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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Faster than a Valiant

What is faster than a speeding bullet? Apparently, the availability of the Airfix Valiant at Europe’s largest model retailer.

Hannants received their first shipment of Valiants on the morning of Friday, 7-1, and a few hours later they were sold out. Hours. Now, in Hannants’ defense, they were shorted by Airfix themselves on their initial order. But it is clear that the demand was underestimated  by Airfix, at least for the opening surge.

We shouldn’t be surprised. We of the 72nd persuasion have been told for many years now that “1:72 doesn’t sell”. I was told that many a time when I owned The Supply Depot, a pioneering online retailer in the 90s, and I still hear it today. And given that are really no reliable sales figure for the industry, it’s not something we can prove or disprove. But keep a long term eye on the Hannants top ten sellers (admittedly an unaudited source) and see the ratio of 1:72 and larger scale kits/accessories/decals that appear on the list.

Perhaps Airfix was gun-shy due to rumored lackluster sales of the Nimrod. But this is a major release of the last British Cold War bomber, which completes the set along with the Vulcan and Victor. And unless one counts the Mach 2 kit, it hasn’t been done in long-run injected plastic before now. Given that Airfix prices are generally quite reasonable, they should have expected brisk sales, certainly when the kit had the “new” cachet and buzz.

There was a story floating around that Airfix shipped to their foreign distributors at the same time that they shipped to their British ones. So there may be an unknown number of Valiants currently cruising the Atlantic toward North America. When I asked Sprue Bros, about a week ago, they had not yet received notice that theirs were on the way.

The Valiant was one of the few “buy-on-sighting” kits that I have for 2011 (the other being the Revell Halifax). But it looks like my onboard impatience engine will need to cool off for a while longer yet.

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