Fecha de publicación: 03/05/2013
INTERVIEW WITH:
DAVID COSCULLUELA

NINCO
NINCO
20 YEARS NINCO.

…we want to continue giving game.
SlotCar Today. - Twenty years of Ninco. Twenty years of a new way to understand this hobby? This April will have completed 20 years since the birth of Ninco, a brand that revolutionized the concept of slot game. Today, from the perspective gained from years spent in the company, we assume that the overall balance is positive.

David Cosculluela. - Of course it is positive and we are very proud to continue in the market and celebrate the 20th anniversary. Reviewing this time gives for much. Great moments to remember, hard work and effort along the way, but always pleased to see that the fan was there recognizing and enjoying our cars and tracks. And clearly it is not easy, in these 20 years except Hornby with Scalextric, no other company takes more years in the slot market. The companies that have exploited the Carrera, Fly, Scx brands, have bankrupt few times ...

SCT. - Since the Renault Clio, still with decals, Ninco’s first reference, to the current model, Ninco has experienced an significantly evolution. It was the first of what could be called the rebirth of the slotcar as a hobby. Ninco drank from Exin and Scalextric sources to boot, and brands that joined the game in the nineties took advantage of the new Ninco “highway”. Do these manufacturers satellites were good traveling companions at the time, or almost necessary?

D.C.- In 1993 the fan slot was orphan. The only company that had manufactured so far hobby product was Exin and had been liquidated. Hornby was going through a time of conversion and tried to get into a toymaker niche with Ninja Turtles ... Carrera had gone in bankrupt in 1985 and the new investor did not offer adult product and returned to break in 1997. Polistil, the Italian slotcar trademark had been years disappeared. In Spain Tyco, who was the first licensee brand controlled by the Arnau family, had many quality and delivery problems. All factors seem to indicate that we had chances of success. But then, that was the theory, and then we had to comply with the fan, offer something distinct that than expected and then meet the expectations both in Spain and abroad. The first NINCO year sales in the international market exceeded 80%. Logically, the next step was to provide the required “asphalt” to our cars: NINCO cars ran along Scx, Scalextric, Carrera, Polistil, Jouef tracks,... until 1997 when we launched our own track. That strengthened the project, was the breakthrough of the slotracing at club and competition level as has been demonstrated over the years. The track is essential to develop the hobby beyond the domestic user.

SCT. - The veterans of this hobby remember that "Think Red" those healthy clashes between Scx, something common among Catalan businessmen, - remember the "tiff" between the catalan motorbikes brands Montesa and Bultaco, from previous generations. Viewed today, we all know that being politically correct came out gaining slotcar, but really, with the distance of the years: Who won the tiff?

D.C. - Road or Highway? Hehehe ... “Think in Red” was NINCO corporate campaign to reinforce and build brand since at that time we were The Red ones. Remember that Scx logo was yellow type on black background. Tecnitoys, Scx licensee, made a mistake giving us visibility responding to the campaign with an unfortunate slogan "Inevitably, when someone copies ends up turning red (blushing)". That catapulted our popularity among fans. An David - Goliath effect...
Keeping with the theme of the color, I remember when a new CEO incorporated to Tecnitoys in 2006 said " I like your packaging colors more and I'll change ours to red and will invest so many millions in advertising that and you can start searching for you new Color" ... and so was.
Competition will always benefit the consumer. The level of detail and the performance of slot cars would be unthinkable in a market without competition.
We do not play in the same league as Carrera, Scalextric or Scx. We are not a mass-market product.


SCT. - Ninco has managed throughout his existence gain the slot fan, clubs around the world-virtually all tracks where competes at 1:32 are Ninco-, thanks to an excellent management and marketing focused on this segment. Today major international speed competitions are disputing on Ninco tracks but their cars are notably absent. What is the reason for this?

“There are also brands that make cars flagrantly out of scale…”

D.C.- NINCO has led for many years the speed and endurance slotracing. All NINCO cars comply with European EN71 Toy Safety standard and must be resistant. Currently there is more supply than ever and have appeared competitive manufacturers that do not comply EN71 and nothing happens if a car breaks down after going off track.
There are also brands that make cars flagrantly out of scale that are of course faster as NSR. However, if we try the Carrera, Ninco, Scalextric, Scx and Slotit Audi R18, you’re not going to deny that we won, right?


SCT. - Ninco bet in a boom WRC time in this specialty, and certainly Ninco has been dominating the rallyslot. Outside the Mediterranean area, the rallyslot has failed to take roots. This conditioned the international positioning of Ninco?

D.C.- The rallyslot discipline is unknown outside the Spanish peninsula. Sales of rally cars are much smaller than GT cars. In Italy and France they like the 1:1 rally but when compete in slotcars are opting for the speed track. In a global marketplace, as in the acts Ninco, it is logical that this lack of interest penalizes the inclusion of WRC in our range. In fact, even in the 1:1 World Rally followers are very limited today. But it is not to focus on the rally, our choice of models was always thought globally. I do not deny that some national wink could have benefitted some time, but already others was very above of such car brands.

SCT. - Does the business growth, the volume of the structure, implies adapt product profitability to a more generalist profile of buyer? In a more direct way. At the time when you get to the large stores you lose the fan?

D.C.- I think the best time was when slot at 1:32th was universal, mass and you met him until at the hypermarket. If the market is large there is the possibility of creating niches for users who want more features. If the generalist trademark is on TV, auxiliary industries are benefited.
We lost fans when the only contact with slotcars is a toy product (with loops, magnet, at 1:43 ...) where you play but do drive. These products do not generate repetition, expansion, races or collecting. Just look at the ratio of 1:43 set sold vs. single 1:43 car sales. A child who his first contact is testing the slot at 1:43 feel no interest in trying analog or digital 1:32 slot cars.


SCT. - Can a slot company survive today without the range of hobby dedicated to the great consumer?

D.C.- Hobby companies must attract new customers by offering a great product and innovating. That innovation benefits the newcomer and super expert fans.

SCT. - Ninco has always focused on the initiation, with its constant commitment to teaching, - remember the workshops that were held at the Hobby Fairs- and later with its "Low Cost" Ninco1 range. Today those who began with Ninco can leave their children the controller. Can the second Ninco generation pass the controller to the third?

D.C.- Hope so and of course with a remote wireless WICO and 2.4 Ghz controller. Soon also WICO DIGITAL.

SCT. - While other manufacturers choose to create a quarry or school of slot game enthusiasts with very popular children licenses, Ninco remains faithful to initiation with purest products. How can you fight a Superhero with a Camaro, for example?

… That McQueen create quarry is questionable

D.C.- For a child Lightning McQueen is clearly more attractive than a Camaro but sales of 1:32 not allow access to these licenses to companies of our size. That McQueen create quarry is questionable, however.

SCT. - Many thought that the digital system would prevail in the slot segment as he had done in the model railways world. In 2006 Ninco opted for a digital system, as with the other big manufacturers, unable to take off. What need this system to be imposed? Was born in a poor economic times? Is it hard to overcome the traditionalism vision of slotfans? Is Ninco still confident on the possibilities of this system?

D.C. - I trust firmly in Digital. It's much more fun than analog and will be the future. Was born in a poor economic times. The commitment to exclusivity and incompatibility of the three platforms, SCX, Scalextric and Carrera did not facilitate its expansion. The Digital needs to be more affordable, compatible and easy to use. The new Digital Wico is our bet.

SCT. - It is clear that the deep economic crisis affects seriously the hobby sector, and the slot was not left out. Ninco decided in turn diversify its range extending to other sectors of the hobby, especially the RC. Do you think that the fans of Ninco-slot feels like “Dethroned Prince”?

D.C. - The crisis is evident and affects us. Fortunately we have diversified and market. No big slot brand is single product: Hornby, Carrera ... and who stayed with a single product –Tecnitoys/Scx- have gone bankrupt leaving a liability of more than 12 million euros. I understand that for those of RC we are sloters and for Sloters we are RC’s... We want to continue giving game.

SCT. - For years the production in Asian countries helped position the product with competitive prices. Today it seems that the return or finding other production sites is evident in the international toy industry. Have you considered a change in short or long term?

D.C.- I know no case of return ... there are many rumors but I think it's more about communication campaigns than reality.

SCT. - In the time slotcar was at its height, development, investment in R & D was evident. Product evolution has slowed today. Are there improvements and innovations kept waiting for a better time?

D.C.-In the crisis years 2007 - 2012 there has been more innovation than in the 40 years of slot in 20th Century. The problem is that many of the inventions have not reached profitability.

SCT. - At that particular time of expansion, Ninco bet big on a new scale, taking advantage of the possibility offered by the breadth of his tracks. Is a place in the future for the 1:28 scale, the Xlot?

D.C.- XLOT is a clear commitment to quality and innovation in the slot. I think the problem was at launch. The same product introduced three years earlier had been the standard of competition.

SCT. – We talked before about the Ninco effort to connect with fans, with clubs, with opinion leaders. Major Rally Slot events and Ninco World Cup, with an excellent reception and impact, are proof of that. I guess the company is also inherited, and returning to the example of the 60 industrial brands, from that premise that "The market is a follower of the checkered flag." Remains this argument today valid for a large manufacturer?

D.C.- We are the brand that has supported the competition. Unfortunately there are fewer clubs and participants also have receded. I worry about the lack of drivers renewal. We see few young people in racing. For a few years we are trying to promote the 'Junior' category in order that club doors are not closed to those under 14 years. The slot provides enough attractions to children not to offer at least the possibility that they know well. We have seen in recent Ninco World Cup races how Junior teams have qualified clearly ahead of other Senior Teams.

SCT. - When a company grows it loses that personalism that approaches to the buyer, characteristic of the semi handcraft small businesses. How do you get pass the buyer that the people who enjoy making a product of hobby keep hearing the concerns and views of the slot fan?

D.C. -You are credible if you hear and answer with product. At club and amateur level, NINCO has always been accessible, hence the excellent relations we have with everyone. And with less intensive users, we are leveraging on both sides, online social networks to create new channels of communication that bring us much more than we could have imagined years ago.

SCT. - Three bigs are celebrating 50 years of history. Ninco in his twenties has achieved an enviable market share. Have you gone from mirror to see in the mirror? Can we consider the competence as a rival?

D.C.- No company of three that told me celebrates 50 years ... the brands themselves.

SCT. - Ninco surprised earlier this year with the announcement of a Stratos, an icon of motorsports. But the amateur, although they know it is not the best moment, is eager for more. What will still happen in this 2013?

D.C.- The Stratos is a clear example of listening to the market. We launched a survey to our club members who were asking what cars they wanted to see reproduced, and the Lancia Stratos was the clear winner. The 2013 will bring new products and perhaps is where people least expect it.

SCT. - How do you approach the slot future that has to enjoy the second generation of Ninco fans?

D.C. - As we have done so far. With leadership will but always willing to adapt to the circumstances that will mark the users.
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