|Not Quite Perfect |
Editorial December 2006
Perhaps the biggest disappointment a collector can experience is opening that newly delivered model to find that there is something wrong with it. Whatever it is; chipped paint, missing parts or broken pieces - the effect is the same. Something that was wanted as part of a collection feels tainted and not quite so deserving of a place on the display shelf. To be clear, the issue being discussed here is not design defects within a model, it is things which can be grouped under the heading of poor workmanship.
Before discussing this in a little more depth, it is worth remembering there is not a huge problem. At Cranes Etc under 5% of new models received have had a fault 'out of the box' and none of these have required the complete model to be returned for replacement. However any level of problem is really not good enough and it is no comfort for a collector to think they are unlucky if they have a defect in their model.
The first aspect of this subject to consider is defective paintwork. Some defects may actually make a model more interesting if, for example, the lettering is incorrectly applied to say something different from what was intended. The most common problem though is chipped paintwork and this is nearly always a result of a lack of care in the factory which means the model had a defect when packed. The solution to this rests with the makers and the quality control they employ at their works. What should a collector tolerate? This is an individual decision, but if a chip is clearly visible and detracts from displaying the model then that should not be accepted. A potential option for manufacturers is to include a tiny pot of paint for use in touching up paint and this would no doubt be well received by collectors as long as it is not a substitute for sending out chipped models.
Another class of problem is that of missing parts. These will typically be small items such as pins or bolts. Cranes Etc has had one model crane delivered without the hook. Again the initial problem rests in the factory, but resolving the problem should be straightforward with the missing part being sent to the collector. An area where the makers could help in this regard is to provide a full parts list so collectors can be sure what parts they should have with the model and this particularly applies to complex models which have many pieces.
Damage in the form of bent or broken parts can be a worse area to deal with because depending on the nature of it, the only option may be to return the model for replacement. Again the problem usually resides in the factory although sometimes models do not withstand rough handling during shipping but here the root cause is really that the packaging allows the model to move within the box so that pieces can get bent and broken. Skilled collectors will often opt to fix a problem themselves rather than bother sending a model back. Small bends such as happens to handrails can be bent back very carefully although the risk of the diecast metal breaking is quite high as it is not a ductile material. For breaks, superglue carefully applied can work wonders. In fact TWH supplied a small tube of superglue with their giant Manitowoc 18000 Crawler Crane model.
The bottom line as always is that it is for the model makers to produce and package their models so collectors can get what they expect - a perfect model out of the box. On the rare occasions that a defective model is delivered then it is up to the model makers and their dealers to make things right.