I wondered whether or not to mark the occasion but I was told I should!
I wondered what to tell you. So I’ll start here…
Quite coincidentally this is my 499th post so the next review, which is special to me in a number of ways because it was the first 1:400 model I bought new, was then retired and is now back from the dead – is going to be my 500th. I hope this will be a bit special – you’ll see why when it happens.
1400Reviews has grown phenomenally over the last five years. There are more unique visitors a week than in the whole of the first 12 months now. The site has recorded over 3,000,000 unique visitors – for some sites that’s a bad day, but for a niche hobby blog catering to a single scale out of three primary scales, well it’s a big deal!
It has only been possible because people like you have chosen to read what I write. Some of you will find it quite amusing to know that pre-computer I taught myself to type on a Silver Reed SR100 dual-ribbon (black at the bottom, red at the top) typewriter when I was 16. It drove my parents insane with the keys banging and the thud of the carriage return! It cost me £17 which in those days was a weeks pay from my part-time job. Unlike many of my computers, it still works.
However things change. 1400Reviews has to change too.
In recent months it’s been increasingly difficult to maintain a model supply to produce two reviews a week. Over the last few weeks I have literally run out. I find it difficult to find things I want, as Asian (especially Chinese) aircraft dominate while their airlines expand – there’s no rationale for me to have those for my airport’s set up.
Gemini have become so dull and repetitive and the quality is so dubious that I have literally bought nothing for delivery in May. There are only two models from the June delivery. Only two Phoenix models are due this week. Two more next month.
There are 7 JC Wings and a couple of Herpa’s pending but they’re so unreliable who knows when they’ll arrive?
The new Chinese manufacturers are highly concentrated on their own airlines with the occasional foray into something European of Middle Eastern. While excellent they remain hard to get in Europe – though it is getting better – and there are growing legal issues with their alleged copyright infringements, that are far from resolved.
There’s also a major effort – and I had this discussion with the Brand Guardians of two airlines at a recent conference – to crack down on “unauthorised reproduction of our aircraft”.
EasyJet were fuming over the Panda releases – and Cathay Pacific and Singapore airlines seem committed to crushing any “illegal” activity. Add to that the trade war looming with China and the US who knows where it will go! Other airlines are also looking increasingly to trade mark protection as a source of revenue.
In short, at least for the next few months, I can’t commit to two reviews a week – the aim is one on Fridays effective immediately. Temper that with me not being here during the last week of May and the first week of June, after the 500th next week, the next will be June 8th.
In case you’re thinking “he’s winding this down”…No! I can’t write about what I don’t have and nobody gives me these things for free – if they did they’d want something in return and that’s never going to happen.
I just don’t need an endless stream of Emirates A380’s, the number of aircraft types is now becoming smaller, old types are fast vanishing and some types have very few customers – A330neo, A35K, for example.
When companies like Phoenix have completely ignored the 737Max and the CSeries it also reduces choice and variation.
New technologies however are making progress. A company I invested in some years ago produced its first next-gen laser 3D metal alloy printer just two weeks ago – it produced a 1:200 A320 in 30 minutes. Within 4 years that will be down to a commercially viable 10 minutes. And it will produce a 1:400 in one piece in around 8. Watch this space. At the moment the machines are hugely expensive, but they won’t be that way for long. By 2022/3 I expect to see a new European manufacturer of 1:400’s.
So the future’s brighter. The number of reviews might drop for a while but I’m not going anywhere (as far as I know), and I’ll keep writing as long as you keep reading!
Thank you for your support, understanding and interest!
Here’s to five more years!