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Retrospective: The Scale Modeler Magazine 1967 Reader Survey
Retired In Kalifornia
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Scale Modeler Magazine (SMM) published bimonthly by Challenge Incorporated North Highwood, California debuting in December 1965 was from the mid-1960s till mid-1970s the foremost source for news & information regarding new scale model kit releases & reviews. Arriving on scene near the crest of the post-WWII scale model hobby boom it was among the first publications aimed directly at hobbyists like myself desperate for information regarding new kit releases well as reviews about them.

In their September-October 1966 edition SMM included a printed insert to survey readers regarding modeling subjects they'd like to see produced, the first reader survey of its kind conducted by any contemporary hobby interest publication (I'd likely submitted the Reggiane Re.2000 for consideration), in their February-March 1967 they'd published the results and is reprinted below in its entirety with historical updates since its publication:

The Readers Speak - Results Of Our Modeler’s Survey

The letters continue to pour in but out of the chaos that five thousand plus survey returns can produce, Scale Modeler has been able to draw several significant and far reaching conclusions.

First and foremost, is the informed caliber of today’s modeler [sic, ed.] As we have pointed out before, he is neither twelve years old nor is he gullible. On the contrary, his knowledge of what he is modeling is usually extensive.

He is discriminating in his purchases and, if the kit warrants it, he is willing to spend quite a bit more to get something extra. Quality impresses him and he is quick to spot the hackneyed and the inferior. For this reason, the manufacturing of scale model kits has become a very competitive as well as hazardous business. Guess wrong or underestimate the modeler’s selectivity and a firm, even a big one, can go out of business fast.

Although our survey is only some six weeks along as this is written and we still are receiving letters at the rate of five hundred per week, a consensus has been building and it has taken the following form.

Fully half of those who replied to our questionnaire opted to write letters, going far beyond our brief listing. We appreciated this and we read them all. Preliminary among the comments after the perennial one that the survey was a good idea, was the thought expressed in many ways, that his was the first time the modeler had been asked about what he though and wanted and that it was hoped the manufactures would take heed.

We would like to reassure our readers that several companies, all of which well known, have already expressed interest in what they though and want to see the results of our survey as soon as it is completed. Two have already begun tooling up their plants for the production of models which, heretofore, they never realized were so wanted by the modeling public.

In addition to getting their thoughts of their chests, many readers also took the time to both praise and criticize some of the features in Scale Modeler [S/M, ed.]. A few issues back, we told you that S/M was to be your magazine, and you lost no time making your opinions known. We must add however, that the majority of your points were well taken and although you got us right in the ego, we will try to adopt as many of your ideas as possible.

Getting back to your kit selections . . . we found the following comments particularly noteworthy. In fact they were voiced so often that we feel there is a definite trend to the thing of our readers.

1. Most modelers are tired of the same old standbys. Unless the kits are superdetailed [sic, ed.], much larger, or depict a different model previously unavailable, they would rather say bye bye to Mustangs and Zeros et. al.

2. Every modeler who wrote to us generally admitted that he [single gender OK for the day here, ed.] would be willing to pay a little more to get a little more. All would rather have one or two well done plane, car, ship or armor kits than a hose of inaccurate, poorly researched models.

3. Almost everyone evinced a keen interest in the neglected between-the-wars plastics which encompass the period 1920 to 1940 [arguably from 1919 as seen from today IMHO not counting the Spanish Civil War, ed.], and include military, civilian and racing planes.

4. Our readers also wanted to see a section devoted to readers’ submissions, a feature we begun with our sixth issue [September 1966, ed.] and intend to sustain.

Before going into the selections chosen by you, one more market reaction was noted, possibly the most important one.

Every reader took the survey seriously. Many wrote us that they had tried repeatedly in the past to promote several kits that they wanted especially to see. Some have even gone so far as organize clubs [emphasis, ed.] for the purpose. Unfortunately, their requests have been ignored or turned down with a polite reply. That is until now.

We at Scale Modeler take great pleasure in announcing that many of your requests will soon be in the works. The model industry is waking up. Competition from overseas has been a major spur [emphasis added; incredibly true after the Cold War ended in 1992 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991, ed.] , but the resounding response from readers like yourselves has made the big difference.

For too many years scale modeling was thought to be in the same category with “hobby toys”, particularly by the manufacturers themselves. It is only now that many manufacturers have learned that scale modelers are serious people. With the emphasis away from pleasing the kids and focused instead on building an authentic replica, we can expect to see great strides made in accuracy, quality and the range of models available. If Scale Modeler has done anything to further this trend, it would be gratifying indeed.

And now the results of the survey in order of preference: [emphasis, ed.]

AIRCRAFT

Kingfisher by Monogram in ¼ inch will be reviewed in next issue of S/M [June 1967, ed.]

First Place . . . tie between Vought Sikorsky Kingfisher and Douglas TBD Devestator.

The former will be out within a few months in 1/32 scale, the model, an OS2U-3 type was made from a three-view drawing appearing in our sister publication Air Classics. Meanwhile, preliminary work is underway on a model of the later.

Second Place . . . Martin B-10.

A fine aircraft ignored by manufacturers, no plans are in the works for its production, bet we have made contact with a forward looking firm which is giving the matter strong consideration. [i.e. Williams Brothers injected kit in 1/72 scale, ed.]

Third Place . . . Savoia Marchetti 79. [emphasis ed.]

We knew this one was in production [i.e. Airfix 1/72 & Artiplast 1/50 injected kits, ed.] when we ran our survey and therefore omitted it. However, we got so many requests for it, we thought we would include it to prove that not all manufacturers are stuck on the same kits.

Fourth Place . . . Seversky P-35, another of the forgotten classics of the thirties, which many wanted super-detailed in 1/4” scale. [Williams Brothers 1/32 injected kit out first, wouldn’t be super-detailed but read on the Internet number of modelers have “improved” upon it over the decades, ed.]

Fifth Place . . . Curtis C-46 Commando, virtually submerged by the Goony bird’s publicity, this World War II workhorse was the biggest non-combat vote getter. [Williams Brothers again would be first getting their 1/72 injected kit out, ed.]

Sixth Place . . . Waco 10 . . . all respondents wanted a big, super-detailed model of this bird with moveable controls ala Monograms F3F and Gulfhawk. [Am assuming that’s been done over the ensuing 50 years, no? ed.]

Seventh Place . . . Bell Airacuda, also in quarter inch scale, although collectors of many models complained that 1/72 was the only to keep models from taking over the entire house. [Williams Brothers yet again got their 1/72 injected kit out first. So very little did the Author appreciate much less know that even as ink was drying monster-sized 1/72 kits never mind larger scale would soon be on the market ala the Monogram B-52D development work for which was well advanced then, ed.]

Eight Place . . . Tie among Mitsubishi Ki 21 Type 97 “Sally,” Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” and Kawanishi H3K1 flying boat “Emily.” The first two will eventually be brought out by L/S, the Japanese firm which did the Peggy that appeared in the issue Number 6 [i.e. the L/S 1/75 scale classic, ed.]. Since L/S and Nichimo are perhaps the two finest companies in Japan, these should be winners. [All were on the market before 1970 in 1/72 scale if memory serves right, ed.]

Ninth Place . . . Heinkel He 177 Grief . . . aircraft will be out next year by Faller, a German Maker, but may be hard to come by. [Find it criminally unbelievable Scale Modeler editors didn’t profess knowledge about Airfix coming out with their kit that very year – 1967. Did Airfix choose to keep this release Maximum Top Secret? Did Scale Modeler not want to act on rumors that it was about to be released, something else maybe? Primal screams of anger from this modeler still reverberating 50 years later! ed.]

Tenth Place. . . Curtis Shrike . . . again the call was for a super detailed model and readers called for extra parts to make model variations with, thus giving them a wider range of types, and were willing to pay more for same. [Have seen models of this bird over the years; super detailed ones with variations can’t say, those who know chime in, ed.]

Eleventh Place . . . Tie among Boeing F4B, P-12, P-26 all in quarter inch scale. It was felt the models now on the market of these ships were just too inadequate. Again super-detailing and size was the big feature, with lots of accessory parts for variation and prime attention paid to exacting detail. It was also found that in conjunction with these inter-war ship types Monogram’s treatment of the Grumman F3F should be extended to these classics also. [Was all this done over the ensuing 50 years, would love to know, ed.]

Twelfth Place . . . Lavochkin LA-5, included with these votes was the comment that most Russian WWII aircraft have been ignored by the manufacturers. [Airfix had the Yak 9D in 1963, Ilyushin Il-2 in 1964, Petlyakov Pe-2 in 1968, FROG the Tupolev SB-2 in 1969, Lavoshkin La-7 planned in 1971 but not released till 1975 which I think was around when Italeri came out with their La-5FN kit. I just don’t remember seeing any La-5 kits other than Italeri’s during the 1970s. ed.]

ARMOR [Professing blind ignorance for fear of being bashed to pulp won’t comment on this genera. ed.]

First Place . . . General Stuart M3A1 light tank used by British in western desert and christened “Honey”.

Second Place . . . General Grant with 75 mm gun also mainstay in western desert, early phase.

Third Place . . . German half track armored personnel carrier . . . sd.Kfz 250/1.

Fourth Place . . . American M-10 Tank destroyer with 76 mm gun.

Fifth Place . . . British Mk.I “Mother,” variation which first appeared on the Somme in 1916.

Sixth Place . . . Renault FT tank WW I. [This one I’ll comment on; why pray tell wasn’t there an injected kit on the market of this famous armor subject back then? ed.]

Seventh Place . . . Christie T3 Tank, pioneer of the early thirties and forerunner of Russian designs.

Eight Place . . . Russian T/34 76 [sic. ed.]. Only model of this type tank is T/34 [sic. ed.] 85 mm gun model by Revell which is no longer in production.

Many requests for Japanese tanks were received but these are now available from Japan in any store that stocks Japanese kits [Highlands Hobbies in North Highlands, California next to McClellan A.F.B. where I’d frequented in the late 1960s did stock them for sure, ed.]

SHIPS

First Place . . . RMS Titanic . . . the famous liner won by ratio of nearly three to one over its nearest competitor. Rumor has it that the Cunard White Star Liner would take dim view of a model being produced, as it would revive unpleasant memories. This seems a bit much when you consider the movies and best selling books written about this historic steamship. At any rate, two firms are definitely interested in this project, as a group of modelers who form the Titanic Enthusiasts of America (that’s the name) have collected all the photos etc. needed to do a comprehensive job. Model would be made in the three ft. overall class. [Yep, model kits were out not too long afterwards, ed.]

Second Place . . . German WW I sub (U-9) Kapitainleutnant Otto Weddigen commanding. Early sub sank three British battlecruisers in first weeks of WWI. Readers asked for clear plastic hull-half to reveal detailed interior. One firm has already undertaken the project. [Will have to do Internet research meantime y’all welcome to enlighten me, ed.]

Third Place . . . Carrier Enterprise Big “E” a scratch built model of which appeared in previous issue of Modeler [November 1966 ed.]. Kit will appear early next year. [Who’s I ask? ed.]

AUTOMOBILES

Of the thousands of questionnaires received all but a handful checked Hitler’s Mercedes Touring Car [emphasis, ed.], which was the biggest single vote getter in any category. Of all the models available the car manufacturers offer the widest range. Therefore, many classics ignored in other fields are already available in the car category. However, in addition to the Mercedes, numerous requests were made for Craig Breedlove’s “Spirit of America”. [emphasis, ed.]

In closing, we wish to tank all those who took the time to write to us. Time and space do not allow us to reduce all your requests and it must be noted that particular aircraft such as the McDonnell Moonbat [emphasis, ed.] and Japan’s Rita [emphasis i.e. Nakajima G8N, ed.], a four engine bomber will probably never appear except as scratch built projects [Both have been marketed since; how disgustingly presumptuous, do wanna hear disbelieving cat calls from our forum Japanese modelers right now! ed.].

However, many fine models which are out were requested by readers who in all probably, did not know that they were available. We are speaking of the Douglas A-20 Havoc, the Me. 410 [emphasis, ed.] (reviewed in last issue) [November 1966, ed.] and now the Arado 196. [emphasis; How so very true then in 1967. Decades before the Public Internet y’all only had print publications & word of mouth to go by, ed.] Others will be coming out shortly and if your local hobby store does not carry them, write to any of the specialist outfits which advertise in S/M; chances are they’ll have what you want.
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This is an excellent survey Richard and the responses are as true today as they were then. Superdetailing I think had a different meaning back then, but I'd like to know your thoughts about superdetailing then and now. Jean Barby said not long ago that the last 10-15 yrs of modeling have been a "golden age" - I agree with Jean. For example, 70s aircraft kits lacked cockpits, detailing was typically raised and accuracy was hit and miss - the final model didn't always look like the real plane. The S.79 took 3rd place in popularity and is still a popular subject today because of its interesting looks and incredible operational record - and because most people want something "Italian" in their collections Smile I found Hitler’s Mercedes Touring Car a popular subject to be interesting Smile Compare this to US car enthusiasts who love their mustangs, camaros, corvettes in every type of color and configuration. I also found interesting that 1/72 scale was a popular scale back then because of space considerations, well that's the primary reason why I (and most people) don't build in 1/32 - its too big!

How large was the aftermarket in the late 60s? Today we have every conceivable aftermarket accessory (resin, photo etch frets, vacuum form canopies, decals etc) for almost any kit. I also found it interesting that the survey concluded that modelers were highly knowledgeable people, both about the topic they modeled (ie., the history and technical aspects of the subject) and about the model building process which has for the most part taken on an art-form. I can tell you at Stormo we have lawyers, surgeons, movie directors (yes movie directors from Kalifornia Smile), pilots (military and civil), historians, engineers, military etc who regularly visit the website and ... yes buy and make model-art Smile

Bravo Richard!

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Retired In Kalifornia
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Super detailing I think had a different meaning back then, but I'd like to know your thoughts about super detailing then and now.

Absolutely had no thoughts then regarding super detailing, learning how to use the Binks Wren external feed single action air bush I’d recently bought was all I could handle in 1967!

Super detailers are Gods, best been able to do is use kit-supplied brass parts for my Regia Aeronautica Italia (RAI) builds. The 1967 “super detailers” were master craftsmen flying scale aircraft builders + from scratch folks then in their early 20s to 40s, will post Scale Modeler Magazine (SMM) article about the scratch-built “Pepsodent Pe-109” soon, that’s what I’d call super detail scratch building!

At the two IPMS Silver Wings Sacramento shows I’d attended in 1968 there indeed were excellent scale plastic builders (mostly autos), still vividly remember one fella in his thirties showing off a beautifully built out-of-box recently issued 1/72 scale Heller Bf-109G at the second show, not till 1987 was I able to replicate what he’d done.

How large was the aftermarket in the late 60s?

Near nothing to speak of in way of hobby store retail aftermarket kit parts early 1960s till Mattel developed the Vac-U-Form toy trademarked on October 8, 1962. By early 1969 when I’d quit the hobby for the first time sophisticated scale plastic modelers were furiously making their own “scratch” parts with them but the U.S.A. aftermarket for super detailing wouldn’t develop in earnest till the mid-1970s from what I remember. Commercial "formula-mix" enamel paints (Pactra chiefly also Official I now think were Pactra rip-offs), Rub-N-Buff, tube compound & metalizer spray paints, Letraset dry & Krasel Industries Microscale wet decals initially for WWII American, British & German aircraft in 1/72 scale, Walthers Solvaset decal setting solution (still being made) came available c.1964 onwards but nothing yet for RAI & Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) models - at least in the U.S.A.

Jean Barby said not long ago that the last 10-15 yrs of modeling have been a "golden age" - I agree with Jean.

The “Golden Age” of non-flying scale modeling for me were those 1/72 airplane kits marketed 1958-1980; vacuforms appeared just when I’d first quit the hobby in 1969 resins came not long afterwards. I didn’t resume the hobby in earnest till 40 years ago this fall so had to “bone up” on what was available at hobby stores in Sacramento, i.e. latest kit releases, all-important reference publications & aftermarket decal sets. I profusely thank God returning to the hobby when there were still good local vendors, definitely something to be said about personally “inspecting the goods” before buying back then!

For RAI & ANR huggers like me the “Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum Ages” came in successive eras commencing with the 1962 Aliplast FIAT G.55 (didn't see them on sale till 1967, alas didn't buy a kit at the time), 1963 FROG Macchi C.202 followed some years later by the Airfix, Artiplast, Revell releases, the 1970s Italeri & Supermodel releases followed by a decade long drought till well after the Cold War ended when Eastern European "limited run" injected plastic, vacuform & resin kit builders flooded the market with RAI & ANR kits fully 75% of my collection not including those offered by Italian kit makers to date by them.

RAI historical reference publications came on line in the 1960s becoming ever more diverse and thankfully more readily available in the U.S.A. but other than the 1967 His-Air-Dec FIAT CR.42 Monograph decal sheet no other RAI & ANR aftermarket decals came available till the Altmark et. al. limited run, ESCI-ETRL, Microscale RAI & ANR sheets in the 1970s near all in 1/72 scale, only when the SKY Models & Tauro sheets became available since the turn of the 3rd Millennium were there enough alternative modeling subject options along with aftermarket kit parts to go with them.

The S.79 took 3rd place in popularity and is still a popular subject today…I also found interesting that 1/72 scale was a popular scale back then because of space considerations…I also found interesting that the survey concluded that modelers were highly knowledgeable people, both about the topic they modeled…and about the model building process which has for the most part taken on an art-form.

I’d suspected when the survey was being held the S.79 would be prominent though really wanted to buy & build the Macchi C.200 kit first. Revell graciously would market it well as the FIAT CR.42 around when the survey was being tabulated. Airfix’s terrible FIAT G.50 would come out in short order as well, the only one available in 1/72 scale for decades, none of these RAI & ANR kits had decent decals.

I've built 1/72 scale near exclusively since 1978 when resumed the hobby, nothing beats it for the range of subject offerings.

Scale modelers in the 1960s were divided amongst "Kids" (way vast majority then) and "Hobbyists", the SMM survey at the time was revolutionary insofar as likely for the first time in print Hobbyists were asked what they wanted to see in the way of new kits, unbelievable considering Hobbyists are pretty much the scale model market today given how expensive kits are IMHO!
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Retired In Kalifornia
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Didn't want to start another discussion thread but am considering attending the August 25, 2018 IPMS Fresno model contest entering my CANT Z.504:





Fresno is a 3-hour drive from Cameron Park so chose to submit the Z.504 as its my only biplane model in its own display/travel case small enough for me to "keep an eye" on it whilst traveling. Wire-rigged biplanes should score well in contest judging but even if I don't win anything this unusual model surely should gain attention!
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Its gorgeous Richard! Its hard to imagine that you wouldn't win something with this masterpiece! Article please, would be a beautiful addition to the Gallery. I feel like a kid in a candy store when it comes to your work Smile! What did you use for aluminum dope ?

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Retired In Kalifornia
Generale di Divisone Aerea
Generale di Divisone Aerea

Joined: 07 Mar 2018
Posts: 415
Location: Cameron Park, California
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Editor wrote:
Its gorgeous Richard! Its hard to imagine that you wouldn't win something with this masterpiece! Article please, would be a beautiful addition to the Gallery. I feel like a kid in a candy store when it comes to your work Smile! What did you use for aluminum dope ?
Plain 'ole 1/4 ounce Testors Flat Aluminum enamel. The IPMS Fresno August 25th Show Coordinator OK'd on entering the resin Z.504 so will enter it in the contest possibly along with my "What If Russian Front" FROG Macchi C.202 model:



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Retrospective: The Scale Modeler Magazine 1967 Reader Survey
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