Loose Lips Sink Ships
During the Second World War, the slogan "Loose Lips Sink Ships" became one of the major themes for watching what we were saying. Enemy agents could sit in coffee shops and other public places and glean useful information from shop-talk and idle gossip. Today, one merely has to read the newsgroups on the Internet from anywhere in the world.
In today's world, the threat isn't about sinking ships anymore. It is about industrial espionage and sabotage. Even the hobby industry isn't immune. When word gets out that company X is planning to release the Fairly Fartworth in 1/48 scale, companies Y & Z try to get their Fartworths to the store shelves first. This is one reason why manufacturers are tight-lipped about new releases and release schedules these days.
By the time you read this column, yet another great manufacturer has closed its doors for good. Accurate Miniatures has ceased operations as of June 30th, 2001. In their relatively short time in existence, A-M raised the bar of modeling excellence to the point where even the Japanese manufacturers were responding in their own offerings. Yet despite these contributions, the Internet was a major factor in their demise - loose lips. In this case, too many people stating with great authority that the janitor had overheard that A-M was going under, or other folks insisting that some minor detail was inaccurate.
Unfortunately, all of this gossip about the company and its kits took its toll. Orders fell off, leaving them to try different things to keep the company going. Was the Internet at fault? Not completely, but it did have a stake in A-M's demise. Is this a unique situation? Absolutely not.
Take Ocidental. The owners watched the Internet for reaction to their releases. To their credit and ultimate demise, they dared to release a Spitfire IX with a faulty nose profile. Even after they corrected the kit, few people on the Internet would acknowledge their efforts. Unfortunately for us, they wisely packed up and moved into other business areas. These were the same people who had given us a great 1/48 T-6 Texan and promised other unique subjects - now gone.
Take KMC. They dared to release a 1/72 727-200 kit. The kit did have faults and the resulting bad vibes took their toll. There are other examples, and fortunately the big companies like Hasegawa, Tamiya, Revell-Monogram, etc., are strong enough to endure such backlashes. The little companies are not.
Today, loose lips may not sink ships, but they can help a promising company to leave our ranks. Can we silence these loose lips? Only if you can shut down the Internet. But I would encourage you to take what you read and hear with a grain of salt. Don't dismiss a kit because you read that someone had a bad time with it. You might find that the individual had a bad day or a bad kit - occasionally a bad shot does get off the molds and into the box. You can't help that some newsgroup author isn't getting enough fiber in his diet, but you can go out and form your own opinions.
What happened to the days when we would take Hawk kits and build masterpieces out of them? Today we've become lazier modelers and squawk when a cowling is a few scale inches too narrow. Get out the sanding sticks and fix it! You will never find the perfect model, so let's get out there, complain less and build more. Let's have some fun for a change!