Sprue Brothers Lighting Deal April 11 2022 Takom Panther A with Interior 38.99 US

Go forth, fellow model builders, and acquire Panthers you will probably not build any time soon…

Edit: This flash deal is now over. I hope everyone who wanted a nice Panther model was able to get one. :slight_smile:

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lol, it was tempting. Already got a large enough stash and 7 in work projects. I had to stay strong.

I had to stay very strong on this one! I’ve been after a panther for a while but I move into a new house soon and alas the bank and realtors smell money in the water

Lucky for me, I get a “server error” when clicking on Sprue Brothers lightning deal. Personal boycotting of Chinese products stays intact and I save some money.


The problem of China has influenced most of my purchases for the last two decades.

With regards models, I keep hoping more model companies will take root in western nations but it never seems to happen. That surprises me because computer assisted drafting and machining, which fueled the revolution in model accuracy and complexity, are available everywhere.

Since I started modeling again 3 months ago, all but one of my model purchases came from a company in the Ukraine, a conscious decision for the obvious reason. ICM and Miniart really do put out high quality models. How come that is not happening in more places?

Please pardon my response if it is considered too political for these forums.

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I’m about two years ahead in my return to the hobby and picked up most of the desired new Chinese kits before Corona. I’m one of those OCD types holding a grudge against Red China :cn: for its disingenuous approach to sharing information on COVID-19. Likewise, China :cn: is engaged in nasty exploitation of Africa. Their long standing issues in Hong Kong. Won’t even mention Taiwan.

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$$$, either through “local” rules or knowledge prevents it. A number of companies design in-house and out source the rest.

I know Polar Lights (or whatever they are now called) has done that. Das Werk did something similar with the molds they did not purchase.

I wonder why they always outsource to mainland China. Anyone with a computer can download free CAD software and design a model. Anyone can purchase a cheap stereo lithography printer. Once you have a working prototype, cutting it up and converting it into a styrene mold image cannot be that tough. Making a styrene mold is as simple as sending the image to a Computer Numerically Controlled milling machine and letting it carve the mold out of a slab of metal. The mold fits injection molding machines which one may purchase or essentially rent. I find it hard to believe the whole process would cost more than 100K US for a decent model. It could be set up anywhere and cheap labor is plentiful in many parts of the world.

I should try it myself and see what happens. I really should.

I was told that was the going rate for molds for a long time and I have been told about 1/4 price for molds but those where going through China.

It would be interesting to see what you come up with.

There is more to it than just milling the design into a block of metal. Stuff like welds and cast texture can’t be milled and require another process, EDM? or something. All in all the process is skilled time consuming labor with expensive materials using very expensive machines. Rightfully everyone involved in the process expects a living wage, and running a company in the west is expensive in itself. Honestly I think 100k even for China is low. If you came back with a quote for under a million from a company stateside I’d be surprised.

Not trying to be discouraging, I’d love to see a western company enter the model making business with everything done in house, but I think the kits would end up very expensive.

So I’m a prototype machinist for a medical device company and I have heard this exact sentiment expressed before “ all you have to do is clamp the block in the machine, load the tools, and press the button”, this by some of our design engineers who feel it’s a minor and easily accomplished task. After all, they’ve done the really hard work of designing the part and their software can spit out G code.
I believe as the saying goes the plan did not survive first contact .

Now ruthlessly hijacking my own thread…

Let us say a person designs and successfully prototypes a model using stereo lithography. Let us also say the person does some research on injection molding and formats the model for that type of production.

  1. Take the sprue mold layout to an expert and purchase an hour of consultation time to discuss the project and what modifications need to happen. Please note, I do not know the proper terminology for this process but that can be learned.
  2. Make those modifications.
  3. Take the sprue mold layout back to the expert. Either iterate for more refinement with an hour of time or purchase enough time to get a finished spure mold layout.
  4. Find a company to mill the mold.
  5. Pay to mill the mold.
  6. Pay for a test shot.
  7. There will be problems. Go back to the expert and learn how the mold needs to change.
  8. Make those changes in the sprue mold layout file.
  9. Go to (5).
  10. After a successful test shot, find a company to produce X copies of the mold.
  11. Pay to produce X copies of the mold.

Now, armed with a bunch of sprues, get into branding, packaging, distribution, advertising and some other stuff which is a different conversation.

I am sure the task list above misses many parts of the process. Can anyone offer additional insight into that process or point me at a modern book that teaches the process?


I certainly admire your can-do attitude but this is one of the reasons there’s so many resin & now 3D printed items on the hobby market, mold making is a very expensive proposition and the volume of prospective sales usually drives what gets produced as an injection molded kit.

@Damraska Doug, please read up on what happened with Accurate Minatures based out of Charlotte, North Carolina before spending your money :moneybag:.

Short version, unless you own your own molding machines it’s very possible for a big competitor to lock out your injection molding machine production time. They’ll threaten to move their business if your parts are produced or even buy the tool time and over produce to lock small fry out of the loop if your first products prove any good. If you don’t like that and go legal internationally you’ll bankrupt yourself and get nowhere. If you try to mold in the USA, the high labor cost will ensure your products are way too expensive and business failure is certain. Also getting the mold “right” for excellent fit and detail will typically take three revisions.

This all per the prior owner of AM as told to us at a club meeting where he explained the pitfalls of the business.

If your “lucky” your best kits will end up in someone else’s box with the competition’s name on it and you’ll narrowly avoid bankruptcy and make a few pennies. That’s what I gathered from the 2nd generation of AM owners.

Plus these days, you’d face much higher shipping containers chargers if your parts are injection molded overseas plus very high (relatively speaking) US labor costs to package the parts into boxes to sell.

Want to do it for real. Set up an injection molding operation in Africa with 1/10 the labor cost of China. Design in USA and manufacturer in Africa. Vietnam might work as well etc.

… or do 3D printed here in US

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Sincere, thank you for all the responses, gentlemen. They are genuinely helpful. To be clear, I am not running off to mortgage the house. :slight_smile: For some years I ran a small consulting company and experienced the trials and tribulations of business ownership first hand. That experience left me extremely wary of many things. However, I now have a lot of free time and always wanted to produce miniatures, models, and toys, so doing a little reading will not hurt anything.

I am looking for more detailed information about Accurate Miniatures now.

A related, cautionary tale: Some years ago, the owner of a local hobby shop decided to sell. He found an enthusiastic model builder and sold the store to him. The model builder did not read the contract carefully. He purchased the lease, the fixtures, and the name of the shop, but none of the inventory. When he took possession he found himself the owner of an empty store. He did his best to bring in some kits but, as I understand it, he did not budget for that and the business quickly folded.

A related success story: About 20 years ago, an acquaintance decided to give up his career as an architect and opened a franchise hobby store. He did a lot of research, attended classes held by the franchise, arranged a really good lease in a really good location, and left himself a large money cushion in case things started slowly. He turned a profit on year one and has been going strong ever since.

Anyway, I am still looking for information on mold making because I am genuinely curious how the process works.

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Speaking of hobby shops & ownership…

Once upon a time in the Charlotte area we had a fabulous hobby shop that typically turned $3.5+ million dollars (in 1988 dollars $1.5 million) in sales. Ultimately, the original owner retired and sold the business to an accountant who ran the shop for several more years until he too retired and closed the shop.

Rumor was the last couple of years were so lean, the shop only survived as a laundry for drug money.

Wachovia Bank which was head quartered in Charlotte was indicated a few years later for laundrying drug cartel money. Wachovia’s new owner Wells Fargo had to pay ~$160 million in fines for Wachovia’s dirty dealings.

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Wow! That makes me very sad on so many levels.

missed it by that much…


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