NBAA’12 attendees looking for exact replicas of certain aircraft may want to drop by the Factory Direct Models booth (No. 881), where more than 50 highly detailed desktop models are on display.
Front and center is a fully detailed F-18 fighter model in Navy Blue Angels livery with a five-foot wingspan, mounted on a custom-designed stand. Maintaining a 60-degree bank, the F-18 model sports a full complement of operating exterior lights and an exactingly detailed cockpit. This replica is valued at $12,000, according to Factory Direct president Mike Gibson,. To participate in the drawing, booth visitors can activate their entries by having their convention badges scanned. The winner will be notified after the drawing is held on the Tuesday following the convention’s close.
Last year’s winner, Ronald Hoffer of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., opted to take a five-foot Grumman F-14 “Top Gun” Tomcat replica instead of the announced prize, a Space Shuttle Atlantis model.
Prices for the Factory Direct Models line of personalized desktop aircraft start as low as $199. Each detailed example is built to customer specifications, Gibson said. Models with wingspans ranging from as little as two inches to as large as 25 feet can be created upon request.
Gibson explained that the desktop model industry began 66 years ago with World War II souvenirs hand-made by Filipinos who wanted to take home replicas of the Lightnings, Mustangs, Hellcats, Corsairs, B-17s, B-25s, B-24s and B-29s they flew in the war. Today, he said, a fourth generation of Philippine craftsmen is building airplane replicas in a Factory Direct Models facility. The firm has created models for several entertainment personalities and many airframe OEMs, Gibson said. While others make models of aircraft, he said, Factory Direct’s market success stems from a near-obsessive attention to exterior and interior detail, “right down to the headsets resting on the seats.”