Friday, April 20, 2012

Fast Friday: A Rant

I really don’t mean for this blog to become such a downer, but aside from the ongoing and increasingly frustrating Mustang saga, one of my other favorite hobbies seems to be falling apart at the seams – Indycar modeling.

At best, this is a niche hobby within a hobby niche. But its participants are pretty hard-core, and unfortunately don’t always agree with each other on various issues, but if you look beyond that, it’s allowed me to share my builds with like-minded people – and learn a lot about Indycar racing and model building in general in the process.

Largely ignored by the mainstream modeling industry, Indycar modeling has been strongly supported by a core group of dedicated cottage industries. There are some “big” names that have been around for years, and some newer talent ready to help grow the hobby. I’ve bought several items from them, and it’s really just a great bunch of guys.

But one of those just ran into corporate American greed and has received multiple cease and desist letters, starting with one from Firestone who demanded he stop selling his decals that can be used to build a model of a Firestone Cobre sponsored car from the mid-1970s. It is also possible, actually you could say it’s probable, that another member of the Indycar modeling community alerted Firestone of this individual’s activities. That’s another issue, one that gets a lot of blood boiling and puts the hobby as a whole in serious, serious jeopardy. I’m not sure I'm ready to share my feelings on that component of this story just yet.

Now, I don’t know the person making the decals beyond some online interaction, and wouldn’t recognize him walking down the street. I bought some decals from him a couple years ago on another subject that were very good. His more recent projects, while well done, did not dovetail with projects I had on my to-do list. But from everything I can tell, he’s just a simple hobbyist, one who just wants to help fellow hobbyists, and I always liked to see what he was working on.

This individual was selling limited runs of his decals. We’re talking quantities of 10 here. Ten.  1-0. Less than a dozen. For $6 apiece. Six. Not sixty. Not six hundred. Six. Gross revenue: $60. Try buying a single Firestone tire for that. Now factor in his time, his materials cost, his shipping costs and I’d guess his net revenue is in the red.

Simply put, this guy is not making money off another’s brand. He’s sharing his art with the hope that others can enjoy a having a unique model in their collection, and maybe trying to cover some of his expenses.

Look, I work in marketing for a living, and understand companies need to protect their brand. You can’t have a fly-by-night operation in China selling tires and calling them Firestones, or even Flamestones or Firerocks. And you certainly don’t want someone setting up a stand on the corner of 16th and Georgetown selling Firestone t-shirts, or certainly not Firesucks shirts or Firestone thong underwear or whatever else they have in their brand standards as inconsistent with their strategy.

But cottage industry model race car decals?

I know it’s easier for corporations to enact sweeping regulations in an attempt to have one-size-fits-all rulings that tie everything up in a nice bow so they can drive home in their fancy cars and go to their fancy restaurants and whatnot. But the real world isn’t so cut and dried. Never has been. A little common sense would show that on a case by case basis, this is not a big deal. No money worth mentioning was made (these guys make more in 20 minutes than this guy made in weeks doing this), and the brand was treated respectfully. Unfortunately, common sense isn’t all that common, but greed is. Both at the corporate level, and by whoever turned him in.

Put the checkered flag away, boys, there are no winners here this week.


  1. It would be better to support than screw over, how much have the letters alone cost? Blood boiling bullshit!