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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2003 8:33 am    Post subject: Product niches and competition         Reply with quote

Please note: This post was split off from the Albion Next nextGen announcement post. It's a sub-topic that developed within that post that is not really on-topic to that conversation, but is certainly of interest on its own.

This is certainly generating excitement in the collecting community, and I sure more than a bit of consternation in the competitor community. Good stuff for the consumer and it will be interesting to see how other companies react.

Joe Fults

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James Byrnes




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2003 5:17 pm    Post subject: Not sure..         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
This is certainly generating excitement in the collecting community, and I sure more than a bit of consternation in the competitor community. Good stuff for the consumer and it will be interesting to see how other companies react.


Joe,

Not really sure there is a competitor. Albion seems to have carved out there own niche here, and I personally think that is a good thing!! The consumer now has excellent choices in three different price points, and this type of market diversification is very healthy for our hobby, and a definite boon to people of different spending priorities. I guess what I am saying, is that I hesitate to compare the next gen blades against anything currently in the market place, they should be judged on their own merit, and I have no reason to believe that they will come up as anything other than winners. I will let ya know in June( tentatively ) Big Grin


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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2003 11:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
This is certainly generating excitement in the collecting community, and I sure more than a bit of consternation in the competitor community. Good stuff for the consumer and it will be interesting to see how other companies react.


Hi Joe

I beg to differ a bit here, I don't really think that these offerings have any real competition in the marketplace, so it would be a bit presumptious to think that any other manufacturer is going to respond to this.... its just not in the cards....

Let me try to explain as a student of the marketplace...... I was taught to look at this like a student by someone else that was a student of the marketplace, at the time he told me that my stuff was the "Doorway to the upper echelon" meaning at that time the top quality custom stuff.

Our market is a real dynamic entity, its not the same as it was four years ago, heck even two years ago....

What I think is happening, is that this new PJ designed Next Gen and the new PJ Museum line is filling a niche already there, but not filled......

Two years ago, we had three names that were spoken of all the time, when we discussed the "upper echelon" of western swordmaking. Peter Johnsson, Kevin Cashen, and Vince Evans. You could probably throw in that English firm with the high dollar swords.....

Today, Kevin is "out" approx 4 years, Vince isn't taking orders, and PJ isn't likely to take many kustom orders either. That English firm {whose name escapes me at the moment} is out four years too.......

So the Next Gen and PJ Museum Line is coming out at the right time. They really don't affect the current producers, like A&A or AT, because they're filling that kustom quality niche..... pushing the envelope if you will......

The price points are higher, and aesthetically, they're in a new class..... Very gutsy, but I think the timing's right.

For myself, why should I respond? This leaves me alone, quality wise, in the $350 to $500 range {single hand thru the longest hilted longswords I make}. In fact, my competition is myself, the stuff I made in the past. My goal is to continue to imrove aesthetically and performance wise, and what I do will have very little if any effect on Albion, just as what they do will have very little if any effect on me.......

If you look at the newer Albion NG's being offered for June delivery, you will see a couple type XVI's that spec out similar to my AT1429, a XIIa that specs out close to my AT1319, a XII that specs out similar to about three of my XII's, and a XIIIa that specs out so close to my AT1423 it might as well be apples and apples...... But they're not. So, its kinda like, so what?

Right now, my AT1423 {for example} is $425 {I believe}, and the new NG XIIIa is $750 {I think}. My opinion is that the performance of the two will be fairly close, but aesthetically, they're miles apart.......

They're going to appeal to different segments of the market. We're not in competion, not really........

Historically, that part about the "Gateway to the upper echelon" has had some truth to it. There's several folks that spend time on this forum or SFI that bought my stuff three - four years ago, that have "moved on"...Of late, its been tough to "move on because the ability to get into the upper echelon has gotten tougher. My guess is that there are several people that have bought AT's in the past, A&A's in the past, that are ready to make that "leap" into the higher dollar, higher quality stuff. They now have a route to do so......

So once again, my stuff will likely be the entry into the upper echelon. My stuff will be the stuff bought for every day cutting practice. And my stuff will be bought for immediate customization {CF} and/ or future customization. And, I make blades for other makers to make swords out of......

I also tend to dip into the lighter end of the spectrum with several models I do, and I do real well there. Etc and so on...

So I have no intention of "responding". I'm happy with my place in the market, see areas that I'm good at to develop, and see no reason to cause any undue ripples in the market. Personally, I've been a fan of PJ's work for years. I think Howy and the gang have courageously headed in a new direction in the market, and should be applauded for it. In my view, Albion's new and current direction hasn't made the "competion" tougher, its broadened the market, making it better for all of us that are good at what we do.....

Peter Johnsson and Angus Trim in competion? *g* Come on Joe, You have to know how ridiculous that sounds. I do make good performance swords, but I lack something in the aesthetic eye department. PJ is the whole package as a sword designer, and has Albion to carry out his designs.......

I think this particular manufacturer is just going to continue in the direction he's been heading for four years, and quietly cheer on PJ and Albion in the direction their heading.......

Auld Dawg

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2003 11:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, Gus, I think you really hit that nail on the head. And I think it's not only a really interesting thing, but also a really great thing, that it worked out this way. It's good all the way around: for us community members/ consumers just as much as for the makers themselves.

Will Albion's new line and price niche be successful? I'm just as curious as anyone, if not more so. Why more so? Because it so happens that I'm one of those guys who desires to "move on" to higher-end pieces, while not really being in a position where I can throw thousands of dollars on each piece for it to be a custom job. I've been wanting the "$700-$1200" niche to be richer of choices for some time now, specifically with a focus on historical accuracy and a balanced combination of aesthetic and handling characteristics.

So for me, the bottom line is that I'm all over this new line of products and what it's done for the market of reproduction sword collecting. I'm hoping for even more choices from even more makers in this niche, but I suspect that there will be a "wait and see" attitude to see if Albion can pull it off. I imagine it's going to be a difficult niche to crack.

We, as a community, need to still work very hard to increase the size of the market surrounding our tiny hobby. Once we do this, we can see these higher quality niches able to be fully explored, not to mention having the price points reduced in the process. We absolutely need to increase the demand across the board, for each and every price point.

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Brian M




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 1:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd like to add a few thoughts about niches and competition:
--The thought occurred to me that Albion might be more or less trying not to step on A&A's product line. Why? Because, price-wise and aesthetics-wise, the two companies are now competing for the same (or similar) niche. It therefore might not be to the advantage of either company to get into a direct model vs. model competition, which is why (IMPO) we might not see a Katzbalger or Claymore from Albion in the future. This is pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn't surprise me if it has been considered. Price-wise, Albion's NG isn't competing directly with ATrim swords, but I can see the NG siphoning off a few sales on aesthetic grounds, which might generate pressure for aesthetic improvement while holding the price point fairly constant. Bottom line is, the people who are buying ATrim swords to cut with will still buy ATrim swords.
--Will the NG line be able to secure its niche? I believe so. I think there are others out there like me. I have been reading and researching for a couple of years now, but have put off buying for two reasons: 1) Can't afford the cost and wait of "custom," and 2) Not satisfied with the authenticity and aesthetics of current production. Call it a classic case of " champagne taste & beer pocketbook." I looked closely at Albion (1st Gen), Armart, Armour Class, ATrim, A&A, Deltin, and Lutel -- basically all the quality production sword concerns -- but did not buy. Along comes the NG line: reasonable wait, cost within my means, excellent aesthetics, and the knowledge and reputation of a custom smith behind it. Exactly what I wanted. If I had to pin down one single technical detail, I would have to say that the move away from threaded-tang construction was very important to my final decision. This to me proved the committment to make the most historical swords possible within the "production class." It made it easy for me to make the leap and purchase my first sword, a Next-Generation Gaddhjalt. I think the association between Mr. Johnsson and Albion will be profitable for both and a boon to customers who have been waiting for this need to be filled.

Regards,
Brian M
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

'We, as a community, need to still work very hard to increase the size of the market surrounding our tiny hobby. Once we do this, we can see these higher quality niches able to be fully explored, not to mention having the price points reduced in the process. We absolutely need to increase the demand across the board, for each and every price point.'

Well ........ yes, mainly. My only doubt would be that if they're selling thousands or tens of thousands rather than hundreds, the odds of one or two nutters doing the same things that they now do with katanas and bringing the whole area into disrepute (or little kids being impaled by accident, or cats bisected or whatever) may be greatly increased. Of course, it may be that there are lots of the euro nutters already and they all buy euro wallhangers, but there could be a scenario where someone gets into cutting becasue they have well made swords, and then follows on to doing bad things. In the UK, one man (apparently genuine enthusiast) going off the rails with a gun resulted in the drastic curtailment of shooting and gun collecting. I quite like the idea of european swords keeping their heads down and staying the interest of a few. Of course, in the US the situation would probably be different, as it is with guns, so this may be a uniquely British concern.
just an opinion
Geoff

edited for bad typing
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very well put Gus, thanks.

I think what we're seeing here is a process of natural growth, something that's experienced by every industry.

The sword market has become diverse enough that nitch markets are now being formed. Years ago our biggest concern was to simply find a decent sword. Lord knows that was a difficult task in itself. Now we have almost as many makers as we have nitch groups.

I think we're passed the point where companies feel like they have to be in direct competition with one another. There is enough diversity in our community so that makers can easily find their own target audience.

I am, of course, eager for Albion to succeed in their plans. But I also want to see every other maker succeed as well, from the small one-man operation up to the larger companies. Diversity will only help our community to grow and to remain healthy.

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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David Stokes




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was mentioned earlier that Albions esthetic improvements with their new line may force other makers, ( i think they where hinting ATs) to improve on asthectics to try to compete. I dont think this is the case.
From what i can see from fellow owners of Gus' swords, they are after a cutter. and thats where Gus' market is at, they are marketed and promoted off their cutting ability, and i think they excel at that, but if you go increaseing the esthetics and base cost on them, you cut out that niche of people that just want a "user sword".
The few custom higher end (4 digit) peices i own, I am very hesitant to take them out to the cutting stand of fear of damaging them. I am SURE they can perform, but everytime i pic on up, the dollar sign chinges in my head.

It seems Albions focus is the historically accurate market where collectors are less interested in absolute cutting ablity but want something that is as accurate to the original as possible, and just as Gus excels with cutting, it appears Albion excels with historically accuracy.
I cant speak of how an Albion sword cuts, as I have no first hand knowledge of this, but I imagine they do pretty well......

all in all, i cant WAIT to see where the sword market is in, oh....... say 4 years? just imagine.....
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"i think they where hinting ATs"

We're having a nice discussion here. Let's try not to do too much reading between the lines.

Things always proceed much more maturely if statements are simply taken at face value.

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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Michael Sigman




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 9:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I happen to agree with everything that has been stated on this thread. The one thing that I do not really agree with is that A&A and Albion are competitors. A&A and Albion really respect each other. We have talked with Craig quite a bit and Craig and Chris were here for a visit recently. We get along great and all of us at Albion really respect what A&A is doing. I guess maybe it is just the word competitors – that kind of bothers me. I don’t know.

I guess maybe it is just me. I really don’t like to think of anyone as competitors. We are businesses so there will be a little competition but I think if we all can get along in the market place and make swords available for the customers everyone wins.

I agree with what Gus said. If he was not out there doing what he is doing – we would not have a great performance sword for the price frame that he is in. Everyone has to start somewhere and a new guy coming into this market has to have a price point that they can test out to see if they enjoy our hobby. It is great to have levels in the industry.

Whether we make it at this price point or not… I think (and take my opinion for what it is worth) that we will make it. There really need to be some products in this price point. People's tastes grow as they learn more. With the growing of tastes means more specific wants and money spent. There need to be a fill in this end of the spectrum without going to a full blown custom. Plus we'd like to see the custom makers get more for all of the work they put into a piece.

I really think that the market is expanding. I love that we now have different price points for the customers. I really like it that all of the manufacturers/smiths can talk and get along. This is what I really hated a couple of years ago and it is slowly changing. I love this!!! I love being able to email with Gus, talk with Craig, BS with Rick Barrett etc... This is a great thing for our industry!!!

This is just my opinion on things but I think in the end – not only our customers win – but the smiths and manufacturers win as well.

Mike Sigman
Albion Swords
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Mikey!

Sometimes the term "competitor" can seem like a dirty word. I don't really think that's how it's being used here though.

You're all in the same business, and it is a business, not a club. So that automatically makes you competitors. That doesn't mean that the competition has to be hostile though, in fact it can be a very good thing. Competition keeps everyone on their toes, and constantly trying to improve their product. As long as it's viewed as a type of friendly one-upsmanship I think it's great. In the end we all benifit.

It is great to see things getting back to a friendly level isn't it?

The main reason why I think the entire NextGen line will be a big success is the very thing you've mentioned.

In the past when a collector wanted to move up from what we now consider the mid-range the only choice was to go custom. Many times in years past I wanted a particular type of sword, or a particular feature in a sword that just wasn't found in the production field. These were mainly points of historical authenticity in design. The NextGen line is a vital means of bridging that gap between standard production and one-off custom work.

Now get off the keyboard and get down into the shop and tell those guys to get my Brescia done! Laughing Out Loud

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks like my idle curiosity caused unintended discussion.

Still I venture that Albion has made a competitive impact. At the very least people will have to examine their maket niches, as Gus already seems to have done. They will have to gauge the potential impact, and then react or decide not to react. While companies may serve other niches, if Albion does well with this line it sucks money out of a limited pool. What is impossible for me to know, is how much revenue potential really exists in the collector community. Regardless, as a consumer I love the developments, because it will improve my buying options.

In retrospect I probably should not have posted originally. I was not thinking about any particular concerns, just wondering how market forces may ripple. However the topic has great potential to inflame and is not fair to any of the businesses in any of the niches.

I'm glad the conversation has gone peacefully thus far.

...And...

Gus, I commend you for even addressing this topic...you too Mike.

Joe Fults

"INVENIEMUS VIAM AUT FACIEMUS (We will either find a way or make one)" Hannibal

"Our life is what our thoughts make it" Marcus Aurelius
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Michael Sigman




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Hi Mikey!

Sometimes the term "competitor" can seem like a dirty word. I don't really think that's how it's being used here though.


I guess that is a lot of it Patrick. I look at that word as a "dirty word" anymore and I shouldn't. It just has been used a bad thing quite a bit and that is why I guess. I love the fact that we are all getting along better in the industry. It really makes me smile to see this coming around.

Mike Sigman
Albion Swords
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Michael Sigman




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:


In retrospect I probably should not have posted originally.

I'm glad the conversation has gone peacefully thus far.

...And...

Gus, I commend you for even addressing this topic...you too Mike.


I am so glad that you posted this. This is an excellent chance for all of us to talk. You did a GREAT thing by saying this Joe!!!

And Thank you Nathan for breaking this out and starting a new thread!!!

Mike Sigman
Albion Swords
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 9:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"In retrospect I probably should not have posted originally. I was not thinking about any particular concerns, just wondering how market forces may ripple. However the topic has great potential to inflame and is not fair to any of the businesses in any of the niches."

Not at all Joe. I think it makes for a very interesting discussion. Almost anything can be discussed as long as it's done in a mature manner. You are right, I'm sure that these developments at Albion have made other companies think. Even if it's just on the level where Gus has approached it from it's had an impact. He took a look and decided that it wasn't a reason for concern since it really doesn't intrude into his nitch, and therefore really isn't competition.

Personally I prefer these types of discussion over things like obsessing over the dimensions of scale line drawings, or speculating on the handling abilities of swords that haven't even gotten off the paper Eek!

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Angus Trim wrote:
You could probably throw in that English firm with the high dollar swords.....
That English firm {whose name escapes me at the moment} is out four years too.......


Hi Gus
Do you mean Raven Armoury?
Geoff
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
I'm glad the conversation has gone peacefully thus far..

I really hope I don't jinx it by saying this, but I have faith in the membership of myArmoury.com to conduct themselves in a mature manner with the ability to have intelligent conversations. This is a good example of it.

Bottom line: this is really interesting stuff and I've always felt we should have the ability to discuss it without the dumb stuff.

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Gordon Clark




PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:

Not at all Joe. I think it makes for a very interesting discussion. Almost anything can be discussed as long as it's done in a mature manner. You are right, I'm sure that these developments at Albion have made other companies think. Even if it's just on the level where Gus has approached it from it's had an impact. He took a look and decided that it wasn't a reason for concern since it really doesn't intrude into his nitch, and therefore really isn't competition.

Personally I prefer these types of discussion over things like obsessing over the dimensions of scale line drawings, or speculating on the handling abilities of swords that haven't even gotten off the paper Eek!


Obsessing? I'm not obsessed ... well - my wife thinks I am. Happy

I think that A&A could be the company most affected by the competition - and I also don't think it is a dirty word.
It is something any industry needs as a driver toward excellence. One thing about A&A though is that their product line is very diverse, and medieval swords are only a chunk of it. Their offerings range from around $100 up to the price point of the most expensive of the next gen swords. Rapiers, poll weapons, maces, daggers ...
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David Stokes




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
"i think they where hinting ATs"

We're having a nice discussion here. Let's try not to do too much reading between the lines.

Things always proceed much more maturely if statements are simply taken at face value.



Wasnt trying to be derogatory, just useing an example.........

Nathan, You are right, I am glad to see such a dicussion because it really is informative to all consumers in this hobby
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2003 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Clark wrote:
One thing about A&A though is that their product line is very diverse, and medieval swords are only a chunk of it. Their offerings range from around $100 up to the price point of the most expensive of the next gen swords. Rapiers, poll weapons, maces, daggers ...


Yep. I've always felt that Arms & Armor has had a long-standing tradition of having carved out their own unique niche in the market. As the years have gone by, they've gracefully adapted to respond to the market shifts. Even now, they are in a very unique position, offering products that are not typically seen in a production context at their level of quality. I'm excited to see the next phases for A&A, including the directions their line of products will take!

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