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Models to Market - A Waste of Time
Editorial December 2004

This topic is about how long it seems to take to get a new model produced and available for sale.  The latest example of this is the Liebherr LR1750 crawler crane model by Conrad.  First rumoured at the start of 2004, for most of the year it was forecast to be available by Christmas 2004.  This still seemed to be the forecast as the calendar pages turned over to December.  Sure enough, Christmas came and went without any sign of the new model and forecast delivery slipped to January or February.

This example is one of a long line of similar delays.  Previously the delivery of the Liebherr LR1280, Grove GMK 7450 crane and the Manitowoc 555 crawler crane all slipped by months.  A more extreme recent example concerns the NZG Menck M251 and Weserhutte 180 which are both to be produced in an alternative 'used' livery.  Although first announced at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in early 2004 these models have taken an age to become available - and this is only for models with only a different paint job!  Even the Grove GMK 7450 in Mammoet colours has taken months to get to market.

It appears that model makers, and more likely their clients (the OEMs - Original Equipment Manufacturers) are not well disciplined at working to a timetable.  On the face of it, making a model is not a highly complex task although there are a number of stages to go through including prototyping and making the moulds.  Perhaps it is understandable that there is slippage where development of a model is in parallel with the development of the real machine and change may be occurring.  In many other cases though it is not clear why there should be a problem.  It is easy to imagine that the OEMs may not be the fastest to make a decision or may want different things when offered a prototype for approval.  Whatever the reason it does seem that time gets wasted in the process.

Delays would be forgivable if the finished model was problem free.  However whatever goes on through the period of model development it sometimes does not seem to produce the right results.  Take the example of the Grove GMK 7450 mobile crane again.  Although there is much to commend it, it does have some basic errors such as incorrect representation of the luffing jib such that the hoist rope is missing a pulley as it passes the boom head.  The livery in the various guises of this model also has strange choices - all variants have the same silver coloured luffing jib which just looks silly when the rest of the model is in a particular colour.  Another example is the excellent Conrad CC8800 crawler crane.  Both the model and luffing jib extension kits were sold without instructions in the first run. 

Although the slippage of the LR1750 has been disappointing at least one manufacturer has achieved delivery before Christmas 2004.  TWH Collectibles delivered its models of the Grove GMK 3055, Potain IGO tower crane, and Sterling boom truck to dealers in line with dates forecast some months previously.  Full marks to them and it is to be hoped they can repeat the performance and deliver the Manitowoc 18000 crane by April/May 2005.  Hopefully other manufacturers will also improve deliveries to forecast dates.  However more importantly to collectors they should deliver models that are right rather than ones which have production problems with the first batch. 

Cranes Etc