Every journey begins with a first step. Arma Hobby’s journey started in the living room of my flat. Taking this first step, we were not thinking about the destination of the journey at all. We had to solve the problem of the resin kit.
We made it to the K-Max
It was the resin K-Max helicopter kit, designed by Marcin for Adalbertus, my first business. My intention was to offer it under a new brand: Attack Squadron. In June 2013 we had to start its production. With a slight dose of insecurity I sent the newsletter with kits announcement to my webstore subscribers. The number of orders coming in response was overwhelming and bound us to the resin casting for a month and a half. Then, with my family off on vacation, on the floor in the living room, over the drop cloth, the production line has started.
3D visualisation K-Max 1/72 model, Attack Squadron.
There were three of us…
The three of us worked every day: Marcin, Michał and me. Two sessions of pouring moulds and packing. Every time something turned out to be wrong and we had to repeat. Finally we managed to send all the orders and the time for some reflection came. What if Marcin became a full-time designer? How many kits would we be able to introduce every year? The idea was tempting and we started to prepare to establish the company. We rented our first headquarters at Berneńska Street, renovated the room and started to build the production line. Finally on 31st October we registered the company, and on 13th November we got the confirmation of the VAT registration. Michał became our first employee.
PZL P.1 1/48 scale renders
We had a variety of plans
At first we were not sure where the Arma Hobby was headed. We thought three options were possible: resin kits production for sure, maybe 3D printing, or, less likely, injected plastic kits production. About the injected plastic kits we knew that “kids no longer build kits”, the market was very hard and that steel moulds were very expensive. But the events that followed turned these beliefs upside-down. During the first months we were trying to get production going and hired our next employee, Łukasz, and so we tried to survive in a team of four. Our great ambition was the production of sophisticated kits like the Attack Squadron resin 1/72 F8F-2 Bearcat.
One year later our Bearcat was awarded the medal at the Nurnberg Fair, but before it happened we had to struggle some more. Meanwhile Marcin came up with the idea of a 1/48 kit of the PZL P.1 fighter prototype. After we started selling it in Spring of2014,we were stunned. Polish modellers supported us greatly with their orders. We decided to make the Polish TS-11 Iskra jet-trainer in 1/48. The kit was offered just before Christmas of 2014, and we sold 200 boxes immediately. So then came the new idea: the next step, 1/72 injected plastic Iskra kit, in our range.
At first there was an idea of a 1/48 rotor for the K-Max kit. Maybe an injected plastic mould? The pricing for the rotor blades tooling overwhelmed us, but we got in contact with a Chinese mould producer and we started preparation of plastic kit. In June we sent the advance payment – I don’t know how we managed to get enough money. After a lot of struggle, in December 2015, exactly one year after the resin 1/48 Iskra, we started to sell her smaller, injected plastic 1/72 sister.
Marcin with parcel from China with test shots of the Iskra1/72.
We wanted the PZL P.7a fighter to be our next kit, but doubted if the Chinese factory could manage to properly reproduce its complex corrugated metal surfaces. We kept manufacturing the resin kits and accessories of the Attack Squadron brand, with over 100 products in our range, and looked for the opportunity to produce the PZL P.7a kit in Poland. Completely by accident we found a good mould producer not far from Warsaw. We were finally able to work together closely on the moulds development. We considered the P.7 an exercise before our next big dream, the PZL P.11c. And when the kit was under development, we still were not aware of our main limitation – the labour-intensiveness of the kit design process. After the launch of the P.7 we examined our consciences, checking where the quality should be improved. The final test was the Fokker E.V, issued in December 2017. Before its launch we have decided to end resin kit production, and go exclusively with injection-moulded plastic. We simply hadn’t been able to keep two different technologies going with our tiny team, and chose the one promising better progress. The resin kit production line, with the rights to the designs, was partly sold to the Czech Brengun company and partially to the Hungarian SBS. Our team was reduced when casters found a new job and there were only three of us again. In the 2018 Summer came the PZL P.11c and the Hurricane Mk.I kits.
English translation by Grzegorz Mazurowski
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This post is also available in: polski