Good day, ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome to the final newsletter of this year. As matter of course, this will apparently also be the next to last newsletter released under our current publishing system. As you know from before, we are about to embark on a change to the Triobo digital publishing platform. This should happen in January, when we will publish the newsletter in its classic form, but we will simultaneously put one up on a trial basis using Triobo. Then, both yourselves and us will be able to test out the new system’s functionality, and if it works well, February’s newsletter will come out only through Triobo. I can deflect any skepticism regarding the release of new items by assuring one and all that Triobo will not be generating any reader discomfort. On the contrary, it’s a logical step consistent with our progress as a whole over the last several years. From our initially humble marketing capabilities, we have turned what is basically a flyer into a company e-magazine that assures something for pretty much everyone in a good read before bedtime or at the breakfast table. Given the current range of our published newsletter, which includes at least three detailed historical and technical articles and four boxart story editions added this year to each issue, we are at the point where an innovation raising reader comfort is at hand. Our evolution will not end with the implementation of this new system, either. The near future will also see further changes that will improve graphics. It’s also no secret that we are kicking in some changes to distribution, a part of which will affect our long awaited printed version. That idea still presents itself as a little beyond our capabilities, but we believe that through the course of the year coming, we’ll get there. It will likely take the form of a quarterly collection of historical articles. And if you’re worried about the printing option of our monthly newsletter, don’t be…
Brassins and 3D Production Prints
We are at the end of the year, and as you can see, right from the get go I’m diving headlong into the favorite part of this time of year, an assessment of our successes achieved and a look at future plans. Its ‘favorite’ status also makes it a bit of a dangerous endeavor, because the interpretation of the successes is often off by those who make them, and virtually everyone misses future plans to at least some degree. I am no exception, and as an example, I can cite the fact that my plans for the release schedule of kits typically come out at around fifty-fifty, despite them coming out of detailed planning involving my colleagues six months prior to the end of the year. But then it just pleases me that much more that the planning for the evolution of the Brassin line came out pretty much spot on. This concerns the switch over to 3D printing where previously, everything was cast. This is a good example of a switch whose dynamic can be almost hellish. From last fall, when we integrated 3D printers into our production system, to the midpoint of this one, we switched the majority of our production to straight 3D prints. The remainders of the products that are still cast resin are wheels and the landing gears that are in bronze. This month, another two 3D printers should arrive, giving us a total of six and I expect our printing capacity to rise through the year. The reason why we are investing and focusing so much on these innovations is simple. 3D printing offers a completely different level of quality. It represents the biggest breakthrough in the industry since the introduction of cast resin sets by Francois Verlinden some thirty-five years ago. Compared to casts, 3D prints are more precise, geometrically stable with time, don’t require removal from casting blocks that sometimes can affect fit and can be quite labor intensive, and they don’t require the same level of cleanup and don’t present the same fit issues. 3D prints are used in much the same way that the plastic parts of a kit are used, and the only real complication that remains is the need to use CA glue for installation. And that’s not typically a big issue and is something most modellers have mastered. A significant issue that is resolved by the use of 3D printing concerns health. A segment of the population is allergic to cast resin materials, but no such problem is known with 3D prints, at least with the use of our 3D printing materials, which were developed to be bio compatible. Another advantage of 3D prints is that they are simpler because the number of small parts in a given assembly can be printed together as one, where the same assembly could not be cast, to say nothing of injection molding. A good example are the pushrods on a radial engine, various cabling offset a distance from the main block of a given item, and various structural elements of aircraft, such as landing flaps. The height of this idea is represented specifically by the speedbrakes on the Su-25 in 1:48th. These will be released in February, and when you see them, take a good, close look at them. It’s worth it. Landing flaps are an example of this type of product that is gaining in popularity very quickly. But in order to not get too long winded on the subject, and to keep from repeating things that have already been discussed at great lengths, I will just mention that this is a great example of a successful innovation and something which we will intensively continue to develop. It is interesting to note that the Brassin department was formed twelve years ago as a result of some of our people being displaced by another innovation, our switch from electroplated molds to direct CNC milling of Certal plates. We didn’t want to just let these people go, and the fact that they had experience with making molds and casting polyurethanes, epoxies and synthetic rubbers played only a small role in that. Back then, we recognized that we were undertaking a large innovative step and it required from us a lot of work before it would bear any fruit. But exactly what that fruit would look like, and what kinds of doors it would open up with kit production for us was vague. Although 3D printing was already around at the birth of the Brassin department, used for the manufacture of masters, no one could have anticipated the level of modernization it was to bring in terms of manufacturing accessory sets!
The New Warehouse and Associated Move
With the coming of new 3D printers would come the potential of a major lack of space. This was coming either way, and our main facility in Obrnice has no more room to expand into. We have been looking for a solution to the problem ever since we had that blaze two years ago. Immediately after the fire, we began preparing for the construction of a new warehouse, into which we would have moved our retail department, packaging of kits and machining and molding, which would entail complete kit manufacture. Unfortunately, we encountered escalating problems with the build proper, leading to the cessation of the project. A new solution was found last year in the fall, when we found a facility of suitable size for our needs. Its purchase was delayed by typical Czech bureaucracy, but the deal was finalized in September. We expect the first renovation to be completed at the end of January, and we will move the retail and packing sections into it at the beginning of February. This on its own will bring a shortfall in the expediting of mail, and it will likely last through a good chunk of the first half of the month. The exact timeline will be outlined in the January newsletter.
The second phase of the reconstruction will be more complicated, because it will involve the setting up of space for the installation of the presses and tooling shop. This is technically more complicated and the project is in preparation, and the optimist in me is hoping for completion by the end of next year. After this is completed and kit manufacturing is moved, its current space will free up and at the very least, a good chunk of this space will be occupied by the Brassin department. And then there will be nothing stopping it from evolving further.
As long as we’re on the subject of changes, we are entering the new year with a new price structure. This is a significant change and a sensitive topic which we have been putting off to the end of the year. Prices will increase in intervals of 11 to 15% depending on the price group. Price increases will impact retail and wholesale costs in Czech Crowns and Euros, but won’t affect US retail prices. They will take effect during the shutdown of the retail department before Christmas, which this year will be December 19th when we will be accepting the last of our orders which will have dispatched guaranties by before the holidays. As with every year, this will be followed by our taking inventory, and this is when the new pricing will be implemented. So, your last chance to buy at current prices will be December 19th. Retail will reopen, with the new prices, probably the first week of January, 2023, and in all likelihood, this will be on the 3rd or 4th of the month.
It is necessary to now say something about our participation at the Nuremberg Toy Fair for 2023. As you all know, I have always maintained the importance of our participation with this event. Our regular attendance has been consistent with this notion. Unfortunately, the need to cancel the last two years due to covid restrictions was less than pleasant. Participation of firms in the upcoming event will be low, and what’s worse, many of our retail partners and journalists won’t be there, either. For this reason, we decided to tone down our own participation at the event. We are not cancelling it outright, but we will reduce our floor space and share it with our colleagues at Special Hobby. We are also cancelling our regular press conference. I am hopeful that this is all just temporary and the fair will return to its past glory and significance in our industry in the years to come. But it may not happen that way, in which case this may be our last participation at this event.
And that ends our look at the upcoming year. In our next installment, we’ll have a look at the future production side of things, dedicated first and foremost on new kits for 2023. Now, we will have a look at new releases for December. Because these have been available since the last week of November, I won’t outline all of them; just the more significant items.
December finds us continuing on with our Zero project, originally known as Project Voldemort, with a Limited Edition kit dubbed ‘Samurai’. As with most kits currently coming out of this line, ‘Samurai’ is a Dual Combo boxing with two complete sets of plastic in the package. The kit allows for the building of two versions of the A6M3 Zero, the Model 32 and the Model 22. The marking options contain twelve aircraft, six of each flavor. When I was a more active modeller in my youth, the A6M3 Zero Model 32 with its relatively attractive camouflage schemes was considered the most striking of all versions. I hope that you will see it the same way, at least up to the point when we come out with other variants that promise to be no less attractive!
In the ProfiPACK line, we have a 1:72nd scale Bf 109E-3, a kit developed in association with Special Hobby. SH have released this kit in several boxings themselves, but I believe that our version of the kit will capture your attention and interest. Of the most important aspect of the kit, its marking options, I can say that we gave it our usual high level of care and there are six attractive schemes to choose from.
In the 1:48th scale ProfiPACK line, we are returning the Fw 190D-9 to our range. This was originally planned as a re-edition of the original kit, but because we added an aircraft flown by Waldemar Wubke of JV44, which is also the subject of the boxart, we have given this kit a new catalog number. In the same line, you’ll also find another straight reissue, the Bf 109G-10 Mtt. Regensburg, also in 1:48th. This is a kit that was quickly sold out and is making a long awaited comeback.
In the Weekend line, we have the P-51D-10 Mustang and Spitfire Mk.IXc in 1:48th. Both feature attractive marking options. For example, in the Mustang kit, there is an option for Man O’ War flown by Claiborne Kinnard of the 4th Fighter Group, 8thAF. This is a bird firmly etched in the minds of me and my peers thanks to an old 48th scale Revell kit, sold in the late nineties in the Czech Republic.. I still have the kit. For the Spitfire, we have the S/Ldr Karel Cermak flown aircraft, in which he shot down an Fw 190A-8 in June, 1944 above Normandy.
The thing to note this month in terms of newly released accessory sets is the 1:48th scale P-38J Cockpit for the Tamiya kit. It is one of the nicest sets of this type to be released in the Brassin line. I think it’s an excellent example of the capabilities of 3D printing that are presented to the modeller that I wrote about above. This set is unique not only for its level of detail, but also for the engineering that went into it, which significantly eases the integration of the set into the model. The installation is even easer and smoother than the kit cockpit, which is virtually unheard of in the world of aftermarket accessory items. This quality could make accessory items very interesting to more modellers in the future, because modellers who in the past avoided using resin sets due to their labor intensity will now find them attractive.
Another interesting and welcome item is the wheel well set for our F6F Hellcat, a kit also making its way back into our range. The popularity of this set is leading us to thoughts of developing further sets, such as a cockpit set and perhaps a wingfold set. It won’t be easy, though, because when it comes to the Brassin line, we have a lot of conceptually and from a production standpoint, intense projects planned for newly released kits such as Tamiya’s F-35.
One more thing I would like to point out that is related to the Brassin line. These are nice, subtle little items for German AFVs in 1:35th and two sets of American Carly life rafts for forty people in 1:350th.
In the Space line, we have six new sets for the month, among which are two 1:72nd scale sets for the Arma Hobby Ki-84 and P-51B. in the photoetched department, we have a P-39 set for the kit from the same manufacturer, and a new set for the new Mi-4 in 1:48th from Trumpeter. This is a kit that I am personally looking forward to. Besides the aircraft sets, we are also covering ships and AFVs, and we have the regular lineup of new BiG Eds, with their Brassin equipped BiG Sin counterparts.
In the popular article department, we’ve got the second part about the Lexington from Mira Baric, and the already ninth volume covering the air war over Ukraine. This time, we also have a technical article dedicated to modelling adhesives and their optimal usage by Joe Blazek. Add to that our still new boxart stories , dedicated to the description and explanation of the events depicted on our box covers for the month.
And that’s just about it for this year. In closing, I will just reiterate that we are accepting orders until December 19th, after which it will not be possible to guarantee delivery of goods from our e-shop at the current prices. The reason for this is the aforementioned re-pricing of our goods, which will take place during the holiday shut down of the retail department. The e-shop will come back to life after we conclude our inventory taking and re-pricing, which will happen after January 1st, 2023.
So, dear friends, thank you all so much for your support throughout 2022. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best into 2023!