Revell v. Bandai
A couple of disclaimers before I post my thoughts:
-There are a lot of difficult things happening in the world right now and the topic in the following post is not even close to the most important one. The issue, however, does hit close to home for a lot of hobbyists and directly relates to the topic of this blog.
-I have never purchased or assembled a Revell Star Wars model kit because not even the picture on the box can make them look appealing to a serious modeller.
-I have assembled several of the 1/12 Bandai Star Wars figure kits and have found them incredibly awesome.
So, if you keep up with the small community of scale modellers on the internet and the even smaller community of Star Wars scale modellers, you probably know that a major licensing storm was brewing this week. Many of the online retailers in the US and Europe started reporting that Bandai Star Wars model kits were no longer going to be available because of a licensing crackdown. Bandai has the Star Wars license for only Japan, while Revell gets the rest of the world. Rumors flew that Revell asked Disney to crack down on the license, but no one really knows for sure whether it was Disney or Revell who laid the smack down. Either way, the implications for Star Wars scale modellers in the US and Europe are significant.
When I first heard the news, I was very disappointed to put it mildly. Over the past year, my enjoyment of the Bandai kits has only increased, and the announcement of the new The Force Awakens kits on Force Friday got me even more excited. We were going to get an awesome, detailed, to-scale kit for the new X-Wing? The new TIE? Let me go change my pants quickly! I was eagerly checking Hobbylink Japan for the preorders to go up, so I could snag them right away. And then all this news hit, and I was faced with the prospect of never finding a quality Star Wars model kit in the US at a reasonable cost again. In other words, this decision could all but kill the serious scale modelling hobby in the US. I admit, I fired off some angry tweets and Facebook posts to Revell, knowing that sometimes these companies will really take feedback to heart. I read the statement from Revell today, and I didn’t feel much better about the whole thing, whether or not it is their fault.
I hesitate to spew out further negativity. Believe me, I am upset. Building Star Wars scale models is one of my passions. I have read posts, watched Youtube videos, and heard the cries of my community, and I am right there with them. Revell might be more willing to listen (maybe…), however, if we tell them what we want. With that said, here are some of my suggestions for the future of Star Wars models in the US and Europe, if we are stuck with Revell.
-Continue to produce the Star Wars kits that are out there. They are a great introduction to the hobby for kids.
-For the more serious model builders, these snap kits will not cut it. They are complete and utter garbage for someone who is serious about the hobby. So, why not produce higher-end Star Wars model kits alongside the snap kits? I know Revell acquired the Finemolds kits and is repackaging those, but what about The Force Awakens? Where are serious Star Wars modellers supposed to get new, not repurposed, kits that are up to our passionate standards? I guarantee that people will buy quality new product if you put it out there. That was the main reason people were buying Bandai Star Wars kits. They were a quality product up to our high standards.
-Really, all we ask is that the company that produces our model kits has the same level of passion about producing them as we do about building them. We want an awesome, detailed version of Poe Dameron’s X-Wing that is worthy of lifetime display because it was made with attention to detail and proper scale. I can think of plenty of other model companies that could do an awesome job with the Star Wars license for serious modellers. What could a company like Moebius Models do with the Star Wars license?
Disney and Revell, please do something to win back the community of Star Wars model builders in the US and Europe! As it stands now, we have very little hope of our hobby surviving much longer, which makes me incredibly sad. I got into building models because of Star Wars, and now it seems that this fight over the Star Wars license might kill the hobby for me. I am not willing to pay more than twice the amount of retail value for Japanese kits on eBay. If you really want Bandai Star Wars kits to be a “complement” to what you offer, as you said in your statement today, why should it be so hard to get them? I hope you realize that whoever made this decision is losing you a huge chunk of your customers.
My hope is that next year I can look back at this post, and reminisce about how silly this all was, when we have fantastic new Star Wars kits from Revell or Bandai or whomever, but that has to happen or the Star Wars modelling hobby will die. Please do something before we get to that point. I want to spend my money on a Star Wars kit that is high quality, and right now the only options for that came from Bandai.