Toy maker Revell's US and German operations coming together

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CHAMPAIGN, ILL. (Feb. 17, 10:45 a.m. ET) — After 56 years of separately serving model builders of all ages, Revell’s operations in the United States and Germany are coming together under common ownership.

Hobbico Inc., parent company of Revell-Monogram, has acquired Revell Deutschland Holding GmbH of Bünde, Germany. The U.S.-based predecessor to Revell-Monogram was formed in 1945 by cofounder Lou Glaser who in 1956 established the German company to serve Europe.

“We are pleased to reunite the Revell brand under one owner,” said Hobbico President Wayne Hemming in a news release. “Now, Revell can proceed with a worldwide strategy for growth of the core plastic model business.”

Revell in the United States and Germany have overlapping product lines in model kits and radio-controlled models with motive power. The U.S. business is bigger in larger-scale models and injection-molded polystyrene model kits.

Hobbico does most of its manufacturing in China. Revell Deutschland relies mainly on Eastern Europe and China for its production, according to an entry in Wikipedia.

“We think they will be a great match to develop new products and market them,” said Hobbico spokeswoman Carol Pesch in a telephone interview. The purchase announced Feb. 15 will boost exports of each party’s lineup into the other’s backyard.

Hobbico, which employs about 800, will maintain a separate design team from that of Revell Deutschland, a 150-employee firm, Pesch explained. Revell in Germany will continue to be headquartered in Bünde and led by the business’s president Hans Remfert.

Hobbico bought model kit major Revell-Monogram LLC in 2007. Revell-Monogram had several different owners since it was founded and was owned by a group led by Hallmark Cards Inc. when Hobbico purchased it. Hobbico, based in Champaign, Ill., has been an employee-owned business since November 2005. Under Hobbico’s ownership the employees of Revell Deutschland will share ownership of the expanded company, according to Pesch. Revell Deutschland was spun off as a separate company prior to Hobbico’s purchase of Revell-Monogram in the United States.

“With the support of Hobbico as a strong parent company, we have a great opportunity to expand our entry into the [radio-controlled] hobby segment of the European market,” noted Revell Deutschland President Hans Remfert in a news release. “Hobbico has experience and know-how in this area as well as a strong assortment of product with worldwide recognition which we will integrae according to the European market conditions.”

Revell Deutschland is a European leader in plastic model kits, paints, tools and accessories and entered the radio-controlled hobby sector in 2008.

Revell’s first plastic model kit in 1953 was a replica of the battleship USS Missouri. It soon branched out into other replicas of aircraft, vehicles and spacecraft. The plastic kits were popular because they could be assembled by anyone inexperienced in woodworking and other conventional model-building techniques. Their popularity waned a few decades later as plastics prices rose, as newer toys eroded market share and as the polystyrene kits lost favor among some parents concerned about hazardous glue-sniffing temptations the kits posed. Interest in the kits has rebounded, especially for classic models reissued to stimulate demand among older adults.

Hobbico was established in 1986 through the combination of Tower Hobbies and Great Planes Model Distributors. In 2001, Hobbico acquired United Model, a major hobby products distributor and then in 2007 got Revell-Monogram. In 2010 it bought Estes-Cox and about a month ago acquired three hobby radio-controlled brands: Axial, Arrma and Team Durango.

“This acquisition bodes well for the UK market, as the UK operation is a branch of Revell Germany,” added Thomas Randrup, country manager of Revell UK and Ireland.