The diverse portfolio of a model maker

Amalgam is a specialist model maker providing architectural, marine, prop-making, set-building, product prototyping and point of sale material to a diverse range of industries. It’s surprising just how vast a model maker’s portfolio can be; Yachting Pages was lucky enough to take a tour of their studio in Bristol and see some of the fascinating projects they’re working on.

Whilst being guided around the offices by Chris Conlon, one of the directors, the team at Yachting Pages admired the various models from wall-mounted bicycles, television props, buildings, furniture and trophies to respiratory masks, Cadbury’s Cream Eggs and submarines.

Chris recalled how the Cadburys Cream Eggs were used in an animated advertisement showing the eggs crumbling. It was eye opening how many big brands Amalgam has worked with including Dyson, Foster + Partners, Claydon Reeves, Rolls Royce Maritime, EDF, Herman Miller, Clarins, Top Gear magazine, BBC (Atlantis TV programme), Ed Dubois, Redman Whiteley Dixon and more.

Interestingly, Amalgam got into the boat building industry through its relationships with Foster + Partners and Martin Francis. Chris explained, “It was an easy shift [from architecture]. You get used to scaling down models and producing compound curves with gloss finishes to create tenders and superyacht models. Of course, we had to invest in the right machinery for the job.”

Amalgam specialises in bespoke one-off pieces and leading up to an event like the Monaco Yacht Show, they can be quite busy. Chris admitted, “Commissioned projects can range from £2,500 up to £25,000 depending on the scope. Most clients nowadays provide 3D CAD data; but sometimes there’s no brief or scope at all; those are the ones we tend to dread. 

When asked what their biggest challenge was, Chris explained, “Getting people to understand the breadth of what we can do. For 30 years we’ve been working with clients to help realise their ideas for them. We don’t merely create exterior structures; we can help from the concept and design stage, right through to the completion of almost any object.”

One of the biggest surprises was how much time and effort goes into merely processing a sales enquiry and presenting a quote; this can take a couple of days alone.

As Yachting Pages gazed at the £100,000 3D printer, they asked the question that most potential clients would want to know the answer to; what makes you different from your competitors? Chris answered with a smile on his face, “That’s easy, the quality of our products and the service we offer. We’re not the type of company to ‘Do exactly what it says in the CAD’ because sometimes the CAD might not be quite right! Another key point is that we keep a highly-skilled core team in-house, we do as much as we can here, even fabrication work; our team understand our ethos and the level of quality we deliver.”

It was also interesting to note that Amalgam is becoming ‘greener’, using recycled sheet material and working with waste management companies – a theme that seems to be prevalent in the superyacht industry at the moment. 

Their business was affected by the recession, the architectural model making went very quiet in 2008 but things have picked up and typically they have 20 projects on the books at any one time; including a mixture of smaller and larger works.

For more information visit Amalgam.

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