Ugly, Ugly, Ugly.

by Acey17. January 2013 02:16
When I enquired why HobbyMaster/SkyMax would not do the iconic F-84 "Four Queens" livery, I was told that it was because the tampo printing was too expensive. So, I bought the tampo-printed F-84 "Four Queens" from EasyModel instead for USD $9.99 from a chinese eBay seller. We can confidently conclude, therefore, that the cost of credibly tampo printing a four queens F-84 is somewhat less than 9.99.

Apparently, though, this concern was not enough to keep HM from making this spectacularly ugly heavy-tampo release:

Look, I have a fairly large JASDF collection. But there's no way in hell that I'm going to sully it with the above piece of crap. Shame on (otherwise honest and decent) HM for their lame excuses.


More awful diecast from Aviation72: Folland Gnat

by Acey26. November 2012 21:10
OK, the Folland Gnat has never been what is traditionally thought to be an attractive aircraft. It's toyish and a bit ridiculous in real life.

Still, that's no reason to make a total caricature of it as Aviation72 have apparently done:

Aviation72's latest release is yet more evidence that they are quite comfortable at foisting utter rubbish at exorbitant prices. For years I have had the compunction to collect at least one of each major diecast type being released - you know, for "completeness." But, now, a secondary rule has come into effect - "but don't buy overpriced crap." And this, like most Aviation72 offerings (exception: the Sea Hawk is overpriced, but at least its not crap), certainly qualifies.


The perfect aircraft that will never happen.

by Acey5. November 2012 14:00
There is an aircraft that ticks all the following boxes:
  • Operated by the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia - the big four "western" countries for diecast collecting.
  • Operated by ROCAF and Japan, both of which have significant followings
  • Appeared in both Vietnam camo and ever popular US-Navy grey
  • Was fundamentally unchanged in terms of its basics throughout its service life, thus allowing most if not all variants to be made from a single mould.
  • Served as a gunship in Vietnam
  • Served in the Falklands War
  • Had cool 'Skunk Works' versions
  • Has plenty of interesting color schemes
and yet is unavailable in 1/72 diecast and probably will never be. That aircraft is the P-2 Neptune. Wouldn't it be nice?


Mould Modifications!

by Acey5. November 2012 13:30
Here is my wish list for "mould modifications" that make sense.

  • Corgi 1/72 C-47/DC-3 to AC-47. It is my understanding that much of this was already done on an experimental basis by Corgi. There is most definitely a market for a Vietnam-era AC-47 in 1/72 scale! Of course, the door will remain firmly closed...
  • Hobbymaster Beaufighter to Beaufort. The Beaufort is the forgotten loser older brother of the Beaufighter, but they share pretty much everything except for the front fuselage. HM would basically need to make a new fuselage mould and mate it with bits and pieces, including the wings, gear, engines, and horizontal stabilizers from their excellent Beaufighter, and they'd be set.
  • Corgi 1/72 single-seat EE Canberra to Martin (R)B-57 2-seat Canberra. The Corgi single seat canberra is dead as disco. It's hard to imagine any other profitable liveries that they'd get out of the mould. Therefore, even thought it might take major surgery and irrevocably alter the mould, it makes a lot of sense to convert it into the US 2-seat version, where several quite saleable liveries are possible. Of course, Corgi is afraid of the USA, so this will probably never happen. On the other hand, for once Corgi could upstage HM by making one in ROCAF colors, too.
There are probably more, but these three immediately come to mind for the time being.


Terrible Diecast Alert: Phoenix Models L-39 "Baltic Bees"

by Acey3. November 2012 20:04
Well, it's been a while since we've heard from Phoenix Models. You may recall that they were responsible for a 500-edition limited release 1/72 L-39 Albatross - in the mostly black livery of the "OK Czech Jet Display Team" The asking price for these was (and still is in many online shops) somewhere between $50 and $70. I eventually got one at an airshow for $15 from a seller who, well, clearly hadn't sold a single one of his allotment otherwise and was happy even to get rid of the one to me at what must have been a loss.

In a nutshell, the Phoenix L-39 model is bad. Very very bad. "Worst model of the year, 2009" (or whenever it was released) bad. While getting the basic shape of the aircraft passably correct, it was bad in essentially every way imaginable from the awful cockpit detail to the utter lack of panels to landing gear so bad that it would make IXO stand a bit prouder of some of its worse efforts. To top it off, the livery was from some trainer-based display team that, well, few had ever heard of.

This time around Phoenix decided to outdo themselves - by choosing a livery of an even more obscure and unmarketable display team--the mighty "Baltic Bees" - whoever they are. To their credit, Phoenix has managed to put a little bit of lipstick on this dog by improving the cockpit by adding pretty awful looking pilot figures and by choosing a Suez-throwback livery that perhaps hides the sins of the mould a bit better (note to self: bees in the Baltics are apparently blue and yellow.. who knew?). But, at the end of the day, it's still some overpriced model of a display team you've never heard of. Why The Flying Mule would agree to resell these I can only guess - I sure hope their trade price is less than $20 each.

Here it is:

It's hard to imagine how they will sell more than 50 of these worldwide, given that quite a few of us must have simultaneously ticked the L-39 box and said goodbye to Phoenix forever after the first release AND many of the 500 are still available for sale on the web.

There are two things Phoenix should do:

  1. First, thank their lucky stars that Altaya has not made an L-39 yet. The moment they do, they might as well throw this mould into the Baltic Sea.
  2. Second, in the little time they have left before Altaya does make one, make an actually marketable livery of this mould. Which means, in a nutshell, this one:

This is the livery that will sell, accuracy or not. It will cover up many of the flaws of the mould. If you care about sales, put the red star on the tail, not the Czech roundel.

Or, if you want to be heroes, a Ukrainian Air Force one... oh, I'd like that, but it won't happen.


Musingss on new moulds of modern aircraft.

by Acey2. November 2012 05:09
Planes I do not particularly care to see new moulds of:
  • F-15E Strike Eagle - It's an important aircraft, but boring, and, frankly, I'm happy enough with my Dragon offerings. One dull 'tactical' scheme after another on the F-15E equals I'm sorry but I just can't see myself shelling out for whatever a HM version would cost.
  • F-18 E/F Super Hornet - The classic Hornets look right. This one looks like its on steroids. Regardless of my preferences however, plenty of Witty examples are available cheap, and so I'd pass on any new ones. I'm sure somebody can point out plenty of flaws in the Witty mould that a HM version might remedy, but ultimately given the number of choices in diecast these days and the significant surcharge a HM version would entail, I can't imagine that many people would be bothered.
  • F-117 Nighthawk - This is absolutely one of my favorite aircraft, and, truth be told, if a truly quality new mould were released, I'd probably get one. However, my SunStar version is not that bad. A smart businessperson might buy the SunStar mould, spruce it up a bit (read: intakes) and do quite well.
What I'd rather see instead ...
  • V-22 Osprey "Money Eater I" - If HM or whoever feels the need to make more modern aircraft, how about this one? Compact mould, consistent shape, and a fair number of liveries. The model needs to have the same tilt-rotor capability, of course, but this would be a real conversation piece and a winner.
  • F-35 Lightning II "Money Eater Max" - In the real world, I hate this aircraft with a passion due to how much it cost and how much the taxpayer was lied to about how much it would cost. However, given how many will be produced in real life, it seems a no-brainer that we'll see these in 1/72 diecast sooner or later.
However, if we never see a V-22 or F-35, in diecast, I'll get over it, too.


Most wanted new moulds - historical aircraft.

by Acey2. November 2012 04:29
Here is my list of most wanted new moulds and the manufacturer that I'd like too see them from. The list is limited, as much as possible, to moulds that I think make relative economic sense for the manufacturers:
  • 1/72 B-29, Corgi - Is the B-29 a big aircraft? Absolutely. However, it's also quite simple in shape and the parts an be cleverly cast (for example, the fuselage can be done in segments rather than the usual "upper half / lower half" contraption. Numerous good liveries, and a big ticket item. Pity Corgi, as much as I love 'em, probably doesn't have it together enough organizationally at the moment to give this a serious go. Note: the wings could be packaged in such a way that the user would have to attach them.
  • 1/72 A-20 Havoc/Boston - Corgi - Corgi should jump on this before HobbyMaster does. The Havoc's user base is right in Corgi's wheelhouse, so to speak. It's an iconic aircraft with plenty of excellent schemes. Makes infinitely more sense than, say, their upcoming Puma mould. As much as I love Corgi's helicopters, that one is extremely limited in potential market.
  • 1/72 P-61 - Hobbymaster - Rumors have been swirling around this one forever. If HM makes it to the standard of their A-26, we'll all be happy. The trick with this one, of course, is to make the mould versatile enough to handle the several quite different variants.
  • 1/72 Supermarine Scimitar - Aviation72 - At the standard of their overpriced but decent seahawk. Alternately: DH Sea Venom.
  • 1/72 P40B or heck just about anything - Dragon 1/72 - Dragon, we miss you. You provided excellent models at reasonable prices only to be taken for granted and complained about because of your "fiddly bits." We apologize. Now, will you please come off your tantrum and stop making those ridiculous useless 1/144 things and rejoin the world? Quite literally anything that you have made recently in 1/144 would have been a massive hit in 1/72, and there are certainly plenty of other subject available for you. Suggested: P-40B.
  • 1/72 FJ 2/3 Fury - Skymax - There are enough interesting liveries to make this little plane an economic success.
  • 1/72 FJ 4 Fury - Altaya - The 4 is different enough from the 2/3 to need an almost entirely new mould. While there are many interesting liveries for it, the range of them is similar to the Skyray. Altaya's Skyray was more than adequate (though of course we'd like to see more liveries) and a FJ 4 Fury could be the same..
  • 1/72 CF-100 - I realize this is unlikely to happen, but wouldn't it be great to see a CF-100 commissioned by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum?
  • 1/48 Zero - Hobbymaster - There are a lot of worthy subjects for HM to do in 1/48. Being greedy for a moment, the reality is that I pretty much have most of the ones that I want (Hellcat, Corsairs, Wildcats, Me109s, etc) from FM, C1, and/or EI. While I have FM and Marushin 1/48 zeroes, this is one area where I feel that HM could nevertheless do well with me and other experienced collectors. For all the praise heaped upon them, Marushin's zeros were I think actually quite poor, and FM's were famously their weakest mould A good 1/48 zero would be exploitable for a very, very long time with HM, and most liveries need none of that pesky mottling that HM can't bring itself to do.
  • 1/72 Vigilante - Century Wings - Not holding my breath...


Obivous Liveries that haven't yet been released...

by Acey29. October 2012 13:51
Often, manufacturers delay releasing "highly desirable" liveries on key moulds in order to sell more exotic liveries early on. This is certainly true with Hobbymaster's P-51 and especially, Fw-190. Other moulds being milked and so not in consideration here include the F-18, F-16, and others.

However, other times, a manufacturer's failure to make a certain livery is more of a mystery. Excluding liveries that have clearly been held back for "business strategy" reasons, here's my list...

  • Hobbymaster US Yellow AT-6 and/or SNJ - Arguably the most important training aircraft of all time in its most canonical livery. EI did only two T6s/SNJs, and one of them was in this livery. HM has plenty of yellow of T6s.. but no standard training US ones. Maybe they ran out of yellow paint? USAF, USN, USNR, and USMC versions all wanted!
  • Falcon Models standard camouflage French Air Force Mirage III - At least maybe they'll get the intakes right before it's released.
  • Corgi natural metal B-17 - Quite a few 8th Air Force B-17s were natural metal without looking like either Bit-o-Lace or Sentimental Journey. How about some love for them? My recommendation: Little Miss Mischief.
  • Corgi 1/72 DC-3 from a classic US Airline. Something like Eastern Airlines, TWA, or United. You know, what they should have made instead of "Camel Caravan."
  • Corgi MiG-29 - Ok, it's not the greatest mould, but it does grow on you. I even have two of the Ukrainian airshow one. Where is the standard Soviet or Russian war-fighting version? Ok, AA37507 was cancelled during the nadir of the depression, but surely it's time tobring it back?
  • Corgi P-38 - Oh where do I begin. So much potential in this underutilized mould.


Coming soon to a dump bin near you: Witty Wings "Fast Eagle" F-14

by Acey28. October 2012 16:43

Witty's been a bit more creative recently, putting out higher quality items with optional bits like landing gear and weapons and a few clever liveries and moulds that have and will take the thunder away from some Corgi and Hobbymaster offerings.

And then there's this: 

Witty recently announced a new Tomcat. While their Tomcat mould isn't the greatest, certainly there are decent liveries still to be done. However, their choice of Tomcat is bizarre. The Fast Eagle 107 Tomcat was recently made to an essentially excellent standard by Century Wings. However, as anybody who has been paying attention realizes, CW made too many of them, and as a result CW's quite excllent Fast Eagle Tomcats have been and still are available for cheap.

Why Witty would think that there's any residual demand for this particular livery is beyond me. I kind of feel sorry for Witty at times, but this release strikes me as just dumb.


Best and Worst of 2012

by Acey28. October 2012 13:30

Best and worst of 2012


  • Oxford Aviation Dragon Rapide - in an almost unheard of move recently, we see a diecast manufacturer actually improving their quality in a big way.   Oxford's Dragon Rapide is a beautifully executed model of a beautiful aircraft, wonderfully presented.  Unquestionably the winner of the "quality packaging of the year" award.

Runners up:

  • Hobbymaster P-51.  Not a new mould, but really starting to come into its own in more recent releases.  "Big Beautiful Doll" should deservedly be a big hit.
  • Aviation72 Sea Hawk.  A very good model with nice heft, but poor value for money, poor packaging, poor parts fit, and lack of "extra bits" to make it serious model of the year contender.
  • Falcon Models F86D "Wetback".  Still Falcon Models' only mould without a major flaw.   This example is compact, heavy, and handsome.  

Not yet released or seen by me:

  • Corgi's Puma Helicopter.  I wouldn't put it past Corgi to surprise us with a wonderful Puma helicopter.  All of their other helicopters are excellent.
  • HM's Sea Harrier.  Looks very, very good from pre-Pros, though probably not "best of the year" material due to some issues with the nose.
  • Hobbymaster's T4 Japan Blue Impulse.  I know this one is released, though I haven't seen it yet.  From pictures, it appears to be decent but sterile and underdetailed.  Honestly, looks like a Witty affair.

Further afield:

  • Corgi's Tornado F3.  I'll get the 111sqn example, and I expect to like it.  However, the pitot issue seriously distracts from an otherwise decent model.  That said, it's much better than..
  • Witty's Tornado F3.  The best thing that can be said about this is that people really put off by Corgi's pitot are giving this a second look.  To be fair, this isn't a bad model (not nearly as bad as some say), but it's not in serious consideration for model of the year by a long shot, either.
  • Hobbymaster F-16.  Too much plastic, not enough love.  No truly compelling reasons to move on from Witty or Dragon except if you happen to find a livery that particularly appeals to you.  The "Deal of the Century" livery, believe it or not, does it for me, but beyond the odd must have livery it's just hard to get excited about this.
  • Hobbymaster Corsair:  I like the idea of folding wings.  However, the model in general just doesn't inspire me.  It's too fiddly and too light and just doesn't have that certain something.  I have bought two HM Corsairs in the last year or so - and 3 Franklin Mints (in addition to the 8 or so FMs I had before).   May get the Bunker Hill Corsair even though I already have the one-off prototype FM Bunker Hill corsair, but beyond that, well, probably not.
  • Falcon Models' Mirages.  Fool me three times, shame on me.  I'm tired of buying expensive Falcon Models aircraft with ridiculous flaws in them that are then fixed in later releases, such as the Mirages' intakes.  I got the Israeli Shahak 33 Mirage.  The intakes are inexcusable, considering that some muppet thought they'd be an improvement on the previous bad Falcon Mirage III intakes.  I'd love to get the Tiger Meet Mirage F1CK, but they messed up the intakes there, too.

Missing in Action:

  • Skymax.  Nearly everything you make is perfect.  Where are you?

Worst of 2012:

  • Aviation72 Scottish Aviation Bulldog - If you're going to charge an arm and a leg for a tiny model and offer it in the worst packaging in the business, at least get the basic aircraft more or less right.  The painted on rear windows on this model are pretty much inexcusable.
  • Aviation72 customer service, packaging, and value:  the worst in the business on all three fronts.
  • WarMaster everything.   Diecast aircraft from another planet.  Their bizarre bare-metal, heavy panel line Me262 is pretty typical.  It doesn't look good from either near or far and basically just leaves you scratching your head trying to figure out what these people were thinking.


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