Tuesday, September 27

Former Eaglemoss Licensing Head Ben Robinson Offers Hope After Company Ceases Operations – TrekMovie.com

Eaglemoss Ltd. through their Hero Collector brand has been one of the most active and prolific Star Trek licensees over the last decade, releasing a steady stream of Star Trek die-cast models as well as other products including figures, busts, and even books. The company’s offerings went well beyond Star Trek, with products tied to Doctor Who, James Bond, Alien, and many other franchises. However, that all came to a halt in July when the UK-based company stopped all sales and shipments of products, with reports that the company was in financial trouble, leaving their regular customers in the dark about the future of their collections.

TrekMovie has attempted to get more clarity from Eaglemoss, however, there have been no official statements or responses to inquiries. The only sort of official communication was via Eaglemoss’ affiliate program partners informing those signed up to the affiliate program that the company’s sales site was down, and a later update stated all affiliate sales were on “hold.” However, we were able to get some clarity on what is going on and a sense of where things might go from Ben Robinson, Eaglemoss’ (now former) Director of Licensed Products.

Goodbye Eaglemoss

Robinson confirmed that on Friday, August 5th Eaglemoss officially entered Administration in the UK. Similar to Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the USA, the Administration process involves an outside administrator who takes over the company when it is unable to pay off its debts and obligations. So as of last Friday, Robinson and other remaining members of the staff were made redundant. Robinson has always been an active advocate of the Star Trek and other lines for Eaglemoss and he has chosen to speak out because he feels the company has fallen short on communicating the situation to customers, calling it “unwise and unhelpful,” although he says he does expect there to be some official communications coming from the company, hopefully soon.

Robinson’s history with Star Trek goes back to the late ’90s as the editor of Star Trek Fact Files for GE Fabbri, which was later purchased by Eaglemoss in 2011. At the time Robinson had been developing starship models for GE Fabbri, later launched by Eaglemoss as their Star Trek Starships Collection. Since 2012 Eaglemoss released around 400 different Star Trek die-cast models of various sizes, which came under their new Hero Collector brand in 2015. Over the last decade, he has been the driving force in Eaglemoss behind an expanding portfolio of licensed products, including the last year’s launch of the ambitious “Build the Enterprise-D” subscription program.

According to Robinson, there had been attempts in recent months to sell all, or parts of, the company but those attempts fell through, leading to Eaglemoss entering administration. Robinson is clear that he was only an employee of the privately-held company, and not privy to all the financial details behind and reasoning behind entering administration. However, his personal opinion is that Eaglemoss was a victim of its own ambition:

The company went for a very aggressive growth plan and wasn’t able to sustain it and toppled over… Basically what happens is you invest in more stock than you can sell. So you tie your money up in stock, you don’t then have enough cash to function and then things go wrong.

Ships from Hero Collector Official Starships Collection

Restarting the ‘Build The Enterprise-D’ program is a priority

While Robinson believes that Eaglemoss as a company will not be back, he does see hope for some of the popular product lines to continue. He tells TrekMovie:

Eaglemoss is over, but that doesn’t mean that the individual collections or individual projects don’t have a future… Theoretically, another company could come in and take over any of the collections or any of the licenses… Even though the [Eaglemoss] wasn’t able to sustain it and toppled over, that doesn’t mean that the individual projects are not profitable. And it doesn’t mean that somebody else wouldn’t be interested in picking them up.

Perhaps the biggest short-term concern is the aforementioned “Build the Enterprise-D” program where subscribers would get monthly deliveries of parts to build 2-foot long ship model complete with lights and electronics. When Eaglemoss ceased operations the project was still ongoing, leaving subscribers with only partially built ships. This means customers had spent hundreds of dollars and months of time building a model that will not be completed unless someone takes over the program.

Robinson confirmed that the demise of Eaglemoss caught Star Trek licensor Paramount/CBS by surprise, and they have been working behind the scenes to find a way forward, especially for those specific subscribers. Robinson tells TrekMovie:

The Build the Enterprise-D is the obvious one we are concerned about… Theoretically, CBS can go to another company and say “We will work with you to complete this collection.” And that company could then supply the remaining parts to all the subscribers and could continue to recruit new people… The first priority is the people who are left with an incomplete model, and CBS completely agree what we must try to do is sort them out first.

The “Build The Enterprise-D” project was actually closing in on completion with a total of 31 planned shipments for a completed model, and some of the earliest subscribers already had received 25 shipments. Without getting into details about any negotiations or plans, Robinson is optimistic some kind of deal can be made, saying:

There are a number of companies who specialize in this kind of thing. And I have reason to believe that several of them are interested in carrying on with the project.

Robinson confirmed that the “Build The Enterprise-D,” along with other “build” subscriptions from other licenses, were some of the most profitable for Eaglemoss, and therefore should be attractive for another company to pick up saying “there are reasons to think that will happen.”

Hero Collector Build The Enterprise-D model completed

Some hope for more starships (and books)

Robinson also pointed out that other popular Hero Collector product lines could also have a future with another entity, notably the extensive collection of Star Trek die-cast models:

The second priority [after restarting Build The Enterprise-D] is to show that there is a level of interest in making new ships and making more of the ones that have already been done, or the best ones at least. And giving people a chance to buy those to complete their collections or to extend their collections.

In the shorter term, making what is currently in stock available to buy again looks like the easiest step, with Robinson telling TrekMovie:

When it comes to the Starships Collection, there is still a certain amount of stock of those that was stuck in warehouses… And there is a very good chance that that all the stock of the existing ships will be released. And people will see it cropping up in different retailers… That’s for all the stuff that has already been made, some of which hasn’t been released, but everything that’s been made and manufactured and is sitting in a warehouse somewhere, there is a very good chance that somebody will be able to buy that.

And Robinson is working on finding a way forward for the collection to continue to grow, explaining:

There’s the possibility of someone wanting to make new ships, like the Protostar (from Prodigy) or the Stargazer (Picard) or whatever. And there’s a real possibility that that will happen, but that is something that is going to need some effort. And one of the things I’m trying to do with my life is to find someone who would be interested in making new model spaceships. If someone can arrive at the right arrangement CBS, and CBS are very keen that the line should continue, there is every reason to think that that there will be opportunities to manufacture more of the stuff that’s already been done.


Recently revealed model for USS Titan from Lower Decks

And even with everything that has happened, Robinson remains optimistic, telling TrekMovie:

I feel quite hopeful. I can’t make anybody any promises. There are no guarantees at this stage. What I can tell people is that this has been a very successful line, that it has made money for people. I am not privy to all the information, but I believe [ship models] is not why Eaglemoss went bankrupt… There are lots of reasons to think that somebody else will be interested in the same business. I know that there have been some conversations.

Hero Collector has also been publishing a series of non-fiction books including a number of Star Trek books on the various series and of course on various ships, with Robinson as the author or co-author of many of them. And he says he is “optimistic” saying sales have been good and he feels a solution will be found to publish at least the upcoming titles that have already been announced, noting “I know that there are people who will be interested in publishing those books.”

Some of the recent Star Trek books published by Hero Collector

It may take some effort

Robinson acknowledged that some of the other Hero Collector product lines including busts and figurines are less likely to see a revival, however, admitting there is a “much better argument” for products that have already been designed and tooled for manufacturing and finding a new life with a new entity. He also acknowledged that there are significant legal and financial issues to resolve between the company, its creditors, and the licensor before product lines can move forward with another party.

Robinson thinks in the end it may take some grassroots efforts from the community to help make this happen, saying:

In order to persuade a company, that this is a worthwhile effort, I think we need to sort of drum up some kind of support. We need to be able to demonstrate to people that there is a market for these things… So I haven’t quite worked out how we can do this, but people can follow me on Twitter and keep an eye out for various things we can do to demonstrate the level of interest in new ships, and the classics.

Keep up with @BENCSRobinson on Twitter for the latest on his efforts.


Hero Collector products still in stock at some retailers

While the future of the Eaglemoss Hero Collector lines is uncertain and they are no longer selling directly, many of their products are available via other retailers who have their own stock. This includes Amazon and Entertainment Earth.

Some of the latest releases can be picked up now, such as the 32nd century USS Voyager-J from Star Trek: Discovery.

Voyager-J available at Amazon now

Among the items still available at Entertainment Earth is the Romulan Bird of Prey from Star Trek: Picard.

Bird of Prey available at Entertainment Earth

TrekMovie will continue to monitor events with Eaglemoss and Hero Collector and be providing updates when more is known on this evolving situation.

Find more Star Trek merchandise news and reviews at TrekMovie.com.

source: trekmovie.com