1/6th Spotlight - Collectable Kitbash

Collectable Kitbash was responsible for my very first 1/6th purchase, and now eighteen months on I have a vast collection of figures on display; so much so that I'm slowly running out of space to display them all!  In the UK there are very few 1/6th retailers compared to the US and Asia as the hobby is such a niche one, but out of all the retailers who do reside on British soil, Darren's store is considered one, if not THE best.  Darren kindly agreed to take the time to answer our questions and feature in our ongoing series '1/6th Spotlight'...   Over to you Darren:

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello my name is Darren Cowperthwaite and I’m the Owner of Collectable Kitbash, along with my wife Nut.  We juggle our time between running this business and bringing up our young son…  So there is not a lot of time for much else at the moment!

How long has Collectable Kitbash been in business and how did it get started?

It all started in 2007 on returning to the UK from life in Thailand.  A chance sighting of a store selling the early military Hot Toys, DID and Dragon etc in Bangkok (no longer in business) got me interested as I just didn’t realise such highly detailed figures were available.  So being a big Action Man fan as a kid it sparked my interest.

Being UK based and the hobby not as popular over here, do you struggle to bring in new customers?

We get a steady flow of new customers although 60-70% of sales are repeat customers from the early days.  Hot Toys and Sideshow has sparked interest from the Sci-Fi/Pop Culture collectors... They're now able to buy deluxe 1:6 versions of characters, so its opened up an almost separate hobby although they're starting to see the wider picture with all the other genres sparking their imagination.

Where do most of your sales come from?  Within the UK or abroad?

Boxed figure sales are mostly within the UK, although we are slowly getting more and more sales from Europe, with loose part sales being across the board.

What would you say puts you above the competition in terms of UK based retailers?

I wouldn't like to say we are above the competition.  The only thing I've always tried to do is import a wide variety of brands and give some of the smaller brands their first exposure to the UK market, although we have come unstuck doing so due to lack of interest or familiarity of 'Asia only' brands.  I think we have a good balance now and we also try our best to keep the prices as low as possible

Collectable Kitbash is mail order only, any ambitions to set up a shop in the future?

I would love to say yes but it's just not economically viable for such a small interest hobby.

Which products are selling well at the moment?

We have a widespread customer base, each buying different genres so I can't say anything sells more than anything else.

What do you think is one to look for in the future?

DC Comics (Sideshow) 1:6 Series, the latest VTS Sets... But personally I'm looking forward to Hot Toys releases of the 1966 Batman TV Series, Batmobile and inevitable related figures....

You sell a lot of 'premium' Hot Toys figures, in your opinion which do you think was their best release, and which was their worst?

Lt. Gordon sold out in less than a week so I guess that one.  Everyone has their own idea of what makes a good figure but this one by far has been the most popular. I really can't think of a worst one, they're all so well done!

How difficult is it to stay competitive in such a niche market?

I think the hobby has been covered pretty much (dealer wise ) over the last 5-6 years so I would say if you keep up the service and keep things current you stay in the running... But I wouldn't consider entering into this business now.

What would you like to see more of released by manufacturers?

More reference from actual source material rather than taking characters from Hollywood movies for ideas would make things more interesting.  There's so much not being covered, especially within the WW2 era.  Also some movie characters from older cult movies would be great...

What do you find most challenging about running the business?

Excepting the small returns for such hard work, it wears a little thin after time. It's a great way to earn a living but its not for the cash hungry!

Do you collect any figures yourself, if so which is your favourite?

I keep the odd figure sometimes but as I am surrounded by them day in day out, that's enough for me!  I will be keeping the '66 Batman releases for sure though.

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

Realistically, just to remain in business is all we can all hope for in such difficult times but I would like to think we will be a lot bigger by then, even wider variety of stock etc...

And finally, if you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

Muay Thai instructor or a small restaurant in Thailand probably...

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Unfortunately Darren was not in a position to provide us with pictures of his operation at this time, however I'm sure we will update the article with some as they become available.  In the meantime, here are some screenshots of his online store:

 

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