About Tiger Model Designs
Many of you already know who I am, but for those who don’t, my name is Joe Bakanovic, and this is Tiger Model Designs (TMD). I am literally a ‘cottage industry’ as I work out of a 500 sq ft shop in the back yard of my family’s home where I actually manufacture the resin products that I sell. At the moment, I am blessed to be able to say that TMD is my full-time job.
Now, while I use the word “I” a lot, it is only because I am the sole owner of TMD. However, I am not the only person responsible for the success of this company. I am privileged to work with an elite group of very skilled artisans, and I would hate for anyone to ever think I am not aware of the importance of their contributions. They help me research, design and build many of the masters I produce. Without their help, I wouldn’t have half the items that are currently in my product line, nor would I be half as successful as I’ve been. In truth, this group of guys who works with me behind the scenes is who really makes TMD successful. All I do is turn their efforts into finished products for you to buy.
In the end, however, no matter who did it, everything TMD makes has been handcrafted especially for you, to make your modeling easier and more enjoyable.
You may already know the history of TMD, but, for those who don’t, here’s the short story. I started a resin model company in 2001 called Tiger Model Designs. That company specialized in 1/35 scale resin armor details, conversions and accessories. In 2010, I got burned out and sold the company to my brother, who then ran it under the name Tigermodels. I got the company back after two years and, due to some legal issues, I renamed it The New TMD. The legal structure of the company changed yet again, so, with the move to our new site, we once again changed our name back to Tiger Model Designs (TMD). This time, I will not be limiting myself to just 1/35 armor. From this point forward, anything goes. If it interests me, or someone wants to work with me to produce their own masters under TMD label, I’ll make it.
My philosophy has changed since I first entered the world of resin manufacturing. In the past, I got a case of the ‘big head,’ but no more. From now on, I just want to serve others by tending to their modeling needs. Unfortunately, however, I also have to recognize that this is a business and must be run as a business. I plan to do this by concentrating on making the best quality products I can make, by offering them at a fair price and by providing the best customer service I can possibly provide. If I can do all that, I honestly believe the rest will take care of itself. And, if I am really, really lucky, I might even be able to make time to build a model or two for myself. Anyway, just so you will know, this is the way I see my work with The New TMD.
This is a one-man shop, but there are many others working with me behind the scenes who make it possible for me to operate this shop by myself. Without their help, none of what I do would be possible.
After that, I have learned that this is a business and, as such, I have to run it as a business – not as a ‘for profit’ hobby. This means I have to be cost efficient in how I run things. Over the years, I have found the most efficient way for me to run things by myself is to make everything as you order it. I simply do not have the time for the full scale production necessary to keep shelves full of ready inventory. So, I make things to order. If it helps, think of TMD as a high-end fast food service — only for resin.
Operating as a one-man shop also means I have to rely on the internet to conduct all my business. This is actually a double-edged sword. While I might miss out on a large portion of my potential market who either do not visit English-only modeling DG’s or who do not use computers all together, it also means I can offer you more competitive prices by taking advantage of modern technology. Just one example of how this works can be found in the cost savings I can pass on by posting the instruction sheets for my products on line. Instead of including expensive printed instructions in every product, I am able to post pdf files on my web site that you can download onto your computer. Not only does this allow you to magnify the instructions for better clarity, it also means I can include more pictures and more detailed instruction to help you assemble your TMD product.
On the up-side, this means that I can offer my products at a very competitive price. It also means I will be the one who personally casts and inspects every piece that leaves this shop. If I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing, this will say everything that needs to be said about the quality of the products you buy from TMD.
In the past, this was a subject that got me into a lot of trouble, but I’m older and wiser now. Now I understand it isn’t about what I can do, it’s about the value of what I do. I can make almost anything, but if I can’t make it easy enough and cheap enough that you can’t live without it while still making enough of a profit to stay in business, then I don’t need to do it — no matter how cool it is. So, I have decided to follow three primary ‘rules’ to product design, and they are:
- It must be something the modeler needs/wants that I can also produce for a fair price and still make a profit (I have to make a profit or I go out of business).
- It must work with the kit it is designed to fit with little to no extraordinary effort for the modeler. I’m trying to solve headaches, not cause them.
- It must be as accurate and detailed as rules #1 & 2 will permit. I want to be known for being as detail and accurate as the real thing, not as expensive as it.
I honestly believe that, if I can produce a product that does all this, then I’ll make it. I’m not going to get too concerned with trying to make a ‘Marvin the Martian shrinking ray gun‘ production of anything ever again! Instead, if I can get you 85-90% of the way to that shrunk down version of the real thing, I’ll stop there and be happy. The way I look at it, doing things this way from now on is ‘two for:’ I get to make two people happy at the same time. You’re happy because you get a product that makes your modeling more enjoyable for you, and the ‘bolt counters’ are happy because they have something new to gripe about.
I do offer an out-source casting service where I will cast your original masters for you. If you are interested in this service, you can find more details here.
If you would rather not take on the hassle of running your own resin company but you’d still like to see your stuff on the market, or if you are interested in become a full-time part of the TMD team, then do I have a deal for you! I am always looking for good pattern makers. Maybe we are looking for each other? You can find out more about how to do this here.
The Future of The New TMD
The industry is changing, and as long as I am going to be a part of it, I plan to change with it. I am not sure how quickly this will happen, but I plan to move the New TMD in the direction of using 3D scanning and printing to help me keep the quality of my products at the cutting edge of the industry. As for the rest, who can know what the future holds for any of us. I’ll just do my best to stay focused on my job and we’ll see where life takes us from there.