Do you remember as I do wandering the aisle of the local hobby shop scanning the kits setting on the shelves, absorbing the images of the box art? As your eyes scanned your brain was recording everything, what the kit was, who made it and in what scale. Then suddenly BAM! you locked onto something that you saw triggered the I GOT TO BUILD THAT!
In my younger years that was just about every kit I laid my eyes upon. But are you as allured by the box art as you once were? Or have you reached the point in your life and modeling preferences that the technical aspect of what’s inside the box has overtaken what you’re imagination once sparked by the cover? I guess it depends on when you started in this hobby.
I have to admit I have seen some really great box art, I’ve also seen some really poor ones too. Having seen the process of creating packaging for scale models, it can be done on the cheap or it can be very expensive. Nothing says don’t buy to me more than box art with a picture of the built up model which was poorly done. First impression for most would be… WOW, that’s a real sows ear of a kit if even a professional can’t make it look any better than that!
Box art needs in my opinion to inspire the modeler to want to build the kit, which is half of the battle to get them to purchase it in the first place. Now we all know that in years past, many of the depictions on the cover of some of the kits we bought and built were anything but accurate references to painting the model. But when you were a 9 – 15 year old did you really care? Probably not and if you did you were well on your way to being a bona fide rivet counter.
I think a lot has to do with what era you were born in. Today we take technology for granted, but back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s we were seeing a huge explosion of technical development especially in air and space which also transitioned into the automobile world too. The box art we saw on model kits encouraged us to use our imagination and dream while we built the model inside the box. Today, some will say that paying an artist to create an original piece of art work for use as box art is a waste of money better spent on what’s inside the box. Some prefer to see the real McCoy on the cover to use as a reference while building and finishing the model leaving in my opinion no inspiration from ones imagination. If they want an idea of how it was used or employed, they just Google it and watch a video or look at images of the subject in action.
The image across the top of this post was taken of the box art displayed as part of EAA’s Little Wings, Big Dreams exhibit. For those about my age or older, this wall of box art brought back a lot of fond and inspiring memories. Packaging is and always has been a science in a study of alluring customers to not only see the item, but pick it up and purchase it. Remember the generic years? When plain packaging was the rage? No. Well that’s because it failed to sustain sales. If something is presented to a consumer it has to be appealing to the consumer otherwise they are disappointed before making the decision to purchase. Such disappointment often leans towards the loss of the sale.
Think about that for a minute, if model manufacturers did like they do for durable goods, as an example: Lawn mowers sold at big box retailers come in boxes with pictures on all sides of what’s in the box. While a dealership who sells units off the floor the same type units are in plain brown boxes.
Would you care if the kit box was a plain brown box with a simple stenciling on one end of what’s inside? Or would you feel more comfortable getting kits as they are packaged now? Think of the packaging cost savings that could be passed along to you the consumer for kits purchased online…you see a picture of the item not necessarily the packaging you’ll get in the mail. Testor’s did this with their HSO program and Tamiya has a white box. As a photographer, I know when ordering a camera or new lense to order the white box versus the more expensive fancier standard boxing.
Regardless of what’s on the kit’s cover, what you do with the contents is completely up to YOU! Whether you build it to look like every other one or let your imagination take it to a different reality. Just keep buying and building them!