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Tom Cleaver
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Sir Peter Jackson and the airplane thiefa fascinating read

February 19, 2021 · in News · · 14 · 1.2K

A really fascinating - that's right, I said FASCINATING! - article on Sir Peter Jackson and Gene DeMarco. If you wondered why got dragged down with the rest of the wreckage, this will fill you in.

Reader reactions:
5  Awesome

14 responses

  1. Just because you are talented rich and famous, doesn't shield you from the parasites. Or the Rasputins.
    Hopefully the 'Lil plastic Model Company will get picked up by someone.

  2. F. Scot Fitzgerald:
    "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that , unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand."

    The article can only infer that Jacksons financial difficulties must have ended WNWs. One wonders if he will sell. If Meng can sell the tri-plane one wonders what will surface.

  3. I sent this article to my friend, aviation author, photographer, and actual legend, Budd Davisson, who replied with a story of working with DeMarco 30 years ago and having the feeling there was something "off" about him then.

    Also, according to two friends in aviation from New Zealand, far from DeMarco having been "at the mercy" of the authorities, the general feeling down there (where this case is very well-known, New
    Zealand being "a small place") is that he got off very easy compared to other offenders similarly situated regarding theft and misappropriation of funds.

  4. Both men (Jackson and DeMarco) wanted what the other had. Jackson wanted to have the rogue fly by the seat of his pants romanticized pilot life while DeMarco wanted Jackson's money/lifestyle without actually building said fortune.

    One can look at it as a "Mo' money, mo' problems (but it would be "nice" to have to deal with such problems)" issue. Also the reality that there are cold hard limitations to even a $400 million personal fortune.

    Based on what I've read here, it sounds like WNWs would have gone down in flames unless Mortal Engines was a box office smash to help feed more cash into Jackson's empire.

    The molds for the WNW 1/32 Lancaster are now the scale modelling world's One Ring... One Kit to rule them all, one kit to find them, One kit to bring them all and in the 1/32 scale bind them

  5. The staff of WNW have been more or less sworn to silence over the collapse. There are a number of interviews to listen to - not least with various people 'in the know' on the fantastic 'On The Bench' podcast, from Aus.

    Here are a couple of pertinent episodes:

    There is definitely a feeling that there was a disagreement over the balance of subjects being offered. The 'golden years' were those when there was less financial stress on the project - and subjects didn't have to succeed! Given the change in financial conditions and legal wrangles, WNW then needed to make money, and started putting out a million albs and pfalz editions.

    In my cupboard are a Felixstowe, a Hansa-Brandenburg W12 and an AEG in 1/32. Without WNW such 'folly' or 'magnificence' wouldn't ever exist (with respect to Roden who couldn't compete, in terms of quality) . I've got a decent number of their other kits and a couple of the DR1s that came via Meng. Between WNW and Eduard we have lived in fantastic times in terms of model production.

    Listening to David Johnson here, the only hope for The Lanc is Sir PJ giving it the green light, which may take a while! Given how near it was, it was a tragedy not to see it produced. However, the size and price-tag - as with some other WNW kits - would surely have limited sales.

    • Sir P has had his wings clipped. Between this business that exposed too many other questionable financial situations there, and the near-death blow inflicted on film production by the pandemic (the only way the kind of movies he makes ever make their money back is with millions of people seeing them in movie theaters, which isn't happening anywhere and isn't going to for awhile and maybe never like it did in the Before Time even after the world's been vaccinated - and he's not the only one taking a whack like this) these events will put the kibosh on his free-playing days of yore.

      • I tend to agree with @davem - despite his probable share in culpability, his naivety at best, SPJ has involved and indulged us all in his fantasy of being able to request high quality and very buildable model kits of seldom seen subjects. WNW much like his mega-films gained a loyal following - what's not to love?

        Tom @tcinla I guess it is possible, given he has gained access to rare Beatles footage for his next venture, that he has latched onto a cash cow to 'right the ship'. It certainly won't need much filming in NZ! You'll know more, but directing a Disney venture as one of the first major releases post-plague, will surely be worth some significant dosh? Will the world be ready in August? Given Ron Howard's Grammy winner, will the public want a Beatles documentary about the difficult later years. For me those years were way more interesting than the early times, but then again I always much preferred The Stones!

        • @tellowten - I suspect the Howard documentary will be more popular, despite the other story perhaps being more interesting. It's like when the Post Office here announced they were going to do an Elvis stamp and put out two for public approval - one of Young Elvis, one of Older Elvis. Young Elvis won 10:1. The story of the rise of the Beatles is young guys from Liverpool finding each other, doing the thing they loved, and the world loving them in return. The feel-good story will always beat the downbeat success-ain't-what-you-thought-it-was story.

  6. The very thing that makes us rich makes us poor.
    Amazing that ( some ) talented , charismatic people Find ways of taking all to feed their deceptive habits.
    Trust your feelings Luke.
    Peter could have knows that something’s was up but chose to push the classic intellectual override button.
    Been there myself and have we not all been there.
    I hope the planes get preserved.

  7. Sir P's business adventure in making models was more of a passion and a having a big heart in wanting to share that passion to his fellow modeler. Folks would post that the kits where being subsidized by Sir P given the quality and esoteric nature or subject of the kits being produced. The Lancaster kit must have been an out growth of his wanting to make a remake of The Dam Busters. Photo's of a full scale prop of a Lanc where posted on the net either in New Zealand or China and that not enough money was raised to go into production. I feel grateful in having gone for the ride on some of the kits having bought a Fokker and a Snipe from WNW.

  8. Yes, I completely agree with you @stephen-w-towle, I feel very lucky to have a few WNW kits in my stash - and we would not have those if not for Sir Peter's passion/obsession for the subject.

    Unfortunately, he may find it harder to justify expenditure on such wonderful projects in the future!

    No doubt now that the professionals have swarmed all over the books, others will be keeping a closer eye on exactly what gets spent- pity really.

  9. One of the excuses or justifications for closing the doors for WNW . . . New Zealand had changed its tax laws. Or a loop hole had been closed and writing off the losses of a modeling company against other assets that made money, no longer made "cents".
    When in doubt blame others.

    Reality what a concept.

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