ESCI Figures – Introduction

1980s Benchmark

ESCI

ESCI was established in Italy in 1930, to trade goods between the mainland and the Italian colonies – hence its name “Ente Scambi Coloniali Internazionali” or, roughly translated, the “International Colonial Trade Exchange”. In the 1960s ESCI began importing Japanese plastic construction kits, and in 1972 began producing its own kits. It was the first firm to produce 1:72 military vehicles (Airfix at that time were working in 1:76) and as part of this range produced small sets of hard plastic infantry.

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Solido Military – Conversions

Extending the Range

Third Party Models

Most toy makers have embraced the concept of extending their range by the creation of variations to their basic mouldings. The most common way this is done is simply by finishing the models in different colour schemes. Sometimes, the physical models are varied by the addition or changing of ancillary (and often plastic) parts (see this story for an example of how Solido did this). Both of these approaches keep the costs low and make maximum use of the existing moulds.

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Airfix Military Series – Poses

Predictable Positions?

Poses

Sets of toy soldiers tend to be composed of a handful of fairly predictable poses. After all, buyers love, and expect to find, certain standard poses. But when faced with competition, manufacturers have to find ways of standing out from the crowd. So, what can you do to the poses to excite the market?

There are two obvious and complementary ways of increasing the attractiveness of the sets – by expanding the number of poses in a set, and by innovating with new, and hopefully more exciting, ones. Airfix experimented with both of these, and a good example to illustrate this is their set of Second World War German mountain troops.

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Wiking Ships – Introduction

Pioneer Shipwrights

Wiking

The German firm of Wiking (pronounced ‘veeking’, and meaning “Viking”) are nowadays known for their range of detailed plastic 1:87 vehicles. However, they first made their name as a pre-war pioneer of metal waterline ship model production, in 1:1250 scale.

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Solido Military – Components

Hidden Complexity?

Design

When designing a new model, two factors have to be balanced when considering how many components to use. On the one hand, the fewer that are used, the simpler the production process and consequently the lower the costs. A good example of this approach is the Dinky military range. On the other hand, the more components, the more detail can be included, and features added into the model. Solido vehicles are big and chunky, so there is certainly room for lots of parts. To examine the Solido approach, let’s start with a fairly complex machine – a military half-tracked personnel carrier of WW2, the SdKfz 251.

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Solido Military – Variants

Ringing the Changes

Ringing the Changes

One way that toy manufacturers can maintain a stream of new releases is by creating new versions of existing models, simply by altering the paint scheme and markings, and possibly changing plastic accessories. This allows them to advertise new products and keep their customers interested, without having to invest in expensive new metal mould-making.

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