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Tom Cleaver
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It’s official…

January 14, 2021 · in News · 22 · 5.4K

RIP Squadron Mailorder. They officially closed the doors yesterday. It was apparent over the weekend. They had a 70% off sale started last Friday, and by Sunday night, the website came up "under construction." Some locals had stopped by to pick up their orders and reported they were told "We're reorganizing" but "Their hearts weren't in what they said."

Jerry Campbell was Hell On Wheels to deal with, as anyone who ever did will tell you, but he was Honest. He really did transform the hobby. Those old newsletters back in the 70s really were little goldmines of ideas and information. And I will never ever ever forget the day I walked into the then-new Squadron Shop in Concord, up the Bay Area, 49 years ago, and saw those glass cases full of Dave Boksanski's models and realized there was a "whole other world out there" of what could be done with those boxes full of plastic parts. Went home and wanted to throw away my entire collection (which I kinda/sorta did over the next few years as I "upped my game"). As a result of Squadron, I became the Scale Modeler I always wanted to be. Jerry also saved my sweet patootie 20 years ago during a "rough patch." He did that for more than a few modelers who he saw as Contributors to the Hobby. He also went out of his way to support the scale modeling websites as they started in the late 90s, always good for supplying review samples of anything. Modeling Madness and Hyperscale wouldn't exist without him, that's for sure.

Too bad the MBA morons who bought him out and then bought each other out never understood what Squadron was. Of course, firing or letting go those who did know didn't help a bit.

Sadly, the place has really been dead for going on 2 years now. You had to order something so they could order it for you too often.

But Jerry's grandchildren - Sprue Brothers, Kitlinx and the others, live on. Long live the hobby. You were hard to love Jerry, but we all did, for what you did.

Reader reactions:
23  Awesome

22 responses

  1. I had wondered, I will miss them. Loved getting their flyers in the mail in the mid-70s late 80s during my youth.

  2. Not surprised really.

    I don't think I ordered anything from them in almost 8 years despite the fact they were the first internet model shop I ever bought from. The selection used to be good till about 2010-11ish, but then after there was nothing I really wanted to buy through them. Those sales weren't any good. Disappointing actually.

    I always like the True Details aftermarket parts (my first introduction to resin and vaccuform.) Even their Encore kit line was a good idea that just ultimately went nowhere.

    Like the others, some fond memories of the place.

  3. Sad news but as a Canadian I never shopped there for years after the U.S. Postal service changed its rates and made it very costly for shipping. The lower Canadian dollar certainly hurt as well

  4. Those flyers were great, My dad use to drive me to the one out on Long Island. I don't think that I ever used the website.

  5. My first "real" Hobby Shop (actually the second, Polk's in NYC was first) was the Squadron Shop in Syosset, NY. Man was I bowled over, like Tom said, by all the glass shelves. I remember when I first saw their flyer with the "Focke-Wulf" Wurger logo, said to myself, "Can they do that"? Yes I used to look forward to their catalog too.
    Nothing lasts forever. Only thing stays the same is change.

    • Polk's . . . now that was a thing. That second floor all full of what seemed like every scale model there was. I used to spend hours there -

      • Was working in Manhattan, first real job. Stopped at Polk's 5th Ave. whenever I could at lunch. Saw my first Japanese models there, bought an LS "Nell" and was thrilled with the rivet detail.
        Yes, they had a lot of stuff.

  6. So that's what happened. I checked their web site about an hour before I wrote this post and saw a message saying, "Store closed for renovation." I heard of them back in the day, but never ordered anything from them. Too bad I missed the sale, I guess.

    • There wasn't that much there.

      As a friend pointed out, while Squadron was applauding themselves for carrying 6,000 items, Sprue Brothers carries 60,000 items. And usually has them in stock and ships within 12 hours maximum. Which is why Sprue Brothers is here and Squadron isn't.

  7. Wow. If you lived out in the sticks in the '80's Squadron was the only way to go to get kits the chains wouldn't carry. Sad to see them go, have been using them lately to get books via their sales cheaply. Explains all the sales, and why they weren't carrying squat for inventory.

  8. I always looked forward to the flyers in the mail back in the eighties. Always plenty of deals to be had. Where I lived it was an hours drive to a toy shop with a few models and tins of paint on a shelf down the back. The nearest real hobby shop was about 400 klicks away.Postage from the US to down under was really cheap before 9/11 and I waited patiently for my big parcels of kits and bits to arrive by snail mail.

  9. Too bad and so it goes with internet offerings and competition. We still have Hobbylink in San-Leandro. All the others in SF and around here disappeared..
    We’re all behaving like insects..

  10. I was sorry to hear this. Like for many, their "Green Putty" opened a whole new world for me of better finished models when I discovered it in 1970. I went to my first EagleQuest in 2015 (I'd lived in the area for 20+ years and didn't know it was held here) and had a great time, saw some amazing work, met many new friends, and was lucky enough to win a "small Eagle" for my 1942 H-D WLA in the "Out of the Box" category. I really looked forward to seeing everyone again at that event each year afterwards.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  11. Oh man this is so sad. I used to go to The Squadron Shop in Silver Spring, Maryland in my youth in the 1970s and 1980s. I remember Roy Dwyer ran it. I even had a few models in their display cases, those were the days! Sadly their website was a thing of frustration (to me, anyway) it was very difficult to use. I found Sprue Brothers, and a couple others, and have stuck with them since.

    Nonetheless, a very sad day indeed.

    I wonder what will become of Squadron Signal books, and the True Details line?

  12. What a shame. They used to be awesome, but I noticed a degradation in service and selection a few years back. I also tried to order things they claimed were in stock but weren't, and the search engine on their website was garbage. Because of that I haven't ordered from them in a couple of years. RIP Squadron.

  13. I used to shop from there quite a bit, until their prices stopped being competitive. They advertised "we'll meet any price" but you actually had to call to make a case for it. Not worth it, so I ended up shopping elsewhere.

    Know your competition was forgotten some time ago.

  14. B.B. Kings signature song is " The thrill is gone." When the mailer changed over from being stuffed with black and white images of kit box tops with a hundreds of kits, books, tools and paints that opened the imagination to new ways of thinking and doing . . . that's the day the music die. The new owners of Squadron changed

    the mailer to color print and cut down the content . . . the last nail had been place in coffin. Half the fun of the mailer was going through and looking at all of the kits and seeing some of the deals that where seeded in the pages. The mailer appeared to be a little sketchy and was something you found in the back of magazines that offered half baked idea's on how to build your own tractor or lawn mower, or start your own business or some form of male enhancement. But, the mailer really preached to the modeler at heart and was the seed for allowing youngsters and adults to be creative.

    Only a modeler at heart could have started such a business. MBA's who follow Milton Friedman's mantra of everything for profit and the balance sheet . . . vampires who suck the river dry. There is truth to saying blind as a bat. Campbell had vision before, the internet and understood print and imagination.

    • I agree about the mailers of old and catalogs, but when you run a web store buyers want to know what is in stock today and what new stock has arrived. The Mailers were something that I would give to my son and nephew after I read them and I did enjoy getting them. The web store is more efficient as well but sadly we saw that decline over the years. The last update/redesign they did on the site sucked. It would allow you view as much and surprisingly, the stock dwindled along with it.

  15. It is sad to hear of their demise but I have read of poor management, people not knowing the hobby, etc. I came back to the hobby in 1990 at the age of 31. Over the following years I ordered from Squadron many, many times as well as VLS, Great Models and into today's great vendors of Sprue Brothers etc. My favorite Squadron sale was of course Black Friday with the famous 10%, 20%, 30% 40% off depending on how much you ordered. The stock for the event was wide open with no worries of "not available".

    It is amazing that this of all years would be bad for them. Local hobby shops where I live are having one of their best years, and it seems that most online vendors are doing well also with the exception of much longer shipping times from overseas vendors. Others will step up and take their place. Sprue Bros is expanding, and even the smaller vendors have stepped up.
    RIP Squadron...especially the Squadron of old!

    • I am dating myself writing about the mailer before the net in the 70-80s.
      Had Squadron carried over the spirit or letter of intent to their web page like Sprue Brothers does now they'd be in business. TC hit the nail on the head with that one. The new owners where playing the wrong end of the horn and thought modelers where Franklin
      Mint customers.

  16. I first started ordering from Squadron in 1971, when I joined the Air Force. Before then, my local hobby shop was Brookhurst Hobbies in Garden Grove, California. I used to love getting the flyers, they were great to read through while you were otherwise "occupied".

    I agree that they started going downhill when they got rid of most (All?) of their workers who actually had an interest in scale models and all the aftermarket, and replaced them with college-educated "Bean-Counters" who knew ZILCH about the hobby. It was especially frustrating talking to them on the phone, with a question about the products they were selling., only to find out they didn't have a clue what you were talking about. The only thing they knew was numbers.

    Like another poster here, I fell in love with Squadron Green Stuff, and it really changed the way I built models. After its quality plummeted, there were similar products from other manufacturers that actually worked better. The same can be said for their sanding sticks.

    I also liked their True Details line of aftermarket, but their quality eventually started to drop. At least there are numerous other brands which do a much better product.

    I think the final "nail in the coffin" for me was when their "Available To Order" tag started to mean "We ain't got it and you can't get it from us".

    RIP Squadron.

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