KiwiMill has recently changed the way we are shipping scale models. Up till now, if a scale model fit into a hand-held travel case, it was usually shipped via commercial package delivery services, either ground or air, depending on time constraints.
However, after several random instances of scale models breaking in transit, we’ve reevaluated our policy. Before making changes, we first made sure our model construction process was not to blame.
The engineering of a scale model has much to do with its durability. KiwiMill designs models with the understanding that they need to be sturdy, not just look good. Especially our trade show models, which need to withstand frequent travel and handling.
Sturdy design means choosing the right materials, the strongest fasteners, and factoring in additional supports where necessary. So metal pieces are added to plastic for strength, soldering may be used for fastening rather than glue, and hidden braces may be placed at joints.
Great care is put into making sure a custom model is built durably, with accuracy, and all the artistic details expected from expert craftspeople. It makes sense to put just as much energy into the packing of the model for shipment.
Custom jigging is part of all model pack jobs. Many smaller models are placed in hard shell transport cases, with foam inserts that are hand carved to hold the model parts snug and secure. Medium sized models will have a custom built road case with wood jigging inside that is foam or cloth-lined. Larger industrial and architectural models are placed in hand built wooden crates that are jigged inside as well.
As professionals, we don’t want to jump to conclusions or assign blame if these packed models are damaged in transit. Yet, when we see a continued pattern of beefy, guaranteed-for-life road cases sent back to us with flanges or handles broken off during transit, it’s hard to deny rough treatment occurred.
Our new solution? Every model is now shipped strapped to a pallet. Even if it’s in a road case, it gets strapped down to a pallet and goes freight. We’ve always used this method for larger models made in our shop. We are now using it for models we would have used package delivery service for in the past.