Some of our strongest childhood memories include snapping plastic model parts from a sprue tree, trimming, sanding, and filing them, then gluing them together (and often our fingers as well) to make a fighter airplane model or bomber. We were never any good at the finishing, painting and decorating process, and all the decals ended up at some cockeyed angle, but nevertheless we had a lot of fun putting the models together, and then imagining what it would be like to actually fly one of them. The brand name on all of those kits instantly comes to mind - it was Revell with their easily recognizable blue/red/white/yellow logo.
Of course, that was many, many years ago. We hadn't thought much about Revell recently until an exciting press release hit our computer screen last week letting us know that Revell and IFI, the creators of the VEX Robotics system, have teamed up to create and market the next generation VEX system, due to hit store shelves next summer.
The official press, which we were alerted to by a Robot Magazine, post, covers some of the background and gives the basic structure of the new business relationship between the two companies. IFI (Innovation First, Inc.) will provide all the engineering design, technology, and manufacturing for the new VEX system. At the same time, Revell will take care of sales, marketing, channel strategy, and distribution. We're assuming, though it isn't clear from the press release, that a strong customer service/support organization will also be deployed since robotic systems of this complexity require proactive customer support.
From our perspective, it looks like a strong, WIN-WIN relationship that should provide lots of benefit to customers of the VEX Robotics System. Revell has over 60 years of experience to draw on, and a name that has instant brand recognition. IFI has great technology and know-how, and should be able to incorporate lots of first generation customer feedback, both positive and negative, into the second generation product.
Revell has survived and thrived by keeping a strong focus on their customers satisfaction while paying close attention to the economics of the business. Keeping costs down without compromising the customer experience is a real art, and the fact that Revell is still around after six decades is a real testament to their business accumen. By the same token, IFI has to be on top of the robotics game - ready, willing, and able to design and deliver robotics systems that not only do what they promise but also teach and inspire their customers at the same time.
It will be very interesting to see how the new VEX product, and the Revell/IFI relationship evolve over the next year or so. If they are successful at leveraging the strengths of their two organizations, which we think they will be, then the robotics customer will definitely benefit tremendously.
Expanded VEX Robotics System post - Robot Magazine