Why Plastic Aircraft Models are Going Away


Sr Member
It's come up in various discussions whether kit companies have to pay licensing for kits of real airplans and such. Yes, they do, and it's killing the modeling industry:

Why Plastic Aircraft Models are Going Away
January 31, 2005: For over half a century, kits have been sold that enable military history buffs to assemble scale models of military ships, aircraft and vehicles. But that era is coming to an end, as the manufacturers of the original equipment, especially aircraft, are demanding high royalties (up to $40 per kit) from the kit makers. Since most of these kits sell in small quantities (10-20,000) and are priced at $15-30 (for plastic kits, wooden ones are about twice as much), tacking on the royalty just prices the kit out of the market. Popular land vehicles, which would sell a lot of kits, are missing as well. The new U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicles are not available because of royalty requirements. Even World War II aircraft kits are being hit with royalty demands. This move grew out of the idea that corporations should maximize “intellectual property” income. Models of a companys products are considered the intellectual property of the owner of a vehicle design. In the past, the model kits were considered free advertising, and good public relations, by the defense firms. The kit manufacturers comprise a small industry, and the aircraft manufacturers will probably not even notice if they put many of the model vendors out of business. Some model companies will survive by only selling models of older (like World War I), or otherwise “no royalty” items (Nazi German aircraft) and ships. But the aircraft were always the bulk of sales, and their loss will cripple many of the kit makers. 

If the above interests you, read this too:
I was wondering why I was seeing less and less on the shelves, and higher and higher prices.

Isn't there any simple hobby that isn't touched by mass greed?

I will be writing since I can say that many kids I knew entered into the military, or became mechanics, or designers, or engineers because they were able to have model kits when young.

Who the hell can afford a $40 airplane kit for their 8 year old kid?


Thank you for posting that.
That burns my butt.

I'm not that into the aircraft, but SPACEcraft subjects are also apparently being affected by this. JPL, for example, is run by CalTech and they claim they "own" the designs of their space probes.

Pretty soon you won't be able to SEE anything without paying a fricking FEE to somebody.

- Karl
Well, if they own the designs, they own them. If others are profiting from them, I can't blame them for wanting a slice of the pie.

But if they're asking $40 a kit, that is just insane.

This kind of thing, in theory, rights itself over time. When the bean counters realize they've priced themselves right back into getting nothing at all, they'll reduce the fees and things will get back to almost normal.

In theory.
Shame we can't make it a public image property law like Politician's faces and other items. Some items cannot be restricted as they are considered public forum. Maybe some lawyer with extra sharp teeth will figure out a way to make the airplanes appearance public domain so they can't charge more than a tiny fee.

Well, I guess I'm off to my local hobby shop to buy a lifetime's worth of airplane models...

Better get 'em now while I can still afford them.
I saw THIS


on Cultmans Site some time back...

I'll tell you, this is sooooooooooooooooo

Now, one Company is mentioned prominently
in there, that's Lockheed-Martin. Now, what bugs
the HELL out of me about this whole License thing is this.

Don't " WE ", as the taxpayer's who pay for ALL the
damn military fighter's out there to GET developed
kinda' sorta' " own " them ? I know, I know,

But I mean, just HOW exactly do these big time
Contractors claim those HIGH DOLLAR planes as
contributes to their pocket ?????

Sorry, a little more " ranty " then normal, but I
am SOOO sick and tired of this WE OWN IT, GIVE US MONEY
It all depends on their original contracts with the government. Sounds like they retain design ownership (with the gov't having exclusive rights to use the actual planes, of course).

You make a good point, but I'd look at it this way:

When you hire a photogropher, you own the pictures that he/she provides you, but not the negatives (unless stated in the contract, of course).

There have been many times when I have worked on a film and when it comes time to do a sequel, the studio contacts us asking for all of our materials and files related to the first film so that they can ship them to a smaller studio to have them do the work in order to save money. When we say "forget it" (we always do), they invariably contact a lawyer who promptly tells them that they paid for the finished frames of film, and not for the materials required to produce them.

I'd think that the same principal applies here, although it sucks that the contactors would be this greedy about licensing fees. I can't imagine they would even notice an extra $100,000 a year when they charge more than $50 million per aircraft in many cases.
All of this looks to me like the lawyers and accountants got together.

I for one started with building airplane kits.

Real shame, I guess they just want kids watching TV, playing video games,
and eating Happy Meals, oh yea, don't go out side and play, you'll die of breathing.
So much for the creative arts. :(
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