Monday, October 8, 2012

Revell, the world, and 2013

Earlier today Revell announced their 2013 releases. That list, combined with a close listen to their visit to the Plastic Scale Modeling Hour webcast, provides some insight into Revell's product decisions.

Before we talk about these new releases, I want to highlight some of the more interesting things I learned when I listened to  Gerald "Hawkeye" Voigt's webcast, which featured Revell USA product manager Ed Sexton and engineer Roger Harney.

First, I was thrilled to find that Hawkeye had selected a question I submitted prior to the show, asking how the Asian manufacturers such as Trumpeter and Hobby Boss, have affected Revell's product decisions. In a nutshell, they don't. Revell is focused on the American market and producing kits at a certain price point that appeals to their customers. By comparison, the Asian companies are producing kits for a worldwide market and at a higher price point, so Revell isn't really responding to what they do.

Revell-Germany, however, targets a wider, international market and works independently of Revell USA. This is why we see many Euro-centric subjects from them, such as the SA330J Puma, Mercedes SLS, and Formula 1 cars. What I found most interesting, however, is that Revell-Germany doesn't work through distributors, instead taking products directly to retailers and customers. (You can buy their models online directly from Revell Germany!) Ed said those closer relationships with customers affects their product decisions, implying (my opinion here) that Revell Germany is able to make better choices. 

I find this surprising given the new media that are now available to large manufacturers. There's simply no reason for any manufacturer in any industry not to hear the voice of the customer. Consider Revell has nearly 8,500 "Likes" on their Facebook page. I have to believe they can get a great deal of feedback from their customers to inform product decisions, and it wouldn't be difficult to set up a web-based network for retailers to solicit their input as well. The distributor system is looking incredibly clunky to me.

Looking ahead to 2013, there are exciting releases among a number of re-pops. Even though I've talked mostly about aircraft here on Scale Model Soup, I'm a big fan of American muscle cars, so Revell's new-tool '92 Mustang and '70 Hemi Cuda will be compelling new releases, and I'll be interested to see how their molding and detail compares to comparable kits from other manufacturers. I'm also intrigued by their partnership with Chip Foose; in fact, I'm surprised it's taken this long for Foose to partner with a model manufacturer. Although I'm not a big fan of Foose's designs, I appreciate his creativity and hope the Charger and Impala in Revell's Chip Foose collection inspire more than a few young people to get into scale modeling and explore automotive design as a career choice.

In the meantime, let's build a model!

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