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Early Aviation
Discuss World War I and the early years of aviation thru 1934.
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Latest WnW report from NZ
Kevlar06
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Posted: Saturday, May 16, 2020 - 03:35 PM UTC
I have an acquaintance in NZ who sent this latest news article on the fate of Wingnut Wings. Again, it doesn’t look good. And the latest from wwiaircraftmodels.com regarding more details from the workers at WnW. The fact they’ve taken the Lancasters and Fokker Dr1 off the catalog and suspended sales is also revealing. But the “Stuff NZ “ Business article below is most revealing.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/121537116/sir-peter-jacksons-wingnut-wings-model-company-shuts?cid=app-iPad

https://forum.ww1aircraftmodels.com/index.php?topic=11118.msg205513#msg205513

VR, Russ
MichaelSatin
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Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 12:36 AM UTC
Very sad news indeed, even if not really "news" at this point.

Michael
Kevlar06
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Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 04:43 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Very sad news indeed, even if not really "news" at this point.

Michael



I think what’s new “news” is that it’s now being acknowledged in a New Zealand business journal. It’s strange PJs movie production company hasn’t acknowledged taking over the WnW business, or continued sales of the remaining stock (not the molds, but the existing kits remaining). I get the impression the kits are sitting in a WnW warehouse, shuttered along with everything else. What role will Weta Workshop have in all in this? They are a movie prop company, heavily associated with PJs Movie production company (at one time they were distributors of WnW kits in NZ).
VR, Russ
MichaelSatin
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Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 04:54 AM UTC
I just meant that it's not really news anymore, but more and possibly more reliable confirmation is sad.

As for the kits, I've been looking around the online shops here in the States and they are pretty much cleaned out. Word has definitely gotten around.

Michael
basco
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Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 05:38 PM UTC
This is indeed sad news. I hope someone can buy the moulds.
redcap
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Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 10:05 PM UTC

Quoted Text

This is indeed sad news. I hope someone can buy the moulds.



I think there is a possibility (IF PJ wants to sell them rather than adopt a scorched earth policy as he closes down his 'baby') that some of the more popular ones such as the Albatross, DVII, Camels and possibly even the Dr1 to finish the project may get bought or some offers made, but the rest....? There were so many esoteric subjects in the range and the fact some of them were in production 10 years before selling out their initial production run shows how slowly, or 'steadily', they must have sold.

Also, the current demand for WNW and the prices they are commanding on eBay right now - as well as some naked profiteering by traders - is not reflective of customer demand moving forward and people have been buying them (myself included!) simply as as a panic reaction to closure. Rather, this demand and pricing is just a temporary phenomena in the hobby; just like was happening with toilet rolls and hand sanitiser about 6-8 weeks ago!

Coupled to which is the fact that WNW have done nothing to counter the internet rumours and debates of looming closure as damage limitation to company reputation.

For me however and most telling, is the ring of truth and detail to articles by the likes of Dave Wilson which leads any rational and non-conspiracy theorist to only one conclusion - i.e. they are not coming back from this!

Bottom line - get them whilst you still can because this is one phoenix which most probably isn't going to rise again in a WNW format nor in any other shape (or kit company box) either.

Gary
rdt1953
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Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 10:34 PM UTC

Quoted Text

This is indeed sad news. I hope someone can buy the moulds.


I am probably showing my ignorance here but it would seem to me that once the molds are made and performing as needed then the most expensive phase of a project is done.
It would seem that the Lanc and the Dr 1 are past this point so surely we might eventually see them - Dr 1 at least.
MichaelSatin
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 12:52 AM UTC
I agree with Gary that the fact that no one official has said anything to counter all these rumors and reports speaks pretty loudly. I can't imagine a company seeing all these things about it shutting down without issuing some sort of statement if they aren't true.

As for the molds, we don't know how far along the Lancs or DR.1s were. I don't hold out much hope for the Lancs, there is already a pretty good one on the market and a 1/32 scale Lancaster is a pretty niche product. (By the way, I'll bet those HK Models kits have seen an uptick in sales!) Hard to say with the DR.1. They're much more likely to sell than a Lanc and the Roden kits are harder to find these day. But again, I agree with Gary that if they do sell off the molds they're only likely to find buyers for the more mainstream, "lower" price items. I'm not holding my breath that we'll see re-releases of Gothas, AEG's, Felixtowes, etc. anytime soon.

By way of modeling, and if anyone's interested, Bob R. is putting together a WWI campaign in honor of WnW.

Michael
Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 01:52 AM UTC
In a related issue, here’s a report on the fraud case at the The Vintage Aviator, which left PJ and his related companies seeing a loss. Let’s hope that PJ does not assume a “scorched earth” stance in all of this, and either sells to recoup some of the loss, or tries again to re-start in some different format.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/116805090/filmmaker-peter-jacksons-piranha-gene-demarco-jailed-for-fraud-and-theft

VR, Russ
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 03:19 AM UTC
So it all comes down to the greed of one individual?

I'm hoping once the dust from this and the pandemic has settled, PJ can recover from all this.
It's sad, but they gave us some fantastic kits and really set the bench mark for others to follow. CSM, from what I've seen and heard, are doing kits as good as WNW.

I was lucky to get the Halberstadt CL.II this weekend from Modelkitsforless. Paid a little less than RRP, which given the circumstances and rise in prices I was very lucky and grateful for. This one is likely to be my last.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 03:38 AM UTC

Quoted Text

So it all comes down to the greed of one individual?

I'm hoping once the dust from this and the pandemic has settled, PJ can recover from all this.
It's sad, but they gave us some fantastic kits and really set the bench mark for others to follow. CSM, from what I've seen and heard, are doing kits as good as WNW.

I was lucky to get the Halberstadt CL.II this weekend from Modelkitsforless. Paid a little less than RRP, which given the circumstances and rise in prices I was very lucky and grateful for. This one is likely to be my last.



I’m not sure it’s just “greed” of this one individual as much as a series of misfortunes in PJs “empire”, compounded with this loss in the “not for profit” TVAL. The failure of the movie “Mortal Engines”, personal issues, some issues with NZ government subsidies, this fraud case, and of course to some extent, Covid-19. All these misfortunes (according to my acquaintance in NZ) have contributed to negative cash flow for Wingnut Productions (PJs film production company) and his other enterprises. Who knows, maybe he’ll overcome some of them, and the WnW shut down will only be temporary (we might hope). But for sure, it doesn’t look good.
VR, Russ
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 04:11 AM UTC
He's not had a lot of luck recently then. I had completely forgotten about that film, don't know anyone who saw it either. It looked interesting.

Who can say what will happen in the next 6 months. I'm adopting a wait and see attitude, I'm certainly not panic buying anything. I have the ones I wanted, luckily bought before all this happened. Roden and Special Hobby have me covered for the others I want to build. And let's be honest, they're not bad kits with a little work.

Hope everyone can find any they're missing. Best of luck.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 05:52 AM UTC
I have what I need from WnW as well— a total of 18 kits since 2009. The only one I don’t have that I’m suddenly coveting is the new Halberstadt late, but I can live without it too. I agree, I have a stack of Roden and Special Hobby kits too, that “cover the bases“ for those kits WnW didn’t produce, and although not WnW quality, they are totally adequate for the purpose. And the Hobbycraft SPAD is quite a nice model— I have three of those in my stash as well.

On another note, I wasn't aware PJ had been defrauded by others, including “The Michigan Toy Soldier Company” owner — who I thought was a reputable dealer, but I guess not, fraudulently charging $190,000 against Jackson’s AE account. I guess scammers will try to scam, even from the famous:

https://www.candgnews.com/news/business-owner-serve-time-scamming-‘lord-rings’-director

I can imagine all of this “defrauding” has left PJ with extremely bad feelings about folks taking advantage of his hobby, and his money. Who can you trust anymore?

VR, Russ
phantom_phanatic309
#372
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 07:48 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I have what I need from WnW as well— a total of 18 kits since 2009. The only one I don’t have that I’m suddenly coveting is the new Halberstadt late, but I can live without it too. I agree, I have a stack of Roden and Special Hobby kits too, that “cover the bases“ for those kits WnW didn’t produce, and although not WnW quality, they are totally adequate for the purpose. And the Hobbycraft SPAD is quite a nice model— I have three of those in my stash as well.

On another note, I wasn't aware PJ had been defrauded by others, including “The Michigan Toy Soldier Company” owner — who I thought was a reputable dealer, but I guess not, fraudulently charging $190,000 against Jackson’s AE account. I guess scammers will try to scam, even from the famous:

https://www.candgnews.com/news/business-owner-serve-time-scamming-‘lord-rings’-director

I can imagine all of this “defrauding” has left PJ with extremely bad feelings about folks taking advantage of his hobby, and his money. Who can you trust anymore?

VR, Russ



I hadn't heard of that case either. Seems he's been taken advantage of quite a lot. I can imagine how it could leave him feeling quite bitter about the hobby. I hope he knows what his little company has meant to so many modellers and how much we've enjoyed them.

I was quite to the WNW party so I missed quite a few of the early kits like the Sopwith Tripe and SE.5A, so got the Roden's. They're pretty decent. I did think about getting the recent Collishaw reissue of the Tripe, but decided on the Lanoe Hawker DH2 instead. Do I regret it? Not really. The same decals are in the Roden kit and I can live with the length issue. It looks like a Tripe and fills in the gap with the other WNW Sopwiths I made sure to get. I would have been disappointed to have missed the Snipe or Dolphin.
Whatever happens, we still have some very good 1/48's out there. Eduard of course do some beautiful kits and I've seen some very good results with the Mirage Halberstadt.

I'll have to keep a look out for Hobbycraft Spad. I'm lacking some French aircraft and it's such an iconic design I really need one in the collection.

Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 08:44 AM UTC
Stephen,
I too bought the Roden Tripe, and find it’s not a bad kit at all, along with Roden’s Nieuport 28, which is also nice, and very simple. The HC SPAD “Aces” was one of Hobbycraft’s last, along with their Camel “Aces” offering, which should not be confused with the abysmal Academy kit, but often is, because HC originally boxed that kit. The later HC “Aces” Camel has some very nice features, but lacked cockpit detail (But WnWs offering is so much better). Some of Roden’s kits have difficult fit, their Fokker Dr1 and Siemens Shuckert are good examples. I only model 1/48 WWI kits where there are absolutely no offerings available in 1/32 scale, so I’ll miss the selection afforded by WnW. But with over 35 WWI kits on shelves or in the boxes, I’ll somehow muddle through I suppose.
VR, Russ
rdt1953
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 11:08 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I agree with Gary that the fact that no one official has said anything to counter all these rumors and reports speaks pretty loudly. I can't imagine a company seeing all these things about it shutting down without issuing some sort of statement if they aren't true.

As for the molds, we don't know how far along the Lancs or DR.1s were. I don't hold out much hope for the Lancs, there is already a pretty good one on the market and a 1/32 scale Lancaster is a pretty niche product. (By the way, I'll bet those HK Models kits have seen an uptick in sales!) Hard to say with the DR.1. They're much more likely to sell than a Lanc and the Roden kits are harder to find these day. But again, I agree with Gary that if they do sell off the molds they're only likely to find buyers for the more mainstream, "lower" price items. I'm not holding my breath that we'll see re-releases of Gothas, AEG's, Felixtowes, etc. anytime soon.

By way of modeling, and if anyone's interested, Bob R. is putting together a WWI campaign in honor of WnW.

Michael


It is my understanding that the molds for both the Lanc and Dr 1 were completed as the test shots had been published as well as test builds on display at some shows .
redcap
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Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 01:33 AM UTC
Yes they were Richard and I saw both the Lanc and Dr1 test builds at Telford last year but the Dr1 in particular was still somewhat 'grainy' in plastic texture and Richard Alexander said it still needed (then) some refinements. Whilst acceptable QC for many companies, clearly not for WNW. Has it been done or completed since...who knows?

Not having any idea whether the artwork for decal options had been completed or those work of art instruction manuals etc. completed too, it could mean there was still a lot of work to do before it was ready for market.

As such, that will involve a further and fair amount of work and not inconsiderable expense too.

Also and in turning to the Lancaster, lacking the (given) QC and accuracy of WNW, which modellers will / would take the plunge and pay the best part of $400.00 for a kit "finished off" by one of the other companies who may take over the Lanc mould (before) the experts on the subject (actual and self-anointed) have poured all over the kit in online and magazine reviews? I had 2 Lancs on order absent any reviews and just on the reputation of WNW alone. I certainly would not honour those reservations if the project were finished off by another player BEFORE I had seen the kit up close.

I am confident someone like CSM would deliver a great result and do justice to the WNW Dr1 Triplane project but given we already have the HK Models 1/32 Lanc (warts and all), then is the market (really) big enough for someone to take a big financial 'plunge' in finishing a project like the WNW Lanc AND turning a profit as the world edges towards a recession or more likely, a depression?

Gary
phantom_phanatic309
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Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 02:30 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Stephen,
I too bought the Roden Tripe, and find it’s not a bad kit at all, along with Roden’s Nieuport 28, which is also nice, and very simple. The HC SPAD “Aces” was one of Hobbycraft’s last, along with their Camel “Aces” offering, which should not be confused with the abysmal Academy kit, but often is, because HC originally boxed that kit. The later HC “Aces” Camel has some very nice features, but lacked cockpit detail (But WnWs offering is so much better). Some of Roden’s kits have difficult fit, their Fokker Dr1 and Siemens Shuckert are good examples. I only model 1/48 WWI kits where there are absolutely no offerings available in 1/32 scale, so I’ll miss the selection afforded by WnW. But with over 35 WWI kits on shelves or in the boxes, I’ll somehow muddle through I suppose.
VR, Russ



The Academy Nieuport and Camel are not great kits are they? I got the Italeri boxing of the Nieuport cheap, purely based on the really nice decal choices and wanting to have something simple to practice rigging. The much worse Camel, I would not have touched with a yard pole, but it was a Christmas gift and I don't want to be ungrateful. Toying with the idea of converting it to the Trench Fighter. I don't mind messing around with these kind of cheap kits. Anyway, I'm off topic and rambling.

Gary, funny you should mention CSM as I was thinking that if anyone would pick up WNW tools it would be them. That's if they have the cash flow and opportunity that is. I agree that it's highly unlikely that we'll see the Lancasters. A shame as I can imagine they would have been great kits.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 04:20 AM UTC
Stephen,
I think the Academy/Italeri 1/32 Nieuport 17 is just fine, and I’ve built several, But it’s just not as fine as the CSM kit, however, there’s a big difference in price too. The Academy Camel on the other hand, is inaccurate and “clumsy“ in many areas, including the fuselage, wings and cockpit details, whereas the Hobbycraft kit has much more “finess” in these areas. Many folks get the two kits mixed up, because early-on, Hobbycraft boxed the Academy kit, before re-tooling their own much better effort In an “Aces” boxing that was unfortunately short lived. In fact, there was a lawsuit between HC and Academy over this and other kits Academy manufactured (and may have pirated) for HC. Here are articles I’ve written below on the Academy Nieuport 17 and Hobbycraft Camels (in which I explain some of the “genesis” of the Hobbycraft “Aces“ Camel kit):

https://www.largescaleplanes.com/articles/article.php?aid=3162

https://www.largescaleplanes.com/articles/article.php?aid=3147

VR, Russ
Emilio_Lizardo
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Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 10:20 AM UTC
Yes, it appears that the airplanes, both large and small, were folded under the management of the Corporate Wingnuts. So all of this is being run by the film production folks and they undoubtedly view WNW and TVAL as taking away money that could go into their popular films. (Ok, the last one did not go well.) The corporate CEO came up as a film producer and would not be typical of our typical demographic. (Started a brushfire elsewhere with specifics.)

I suspect the cost of the TVAL issue was a more significant sum that $190,000 from the hobby shope. Shame, the chief pilot had a dream job and ruined it. (He did have a similar character failing in NY many years ago and that is in the public record.)

Since the new management did not understand modeling, they were not able to see that had the Dr.I been issued, the value of the entire range would have been significantly higher.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 11:48 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Since the new management did not understand modeling, they were not able to see that had the Dr.I been issued, the value of the entire range would have been significantly higher.



I’m not sure the DR1 would have much impact on “saving” WnW. Especially since there are suitable Roden, Eduard, Revell, and other kits of various scales in existence (though not of WnW expected quality, and sales of the old Revell 1/24 and 1/72 kits still hold up well). The WnW DR1 molds and dies may already exist, so any future buyer may be able to start with a brand new kit. What is perplexing to me is not the absence of information from the Movie production staff, but the shuttering of the WnW sales on the website. I suppose it’s because they let the entire WnW staff go, so there’s no one there to conduct sales anymore. This may mean— 1) they are seeking out potential buyers, to sell the whole thing “lock, stock and barrel”; 2) they are in some legal action to determine the fate of the company; 3) They don’t know what to do with it and don’t have a plan; 4) they are contemplating “re-opening”, which seems the least likely, since they let the entire staff go; or 5) they are negotiating the fate of WnW with a “third party” entity, either for sales, or for disposal— which if I were to bet, would be Weta Workshop, which had a sales contract previously, is closely associated with PJs movie production efforts, and most importantly maintains a robust sales program. But all this is just guessing. I wonder if anyone has actually used the email address for inquiries about sales— I haven’t, but I’m tempted. Maybe if a bunch of us did, it would wake them up a bit?
VR, Russ
Redhand
#0
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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 12:53 AM UTC
Well, that didn't end well, did it? The staff layoffs were about as ham-handed as they come.
redcap
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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 02:23 AM UTC
Hi Russ.

Don't bother with an email enquiry as this is all my mates and I have received (all identical) which is clearly a holding position and a one size fits all response to be interpreted as you like.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for your interest in placing an order with WingNut Wings.

We just wanted to acknowledge receipt and confirm that we’ll be in touch when we’re in a position to resume sales.

Best wishes,

WingNut Wings
--------------------------------------------------------------

This raises the obvious question of course given they have dismissed all their staff of who will process the orders, pick, pack, post the kits and then deal with any subsequent (and inevitable) after sales issues like lost/damaged/incorrect kits from customers?

Nah....my best bet is they will simply sell the remaining stock as a 'job lot' to the wholesalers who then like the eBay traders of recent times, will mark then up at a massive hike over previous RRP - and despite having got them for peanuts just to shift them quickly I suspect will come out with some BS about 'raised shipping costs blah blah' to try and justify it - and hope everyone will just suck it up.

Watch this space....!

Gary
Emilio_Lizardo
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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 09:00 AM UTC
In response to Russ, the release of the DrI would not have saved the day. However, it would have upped the value of the WNW portfolio and hence the price they may get for the assets. Likewise, the HP 0/100 was apparently ready enough for a modeler to build from pre-production sprues.

I am still baffled by the closure to extent that this was a passion project of Peter Jackson's and he had simply handed it over to the Philistines and this was done with items in the pipeline.

Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 09:58 AM UTC

Quoted Text

In response to Russ, the release of the DrI would not have saved the day. However, it would have upped the value of the WNW portfolio and hence the price they may get for the assets. Likewise, the HP 0/100 was apparently ready enough for a modeler to build from pre-production sprues.

I am still baffled by the closure to extent that this was a passion project of Peter Jackson's and he had simply handed it over to the Philistines and this was done with items in the pipeline.




I can’t argue the fact the 0/100 & O/400, DR1 and Lancasters would certainly help the portfolio, but the portfolio is already darn good. My understanding is PJ has been out of the day to day operations for several years now, and his sole role was to approve new projects. Several years ago, Richard Alexander said PJ was hands off the day to day business decisions, and WnW was moving to “standing alone” without his financial backing. I wish I could pinpoint that interview, but I can’t, I think it was an Australian podcast I was listening to.

Fast-Forward to today. My acquaintance in NZ has reported for some time that the PJ “empire” has had some troubles, and it was his belief the business model of producing “high end” WWI models was doomed to failure from the start if any other parts of the “PJ Empire” failed. In the end, this has proven true. My friend had a very close relative who worked at WnW in the beginning years, who always said this. And it seems the combination of movie loss (Mortal Engines, which lost millions), fraud (over 2 Million USD), legal issues in NZ, and personal issues have crippled all of PJs efforts. But I think the pedigree and portfolio of WnW stands alone, on its own merits without the yet to be produced kits. It just seems odd to me that everything has been “stopped”, without efforts at liquidation. That implies there’s more afoot here than we see, and my belief is either it’s already been decided, or there’s a legal issue to overcome, or, there’s just plain lack of competence (or knowledge) at some level of management. The movie industry is certainly nothing like the modeling industry as someone pointed out. Maybe that’s it. But PJ knows both, so the implication is PJ is not really involved In liquidation. There’s a famous quote “you don’t leave your prize stallion in the stable when you’re running the derby”. Seems they did that when they got rid of the management staff at WnW. But again, all this is conjecture— guess we’ll see what happens. As Gary said earlier “watch this space!”
VR, Russ