View Full Version : What can GW learn from Airfix and Hornby?

21-01-2008, 17:14
For all the american readers out there Airfix and Hornby are 2 modelling companies, one of which was made famous by selling kits of old WW2 military vehicles and the other a railway enthusiast company. Both are UK-based.


For those that dont know Airfix went into administration in late 2006 and was brought by Hornby, a company with a like-minded audience I suppose, in 2007 for 2.6m ($5m)

This I suppose is a different market to GW but a few of the things Hornby have done in the last few years to keep their business going (Model Railways are hardly mainstream anymore) got me thinking:

"If we can apply the same lessons that we've learnt with Hornby to the Airfix business, really focus on what the needs of the enthusiasts are, but also to make the product more relevant to a new generation of collectors, then I think we'll succeed," says chief executive Frank Martin.

This got me thinking: Is this what GW are doing wrong? By turning the focus to getting newer players into the hobby and less on the Vets they are hurting their profits and sales. All the players who grew up playing 2nd edition in the 90's are now in their 20's, with more disposable income than your average teenager and more free time too. This is also the core pro

So Airfix is looking to licensing deals - making models of popular TV and film characters - to grab the attention of today's youngsters.

Plus would the odd licence here and there hurt sales? Imagine if you will GW put their considerable manufacturing and casting techniques together to make non-GW models of a high quality, sell them at a managerie of outlets such as Toys'R'Us. They could include small advertising catalogues of Warhammer to get advertise to a new audience.

I imagine GW being able to make some great 3rd party models for things like Star Wars (groan), Marvel, DC, Narnia, Halo etc etc. They could then use these non-gaming models to get more money and more of a userbase.

21-01-2008, 18:40
GW could tell Hornby a thing or too about how to run a model company successfully because Hornby doesn't have a clue what to do with Airfix as recently demonstrated in a BBC tv Money Programme special.

21-01-2008, 18:47
I'd just like to offer up the point that now that I'm in my 20s, having started when I was much younger, I have much less free time and not much more disposable income...
and I don't think that I'm unique in this position

21-01-2008, 19:09
You have to understand one thing about GW, and this can be the answer to many other questions about the company:

GW are exceptionally arrogant.

They already feel they are "the best" because they say they are, how can you prove otherwise?
GW already thinks they are the pinnacle of the industry, and that they are doing everything better than everyone else.

They don't feel they have anything to learn.

Most ex-GW staffers who work in the retail stores get a glimpse of this, but to get the full impact of this, go to work at one of the headquarters in the factory, either Lenton or Memphis and you will then "get it".

Damien 1427
21-01-2008, 19:28
Nothing more or less than they can learn from any other major "hobby" company. Adapt to the changing market, listen to your audience, don't treat your customers like a barely-tolerated annoyance. When they grasp that, maybe they'll stop bleeding money.

I'd like to see more "marketable" stuff. The LOTR/LOTOW rulseset is simple enough to entice new players, but still solid enough to have old farts champion it. It also fits like a glove for all sorts of settings, like Star Wars (Which GW will never get), Halo (Again, GW will never get it now)... Even comic book properties like mainstream Marvel/DC would work.

For whatever reason, GW are reluctant to leave their comfortable little pits of 40k and Fantasy, so we won't see the route of licensed, third party games ever being explored. Which is a shame.

Dwarf Supreme
21-01-2008, 19:34
For all the american readers out there Airfix and Hornby are 2 modelling companies, one of which was made famous by selling kits of old WW2 military vehicles and the other a railway enthusiast company. Both are UK-based.

You make it sound like Airfix never sold any models in the United States.

21-01-2008, 22:24
There was a time when I had over 7500 1/72nd scale Airfix miniatures. I loved those things. If my mom hadn't thrown them out, I'd probably still be trying to design games to let me blow them up in official ways.

They were an expensive purchase for me as a kid, but I always felt like they were worth it back then. If GW could figure out how to get me to feel that way about their stuff now, they'd have a shot.

21-01-2008, 22:44
It is pretty good business sense to look at what your competition does better than you and try to copy it. After all if they are successful it is for a reason and pushing your company to get more efficient or more responsive to customer change will increase sales. It would seem to me that they need to be reminded that the customer needs nothing from them, after all they are suppling a pure luxury good.

21-01-2008, 23:02
well airfix and hornby dont do it better than gw....

21-01-2008, 23:21
Nothing really. Considering the Airfix released a sci-fi range shortly before folding just showed how scared of GW they where.

Nostalgia from middle ages men aside I don't think there is much to learn from airfix. Even when I was collecting 1/72 soldiers as a kid I avoided Aifix like the plague. Better toys where being made by Revell, Italliari ect.....