Several years ago I found myself on the phone with Mike Quarterman of MRM (Motor Racing Models). I was getting a subscription, and as many back issues as he had. During the course of the conversation I asked him which carbon fiber decals he would recommend. Without hesitation he told me to hold on and don't buy anything right now. "In a few months a guy is going to come out with some decals that will blow you away. He uses metallic inks. They are the best I have ever seen." I then told him that the reason I was asking was because I wanted to do the bare carbon Porsche GT1. The test mule for Le Mans. "Just wait." and so I waited. I forget where I first saw the Scale Motorsport DeclKit for the Porsche GT1 test mule, I was that stunned. I immediately ordered it.
Upon opening the package I couldn't believe the level of quality and engineering that went into the DeclKit. Everything was there. The carbon fiber decals, the sponsor logos, the instruction sheet with tips and everything so well thought out. It even included some spare sheets in case you floundered on your first attempt at this new process. Recently I was on the phone with Matthew Wells, the owner of Scale Motorsport, and after ordering a few sheets we began to talk about Scale Motorsport and our hobby in general. When the conversation reached its end (or rather Matthew had to get back to work!), I asked if I could share some of the info we had talked about in the form of 10 questions and answers. He agreed and the rest follows. I hope that you find this as enjoyable and informative as I did.
What prompted you to begin Scale Motorsport?
Several circumstances led me to start Scale Motorsport, actually three in particular.
1. A conversation I had with Mike Quarterman about Composite Fiber materials in an effort to learn more so I could become more knowledgeable about my building.
2. Purchasing a very expensive after-market detail kit, waiting 8 months for it to arrive and than being very disappointed with what I received.
3. I was tired of being an art director and product designer for other peoples
products/companies and felt it was time to invest my time in a business of my own. I have
a broad scope of design skills, management and previous business ownership experience.
Combining those skills with my passion for model cars seemed a natural, although I must
adit it did not come easily. The final transformation took about two years of gut
Do you ever see a point at which SM's products are included by kit manufactures into their product releases?
Yes I do, in fact we are currently discussing several joint venture projects with a number of 'mainstream manufacturers' around the world.
What criteria are used when deciding which model kit SM will support and how elaborate that SM product will be?
For now the criteria are somewhat intuitive but that depends on how big the initial investment is and what we believe the life span of the product might be. In September we are introducing a new line of spray paints called Faux Fabrix. Faux Fabrix is a textured spray paint that allows you to create a soft, fabric-like finish for upholstered seats (racing shells), tonneau covers, convertible tops, trunk, chassis, engine bay insulation and more. This will be Scale Motorsport's biggest investment, but its for a product that we believe has a long, long life span. We ran several focus groups with dozens of modelers to identify what to name this very unique product and which two colors to introduce the line. We have developed a strong visual format and development system for our PE sets, Template CF sets and Super Detail Kits so we know what our costs will be upfront. Deciding what to include is a combination of wanting to provide parts that no other supplier has created, while providing something very unique and memorable, like the tire warmers in our MP4/13 Super Detail Kit. We are currently developing a Super Detail Kit for the Tamiya Toyota GT-One. This kit will have a new packaging format that lowers our costs, so we will be able to pass those savings onto our customers.
How many, if any, SM products are no longer being produced or have been discontinued?
Currently the products we have discontinued are the separate turned metal packages for the MP4/13, and the 911 GT-1. We are currently out of stock on the 911 GT-1 Super Detail Kits and do not have any plans to do another production run. But that may change in the future. Super Detail Kits are very labor intensive, and costly which is why we are redesigning the kits, so financially we can only carry so many different types of Super Detail Kits at one time. However, the sales we have experienced from this product line shows us the market is out there and worth pursuing, so we are making major investments in package tooling and other details that will drastically effect the kit ultimate retail price, lowering it substantially.
How much time, in general, is required to bring a detail kit to market?
As long as all the components are in place that is, suppliers, materials, etc., it can take three months. The Toyota GT-1 is taking longer because we are changing formats for packaging, suppliers, and making major tooling investments, so this kit will take closer to six months. Once everything is in place future kits will take the normal three months, maybe shorter.
Where do you see SM in 10 years?
Ten years is a long time to plane for, we currently have a two and five year plan. But we are investing in achieving 20 to 30 percent growth every year. We will accomplish that through joint venture projects with other companies, new product introductions and even making some acquisitions along the way of other companies and or existing product lines that compliment what we already have and who we are. Areas of growth that we will venture into that we are currently not in will be publishing, and manufacturing.
What is in the works for future releases from SM?
As I mentioned earlier, we will be introducing a Super Detail Kit for the Toyota GT-1, and our new spray paint line called Faux Fabrix. Another new product line we call Diecast Details. Diecast Details is a line of Photoetch, Electroform and Decal products for people that do 1:18 Diecast rebuild projects. The first line of Diecast Details we have introduced are for the Camaro Z28 and SS editions years 1968 to 1971-1/2. Diecast rebuild projects are increasing in popularity and we believe this will only continue grow. There are some fabulous subjects in 1:18 Diecast that we can't get in plastic, including some really great racing subjects. Other future products will be kit specific as well as tools and materials that help you to improve and further enjoy your building experience. Oh and we just introduced PE and CF sets for the Tamiya Rally Car series, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Ford Focus. The Subaru and Peugeot and will be released in September.
You recently went to the Shizuoka Hobby Show. Can you give us any inside info on what new kits the Asian manufacturers are planning and what direction they are taking with regard to new motorsports related products?
The trip to Japan, my first, was fabulous a real eye opener. The Shizuoka was very interesting although a bit smaller than I had expected, but very comprehensive. Not much in the way of new products were announced. Tamiya introduced a clear view of their F 40 and also released their Porsche 910 kit. The other big news was that Modelers is closing down. What I heard was the owner was getting tired of the business and just decided to shut it down. Two of the employees have started up their 'spin-off,' I think they call it Treasure Island. One of the most interesting parts of the show was the public days on Saturday and Sunday. During that time about 60 Japanese Modeling Clubs were invited to set up tables displaying their work, so I got see thousands of cars and military subjects built by many different types of Japanese builders. That was a lot of fun.
How much of a role does buyer feedback effect the planning and development of SM's products?
Buyer feedback always plays a major roll. I belong to three major East Coast modeling clubs and attend two clubs monthly meetings very regularly. Along with belonging to the GPMA list Scale Motorsport also belongs to two other model building lists. We do this to stay close to builders to see what they are looking for and to get feedback from them about what we are doing or thinking of doing.
What was the last model you built?
I build all the time, mostly to test out our products, very rarely anymore just for pleasure. The last kit I built was Tamiya's Isuzu Vehicross and VW New Beetle. I just purchased a Retrotoys Ferrari 250P and plan on making that my next build, but it will be strictly for pleasure. I had a chance last weekend to extensively photograph the number 22 car which was the sister car to the winning LeMans 21 car, so now I have lots of details to get into.
I want to personally thank Matthew and Scale Motorsport for his hard work and efforts in making our hobby that much better and for taking the time to answer "10 from the bench." Next issue, we'll talk with the recently appointed president of Accurate Miniatures, Paul Bedford, about a company in flux and what this means to the motorsports modeler.
Last modified: September 5, 2000