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Change of strategy or combined printing at MS Models

Change of strategy or combined printing at MS Models

The first years of MS Models existence are over and we can look back and evaluate the successes and failures. Fortunately, the numbers say that MS Models activity is more in the successful part, but there is also a part of the mentioned failures. And what do we mean by success and failure? Why did such an article come out? The aim is to present to the public what actually involves such sales of paper models. Facts that didn't occur to me at the beginning. After all, selling models is just drawing and drawing...

Light consideration

But let's start from the beginning. So what is success and failure? That's a purely individual thing. Some count success in profit, others in fame. I personally measure success by the number of models sold. If the stock disappears briskly, they consider it a success. Otherwise, when a model sells slowly or sales stop altogether, we can talk about failure. These two conditions are closely related to a problem that sooner or later had to appear. That problem is called "stocking unsold models". As mentioned at the beginning, this is one of the things that is hidden to the eye at first. The reason is simple. The capital is smaller to begin with, or the printed models are smaller in scale. If we print by offset, the print run is in the hundreds of pieces, usually at least 500. To give you an idea: if we have a smaller model in an A4 size book with 6xA4 parts, 4x A4 instructional drawings + some ribs, we bring approximately 63kg of paper from the printer with a stack height of 1.3m. Which isn't that bad. But then there will be more and more models, which will be even more extensive. And let's go straight for the biggest caliber in the form of such a 1:25 scale locomotive, which already has a fair A3 size book, 22xA3 parts, 12xA3 instructional drawings, 6xA3 parts with skeleton. Here you already take home from the printer a beautiful 350kg of paper, stack height 3,6m. You get home and you start figuring out where to put it. In the cellar? Probably not, given the humidity. In the attic, where it's 50°C in summer and -10°C in winter? Worse, when you do find a place, it's usually not inflatable, so sooner or later you'll run out of space as you get more models.

And here I am slowly getting to the point of this article. And that is the question of how to produce the models? How to make sure that the whole house doesn't fill up with paper? We are talking about the case where renting external space for storing models is not efficient. The answer to this question seems simple - simply print fewer models. To understand why the answer to this question is not simple, let's first see the types of individual prints and their principle.

Printing technology

Offset print

It is probably the most desirable form of printing for paper models. The print is velvety matt, waterproof, and does not crack on the fold. The only problem is that it is produced in large quantities at once. Since the production of printing matrices is expensive, we have to print a large number of models to get to an acceptable price at which we will sell the model. And with a large number of models comes the problem of storage. It is therefore very uneconomical to print a model offset in batches of, say, 100 pieces. Moreover, it is very likely that such a small print run would not even be printed by the printer.

Digital print

It is an alternative to offset printing. The surface is semi-gloss to glossy. If we have a good quality printer, the ink does not peel on the fold. Slight peeling can be seen on the cut. Here the problem is eliminated by the necessary retouching, which we do anyway, regardless of the type of printing. Also, when shaping the radii, no signs of the print peeling from the paper were observed. Even so, this type of printing is rejected, although in my opinion it has great potential and selected types of models such as cars, locomotives, etc. Thanks to the glossy surface, it reproduces the surface of the master much more faithfully and the colours are much richer than with offset. The advantage is the production from one piece, the disadvantage is the higher printing price.

Laser print

You may be surprised by the separation between laser and digital printing. Since I am not an expert in printing technology, this separation is purely my opinion on the matter. In fact, when I compare the digital printing that is used for BETA tests at MS Models and the pronounced laser prints I may have handled, the difference is noticeable. The laser print is very smooth, the gloss is high. I have had the opportunity to glue a model printed on a laser printer once and the result was that the slightest contact resulted in the paint peeling off. It was simply impossible to roll the paper into a roll without the ink peeling off. So laser printing has absolutely no chance to succeed in the field of paper models.

Inkjet print

Inkjet printing is the domain of home printing. If you find large printers (meaning companies) that use inkjet printing, there will be very few of them. In most cases, you will see inkjet in home printers. It's just that anyone who has ever had the experience of using an inkjet printer will tell you that the results are not dazzling. If you print on plain paper, the colours are not at all rich, the contours are blurred and worst of all, the slightest contact with water means the print is ruined and the model suffers greatly. The problem lies in the ink used. It is divided into two types:

- Dye ink - dye-based ink
- Pigment ink - pigment-based ink

The former is prevalent in most printers and unless the user uses special paper, the result will always be sub-par. On the other hand, the second mentioned, pigment-based printing, brings an advantage and eliminates some problems.

New strategy?

Standard models

This would give us a brief introduction to the different types of printing technologies and we can think about how to deal with them. After much deliberation, it was decided to reduce the offset print run to a minimum. The large models will continue to be printed by offset and issued in editions of 200-250 pieces. It will therefore be safe to say that we are already talking about the so called "limiteds" and they will continue to be distributed to resellers. After the model is sold out, reprinting is not planned. The exception will be models that have the possibility of color or other mutations. In this case we can consider reprinting in the form of digital printing, up to 100 pieces. Here the sales will probably be located only on the MS Models e-shop.

MICRO series (1:300)

The MICRO series category is very specific in terms of printing. Those of you who have followed MS Models from the early days know that the very first idea was to sell individual cards, as is the case with the founder of WDS Miniboxes. For storage and sales reasons, this idea was rejected and the option of distribution in the form of booklets containing selected models bound in A5/A4 format came into the picture. The first and last representative so far is Passenger Cars 1, whose booklet offers 8 types of cars. The disadvantage, however, is the purchase of the entire booklet, where it is impossible to estimate in advance how much of what the modeller needs. So here too it was decided to change the sales strategy as follows:

- Diorama - offset printed and bound in A4 size booklets.
- Selected sets - offset printed and bound in A4 size booklets (sale only on MS Models e-shop)
- Cards - printed in ink, sold separately (sold only on MS Models e-shop)

So you can see the return of individual cards that will be printed to order.

New helper at MS Models

Now it's time to take a closer look at inkjet printing, which will allow us to reduce inventory and also allow us to reintroduce the possibility of selling individual cards for 1:300 scale models.

Talking about the print quality, the result can be seen in the following photos. Printed on 160g/m2 paper. In the second photo we can compare inkjet and offset printing.


And you can't miss the water test. In the first picture, water has been applied to the paper and left on the print for a few minutes. It was then wiped off, which we can see in the second picture.



Inkjet printing therefore seems to be a suitable alternative to offset, especially for models where sales are not expected to be high. Individual cards for 1:300 scale models will be gradually added back to the range. For other models, there will be essentially no change except for the aforementioned reduction in production numbers. For more information follow our E-shop or FB page!

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