Jump to content
Chuck

Market Share for Kit brands based on MSW Build Logs

Recommended Posts

Every 6 months I conduct analysis of the market based on the number of active build logs.  I believe it is an accurate gauge of where the market is commercially and where folks are spending their money.  Its a bit wonky to do but I wont read into the numbers for you.  I have my own opinions as to why and where the market share and money goes where it does.  At least based on MSW data which has a pretty good cross section of the international market although maybe skewed a bit towards the US market.  I have been doing this for 3 years now every six months.  It helps me hopefully make the right decisions as to where I should steer my business.

 

I just thought it pertinent based on another topic we are having in this forum.   

 

Why are people (at least on this MSW forum) spending their money with one manufacturer over another.  It could be many factors.  I think some of the results will surprise you.  Everyone complains about the quality of some of these MFGs who are the top sellers....while the companies with better quality according to  the consensus sell far less even after much positive news and press.  The trend is changing but too slow for my tastes.  The newer, smaller companies have been slowly gaining ground.  What reasons could there be for this....

 

-age of the company and number of subjects they offer

-Quality of product and accuracy

-Price

-Availability

- I just had it in the closet already

-Many others.....but I will leave it up you to form your own theory. 

 

Keep in mind the three companies in red.  These are not your traditional kit companies.  They produce framing kits or partial kits as opposed to the others who put everything you need in the box. My company is in this category but really only because I have just one subject/offer at the moment....Cheerful.   But I still faired well against some others.  I hope to move up a bit after the barge is released.

 

OK here is the list......all legit kit/commercial build logs by brand.....and number of active build logs over the past 6 months.

 

Model Shipways - 144

A. Latina - 82

Amati - 41

Caldercraft - 40

Corel - 27

Constructo - 27

Mantua/Sergal - 26

Mamoli - 25

Ocre - 18

Billings - 17

SyrenSMC - 16

Marisstella 10

Bluejacket - 10

Deagostini - 10

Lumberyard - 8

Panart - 7

Dusek - 6

Euromodel - 6

Master Korabel - 4

Modellers Shipyard - 4

Dumas - 4

Lauck Street - 3

AJ Fisher - 1

 

I am a wonky guy so I also ran these standings after removing four popular subjects.....subjects that have been done to death.   It affects the standings a great deal.  It was very surprising. 

 

If you remove....build logs of 

HMS Victory

HMS Bounty

HMB Endeavor

USS Constitution

 

The numbers and rankings change a great deal.  Does this mean I should cave and make a kit of one of these because it clearly makes up a large percentage of the build logs and folks will always spend their money on these four subjects.  If you add the Cutty Sark and Bluenose....it gets really interesting.   Those six subjects make up a big percentage of kits bought and build logs started.  At least on MSW.

 

I do this every six months to see where the money is going....despite the constant complaints about quality and subject matter the money pretty much still goes where it has always gone.  The same companies.  But its slowly shifting.  I hope you find this of interest.  If anyone is interested in what the numbers look like when you remove those four popular subjects let me know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to follow up with more stats as the list above is just raw data.

 

Dont let the Model Shipways numbers throw you.   If you remove the build logs for just two MS kits, The Syren and the Longboat,   The numbers are pretty even with A. Latina.  Which surprised me that AL is at the top of the list.

 

This is of huge importance because it tells you that hypothetically, if you have one kit that is a hit and makes a lot of money like the Syren kit,  and it gets pirated.  You are screwed as a company.  Thankfully this hasnt happened for MS with the Syren or the Longboat kits.  But if it did they would lose a lot of money.

 

Following along the same lines of thinking.   So many of Caldercraft and Amati's kits have been pirated that I believe they would be much higher in the standings if that wasnt the case.  Remember that this is just a list of  legitimate kit MFGs of wooden model kits. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lot of factors probably go into which companies are represented at the top of your list.  Subject, name recognition and kit cost are probably at the top of these factors followed by reputation, quality and ease of construction.  These are just a guess on my part but it would be interesting to see the results of a poll of builders on why they chose a particular kit.

Elijah, Canute, donrobinson and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok here is the same data for the six months ending at the end of June.

 

Without Victory, Constitution, Bounty or Endeavor.

 

Model shipways - 119  (remove Syren and longboat - 71)

A.L. - 60

Amati - 37

Caldercraft - 22

Mantua Sergal - 17

Ocre - 17

Syren - 16

Corel - 16

Mamoli - 15

Constructo - 13

Billings - 12

Marisstella - 10

Bluejacket - 10

Deagostini - 8

Lumberyard - 8

Dusek - 6

Euromodel - 6

Dumas - 4

Modellers Shipyard - 4

Master Korabel - 4

Panart - 3

Lauck Street - 3

AJ Fisher - 1

 

 

Two things are interesting to me...That AL is still so high up for starters.

 

In addition, look at the companies in bold....they are all bunched up with about the same numbers. In other words, Caldercraft isnt fairing much better Than the other companies in bold.   Yet everyone probably agrees the quality is much higher than say Constructo or Corel.

 

Both Caldercraft and Amati are well behind AL .   Yet if you ask who makes the better kit?   So from a business standpoint.....does quality translate into sales?   Does the subject translate into more sales?   How about price?  Availability?  Reputation?  etc?

 

In addition....just look at how low all of the numbers got after you remove just 4 ships.   I would have thought that the numbers for the top 5 would be closer...but that clearly isnt the case.  At least not on MSW which is pretty much my market.  The top two are doing quite a bit better than all of those others.

 

If I were to run the numbers on a popular German forum or English or French Ship Model forum I am sure this would be very different.   But like I said for my business MSW is my market.  I have to choose subjects that make sense based on these numbers unless I want to really break into another market in a big way.  I am sure that if I chose to make a kit of the Endeavor or Bounty my numbers would climb quite a bit....or if I decided to make a kit of the French Salamander I could increase my market share in France or Europe. 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting, but actually I am not too surprised to see AL up at the top, I guess what I mean is before I decided to get into this Hobby and found this website, AL was one of the only companies I knew about, they are sold through companies like Tower Hobbies which is huge, and I have purchased a lot through Tower Hobbies being into rc cars, and the kits are priced priced pretty good, I almost bought an AL kit as my first build, but after researching I discovered Model Expo and others.

Elijah, ccoyle, mtaylor and 2 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My very first kit was the AL Endeavor.  My second was the AL Bounty.   My Third was the Mantua Hms Victory.........see a pattern.  I think the subject matter is also a driving factor.  For beginners/intermediate anyway.   If I want to attract more relatively newbies who have yet to build one of the big six ship model subjects.....I could make a lot of money, possibly.  But I wont.  No interest for me.

 

Victory

Bounty

Endeavor

Constitution

Cutty Sark

Bluenose

 

and yes sadly

 

the black pearl as number 7

 

These few subjects make up a huge percentage of the money spent.  As if building one is a right of passage.   

 

Here is what the numbers tell me....many of these companies do very well based on a very small number of subjects that are popular.   If you remove the Amati Pegasus from the list...they are not fairing any better than most of the other guys and drop significantly.  One or two popular kit subjects can make or break your business.   If Model Shipways didnt have the Syren, Longboat, Constiution or Confederacy they would have a very different showing here on MSW...and in this market.   Imagine if they went out of business?   How would that affect the list?   AL would be number one.  And to think I picked a Royal Barge as my next product, LOL.  Maybe it will be my Amati Pegasus....if not I will place my hope on the Winnie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, makes a lot of sense that these companies need these big 6 kits as their bread and butter to stay afloat, but much respect to you for what you do and sticking to it and just offering us high quality products,Thank you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

and to look at a given company,  any one of these kits....or more,  they list for purchase.   these kits you listed are relatively complex kits for a newbie to begin his model building journey.......most opt to try something that looks easier to do.   I started with a Billing's expert kit......I made plenty of mistakes,  but I had the most fun with it.  to be honest.......I might not have tried to build a wooden kit,  if I didn't come across the kit,  the way I did.  I was still skeptical that I could pull it off.

    I would think the interest level would be the first consideration,  cost second.   I was working on a Revell Cutty sark at the time I brought the wood boat home......when I started on it,  I couldn't pull myself away!   then I ran into a dealer of Billing Boats,  and we became good friends.  I count myself lucky. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didnt post the old numbers from previos years.   They havent changed much.  The newer companies have edged up slightly but its mostly stayed the same.  When a new kit comes out a brand makes a small jump.  For example...when Amati came out with the Revenge.   They got a small bump in numbers.   Caldercraft hasnt come out with anything new in a long long time so they are slipping a bit.  They still have the Pickle listed as a newly released Kit.

 

The new guys like Marrisstella are gaining ground as more try them out.  But it takes a while for folks to finish up what they are working on and then build something that is tucked away in the closet already.  So this is a very slow evolution.    Name recognition has a lot to do with it here on MSW.  Soclaine has been around for a while and you would be hard pressed to find any build logs for them here.  They look like really nice kits too.  

 

Billings is losing ground fast too.  Probably because they have nothing new and nobody here talks about them much.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

they've gone through some changes......Kent sold the business.  I'm not sure if he still has a hand in it.   The Danmark site was down for a while,  but now it is back up.  I thought it was to relocate,  but I see the address is still Danmark.  I had more scuttlebutt,  but since Tom sold the business,  I haven't heard much more than that.

Canute, mtaylor, donrobinson and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not surprised that AL is so high, the entry price to purchase one of their kits is extremely attractive to newbies, and not only that, there's tons of them on the resale market.   I'm a little surprised the BlueJacket doesn't have a higher stake.  I'll be changing those metrics in the near future.  My next couple of builds will include BlueJacket kits I currently have on the shelf  (Nantucket, 310 Destroyer, Olympia, Kearsarge).    Midwest didn't even make into the metric...

 

Joshua

Edited by Azzoun
donrobinson, mtaylor, Canute and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a few midwest kits but I left them off the list since they no longer exist.  Joshua.....I was hoping you would drop in on a NEw Jersey club meeting one of these days.   

mtaylor, Canute, Jack12477 and 3 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m not surprised at the AL numbers either Chuck. I don’t know if it’s the same in the US, but over here the few remaining toy/hobby shops all stock AL kits (and no others). Add to that the fact that most newbies to the hobby will want to build a “known” ship name (ie your list of half a dozen), and there is your answer.

 

I do hope that the smaller new companies (like Syren) continue to make headway. The supply part of this hobby really does need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be honest, it doesn't give a clear view on things. MSW is not the only forum for model ship building, so the stats have no real meaning, especially since people tend to stick to their brand(s) and as grant put it, you are depending on availability and known names

Edited by cog
Elijah, Canute, catopower and 2 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Midwest doesn't currently produce any model boat kits.

 

Regarding so many HMS Victory, USS Constitution, Cutty Sark and HMS Bounty models - I have a modeler friend who will go into a long spiel about how there should be a law against even a single one of these ever being allowed to be sold or built again as there are way too many in existence already.  Including thousands still in closets that the owner will never get to.  He goes into great detail about how many modelers probably purchased one of these as their first model boat, gave up in disgust, and if they didn't take up drinking as a hobby, probably went into model cars or airplanes.:default_wallbash:

 

Kurt

Canute, ccoyle, Elijah and 5 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Chuck said:

There are a few midwest kits but I left them off the list since they no longer exist.  Joshua.....I was hoping you would drop in on a NEw Jersey club meeting one of these days.   

Chuck, I appreciate the sentiment, I wish I could.  My life has had some dramatic changes that has made it close to impossible to reach Roseland during the week (i.e. new job that keeps me in around philly and a new baby).  I would do my best to make a weekend event if I could be made aware it.   I did join the Philly Ship Model Society, some good guys there as well.  

 

Joshua

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, cog said:

To be honest, it doesn't give a clear view on things. MSW is not the only forum for model ship building, so the stats have no real meaning, especially since people tend to stick to their brand(s) and as grant put it, you are depending on availability and known names

 

Carl, I believe Chuck acknowledged most of these things and that his data is probably skewed. Nevertheless, it is still very interesting. I, too, believe that AL is probably still up there due to their good selection of inexpensive kits and their high visibility in brick-and-mortar shops (and their websites). I also believe that some of the European makers pursue the American market less aggressively than they could because they are satisfied with their sales elsewhere (or perhaps that's all the market they can satisfy at current production levels).

 

I confess I am always intrigued by why certain brands and/or their kits don't get more exposure than they do. Several examples come immediately to mind. Woody Joe -- great kits, virtually no effort by them to crack the American market. Caldercraft -- a considerable number of their offerings are rarely or never seen in these pages (Jalouse, anybody?). And like Chuck said, subtract Pegasus/Fly and Victory Models drops off of most people's radar (their prices are, let's be honest, a little steep). And Bluejacket -- for supposedly being one of the American Big 2, their presence in the forum world is all out of proportion with their reputation. AJ Fisher -- I'd be surprised if a majority of modelers are even aware they're still in business.

 

Compared to the aforementioned, newcomers like Dusek are doing a great job at both coming out with new products and getting the word out about them.

 

It's a constantly evolving hobby and market and always fascinating to analyze and discuss.

 

P.S. I forgot to add, I still think MSW has a long ways to go in establishing a presence throughout the ship modeling community. I used to be a member of the largest local ship modeling club in the U.S., and to my knowledge only a very few of its members have joined up. That also skews the data in terms of what's actually getting built. I'd be interested in seeing if the NRG has a similar relative lack of forum participation by its members.

Canute, Elijah, mtaylor and 5 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, gjdale said:

I’m not surprised at the AL numbers either Chuck. I don’t know if it’s the same in the US, but over here the few remaining toy/hobby shops all stock AL kits (and no others). Add to that the fact that most newbies to the hobby will want to build a “known” ship name (ie your list of half a dozen), and there is your answer.

I can only agree with Grant - when I first started building wooden ships (30-odd years ago) the only two brands my local hobby shop stocked were AL and Billings. That is still the case today, although they do have a few Corel kits as well. None of the others even get a mention, in fact the guy at the shop hasn't even heard of most of them.

 

Actually, if it wasn't for MSW and Google I wouldn't have known there were that many manufacturers either. AJ Fisher is a case in point - until they were mentioned in this thread I hadn't heard of them :D.

 

:cheers:  Danny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Carl...I did mention all of that stuff.  The data has some real meaning if you are objective about it knowing the limitations of MSW as a source.   There are many factors at play, but for an American company such as my own who produces wooden ship model kits and products for 1650-1825 time period...this data says wonders.

 

If you keep in mind all of those things you mentioned...and I mentioned.

 

-age of the company

-number of subjects they offer

-Quality of product and accuracy

-Price

-Availability

- I just had it in the closet already

- The fact that this  forum is weighted towards US members but has a decent amount of international members

-Many others.....

 

We used to have many polls about which is your favorite kit MFG.   But they were before the crash.  The results were a bit different.  Some polls were labeled "Who makes the best quality kit with the best instructions"...... This is a very different question.  

 

I think I might start another poll and see if it correlates with the number of build logs.  This might also be very telling as many may not have started a kit from the newer MFGs but have them in the closet.

 

Let me do just that...I will start a new poll and list all of the brands shown in my list which werent available when we last ran a poll like this.

 

 

cog, Elijah, Canute and 3 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is all very interesting. I suggest that various aspects of marketing are a strong factor. For example, of the American "Big 2", Model-Expo has a much more attractive and easily-usable website than BlueJacket does. The former (even before the recent redesign) prominently featured pretty photos of finished kits with easy access to information like downloadable instructions (which modelers can use to check how complex the kits really are). The latter's site makes it pretty hard to navigate through and browse kits, offers few photos, and relatively little information about the kits. I've visited BlueJacket in person and found their physical location to be wonderful and their people great, but their online presence really doesn't reflect the quality of their business. I have to admit that I'm more likely to order parts and tools from M-E because their site is so much easier and pleasanter to use.

 

As for AL, yeah, it's everywhere. In fact, the spark that got me into wooden model shipbuilding in the first place was seeing the page of wooden models advertised in one of the really big generic American model-tool catalogues (Micro-Mark, I think). I hadn't even known that this was a possible thing, and here was this page of beautiful ship models that claimed to be accessible to anyone. Being myself, I didn't jump right in and order, though, I started doing research to find out more about this new hobby and whether I really could build those, found MSW and learned that there were other, better manufacturers out there albeit with less slick marketing. And I was quickly convinced to start small rather than dive into a big, shiny AL kit of the Bounty or something.

 

Speaking of AL, I still feel there's a gaping hole for someone to do a good, authentic American riverboat kit other than M-E's Chaperon. So many other companies make the same ripped-off, out-of-scale, toylike "Mississippi Riverboat" kit that is just gawdawful to look at for anyone who knows anything about the real things, but the fact that they all make one implies that there's demand for something like that. Surely some company could justify making a new, good riverboat kit that would tap into this inherent fascination with the Mark Twain era of American history without looking like something that ought to have wheels on the bottom for use in a playroom.

 

EDIT: I should also note that Syren has an excellent website as well, which has made it that much easier to choose them for ordering extra parts, rope, etc.

Edited by Cathead

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had two reasons for purchasing the Syren. First I opened the instruction book online and was intrigued by the layout and directions. I wrote Technical manuals for the Navy and the Syren instruction booklet with templates is outstanding. Many companies could learn from this approach. Secondly all the build logs. You can see the value of the instruction booklet. I just wish that Model Shipways would fix the issues that have been pointed out by many builders. It would be good for their company to fix these issues. I am also drawn to the Confederacy and Essex by the same style of instructions. I look at Chuck's Syren Shipbuilding as a great little niche company where one can go to get fittings that upgrade kits. I wish he had packages for certain kits available. A Block package, a line package a Deck Furniture  upgrade package. I could pick a Syren block package or a Essex line package or a Confederacy Deck Furniture upgrade package. Right now I would love a Carronade upgrade for the Syren but you basically are limited to Caldercraft. I know it is not possible but if only I was King.....

Chuck, donrobinson, Canute and 4 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know why I just made this connection, but you can bump BlueJacket up to 11, because I've been working on their lobster boat kit this summer. I just didn't start a build log because I wanted a break from documenting everything and I was already spending time designing my next scratchbuild. But it certainly counts as interest in their products. I'm also very much looking forward to some of their upcoming new releases such as a cross section of the USS Cairo.

Chuck, Canute, donrobinson and 2 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's depressing, but I think the best way to sell a model ship kit is to design an extremely attractive box with a ship name recognizable by the masses, and offer the kit to hobby stores/franchises at a profit margin (for them) higher than they receive from other manufacturers.  The price of the kit in the store would probably need to be less than $70. The actual kit quality probably isn't very relevant in the grand scheme of things.  

 

The above is all abhorrent to me, but I think it's probably the truth. 

 

It would be interesting to know what % of ship kits are purchased as gifts for someone else, as opposed to being projects of the purchaser.

 

 

Alan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You menion box art. It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison of some of the most popular models from the most successful companies. Curb appeal is a dramatic factor in consumer decision making. By the same token I’d be curious to see the packaging of the ten LEAST successful kits. Does it suck? I’ve not seen a side by side comparison of box art for ships.

which brings us to advertising. Which manufacturer spends the most on advertising? Surely this has to be a huge factor, and I’m guessing Artisana Latina must spend a LOT in order to account for their market share.

Internet sales verses brick-and-mortar was also mentioned and I’m certain internet sales must be growing exponentially while B&M must be shrinking. These two metrics, are they constant or are they reaching equilibrium yet? 

It makes me wonder who was the first person to buy a ship model kit online? Who was he, when did he click his mouse and which kit was it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Box art is only useful for selling kits when the customer can see the it directly, which means that the kit has to be in a physical shop for it to make any difference. 

 

I doubt Artesania spends much at all in advertising, it doesn't have to. They have a proven track record, their kits are relatively easy to build, they look nice when completed (even if scale  accuracy and detail isn't so great), and they are manufactured at a price point where they can be sold through distribution channels. They, Constructo, Dumas, and until recently, Midwest, were the only wooden ship model kits sold through the major US distribution channels. So, that's what you'll find in hobby shops in the US.

 

Artesania Latina also doesn't sell direct and undercut the distribution channels and hobby shops either, unlike some other manufacturers, so the shops can trust that when they invest in these kits, they won't be in competition with the very manufacturer who's products they carry.

 

Of course, that manufacturing price point that makes them good for the distributors also makes them less expensive for the hobby shop customers. They are more likely to spend $150 for a kit they can look at on the shelf than a nicer $250 kit they know nothing about.

 

Funny thing is that because this makes the kits predominant in the hobby sellers' shops and in catalogs, that serves as its own advertising. Even Ages of Sail, which carries almost every brand there is, gets more orders for Artesania Latina kits than the others.
 

 

 

 

mtaylor, Ryland Craze and Canute like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I decided to get into this hobby I started research by googling model ships. My results came up with Model Expo/Model Shipways. Knowing nothing I was attracted by the kits for their detailed plans and Model Expo's return/replacement policy. 

 

Like many others the price, size of completed model, subject, and detailed instructions attracted me to the longboat kit.

Steve

Derek C, Chuck, mtaylor and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×