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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - 05:52 AM GMT+7
Once again, the Network was represented at the annual Nuremberg Toy Fair. Here's the first (general) report.
Over the next few days i'll be covering the 'specifics' - what we can expect to see from many of the companies who were represented at the show. To set the scene, i'll begin with a personal view of Nuremberg and what the companies were saying.

Firstly, let me explain something. Last year, I went to Nuremberg with the (virtually) sole intention of reporting what was in and what was coming in 2007. This still remains an objective of these reports but also to give a 'snapshot' of this, the most spectacular and important of all the Industry's Trade Fairs.

Of all the companies involved in our hobby, virtually all the 'Majors' were present. Increasingly though, important manufacturers such as Mig Productions, PlusModel, Azimut, Aber, Vallejo and Eduard also find its worth their while to be present for the very arduous six days the Fair lasts.

The Nuremberg Show exists as a showcase for manufacturers to fill their order books for the coming year - within this context it's a 'closed' environment for those directly involved in the retail side of the hobby. Many of the well-known companies in the retail side are also represented - I had some very interesting conversations with the people from HobbyLink Japan amongst others..

All the major magazines (and on-line publishers) send people to cover it - the coming months will see articles in all the major sources.

So, what's the impression of the state of our hobby? All the (plastic kit) manufacturers seemed to be doing good business with virtually all the company representatives taking the time to talk to the press - a high rating in this respect goes to Academy (Germany), Airfix, Dragon Models, Trumpeter, MiniCraft, MasterBox, MiniArt and MasterBox. However, once again, the annual Kitmaker 'What's an Internet?' award is jointly shared by Italeri, Revell and Tamiya who, despite paying lip-service to the concept of producing models for the 'enthusiast' rather than the 'casual' builder have around 20 layers of protection to stop anyone actually involved in management being available to answer questions. And, No, I wasn't the only one who got this feeling.. In the case of the latter two, you also needed a street plan to navigate their stands (urban developments?)..

Although all aspects of modelling were represented, for sheer scale, we're still looking small beside Model Railroading. Most impressive of all was Marklin, whose urban sprawl was centered on a massive layout (presumably controlled by DeutscheBahn) with plasma-screen monitors showing close-ups of the action.. If this wasn't enough, the (principal?) controller was wearing a headset and giving a running commentary on all the action. Another of the big names in Railways - Preiser had three attractive young women doing aerobics and were drawing almost as large a crowd as Marklin's big-budget spectacular.

Nor were the slot-racing companies far behind - it seemed you couldn't be taken as a serious player unless you had at least one (preferably two or three) customized cars on the stand. Armor manufacturers take note - DML should borrow a Panther for next year's show and with the competition which exists, Trumpeter can get a Maz-537...

Most attractive of all however, was the stand which had draft beer for its clients. DML, Trumpeter etc. take note for NEXT year!

All these more anecdotal observations aside, there was an incredible amount of real optimism present amongst the many manufacturers/Importers I spoke to. After what seemed, to many, like years in the wilderness, Airfix is REALLY back in business with around a dozen new mouldings for the coming year. A detailed report on the company can be seen:

HERE (LINK)

It'd be nice to do be able to categorically say that yes, there is at least one trend existing. I can't. There DOES seem to be a tendency for bigger kits (for those who own homes on a 'Marklin-scale') Someone has announced a 1/150th scale Nagato (I didn't see it, but it is a Japanese battleship). Italeri had their large Elco boat on show (along with the even larger Schnellboote S 100) MiniArt are doing the Mariner Flying Boat in 1/72nd scale (BIG) and Airfix have announced a 1/24th scale Mosquito (respectable, but not 'Marklin-Big'). On the equally big and impressive level is Trumpeter's 1/16th scale KingTiger which WILL be getting released this year..

If there is one trend (which is going to benefit all of us) it's in the imagination department. Mig Productions, MiniArt, Masterbox, Adalbertus and Azimut are all working on some highly-exciting projects (some which are going to be revealed shortly). The majors are still working to provide more and more ways to seperate us from our money.

In the 'Hey, it does look quite interesting after all' section, Hasegawa's decision to produce the Ma.K SF range looks to be very promising - and it's in 1/35th scale!

A great show and well worth the time and effort to attend. Some great items on show but also some great people there - in this category, a particular mention to Adam Wilder & Mig (of Mig Productions) Alex at Masterbox, Svetlana from ICM, the guys from Adalbertus, everyone from MiniArt and the guys from Azimut. Also everyone else who gave their time so willingly to answer so many dumb questions..

Finally only two negative points - the lack of Danish Pastries in the Press Room (damned sure they were there last year) and for sheer vulgarity, the slot.car producer who hired a silver Rolls-Royce to ferry around their BIG customers with 'VIP Shuttle Transport' emblazoned on the side.

Next year the Kitmaker Lear Jet will be available for ALL our advertisers...

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