I get asked quite a lot about what pushed me to create The Scale Modellers Supply and the short answer is because of the love of scale modelling and the ability to create beautiful pieces of art from a bunch of plastic and some paint.
I began building models when I was young by first starting with a model train set and then moving on to plastic model kits. My first two train sets were Christmas presents from my Grandparents (Dad's parents) when I was very young, 3 or 4 years old from memory. I recall that my Grandfather (Mum's father) built the layout for me to play with before he passed away. I loved that train set but as I grew up, I lost interest and then the layout was pulled apart and then the train set was sold.
I then got an aircraft kit (a Tomcat from memory) which I built but never painted, and around the time of the first Jurassic Park movie in 1993, got a handful of the Lindberg Dinosaur model kits for Christmas from my parents. I built those as well, but never painted them. They sat on my display shelf in my bedroom for many years until I packed them away one day.
Fast forward to 2005 and I was working at a local factory of a Japanese company. Middle and Upper Management were all Japanese, and one day I was discussing with our Production Manager about anime that we were watching and the topic came up about Mobile Suit Gundam. He asked if I built the model kits to which I knew about them, but never built them at that stage. After that conversation, I started to search for Gunpla and that opened up a whole new hobby for me that completely changed my life.
I purchased my first Gunpla kit, the High Grade Deathscythe H Custom, from a store in Melbourne and then went to a local model store in town to get some paint. Unfortunately, I was given the totally wrong advice about only using enamels, but I stuck with it and invested in an airbrush, compressor and a lot of Tamiya and Mr Hobby paints.
My first attempt at a 'serious' model - HG Gundam vs Zaku II
As the months went on, I got more kits, more paints, more tools, more everything. I started experimenting with modifications and different painting styles. I entered online competitions and then finally in 2007, went to my first real life model show, the Australian Model Expo.
Kamper vs GM - the first build that I became known from
Since then, I have been to dozens of model shows across Australia, winning a large amount of trophies and awards. 2013, I even won the Australian Gunpla Builders World Cup where I was then able to represent Australia at the World Finals in Toyko, Japan.
Attack of Zeon - 2013 GBWC Australia Champion
I have had multiple articles in books and magazines of my builds, had a popular tutorial focused YouTube Channel and website under the name The Ghost of Zeon, and even was at the forefront of creating and nurturing the biggest Gunpla community within Australia, Gunpla Builders Australia which I was heavily involved in until 2019.
You can see my portfolio of works via these links :
http://www.ghostofzeon.com (I stopped updating this in 2015)
http://www.facebook.com/TheGhostofZeon (most up to date)
http://www.youtube.com/TheGhostofZeon (the Channel I was well known for)
Dinosaur Modelling is also one of my big passions
The Sazabi ver Ka - painted in scented nail polish!
It was around this trip in 2013 to Japan that I decided that I wanted to do something more. I was well known as the 'tutorial' guy on YouTube with my content being regularly shared across forums and Facebook whenever someone needed help. But I was feeling stagnant, bored with how YouTube was progressing and that it was becoming a very crowded and noisy place.
2014/15, I spent a lot of time travelling to stores and events doing free workshops under the Gunpla Builders Australia community that I was at the forefront of creating. This was great, I loved going from event to event, promoting the hobby and having fun with friends. But still, it wasn't as fulfilling as I desired.
So, late 2015, I started brainstorming business ideas to take that next leap. The leap from out of being a hobbyist into being a professional business. To move away from the landscaping and gardening business that I was running at the time. To make a mark on the world.
I thought about opening a store (even buying the local model shop that was for sale at the time), being a commission builder, author, or even make my own kits, but all those ideas never panned out.
The one that did stick was paint.
The first few months of 2016 were difficult in trying to launch our products. It took forever to find a supplier that was local and willing to work with me to create this new line of hobby paints. After several dozen emails to materials suppliers, 1 responded. 1 and only 1. I never got a response from anyone else. Luckily, they had the exact materials that would get things rolling.
So after a few back and forth emails, samples arrived and I began testing. The product was good but needed adjusting. 3 or 4 adjustments later, the first SMS Paints were finalised and ready to be put into production.
The very first prototype paints by SMS - April 2016
Come June 3rd 2016, SMS Paints launched with 10 colours at Andrew's Hobbies in their old store in Deer Park. Soon after, the same colours launched at Hobbyco in Sydney and then Gundam Universe in Melbourne (they are no longer around unfortunately).
Nearly 5 years later, we recently moved into a new factory facility and have over 60 stores across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the US and the UK stock our products. Paints, Weathering Washes & Pigments, Tools, Airbrushes, Scenery, Accessories and lots of other stuff in between are now available in our range which is still growing monthly.
I've had my fair share of challenges over the 5 years. Long time friends turning their backs on me, people trying to undermine our successes for god knows what reasons, liars & thieves, big companies buying paints from us under the guise of working with us for them to just copy our colours because they had a reputation of being great, people flipping out and trying to destroy things we created because I wouldn't do what they insisted we do to make them happy because I knew deep down it was a terrible business decision to do so. You name it, it's probably happened to us at some stage over the years.
At Guf Werribee doing a install of a rack in 2018
If you have got this far into this brief history of how SMS was created, you are probably still wondering why? Why push through the bullshit and plow forward?
Simple - to create a legacy for my only son to take over when I am finally gone.
I started SMS to change my own life and where it was headed, but in reality it has morphed into a lot more than that.
And for that, I thank every single one of our customers, whether that be stores that stock our products or the customers who buy from them. Without you we wouldn't be in the position we are currently in. Thank you.
Keep on modelling!