Prices of the kits that come from China to US are probably going to go up. That might be very soon the case for Europe as well, but that is not the point in the article. Just this morning /December 6th, 2019/, a well respected company for scale modeling re-selling announced that they will raise the prices due to the tariffs that are to be imposed on China. Nothing unexpected, nor nothing overly scary for the regular consumer. You buy kits only every once in a while, its not like one cannot live without them. Its not food or gas.
It deserves respect that the re-sellers are mentioning that in their news stream. That means they care for their clients and they care for what people think about their pricing policies. The issue comes with the fact that kits nowadays are coming mostly from China. Back in a day, kits were Revell, Heller, Airfix, Hasegawa, Tamiya and Italeri. They never offered way too much in terms of variety, but some of them produced decent kits that are still nice up to this day. Those who produced lower quality kits inspired scratch building, home-made alterations and all kinds of art-oriented improvements that showed the true colors of every modeler.
Nowadays we have tons of kits covering every subject and even some that are doubling or tripling on a specific model, just to make more money. They are almost perfect, however with that comes the slow but steady death of the artistic part in the building process, leaving more on the painting and weathering side. Good for some, very bad for others.
The main problem is, that China is not a market that can sustain that production by itself. Those Shermans, Tomcats or whatever are not made for Chinese modelers. Undoubtedly, there are many of them, but it is hard for one to imagine that they stimulate that production.
The case is that Western World is the main consumer. To them are all those kits oriented and that is why their subjects are such and such.
Then why the kits are still being produced in China? Why not see high-quality kits from Italeri, Revell or whatever company being designed as well produced on their homeland? Price is the answer.
In that terms, news that re-sellers are about to raise their prices are not bad. Maybe raising prices for the Chinese production kit will stimulate production and improvement of the stuff old players on the market make. If you have similar quality, similar abundance and easy access to a kit, what’s the point of paying the same price when you can get it from somewhere else? Because the main reason the production of new and modern kits is coming from China is that China offers the lowest prices for that.
It is not the best thing to see Zoukei-Mura or Wingnut Wings being made in China. We don’t go and buy ZM or WnW because we want to get Chinese quality. There is Trumpeter for that. We buy them because we want something better in all aspects. And it is true that those companies too depend on the market to survive, but the struggle for quality must never step aside just to give way to quantity. Never.
Especially in a hobby where people are all about accuracy, clean and clear production, and precision. A hobby that you need your brain more than anything else so to be successful.
Before China we had scale modeling. And a good one too. After China we will have it still. But now we are all dependent on their production. We are trapped in an endless struggle between paying less and getting more, which at some point becomes impossible.
Maybe its time for a change. Maybe its time for old companies to take some notes from producers like MiniArt who are produced in ex-communist country, but somehow manage to be competitive even to China. Better in many respects too. Maybe its time to bring all the production where it belongs. Bring it home. Even if we have to pay more for that. And wherever home might be.