Fool's Gold - a few HM models that look great at first glance, but ....

by Acey27. October 2012 20:17

Let me get this out of the way first:  if you like a given diecast aircraft, then get it, no matter what I or somebody else might say.   It's not my intention to rain on anybody's parade.

The following list is a bit of a strange one.  Basically, it's models that I feel that people get for the wrong reasons. Without further ado:

  • HA3703 - Recon Voodoo.  We all know that the USAF used Voodoos pretty extensively over Vietnam, especially for recon purposes.   Fair enough.  But this SEA-camo bird isn't that.  Far from it, this two-seat ANG bird represents what was more or less an expensive and pointless peacetime version of the aircraft which differs from Vietnam Voodoos in many significant ways (such in that it had two seats) that lasted a very short time even in ANG service in this guise.  To top it off, the HM release has an extra set of numbers stenciled on that are from the aircraft in boneyard storage.   Nevertheless, this model is in more or less high demand by people who think that this model had anything to do with Vietnam. 
  • HA3314 - Tiger II Luke AFB.  Much of what I wrote about the HA3703 above applies here.  SEA-camo does not make this a Vietnam bird.  Much better to wait for an actual South Vietnam Air Force bird, preferably with that snazzy yellow and black checkered fuselage band.  We all know that one's coming at some point.
  • HA1050 - F-104 Luke AFB two-seater.  I have this one in my own collection and don't regret it.  While I'm not a fan of bicentennial schemes, this one kind of works here, at least for me.   Red White and Blue spirit of 76 all American aircraft, right?  Well, sort of.  Despite the big "United States Air Force" markings on the side, this was a Luftwaffe aircraft used for training Luftwaffe crews in the USA. 
  • HA1519 - AT-6 "Beetle Bomb."  People will buy this to further complete a "Blue Angels" collection.  The problem is, that this was a very marginal player - basically a hack aircraft.  to top it off, it's one of HM's weakest offerings in terms of detail.  They basically dipped the thing in yellow paint and added the meagrest of details.    Despite having a pretty complete Blue Angels collection otherwise, I'm giving this one a very wide berth (unless I find it on extreme discount)
  • Any F-22 after your first one.  Honestly, they're all pretty much the same.  The only one that's a little different, "Cripes a Mighty" by having a bit of blue paint on the nose, actually manages to look worse, not better.


Who do they think they are kidding? Warmaster F6F WM-APF0001 "Operation Crossroads"

by Acey8. October 2012 21:32

Recent years have seen a few "companies" attempting to emulate the resurgent popularity of diecast aircraft collecting.  I use "companies" in quotes because these are often entities without web pages or personalities and whose products appear to be hashed over variations of previous releases from other manufacturers.  And so, recently, we have the "Warmaster" (what an awful name!) line of models from a "company" whose homepage appears to have been thrown up in a weekend by a sixth grader making some of the most bizarre models we've seen in a while.   I'll cover the rest in due time, but for now I'll concentrate on one that I actually bought (albeit on eBay for four pounds) and so got to play with in the flesh:  their F6F Hellcat "Operation Crossroads."

"Operation Crossroads" was a series of post-war nuclear tests, and a series of weary Hellcats were painted in a few variations of mostly day9glo orange and/or signal orange and sent out to be subjected to all matter of humiliation and radiation.  As you probably know, Hellcats, or at least most US Hellcats for the most part only come in one color - blue, so in theory this would be a nice change of pace.  Indeed, I had previously started but never finished a repaint of a cheap-as-chips Corgi Predators Minsi III into a different Operation Crossroads scheme.   I stopped when I heard that warmaster was going to come up with one out of the box, even though I had already invested in the requisite orange paint and an aftermarket set of decals.

I shouldn't have worried.  The Warmaster release is awful.   Or, to put it another way, it should have been obvious to any serious collector that Warmaster releases would not exactly be cutting edge, front of the cabinet stuff.  But this release is bad even by the quite low expectations we might have had for the model and the line.  Let us count the ways:

  • Comically misshapen tail wheel
  • Almost certainly the wrong color orange
  • Oversize and low quality national insignia
  • Overuse of same orange for prop detailing
  • Landing gear didn't fit out of the box
  • Main gear missing front-facing flat "tab" so associated with hellcats
  • Fair-to-poor overall mould detail
  • Giant over-sized cannons on aircraft that actually as far as I know had their armaments totally removed
  • IXO-or-worse cheap stand
  • Terribly executed attempts at "weathering" (though in some sense, kudos for trying)

Here's what I don't get - the cannon pack is actually a separate piece.  This means that somebody went out o their way to get it so wrong.  Mind boggling.  Are there some pros?  Yes, I suppose.  it has a good heft, has gear up and gear down options (though due to one broken main gear on mine, it will be either gear up OR gear down permanently as I'd have to glue the main gear in for it to stay), and you can't fault the brave subject matter choice.   Still, it's a terrible model.  I'd consider a Crossroads Hellcat from HM and/or hopefully my "roll my own" one will come out ok, but avoid this thing and, well, the whole Warmaster line if at all possible   

The "Glowcat" comes in a theoretically limited edition of 2000 or so but you needn't rush out to the store before they're all gone.  They'll be there.

Overall Score:  2 / 10.    My price point at which this bcomes a worthwhile addition to a collection: $5.




The above promotional photo was obviously put through a contrast filter to make the black staining look darker and the orange to look more like the orange of the real thing.  The actual model under normal light is a much more pale orange and the black staining is a sooty medium grey.  Why the flaps, elevator, and rudder would have been so sooty in the Warmaster estimation is anybody's guess.

Tags: Rebooted!

by Acey8. October 2012 16:17

Welcome to the new and updated  Here, Ill be sharing my thoughts on the world of diecast aircraft.   Yes, it's a weird hobby - other than the odd prop spinning the things don't actually move, after all.   This blog, when I have the will to update it, will be brutally honest---there's a lot of excellent diecast out there and there's also a lot of crap.  I won't shy away from poking holes at some of the myths and vanities of the diecast world, but also won't hesitate to give credit where credit is due--and I'm referring here equally to historical figures as well as manufacturers and retailers in the diecast aircraft world.


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