|Q: A mandatory question, how and why did you start building models from scratch? How is that related to your hobby? What do you do for a living?
MF: I am working full-time as an interior decorator. My first experiences with modelcars come from the time when I was four years old. The neighbor boy, who was ten, used to display his Wiking models in the
summer- house colony. When I was seven or eight I got my first own Wiking models and from then on collected continously.
Of course, the very first models were heavily played with.
After some time I was more and more disappointed that so many cars (especially my own French ones) were not available as models, the more so since my interest changed from Wiking only to cars in general. My first kit was a BS Design Alfa Spider '90 which I built successfully. The second kit I tackled, a BS Design Opel Manta, then almost made me give up on it again. That model is still unfinished.
Getting info on small series manufacturers has always been difficult, but somehow I stumbled over the address of US Models and bought a few kits there. I managed to build them and some Le Mans Miniatures models as well. At that time I also intended to build a diorama of a Citroen repair shop (an unfinished project, too).
Then, I got Mr Haubrich's address, he responded to my inquires and I ordered some Focus models.
I converted the Focus kits of the Chrysler Voyager and Peugeot 309 to more useable models by cutting them into four pieces each. The Voyager was narrowed, the Peugeot was
broadened. Everything was smoothed and newly engraved. How successful these conversions were can still be seen in my program, although I made the models primarily for myself.
After so much reconstruction on the two models I thought I could possibly build a model from scratch, too, and so the Peugeot 104 came into being (that was my first car by the way, drove it for almost a year until it rusted away under my backside).
That was in 1995 and at that time I already had to phone Mr Haubrich often about unfinished business of his. Once we came to speak about my own scratchbuilt models and he said that he could cast them without a problem. Well, that was indeed the case and with that I joined the club of small series manufacturers.
By now I cast my models myself (Mr Haubrich had three years in which he didn't make anything) and have built around 80 masters. In addition, a friend began to supply master models for VN Modelle.
Q: What are your criteria when selecting a new project? What influence do economic considerations have on your choice?
A: I definitely began with models that I liked. I just had to build my own cars which led to the inclusion of Peugeot 104, 205, 305 and Citroen Visa II into my program. The Peugeot 106 is still missing, though.
Of course I subordinated economic considerations when I made these, but there is also a number of models that were created in view of the market, the Opel Rekord D, VW Polo and Jetta for example. I also make models after concrete requests sometimes, including the Opel Rekord E2 Caravan and Fiat Ducato. I actually built the latter for my Hamburg Police collection and didn't think about producing it regularly, but a friend of mine who is a dealer specialized in police models finally persuaded me.
Q: What is your basic principle for building a master and how long does that process take?
A: As a rule, I look for an 1/87th scale model of which I can adopt the position of the A-pillar and the wheelbase. Upon that base I build a master with a lot of filler and grinding. There are a few exceptions, but nearly all of my models were made that way. The Opel Rekord was a Herpa '77 BMW 5-series, the Chrysler LeBaron was a 3-series convertible and the Peugeot 104 was built from an IMU Polo. There are of course highly modified resin kits from other manufacturers as well, although I really only produce models that I alter distinctly from the originals. I don't like simple copying.
The space of time for building a master can vary from six months to several years, depending on how intensely I work on it.
Q: How do you proceed with the casting, i. e. what kind of mold and casting materials do you employ?
A: I use silicone for molds and two-component resin for the casting, supplied by
'Alpina'. The molds are made of two parts which are pressed into one another for the casting process. The
excess resin then streams out of the mold.
Q: Looking at this green Chrysler Voyager, did you already experiment with different kinds of resin? What are your experiences with dyed resin?
A: The colored models were all done by IMSE, who temporary did the casting for me. I haven't used pigmented resin myself and consider it senseless since there are always small inaccuracies in handcrafted models that have to be corrected and then you have to paint the model anyhow.
I did work with resin and silicone from two different manufacturers though, and observed on the basis of the Haubrich models that the resin in general became better over the years.
Q: How many molds do you have for each model, does one suffice? What is your production scheme (one type of model, then another...to some extent to lay in a stock?).
A: When I have new models or bigger orders I tend to make two or three molds per type. That is also related to the fact that a mold can produce a maximum of 25 castings only.
I produce the models in no particular order, it's just what I need at the time. I can make up to five models in one running and I don't have that many molds of one type. I have of course a certain amount of kits in stock to fulfil orders.
Q: Perhaps a bugging subject in the small series area, how do you produce glazings for your models?
A: I make a plaster copy of the interior and then pull foil over it with hot air. I personally prefer liquid glazing for my samples.
Q: How much time do you spend making the kits and what share does the casting itself have in that time?
A: Well, the most time consuming is the making of the master. The time exposure for mold making and casting is rather little. That takes about as long as the cleaning of the castings, vacuforming the glazing and the packaging.
Q: How many models do you approximately make of each type?
A: Models which sell easily can clearly surpass editions of 100, but I also have certain models of which I haven't even sold 30.
Q: Why do you discontinue kits like the Honda Accord?
A: I abandoned the Accord when Herpa introduced that model in STW trim. I didn't see a chance of selling that model anymore, because a conversion of the Herpa model certainly isn't more difficult than building a resin kit. Concerning the Voyager and the 406
the reason is clear. Simultaneously with the release of the Busch Voyager the demand for the old Voyager and the Grand Voyager faded notely. The open top Wrangler was just too difficult to mold. I don't continue production of the Peugeot 205 3
door and the 309 GTI as a kind of clearing up. I think I had too many versions of these.
Q: Would a further development of your models be possible, perhaps with your own wheels and photo-etched parts?
A: I would of course like to provide selfmade wheels, but my attempts at casting them were not so promising up to now. I do equip very few models with such parts, but they generally require a lot of work so that hardly anyone uses them on their models.
Photo-etched parts are not planned at the moment. I favor models that can be easily built (almost all my kits only have two parts) and which feature the prominent outlines correctly. It has often occured to me that I found kits with many different parts from other manufacturers where the resin parts didn't fit.
Q: What is your general plan now, will there be more models of American and Japanese prototypes?
A: Yes, I think so, but there's nothing like that in the works. I do have ideas for 100 years though.
Q: How would you judge the chances of including the following models in your range? Peugeot 505, Citroen Xantia, Cadillac Seville. Would the Ferrari 456 GT perhaps still be a model to consider?
A: I would like to make the Peugeot 505 and Citroen Xantia eventually since they exactly fit into my field of interest. I didn't think about the Caddy yet. The Ferrari was deleted from the list after I discovered that the base I had planned to work with (a keychain model) wasn't even close to 1/87.
Q: Would you give us a quick glance at your next releases?
A: There will be something from Italy and from France. In addition to the already announced Peugeot 403 convertible and Opel Kadett E Caravan I am working on a Peugeot 807 and a Fiat 850 Coupé. I still have a lot more ideas and half-built masters.
- Thank you very much Martin Fredrich!