Tag Archives: scale model shop

These Models Make Great Sales Tools

sales tool model

Here at KiwiMill we strive to produce quality models that communicate, travel well and are easy to use, all within a reasonable budget and time frame. It’s a tall order. Sometimes we hit upon a model design that is so successful our client keeps coming back for more.

This computer product model is a great example of this kind of repeat business. Sales people took our model out into the field, enjoyed using it, and found it to be an excellent sales tool. More and more salespeople within the company want one, and the client keeps returning for additional orders.

sales tool model

While many scale models are one time only builds, we welcome this type of repeat business, building multiple copies of a particular model. It means the sales tools has been a great success.  These types of projects turn the model shop into a temporary production facility of sorts. Fabrication processes are streamlined in order to create a consistent product, over and over, in a reasonable time-frame.

sales tool modelsales tool model

The actual computer product being modeled in this instance is an extremely expensive piece of equipment weighing 70 pounds. It would be impossible for the entire sales force to carry these around to their clients.  Our model makers have designed a replica of this product that is smaller, lighter and much less delicate. It’s a convenient sales tool that can be carried in a briefcase.

sales tool model


Ask The Model Maker!

Model Maker

Ask the model maker: What burning question do you have about model making? What is something you want to know about model makers, model making, or scale models? It can be a technical question, a price inquiry, a personal question or a how-to . Anything goes.

Leave your question in the comments section and it will be answered by a model maker (through me) by the end of the week.

What’s In a Custom Model Quote?

model making

Like most scale model shops, KiwiMill prepares free-of-charge custom model quotes to anyone inquiring about a project, big or small. Sometimes we give ballpark figures over the phone or email, based on basic information about model purpose, design, size and detail level. These quick estimates can be given for model projects that are similar to ones we have done in the recent past. Initial rough estimates can help identify whether there is a sufficient budget to proceed with a formal written quote.

Most custom scale model inquiries go through a lengthier process to determine the costs involved.  First, there’s an exchange of ideas and information with the client, then a bit of research and brainstorming, culminating in a formal, written quote. The quote usually spells out what will be provided by the model makers – over all design, materials, functionality, details, accessories, finishes, and any mounting, bases and crating options included. It also addresses timing and what is required from the client to start the job in terms of data and initial financial investment.

Before generating a formal quote, our sales staff addresses the inquiry:  receiving the request, asking clarifying questions, and collecting any drawings, photos or additional documentation provided by the client. The more information that can be gathered about a project, the more detailed and accurate the quote will be. This initial exchange goes very quickly, as the goal is to get the project in the hands of our model makers to assess as soon as possible.

KiwiMill likes to connect potential projects with a model maker fairly early on in the quote process. Talking to an actual model maker has benefits for both the client and the model shop. First, a model maker can help clarify the scope of the project. By talking with a client, our model makers are able to understand what the model is required to do, and in many cases, help determine what the best approach is to meeting those goals. Clients sometimes know exactly what they are looking for in a scale model, but more often than not, an exchange of ideas helps narrow down the options to one that best fits the client’s needs and budget.

Secondly, our model makers can begin thinking about how they would go about the build of a custom model as they talk with the client about their project. This initial thought process will aid them when it comes time to prepare the actual quote. There is no magic formula used at KiwiMill for generating quotes. Each project is given careful consideration in terms of  materials used, fabrication methods chosen, size and complexity of the model, and the engineering of moving parts or other special effects. Another major consideration is whether parts for the model will need to be drawn up in a CAD program, before construction can start. Timing may be a factor as well; if the job needs to be rushed, then vendor supplies and overtime costs need to be considered.

A detailed quote can be prepared after the project is defined, the accompanying documents are studied, availability of materials are researched and fabrication methods are decided upon. This process may sound complex, but it assures our client that what they are getting is what they expected and desired. It also does not need to take up a lot of time. We pride ourselves on getting quotes out very quickly, without sacrificing the attention to detail and customization of each project. Well defined, personalized and accurate quotes are a service we are happy provide to each and every one of our potential customers as an initial sign of our commitment to quality service and performance.

A Different Approach to the Same Truck Model

Nearly two years ago, KiwiMill built a model of a five ton FMTV armored cab truck model with a specialized medical hospital payload. The model was 1/10th scale with the truck about 36″ long. It was completely hand-built for trade show use, with a brass frame and numerous brass details. The cab had separately applied bolt head and hinge details on laser etched acrylic armor panels.

military truck scale modelmilitary truck scale modelmilitary truck scale model

Recently the model shop was asked to make a second FMTV truck, in 1/20th scale. Having acquired a 3D printer during the interim, KiwiMill approached the build somewhat differently the second time around. Many detailed parts that were built by hand originally, were drawn on the computer and made with the Objet 3D printer, precisely and quickly. Soldered brass was still used for strength and longevity. The fabric tent design was altered a bit as well.

military truck scale modelmilitary truck scale modelmilitary truck scale model

There is no one right way to make a scale model. Approaches vary depending on the materials and fabrication methods available, as well as the particular preferences of the model maker. Specific client requests may factor in, and of course, budget and time constraints. Skilled model makers adapt and adjust to new technology, continuously honing and  improving on their techniques.

Something that doesn’t change in the profession: the purpose of the scale model will always drive the fabrication method and materials used, while the quality of the finished product will determine if the chosen methods were successful.

Model Shop Name Change

KiwiMillA&M Model Makers has been in existence as a scale model shop for half a century. While the owners, craftspeople, techniques, technology and even the company location have changed over time, the name has not.

Originally created from the names of its two founders, the moniker A&M served the company well through its former years on the West coast. Having moved to the East in the last decade, adding staff, square footage, equipment, advanced technology in the field, and absorbing another local scale model company’s talents, we felt it was time for a new identification.

Maybe the biggest reason for a name and logo change is our expansion of services. The company originally built models for the booming Texas oil industry of the time. With its West coast location it eventually focused on the aerospace industry. In recent decades that meant a specialization in satellites, and space craft models, as well as airplanes.

Today’s company looks quite different. Since moving to New York, our company has combined with another firm and expanded to include large numbers of trade show models of all types, military vehicles, architectural designs, museum pieces, topography, medical prototypes and training models.  We have experienced master model makers who specialize in each of these types of scale models.

With the addition of engineers and industrial designers on staff, are services now encompass all of the latest 3D technology. We even have a sister design service for product development and prototyping needs. Our in-house electronics team adds special effects to our models, including automation, lighting and sound.

Fabrication processes have expanded along with our knowledge base and equipment acquisition. Molding & casting, CNC machining, 3D printing, metal bending/punching have all been added to more traditional model making techniques, allowing for more variety, accuracy, speed and detail in our productions. Old world craftsmanship and cutting edge technology have melded beautifully in our shop to provide truly innovative services in the model making industry.

It’s an exciting time to be a part of the company. Our current team is well-balanced as far as skill sets, talented in their individual specialties and motivated to do quality work for their clients on every project. It seems like an appropriate time to unveil our new name, logo and company website: