Friday, February 19, 2010

Interview with John Pisani of Models56

When you have your own model company, you can model your personal car - John Pisani's FC Station Wagon.

John Pisani – Models56.

When did you start Models56?

In 2006 because no one built models I liked, we started with the XB Falcon Coupe Diecast street machine in 1/24th but Oz is a 1/18 town of box collectors.

You started out with caricatured Falcon Coupes in diecast, why the shift to resin for the current range? 

The cost of tooling is lower.

I note that although they are resin, they are made in China - what are the reasons for this?

China is the only place available; if we were to build the cars here they would be around $250.00 per car. Resin has the advantage of very low production costs as no tooling just patterns

The GTR-X sold out quickly. did you think before you commenced that project that the response would be so good ?

Yes, it was a world first as are most of our cars. Feedback was 10/10.

The Armco models range has focused on 'niche interest' models such as 70's touring cars and super sedans. What was the decision making process that led to these particular models?

No one would produce them in diecast, meaning they would probably never be made.

The FC Holden Station wagon is a beautiful representation of that car. Did you use any particular car as a reference?

Yes – mine!

Occasionally when making a scale model you have to make a decision between human perspective of a car, and accuracy. Were there any compromises on the FC Holden Station Wagon or McCormack Charger? 

Yes sometimes accuracy gives way to appearance. The smaller the car the harder to get the shape right so yes we agonise over this point.

Are you likely to do recolours of the Holden wagon in the mode of Trax, Biante and Classic Carlectable ?

There is very little chance of that, and if so it would be several years away, and we would also add accessories to keep the models unique.

The presentation when you open the box is first class. Is that a conscious decision to ensure that people view these as high quality collector models? 

Yes only 500 people in the world will own a set of our cars so the presentation has to suit the rarity of the product.

Your range is lower in volume and higher in cost than other Australian 1/43 models. Do you think that your volume will grow to match those of the big three?

No, 500 is where we are staying we want exclusivity not volume. 

Do you make the castings yourself or contract that out? Who else is involved with designing the castings? 

We have several pattern makers here and abroad but will not disclose names.

Can you explain the process involved in getting a resin car built?

There is lots of correspondence from owners and drivers and reference material consulted on paint and trim colours etc (for each car). Then a pattern is hand shaped from resin. This is sent to china and they do a master, then we do all the corrections, send it back to China to have another master made and then correct again, if required, then go into production.

Recently Trax had a problem with their Chinese manufacturer leading to collector complaints about cars arriving with parts adrift. Have you had similar problems?

No problems at all. We have very stringent mandatory QC checks that we have initiated before they can proceed to the next step, and this is easier with small volume runs.

Do you find customers just buying one particular car, or are your customers buying cars on your reputation now?

Yes the repeat business is very strong regardless of subject. Owning one of 500 in the world has appeal.

You sell the 1:24 Falcons in retail shops, but I haven’t seen the Armco Range. Are they only available from you directly?

Yes the Armco range is only available from we do not want to retail to shops.

What have you got planned for the future?

I would have to kill you but seriously we are going to stay on the same path but several new lines will appear this year that will get tongues wagging. At present the Gardner Corvair and Thomson VW are in production.

Is there a car you would like to make but cant justify financially? 

63 Studebaker GT Hawk, but I will do it.

What does John McCormack think of the Charger model? 

John loved the car.

Thanks to John Pisani for answering my questions. You can buy Armco models from the Models56 website. Tell them you read about them here!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Armco Models - FC Holden Station Wagon and McCormack racing Charger

'Models56' have recently started to build a strong reputation for producing highly detailed quality 1:43 scale resin cars with appeal to Australian collectors. There is a small niche in the Australian diecast scale model car market where the big three (Biante, Trax and Classic Carlectables) won’t operate - where the car is interesting and desirable to perhaps 500 people. 

These cars are problematic for model companies, as they will never get a return on their investment if they produce a mould that can only be used once. They are used to producing designs for cars that will be reused in different incarnations to build the same basic car in tens of thousands. The world needs as many 1:43 XY Falcons as can be produced.

Into this niche steps 'Models56' with their 'Armco' range. Last year they produced what I considered to be the best 1:43 model of the year – the Holden GTR-X. It was sold out within weeks.

Armco models are able to compete in this niche as they are a range of high quality resin models, produced to the same high standards as diecast cars, and with premium packaging, detailing and quality. Being resin, the production costs are much lower than the costs for a diecast car, and the production run can be lower with the venture still being profitable. The disadvantage is that the moulds for the cars cannot be used in large production runs, and when the run is completed, that is it.

Last month, Models56 released two new models – an FC Station Wagon and the McCormack racing Charger. Once again, both models are limited to 500. I immediately placed an order and received these models in the mail recently. Once again, I was very pleased. Both are high quality models, beautifully presented and nicely modelled.

The GTR-X issued by Models56 last year was designed by Tony Hanna, who has also modelled many of the 1:43 Trax models. He also designed the John McCormack racing Charger presented here today. Darryl Montgomery designed the FC Holden Station Wagon. 

First the McCormack Charger:

This is what you see when you open the box. No unsightly screws. Plastic bubble holds the model in place. 
Nice squat racing stance. It just looks right. 
Beautifully presented, high level of detail and accuracy. The interior is a replica of the race car, far higher detail than Ive seen on any other Australian 1:43 car. Even the rear window is accurate.
How do you display this car ? Wipers, rear fuel filler. Beautiful. You can see in this photo how far back the engine sits (into the cabin area). Nice Valiant badge on the front.
The base plate is not detailed, but look at how wide those tyres are. 

Now the FC Holden Station Wagon.
Beautiful presentation upon opening the box. Nicely wrapped for travel. I have removed the plastic bubble which holds the car in place. 
The exquisite detail warrants the premium price that these models command. 
Its so easy to make a good model look bad when it comes to grilles (like the Trax HQ vans) but this is impressive. Even the headlights look real, not just clear plastic shapes.
Tony Hanna who designed this model, also designed the Trax FC Sedan. I think this is better than the Trax sedan.
Station Wagon interior is very accurate and detailed for this scale.
Nice view. The lines are just right. Nicely presented tiny 1:43 door handles.
A far more detailed baseplate than the McCormack Charger. 

The FC Holden is limited to 450 in this colour scheme, with 50 being made in white only. The white version is already sold out. I am confident these models will be highly sought after in the collectors market in the future. I urge you to visit the Models56 website and look at the cars they have produced, and plan for the future. You wont be disappointed. 


Armco McCormack racing Charger
Quality  8
Design    9
Colours   9
X-factor  8

Rating: 34/40

Armco FC Holden Station Wagon
Quality  9
Design    9
Colours   9
X-factor  9

Rating: 36/40

Coming soon – an interview with John Pisani of 56 Models. 

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