This post is going to fall under the heading of: ‘Tough Love.’ If you are or have ever been accused of being a sensitive snowflake, I DO NOT WANT YOU TO READ THIS! For the rest of you: zip-up your body armor, tighten your chin strap and come along. I’ll tell you exactly why companies ignore you.
First: what makes me an expert in what other companies think? Ah…. Nothing! Except I am a manufacturer, which means, I keep company with other manufacturers. I consult or have consulted for at least 5 plastic manufacturers. And I have known many of the ‘movers and shakers’ inside the industry; you know? The guys who help make things happen. I suppose you can dismiss all of that, but, by the way I count this one, I am more than qualified to write this post.
Second, I’m not going to expose any secrets or violate any confidences. I’m just going to speak in generalities.
So, why do companies seem to ignore you? The answer is simple: YOU! (I told you this was going to be tough love.)
Yes, you are the reason that companies do not listen to or converse with you. Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not speaking to everyone who will ever read this post. But, unfortunately, I am speaking to a great many more than I should be. Sadder still, the guilty will probably never realize I am talking about them. Nevertheless, I’ll move one into some specifics.
Item one: many of you want companies to make something that not only won’t sell, you won’t even buy it, yourself. I speak from personal experience here. I can think of two items I made specifically because customers asked me to do so and, in both cases, those customers never bought a single one of the items I made just for them. Now, both items have sold — slowly. But the reason I made them — the customers who asked — they never put their wallets where their mouths were. Companies know this about you!
Item two: Companies do not listen to your ‘advice’ because — well — honestly — it is usually wrong! Here’s another example. I have had ‘sincere advice’ offered to me by a guy who insisted he knew the subject. In this case, the M60A1 RISE-Passive tank. I listened politely, then tried to explain that I was not going to take his advice because he was wrong about the details he wanted me to make. Well, needless to say, this did not go over well. I have 9 1/2 years as a USMC M60A1 tank mechanic, 3 of which were spent as the maintenance chief for the Company. But, for some reason, this did not measure up to some book this guy had read. Well, in spite of what many people think, companies do talk to real experts. Most times, they actually do know what the truth is, and that those who are telling them what they should do are wrong.
NOTE: Now, having said this last little bit, I am not naive. I have hands-on experience with companies ignoring the advice they are given by technical advisers. I can think of a particular company who might not have been as ravaged by a certain party had they listened to me before they released their Tiger I kit. However, at the same time, I have seen companies maligned on line for supposed mistakes that are not mistakes! This damages these companies, but there is seldom any price paid by the people doing the damage. They get their egos bruised, so they just go off in public and never even consider that they might be wrong. Here again, I know a company who has been criticized for their Bergepanther kits, yet, I happen to know that they got their kit 100% correct! Sadly, none of this matters. Once the damages is done, it’s done. So, the safest bet for most companies is for them to seek out and trust their own technical experts and to just ignore the rest of the world. It is not perfect, but it is better than the mess they would make of things if they tried to respond to everyone who claimed to want to help them.
Point Three: this follows from the last point. I know that I stopped trying to make every variation of this or that for anything a long time ago. A perfect example here are the many Sherman items Karl has made for me. First of all, many of the ‘experts’ out there seem to think Karl just puts a few casting marks on the kit parts and sends them to me to be cast up. WRONG! Karl re-works many of those kit parts to a point that only a few modelers in the world could duplicate his work. Case in point: how many of you realize the rim of the hull hatches on every TASCA/ASUKA kit on the market sits too high? Not the TMD hulls. Karl counter-sinks those bloody things so that the hatches sit at the correct depth in the hole. If you think that is an easy chore, send me pictures of your work when you tackle it. Or how about all the M4 turret shells Karl has made? There are tons of so-called Sherman ‘experts’ out there, but I seldom see any of them buying any of Karl’s redacted or re-manufactured turret shells. Why is that? They are all over your late war picture books, yet, for whatever reason, no one ever buys or builds them. Well, this same problem applies to the plastic companies — only on a bigger scale. If I make something that flops, I’m out a couple hundred dollars. But if the plastic company makes a variant that doesn’t sell… Well, it could cost them their company.
Point four: we come to the guy who not only wants the company to listen, but he also wants the company to do all the work. He has the best idea in the world, but he doesn’t even come to the company with a single picture. No, he wants the company to do all the research and make the kit — just for him (and he probably won’t even buy it if they do it). I can’t tell you how often I have had guys email me with their idea, but they never even try to show me what they are talking about. Sometimes I wonder how many guys understand how much time goes in to making the products you guys build?
Now to put a little bit of a bandage on what might now be an open wound for some readers. If you still feel compelled to contact a company, and you want them to listen to you, start by making sure you have good reason to write them. If you have an idea for a kit, make sure it is a well-known subject. Esoteric vehicles are big, big gambles — especially for smaller companies. Second, have some good, solid research ready to share. Don’t expect the company to start from scratch and do everything for you. Third, if a company ever does listen to you, promote the heck out of that product! Get your buddies to buy it. Show your gratitude — preferably by doing your part to increase sales. You see, when it comes right down to it, for those of us on this side of the industry, it is all about money. But, to us, money is not just the thing we use to make us rich; it is the gasoline and oil that runs our business. No sales, no go. The engine breaks down and we stop. From your point of view, that’s just another dead company; but from where I sit, that’s me that dies.
So, the next time you feel the need to make a public comment about something you just know needs to be corrected, maybe stop to think past your own feelings for a second? Ask yourself if you are really going to help or hurt the hobby? Are you about to say something that will contribute in a positive way, or are you just going to vent because you’re feeling frustrated, annoyed, ignored or otherwise pissed-off? Because, I’ll tell you: the guys who do things to damage my company are noticed, and I remember them. Whether you believe it or not, the big companies do the same. Now, put yourself in our shoes and ask yourself this question:
How likely would you be to listen to a guy who spends his time trying to hurt your company — especially if he is doing so just to make himself appear to be a ‘big man?’
So, please, folks: if you care about the hobby, STOP DAMAGING THE COMPANIES YOU’RE ASKING TO HELP YOU OUT!
OK, end of rant. Companeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, diiiiiiiiiiiiiisss———missed!