Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marketing 101

Imagine you run a company that makes plastic model kits. You produce a model of the original starship Enterprise from TV’s Star Trek. The kit sells very well, making a lot of money for your company. So far so good.

Eventually though, everyone who wants the kit buys it and sales slow to a standstill. Now what? The obvious answer would be to make a model kit of another ship from the show. However, the injection molds used to make the kits are very expensive, so you're reluctant to go that route.

You've still got the molds from the original Enterprise model sitting in your warehouse. It would be great if you could get some more use out of those molds. You can’t just re-release the kit so soon though because everyone already has it. How can you get consumers to buy the same kit again and get more mileage out of those expensive molds?

Answer: You re-release the kit, but this time you use glow in the dark plastic and say it’s a special version of the Enterprise, from the episode The Tholian Web.*

Note that this is an actual real-life product, not something I made up.

Genius! You’ve now created a brand new product using the materials you have at hand!

You've given the Trekkies a reason to buy the same kit of the Enterprise that they already own (and you know they'll buy it, because it says Star Trek on the box and therefore they must possess it). Plus you didn’t have to spend money on another set of expensive molds, you just reused the same ones you already had!

This is a classic example of marketing-- getting people to re-buy something they already have by changing it slightly (to be fair, they did also include two of the small Tholian ships in this new kit to complete the display). Just like in the Simpsons episode where Wayon Smithers wants the new version of the Malibu Stacy doll because, "it comes with a hat."

But hey, why stop there? I can think of a lot more ways to get the fans to buy the same Enterprise kit yet again.

Here's a special version of the Enterprise from the episode Who Mourns For Adonais? In this episode the crew meets an all powerful being who claims to be the Greek god Apollo. He traps the ship by holding it in place with a force field shaped like a giant ghostly hand.

Just include the same old Enterprise model, throw in a green transparent plastic hand that snaps onto the saucer, and voila! Trekkies would kill one another to own this kit!

Ingredients: 1 Enterprise model plus 1 lump of blue modeling clay and you can recreate the scenes of the ship trying to stop a giant asteroid from destroying the Indian planet!

You don't even have to make molds for the asteroid. Let the consumer sculpt their own out the clay provided, as part of the fun!

From the episode where an alien witch shrank the Enterprise and turned it into a piece of jewelry, threatening to hold it over a candle flame and fry everyone inside. All you'd need here is the same old ship model and a cheap metal chain.

This one admittedly might be a little too expensive to actually produce. In this episode an alien named Balok faces off against the Enterprise with his enormous mile-wide spaceship. You'd need to include a couple of thousand ping pong balls that could be assembled into the alien ship, and up the price of the kit a few hundred dollars, but hey, you're guaranteed a few sales from the die-hard fans!

This one would be a little more practical-- it's from the episode in which the Enterprise faces the giant space amoeba. Use the same ship model and just throw in a surplus breast implant full of colored water and oil.

For this kit all you'd need to do would be add a transparent window in the dome at the top of the saucer section of the ship and include a tiny bridge, complete with teeny crew. Instant Enterprise variation!

This would be the cheapest rerelease of all. This is the episode in which the Enterprise is thrown backwards in time to Earth in the 1960s, and is spotted in the atmosphere by a fighter jet. All you have to do here is just say it's from the episode. No modifications needed!

* It's been a long time since I've seen the episode, but if I recall correctly it wasn't the Enterprise that was doing the glowing, it was its sister ship the Defiant. So why doesn't the box say it's the Defiant?


  1. For the TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY version, why not include a 1/1000 F-104 Starfighter?! Brilliant!

  2. Love the boxart on these fantasy kits. Especially WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS. Too bad they aren't real. Also THE ENTERPRISE INCIDENT would make a great boxart picture as well!


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