Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Market Research

I was glancing through TMP the other day and saw an announcement for WWW1 German assault figures. I didn’t realise it as I clicked on the link but the spare W in the title should have warned me – it was, of course, a range of ‘weird’ (read ‘made up’) models. Now I’ll declare my hand early on here – sci fi and fantasy, well I just don’t get it. I don’t criticise it, to each their own, but it’s not for me. Rather like fox hunting, I cannot see the fun in it but I’m not going to ban it.

The figures themselves looked like fairly workmanlike sculpts with a mix of 1914 and sci fi uniforms. But I did start to wonder about the business case the makers must have put together before they decided to start making the things – is there actually a market for these? I’m guessing that the breakeven point for a single figure these days must run in to above the thousand pound mark with sculpting, moulding, raw materials and marketing taken into account. That’s a lot of figures that need to be sold before the maker even starts to make a profit. Are there really that many people who will be into this collection?

Given the plethora of fantasy figures out there – orcs, elves, zombies, alternative histories, space ships, even WWW1 Germans – how many of these ranges actually work? I ask this in the full knowledge that the biggest team on the block, GW, runs a highly successful business based on the very genre I am talking about. But they must hoover up a huge proportion of the available disposable income that goes into the hobby making life even tougher for the more marginal makers out there.

In short, where is the market research for WWW1 Germans and the like? I am genuinely curious to know. In the meantime I saw some nice Crimean War sculpts from North Star. They look more like it....

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