This article was first published on Modelstories, both JCC and Greg have given permission for KG144 to reprint the original version in its English Format.
I thank them both! I hope you enjoy it, i always find it useful to get the inside track on the thoughts of players in the 144 world.
please refer to the following link for the French version and accompanying photographs:
please refer to Oz-Mods for thier range of Kits
Thank you for allowing Modelstories this interview.
First could you please introduce yourself to our readers and give a short history of your company ?
OzMods was a kind of midlife crisis. A hectic career as a magazine and book writer, editor and contract publisher seemed to run out of excitement during the mid-1990s (holding a pilot’s licence and doing a lot of competition flying had also lost a lot of its “buzz”), and I got a desire to restore an old military aircraft. Of course, at that stage, there were simply no old military aircraft hulks that could be found! So, having also been an avid scale modeller, a friend suggested that I get into making and manufacturing plastic scale models. He even suggested that the business be called “OzMods”, an abbreviation of “Australian (Oz) Models”. That’s how it started.
In the first few years I did many different conversion packs: Conversions for the C-130A Hercules, A-26K Invader, CH-47C Chinook, etc, and worked on a full kit in the form of the 1/48 Caribou multi-media kit which came out in 1997. This kit has been in almost continuous production since then, and has been a tremendous seller and promoter of our other products.
I retired from publishing in 2000 to concentrate on developing OzMods. It now creates, manufactures and markets everything you see in its product list … and also manufactures for other scale model brands including Red Roo, Hawkeye, Firestorm, Freightdog, High Planes, and several others.
In 2008 OzMods also took over the Scaledown range of products – which mostly consists of 1/48 conversions and upgrades for F-111s, but also contains some 1/72 packs for the same topic as well as a few other items.
Perhaps our most exciting news for this year is that we are about to release a new product line of military figures. Initially these will consist of 120 mm topics related to the Australian military, which have been scuplted by highly respected New Zealander, Phil Walden. At the time of writing (mid-April 2009), the first shots are done and we are awaiting Phil to paint and finish them for photography and completion of the instructions.
OzMods also operates on a commercial basis for different industries and manufactures parts (in plastic) for real aircraft (such as blade and dome aerials and antenna), and parts for the auto industry.
How do you choose the subjects to be kitted (no Australian Mirage ?) ?
In the case of conversion packs, it is mostly on the basis of sufficient requests for a particular topic. With full kits the same rule usually applies, but there is also that element of choosing topics that I personally like.
I communicate very regularly with modellers all around the world, and their input and assistance is very valuable. In Australia Steve Evans (who previously owned Hawkeye Models), Rob Maxi-Fisher and Peter Mahoney work with us for many items in all scales and topics. Mark Taylor and Bruce Scott, both avid 1/144 modellers, provide an incredible amount of support in this scale.
And, yes Jean, the Mirage is on its way in 1/144 as one of our injected plastic kits! Mark and Bruce have contributed a tremendous amount of research for this, and I reckon they will both be pleased to see it materialise!
In selecting the subjects , do you aim for your national market first or on the contrary to try for the wider appeal to get worldwide customers ?
It’s definitely “on the contrary”. The Australian market is very limited due to its small population. It’s also not big on 1/144 which accounts for about one-quarter of our sales. The reality is that over 95% of our sales are overseas: The US, Canada, the UK and Europe take the bulk, but it is surprising the increases in sales that are coming from South America and South-East Asia.
Package design is especially important in the overall appeal of a model. Could you tell us more about this aspect of your products ?
I suppose you would expect someone who had a background in publishing and pre-print production, and access to the talent and resources, to have the coolest packaging around! Truth, however, is that we have never needed this to sell our products. So, in the scheme of things, it saves a little bit of money that purchasers do not have to pay.
OzMods is not a big producer and not in the same league as Airfix, Revell or even some of the Czeck companies, and its market is very specialised. The people who buy OzMod’s kits do so because they want that particular kit or conversion/upgrade in that particular scale. That’s why our packaging is very simple and basic.
What made you choose 1/144 for your military aircraft series?
Mainly because we had the opportunity to purchase a small injection machine, and 1/144 seemed to be the only scale appropriate for it. After seven years of use (and the many thousands of kits it has produced!) it is still performing well with a lot of life left it in!
How do you design your models ? (masters in real scale, pantographing , CAD etc…)…Could you tell us the story of a kit from subject selection to diffusion (it would be interesting to know what are your diffusion network , especially in Europe and Canada)
As any kit manufacturer will tell you, this is a long, drawn-out, complex and often frustrating process.
Originally I had a two-tonne pantography which did the reductions on all the 1/700 ship kits and all 1/144 aircraft kits to date except the BAe Hawk T1 (which was mastered same size by Terry Patrick in the UK).
As of this year, everything goes electronic! We now have computer 3D scanning and 3D milling equipment, patched of course to CAD where and when required. So far it has done the longer nose for the forthcoming Hawk T2 (grafted to the fuselage of the previously mentioned Hawk T1), the wings and a few other components for our first 1/72 injected kit that we will announce later this year, and it has a long list of projects ahead of it!
In the case of the injected kits, the parts are designed specifically to suit the capabilities of our injection machine (or the one that, in the near future, will produce the 1/72 and larger kits). Once mastered or CAD drawn they are reduced to the appropriate scale and then transferred to the moulds (or tools) and, when working properly, production begins.
It sounds relatively simple and straight-forward … but in reality it is anything but this!
Resin parts follow the same design and mastering process but, once mastered, go to silicone moulds (these only last 20 to 30 shots before they have to be replaced, so this has to be factored into production runs which in some cases may be several thousand).
Do you expect t diversify into other (non aircraft) subjects. If so in which areas (Military vehicles , cars, ships, sci-fi, figures, etc….) ?
Yes, there are a lot of subject areas I would like to enter. We already do ships and more kits are on the horizon, and we are about to release our first military figures. We have done a lot of contract moulding work for sci-fi, cars and war gaming, and these would be interesting areas to enter.
How would you define the strategic goal /positioning of your company in the world wide hobby business ?
OzMods is quite small, but it never ceases to amaze me how well-known and established the name is. I am happy with the way our kits are accepted by modellers, and that sales continue to increase each year.
In the long term, I would like to do many new kit topics – but this is always going to be restricted by the amount of time I can give to it.
Do you think the current crisis will impact the hobby ?
It will have to have some effect, but we have not felt it yet.