Wednesday, 13 July 2022

SF model company Eaglemoss enters administration

British company Eaglemoss has entered administration, in a surprise move today that caught fans off-guard and left subscribers to the company's products wondering about their undelivered purchases.

My own Eaglemoss collection: the OG Galactica, Colonial One, the battlestar Pegasus, the USS Voyager, the USS Excelsior and an OG Cylon basestar

For the last decade Eaglemoss has been producing reasonably-priced, reasonable-quality spacecraft models from the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Expanse, Aliens and Predator franchises, along with figurines and statues from franchises including Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, James Bond, The Walking DeadGhostbusters and the DC Universe, with a strong focus on Batman material. Particularly notable was their exhaustive approach to the franchises, creating models of vehicles and characters that have never been made before.

Eaglemoss had also branched into publishing, reprinting numerous classic Star Trek comics and a series of companion books to their model line, often bringing attention and focus to the original model-makers or CG artists.

Eaglemoss were founded in the 1970s and became a leading company in the "partwork" business, where a magazine and part of a model are released each month and, over the course of many months, the buyer ends up with the final model. The idea was popular because it meant people could effectively defer the cost of a model over months or even years rather than having to pay all in one lump sum. However, the model was criticised because often the total cost of the model far exceeded purchasing it in one go. Despite this, the model proved popular into the 1990s.

Eaglemoss pivoted to focusing on prebuilt lines of models in the early 2010s, mainly through their Hero Collector line of Star Trek ships. The line proved very popular, with surprisingly large numbers of people signing up to a subscription model where they received every new ship, ever month. The line extended to an XL line of super-sized ships. The line was hugely successful and saw Eaglemoss diversifying into other franchises. Their line of Doctor Who models and figures was also successful. However, the performance of other lines seemed dubious: their Battlestar Galactica line seemed to fizzle out after the most obvious, iconic ships had been produced and their latest line, based on The Expanse, seemed to have done poorly (some odd ship choices may not have helped, such as picking the obscure UN-One ship before the much more iconic Donnager). They had also faced rejections in trying to acquire rights to other franchises: another company picked up the licence for a similar range of Star Wars ships, whilst Warner Brothers rebuffed the company's efforts to acquire the Babylon 5 licence.

Eaglemoss seemed to be doing very well but, like so many other businesses, they were badly impacted by the COVID pandemic and resulting bottleneck in production and transport from China. They also faced sharply rising costs.

Administration is a system where companies, instead of immediately declaring bankruptcy, are able to go through a restructuring process to try to salvage the company as a going concern, overseen by financial experts and advisors. Although entering administration is never a good thing, many companies have returned to profitability and stability following the process. However, Eaglemoss have been forced to let people go, with their Doctor Who range head confirming via Twitter that had had been made redundant.

During administration a company can sell through existing product, but will usually not be able to acquire more. This has led to fan concerns over the company's few remaining partwork magazines. A Ghostbusters collection to build the ECTO-1 vehicle was only a few parts from conclusion, whilst a Star Trek collection to build the Next Generation version of the USS Enterprise wasn't even halfway done. Customers are trying to get refunds or face being left out of pocket and with incomplete models.

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