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The largest toy and hobby fair in the world is the annual Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg. This year's event took place between February 5-10th and gathered 2800 companies from over 50 countries. All categories of the toy industry were represented, ranging from computer games to model trains, dolls, R/C, board games and - importantly for us - scale models.
Tamiya is showing signs of activity again after the somewhat meagre showing in Tokyo last fall. The one news from this company that makes me particularly glad is the revival of their 1/72 aircraft line. The announced new release in this scale is the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, apparently a down-scaled version of Tamiya's recent quarter-scale hit. This kit will be released already in March.
Tamiya has also shown 1/16th scale Leopard 2A6 with R/C gear. This, together with Trumpeter's T-34 in the same scale, can be seen here at the RCPanzer.de site.
Full list of Tamiya releases is available here:
Trumpeter leads the 1/32 and 1/24 league with new items on show being the 1/32 Lockheed P-38 Lightning, 1/32 Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker B (this one's going to be BIG) and a sure bestseller, the 1/24 Focke-Wulf Fw-190D. The P-38 is scheduled for release already this month, more details here on the Trumpeter's site:
Other images are available here at Hannant's web site:
Trumpeter has also been showing their 1/16 T-34, which will make for a very impressive model with full R/C gear, but is also planned in static version. Both T-34/76 and T-34/85 versions are being planned for, the former representing a 1942 welded-turret version. The kit should be available before summer.
Images of the T-34 kit can be viewed in this gallery by Arco Wilkes:
From the MPM stable there are also indications of the expansion of the 1/32 offering. Azur will be releasing the MS 406 and Curtiss H-75 in this scale, with an additional Polikarpov I-16 to be issued under the MPM label. Azur is in fact planning for much more cool French subjects, including Loire 130 in 1/48 and 1/72 Nieuport Delage 41-52-62, Dewoitine D-27, Dassault Flamand and Farman 222. The latter will be the first French four-engined bomber to appear in injection-moulded plastic.
Italeri has shown the prototype kit of the massive 1/35 LCM landing craft - over 75 cm long when built. Pictures are available here:
In the aircraft division, the company has two new-tool kits for the year, these being 1/72 P-47N Thunderbolt (delayed from 2003) and the 1/48 SAAB JAS39A Gripen, a honey of a model for Swedish AF fans!
Airliner fans will be pleased with Minicraft 1/144 releases this year, the Douglas DC-4/C-54 and Boeing 727-200. Sprue images of both models can be found here at the F-dcal site:
Heller's only all-new release this year will be the previously announced 1/72 Concorde in the Air France markings. The tooling will be shared with Airfix, so you can expect British markings in the Airfix box!
Mirage of Poland showed some prototype parts for the 1/48 PZL P.23 Karas - and they still aim at the 48th B-17 series, which should start next year. Also, as a complement to their 1/400 ship series, Mirage will release a concrete U-Boat pen in this scale, modelled after a real wartime structure in La Pallice.
More Nuremberg images from Mirage are available here:
Rumours had it that Hasegawa's next 1/72 "twin" after the B-25 Mitchell will be Heinkel He-111. In Nuremberg, Hasegawa did not show any prototype components for this kit, but yes, they had information that there was one coming. Otherwise, the eagerly awaited 1/48 AV-8B will be coming out in Japan before July.
Classic Airframes is just about to release the line of Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter in 1/48th scale. The first kit, F-5A in USAF markings is scheduled for arrival in April.
New items from Eduard include a brand new-tool 1/72 Lavochkin La-7. This kit is production-ready and should appear on the market anytime soon. Next in line from this company is the long-awaited Mirage IIIC
Recent newsletter from Eduard:
In Nuremberg, Dragon showed the new 1/35 SdKfz 251 Ausf. C and Tiger II with Porsche Turret. More information about both kits can be found at Hobby Link Japan:
Academy showed a new-tool 1/48 CH-46E Bullfrog helicopter, see photos here:
A most impressive item from this company is the 1/32 (54mm) Roman Bireme, cast in resin with more than 600 white metal parts, photo-etched decks and no less than 43 realistic figures. The price has been set to 1600 Euros which makes it by a margin the most expensive new kit listed in this report!
The general conclusion is once again that the modelling hobby is in excellent shape with many manufacturers showing vivid activity and many new kit releases in almost any scale. The future looks bright.
The trend towards larger and more complex kits continues even this year. It is significant that almost every listed manufacturer has now at least one "big kit" in their catalogue. In this trend, Trumpeter is an unquestioned leader thanks to their focused investment in 1/32 and 1/24 scales.
On the other hand, the thriving image of the hobby does not seem to be shared by leading Japanese manufacturers like Tamiya and Hasegawa, who continue to show relatively few new kit subjects. China, the Czech Republic and Germany are setting the pace of progress now and it may become increasingly difficult for Tamiya to catch up in quantity of new kit releases, albeit they still posess an edge in quality and kit engineering.
Last but not least, I recommend you to browse the entire image gallery from Spielwarenmesse provided by Arco Wilkes:
Thanks to IPMS Stockholm. Click here to visit their site
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