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Instructions Required
Editorial March 2008

Many of the scale models reviewed by Cranes Etc are far from the 'take it out of the box, plonk it on the shelf' category.  Some are complex pieces of model engineering and require assembly of anything from a couple of small parts to nearly as many as are needed to assemble the real machine.  For the experienced collector assembling the pieces of a model may be relatively straightforward, but for the occasional collector or the person receiving the model as a gift, assembly may present a challenge without clear instructions.

This editorial is about the provision of instructions and related information with models.  Performance in this area is patchy with many models having no instructions at all while some come with very clear pictures and multilingual text.  Typically models representing machines from the larger manufacturers are better served in this regard although even here there is room for improvement.  As a principle, Cranes Etc would recommend that all models come with a minimum of at least one sheet of instructions and a 'standard specification' for the information it would contain could be as follows:

- Detail about the real machine: specifications, year of introduction and photos of the real machine.  Most models are produced to promote full sized machines and yet some include no information on it at all.  Of course this type of information is readily available because it is used in marketing the real machine so it should be no problem providing it with the model. 

- Detail about the model:  maker and model number, year of introduction, number in the production run.

- A parts list (with photos) of what should be in the box.

- Assembly instructions described with photos, and words if necessary.

- Model care instructions.  This should include who to contact if the model has broken or missing parts as well as tips on cleaning and displaying (e.g. keep out of strong sunlight?).

- A web address where updated model information can be accessed.

Many models have no instructions and some have instructions which do not quite reflect the finished model.  In part this may be explained by the pressure which inevitably occurs in getting any product to market.  Instructions and documentation are often produced at the end of the process and sometimes time runs out.  Having said that some Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) seem quite happy that models go out on their behalf without any instructions at all and this may be due to some lack of input into the documentation process.  If model makers do not have the skills to describe the model assembly properly then the document writers in the OEM should have the task, but perhaps this is sometimes too difficult to organise, or is viewed as expensive.  Going forward Cranes Etc really expects to see, as a minimum, basic instructions and information provided with all models.  Manufacturers who do so are showing respect to the buyers and recipients of their models.

Cranes Etc
At the top end of the scale, TWH's Manitowoc 18000 comes with a spiral bound book (and a basic DVD).
The XCMG QAY200 comes with a nice page decoratively printed in Chinese.
Too many models come with instructions like this - nothing!