particular moment. I lay in wait for him behind the entrance to the toilets for a good fifteen minutes, after which his head appeared, looked around both sides of the corridor, and a man with a medal in his hand emerged. I stopped him with the question ‘Is that yours?’, and after a surprised ‘No, it's not’ , I replied ‘So it's mine’. The medal was returned to its rightful owner. But the war was not yet won. At the bend above Ohří river just before the village of Damice, for the first and hopefully the last time, I spun out in a Škoda pickup, which, after leaving the road, jumped over a fence of a cow pasture, only to roll back onto its wheels after hitting the roof and, breaking an axle, coming to rest just before a forest. There were no mobile phones then, so Karel and I took the medal, stopped a passing car and went to get help. When we returned, we found the car had been broken into and stripped of its wheels. Well, the nineties in the Czech Republic were rough. At that time, the Czech Republic was barely a month old, and the disintegration of Czechoslovakia was accepted by many of its citizens with embarrassment and uncertainty as to what they could expect from further developments. After thirty years, I dare say that the result are looking very promising for both Eduard and the Czech Republic.
In any case, we were at the Fair for some very important historical events. The birth of the Czech Republic for one, her entry into the Schengen Group and the elimination of border crossings, which has really served to ease our lives. I will never forget the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia, which occurred exactly twenty years ago on February 1st, 2003. I was coming home from Nuremberg that day and the goodbyes with our American friends are seared into my memory and will be til the end of my days. There were happier days, like when we all wore some form of motif in support of the presidential bid for Karel Schwarzenberg, although it apparently didn’t help much, and the following ten years were spent under the extravagant government of Milos Zeman, and today, shortly after the last presidential election, we leave for Nuremberg with the belief that better times lay ahead with a better and more respectable president.
In 1995, we finally had our own table at Nuremberg, the first Czech model company to do so since the old Kovozavody Prostejov. We were on a waiting list, and the challenge was to be able to react to the phone call we got on the morning of the first day of the fair by coming to the event and setting up a table by evening. Our spot was in the improvised inflatable exhibition hall full of Chinese vendors, the way to which was a temporary wooden sidewalk over a muddy construction site, and no one even knew we were there. But Mr. Ono found us nevertheless, just as he had done in 1991. We were introducing our Tempest and Yak-3 at the time, our first World War Two kits following a series of WWI subjects, eventually leading us to the quality of our current crop of releases. A year later, we had our table in the new Hall 7A, and were not absent until covid in 2020 when the gates of the Nuremberg Toy Fair remained closed for the first time since the Second World War.
This year, in a way, it’s a new beginning. Among other things, I expect this year to have a painfully low number of attendees, at least in our field. For some years, it was different, and there were a growing number of Czech, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian firms. Somewhere around 2015, the trend began to reverse itself. Perhaps, this could be partially blamed on the expansion of the fair from four to six days, which, under the pressure of protests from attending companies, was reduced in a compromise to five. Certainly, there will also be the factor of the greater expense required to cover a longer event and the rise in the costs of basic fees and services that have crossed into uncomfortable levels. In the noted timeframe to 2019, our expenses for attending Nuremberg every year rose to some $50,000US, and that’s a price you begin to take into consideration irrespective of good memories and the belief of its positive effects on your business. A silver 25th participation medal will have no effect. It’s much like a display Pour le Merite , but if you have the sense that something is wrong, it won’t bring you much pleasure. And then, when you conduct a bit of research amongst retailers and journalists and learn that two-thirds of the regulars won’t be coming, you start to look for a way out. We ended up coming to an agreement with our colleagues at Special Hobby regarding the sharing of a table. It will be a third smaller than our pre-covid table. We are also reducing our staff, and we are rotating them such that the largest concentration of people at our table will be from Thursday to Saturday. Even so, we will do our best to be of interest to our visitors. The Special Hobby table, like ours, has for many years been a traditional meeting place and we have always endeavored to provide optimum conditions for negotiating. If you come by, you can count on our traditional hospitality, friendliness and willingness to share information. I believe that the same can be said of all five of the other manufacturers that will attend the Toy Fair, waving the banner of our field!
February New Releases
I had already touched on the February releases in January’s newsletter. So, just to quickly reiterate, the main item of interest is the Limited Edition kit of the Hind E in 1:48th scale with a Jaroslav Spacek publication. Also interesting will be the ProfiPACK Fokker D.VII (OAW), as will be the A6M3 Model 22 Zero, and both February Weekend kits, the 1:48th Spitfire Mk.VIII and 1:72nd scale Fw 190A-8/R2 Sturmbock. In February, the Bf 110E in 1:48th scale also makes a long awaited return to our range.
Among accessory sets, I would like to point your attention to the 3D printed F4F-3 Wildcat engine (Eduard 1:48th) and the elegant wicker seat for the 1:32nd Sopwith Camel in the Brassin line. Among photoetched sets, I’d point out the sets for the Airfix Anson and the Kinetic F-16C (both 1:48th). In the case of the F-16, we are also offering two mask sets, one classic and the other two-sided T-Face. Among the masks, you’ll also note the first set for masking the RAM panels on the F-35A. This set diverts a little from our usual mask assortments, and masks for treating surfaces have not been offered by us in some time. This set is also made from a different material, which is not a cost-saving measure, but rather because this black material is better suited for this purpose. This set is designed for seven aircraft derived from the marking options in the Tamiya kit, and covers newer aircraft with a simpler structure of these panels. In March, a similar release will be available, but with a significantly more complex set of RAM panels of the older variety, suitable for Japanese and American aircraft that are covered in the kit. Among today’s releases, we also have two classic canopy mask sets. I think it is also worth pointing out the sets for 1:35th scale tanks, one for the A-34 Comet by Tamiya and two sets for the Jagdpanther Ausf G1 from Academy. Other news, including those covering seven new Space sets, can be seen described amongst February releases below.
In today’s issue of the newsletter, you will find an excerpt from the publication on the Hind E by Jaroslav Spacek and an article about Elwyn Righetti by Richard Plos. The search for sunken ships continues this month with Paul Allen and from Mira Baric, we have his article about shipwrecks around Guadalcanal and also his 11th installment reporting on the air war over Ukraine covering drone usage against bombers. After a short pause, we have Jozef Blazek describing another class of aircraft. Four of the five Boxart Stories are written by Jan Bobek, and they cover the boxart for the A6M3 Model 22 Zero, the Bf 110E, the Fw 190A-8/R2 and the Spitfire Mk.VIII kits. The fifth Boxart Story was also written by Richard Plos and covers the Fokker D.VII (OAW). Richard prepared this kit for production. I consider the marking option in it, which also is Richard Plos’s work, as is the story itself, to be very impressive from a modelling, design and historical perspective. I think you will agree!
As long as nothing unexpected comes up, today’s newsletter is being published using Triobo. Perhaps some will think this is something odd and non-conformist, as new things are often seen, and if someone should find themselves feeling that way, I would ask for your understanding, patience and leniency. Give it some time, and I think you’ll find Triobo to your liking and that it brings more pluses than it presents minuses. And that’s a good attitude in today’s stormy times that goes well beyond the reading of a newsletter.