Saturday, June 18, 2016


FANTASTIC PLASTIC MAKES A WIDE range of specialist kits, covering space, sci-fi and fantasy models. A recent survey provided an eye-opener into model makers’ preferences.

SMN report: According to Allen B. Ury of Fantastic Plastic, “…In early January 2016, we conducted an on-line survey to discern our customers' interest level in a number of subjects we were considering producing as model kits. The purpose of this exercise was not so much to identify which subject was the most popular (Although this was a secondary consideration), but to ensure that, should we go ahead with any or all of these products, we weren't likely to lose our shirts through lack of interest."

“The subjects under consideration represented the usual range of subject matter that constitutes ‘fantastic’ vehicle modeling: Sci-Fi, Real Space and Concept Aircraft.”

This is an interesting - and logical - way to go about deciding on your new kits, so the survey earns a thumbs-up from SMN. The Fantastic Plastic Top Ten suggestion list, six of them from movies or TV series, ran like this:

* Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) from The Martian (2015)
* Soviet LOK Moon ship (1969)
* The Bus from Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (2014-present)
* The Bat from The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
* Lockheed CL-292-6 atomic-powered missile carrier concept (1950s)
* Men into Space ship (1959)
* Convair NX-2 atomic-powered bomber concept (1950s)
* The Ark from 2012 (2009)
* Vickers Type C bomber concept (1941)
* The Starduster from Space Angel (1961)

The Ark from 2012 (below) compared with a ocean liner.

Allen goes on, “…We asked customers to identify themselves as either ‘Definitely Interested,’ ‘Mildly Interested,’ or ‘Not Interested’ in each subject. Not surprisingly, results were all over the place. Some people only wanted sci-fi, while others wanted only real aerospace kits. Some people demanded all models be in a single, specific scale, while others rejected all ten nominations outright. (Which made us wonder why they bothered to participate at all.)

“In all, we received about 300 responses. These were more than enough for us to gauge which subjects elicited definite passion among our customer base and which did not. The results are below. The blue columns represent the total number of ‘Definitely Interested’ responses, while the amber columns represent the combination of ‘Definitely’ and ‘Mildly’ interested votes.”

“The number-one vote-getter in both absolute and combined numbers was the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) from 2015's Ridley Scott film The Martian. It received 133 ‘Definite’ votes and 162 ‘Mildly Interested’ votes.

Number Two was the Soviet LOK Moon Ship (1969), with 120 ‘Definites’ and 135 ‘Mildlys.’

In a virtual tie for third was ‘The Bat’ from The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and the Convair NX-2 atomic-powered bomber concept (below), with 108/116 and 107/128 votes, respectively.”

Allen’s list was interesting for its variety. He added, “…At the other end of the spectrum was the Lockheed CL-292-6 atomic-powered missile carrier with just 60 ‘Definite’ votes. Ironically, it also got the third highest number of ‘Mildly Interested’ nods at 133.

“As I need to sell at least 50 kits to break even on a production run, all of these subjects now appear viable... although some are clearly more viable than others. ”

One survey suggestion that didn't score highly, though this reviewer would love to see it available in 1:72 scale, is the six-engine Vickers Type C bomber concept (below). The canard megaplane dates from the early years of World War II, and the appearance of proposals on a Whitehall desk must have put the much smaller Vickers Wellington bomber in the shade.

Allen's words on the results are welcome to any real space or science fiction model fan: “At this time, I can say for sure that The Martian MAV and the Soviet LOK (below) are the most likely to go into production later this year...”

The survey seems like a really good way to keep in touch with your customers, and to produce what they want. Allen’s words make this plain. “… Thanks to everyone who participated. And keep those suggestions coming!”

Article information courtesy Allen B. Ury of Fantastic Plastic.

For a look at the range of kits on offer, click here to visit Fantastic Plastic.

Soviet LOK Moon ship illustration courtesy Nick Stevens.