Will We Ever See The Promised 1/32 Aircraft ?

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At the start of this year HK Models renewed the hope that we would see the likes of the B-17, B-24 and Avro Lancaster in 1/32 and although we did then see one of the promised B-25s the rest seem to have faded back into obscurity. Which seems a real shame as despite a few niggles the B-25 is a damn nice kit and I was looking forward to the gunship version as well as the B-17 and Lanc. I generally only build 1/35 armour but there’s just something about the big 1/32 scale bomber kits that is appealing to me.

Despite early good communications when their B-25 Mitchell first came out I haven’t been able to get any information from HK on whether or not the rest of the kits they announced when they launched will still be going ahead but you have to admit that at this point things aren’t looking that great so I’m not going to be holding my breath waiting for these, at least not from HK Model anyway. But there’s always the chance we’ll see something coming from someone else in the not too distant future.

My big hope is that all the interest that these stirred up will encourage someone else to take up the baton and run with it because when Wingscale first announced these there was much cheering, and then when HK Model came along there was more ( well once everyone got over prejudging who did what to whom in the Wingscale-v-HK Model saga ), so I’m sure there must be people in model manufacturing companies who watched it all with interest to see just how well the market received these kits.

It’s also not like these were a completely foreign idea to the modelling world, Revell has already given us the He111, Ju88 and He219 in 1/32 so there’s hope that they will do others and I don’t see any reason that they won’t. Trumpeter has done some decent sized 1/32 scale aircraft and has the P-61 in 1/32 on the way, Zoukei-Mura also has a 1/32 He219 on the way, and although they’re a bit smaller overall Dragon’s 1/32 Me110 range are damn nice kits who could use some company.

And really if it’s just a case of size a 1/32 scale F-14 Tomcat is bigger than most of the WWII twin engined bombers and there’s plenty of those around, and Airfix’s 1/24 Mossie is no space saver. The main problem I see with the examples of existing 1/32 scale twin engined kits is the time it has taken to get a handful of twin engined 1/32 scale aircraft into the world. I’m an impatient man and one every couple of years is going to take way to long for me to get to the really big ones that I really want to be able to build.

I think there’s still room to do a lot of aircraft in 1/32 that wouldn’t be too challenging to manufacture – the Mosquito, Dornier Do17, B-26 Marauder, Ju-52, Beaufort, Ju-188, and of course the Wellington to name a few. But it’s that jump up to the four engined aircraft that I really want to see, the B-24, B-17, Lancaster, Short Stirling, Halifax, Fw-200, Ju-290 and yes, even the B-29. And that’s just the obvious ones that spring immediately to mind, I’m sure there are others that I just haven’t thought of yet.

I really do hope that if HK Model isn’t going to go ahead with the ones they announced that there is someone out there in one of the big companies thinking that this is an open market that one company could jump into and really make their own. Give me Zoukie-Mura’s detail crossed with Airfix’s range, Revell’s price, and HK Models engineering and I know what my kid’s rooms are going to be converted into when they leave home.

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Happy Birthday To Me

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Congratulations to me, I survived another year and still hanging on in there. Do you ever get to your birthday and look back over all that has come and gone in the time that has passed and begin to wonder what will come and go in the same amount of time ahead ? I’m pretty sure I’ve passed halfway so I doubt I’ll have that luxury ( if I’m still here in 2060 then I’ll make sure to come back and update this ), but hopefully my kids will.

I can tick off the world’s highlights from my time kicking around – man on the moon, the fall of Saigon, Madonna being labelled a one hit wonder for Like A Virgin,  colour Television, Microwaves, DVD players, Star Wars, the world teetering on the edge of WWIII in the early eighties, the Space Shuttles, the death of John Lennon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square, Desert Storm Part 1, 911, Desert Storm Part 2, and Curiosity landing on Mars.

Then there are many that most people outside of New Zealand probably won’t be familiar with – the Springbok tour, the Rainbow Warrior, the first McDonalds in New Zealand opening, Bastion Point, TV getting a second channel, Peter Jackson when he was still making movies like Bad Taste and Meet The Feebles, Rugby World Cup 2008 defeat, Rugby World Cup 2012 victory ( though they both pale compared to Auckland losing the Log of Wood to Waikato in ’93 ), Pike River, Aramoana, and Erebus to name but a few.

Technology has made blinding progress. In fact when you think about it model kits by comparison haven’t really advanced at all. They got more detailed with more parts, but we still essentially make them the way we did when the first Tamiya Panther rolled off the line. I wonder how long that will last. How long till 3D printing means it will be easy to make any kit of any subject as long as there’s a master or a set of CAD plans.

I’ve always been a sucker for those “The World Tomorrow” programmes, but none of them ever get it right. I doubt we ever will have flying cars. Not because the technology won’t be found but because do you really want to put some of the people who are out there on the roads into something that adds a third dimension on top of no physical roads of any kind to guide them ? But other technology ? Do I really want to know ? I already feel like my kids are a part of a totally different world to the one that I inhabit.

I would like to know where modelling will be in 50 years time but I suspect it won’t be really all that different than what we have now with the exception that there will be much more of everything. It does make you wonder though if on some forum in 2050 there will be someone telling some young person that the old 2012 DML kits “are nowhere near as good as today’s kits but they still build up okay”. Because you just know there’s going to be people who still have a few unbuilt ones floating around in their stash.

But right now I’m going to enjoy the moment because the older I get the more I seem to appreciate every year that I get. And I did just remember that if I want to get all the kits in my stash built at my current rate I will still need to be here in 2060.

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What’s Missing From Modelling ?

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Well there’s no way to make the answer drawn out seeing as there’s no way to make it magically appear after a suitably dramatic pause.

It’s animation.

I’ve been pondering on this. When I was in my early teens I lived with my Grandfather who was a modeller and one of the models he built when I was about twelve or thirteen that always impressed me the most was a 1/48 scale B29 bomber, sitting on a simple looking base made to look like a section of runway with just a small grass verge. But in one corner it had a tower with a light at the top that lit up when switched on, and running up through the undercarriage were wires that allowed him to turn the propellers on one by one and vary the speed. I used to love watching it. I used to especially love turning off all the lights so I could see the way the tower light illuminated the fuselage. He was a keen Model Railroader and had the skills to build the engines into the model and to set them up to be able to vary the speed. He added animation to many of the models he built.

You never seem to see stuff like that these days. And that seems odd when you consider that was in the late 70s so now, more than thirty years later, we have the technology to build so much smaller, and so much more intricate electronics. We could do things like that without any effort at all. Back then it seemed so advanced, now it would be so easy. We could now have trains that would billow forth smoke, tanks that move, light, horns, sounds, if we wanted we could even make a tank that fires. But we don’t.

Is it considered sacrilage ? Is it considered to be turning a serious hobby into a toylike one ? Or are most of us just at the age where we are happy to make models but are unwilling to enter into the realms of witchcraft and scorcery that is modern electronics ? I know my wife still programmes anything with lights and buttons for me, even  though I do have a prediliction for making purchases based on how many lights and buttons something comes with. I don’t have to know what they do, just that it has them. And any electronics manufacturers reading this needs to know that a toaster should look like a part of a spacecraft, should sound like a nuclear reactor powering up and the insides should glow like a smelting furnace. But I digress.

So if kits went down the road of having available aftermarket addons that added sound and animation would we embrace them or would we still shun them ? I’m of two minds. On one hand I feel like it would cheapen my construction, it would add someone else’s personality into what I consider my art. It feels like it would turn it into a toy. I think in some ways it would take what I consider to be a serious representation of an historical scene and turn it into a circus act. Sort of like those “push the button” dioramas at museums that pipe out gull squawkings to go along with the stuffed gull inside.

But on the other hand I do think that if it was done right the addition of sounds to a scene could give it a new degree of life. Maybe not one I’d want to be on all the time, but something that was there for the moments when you want it. Or lights to enable you to build a nighttime scene lit by the fires burning in the distance. Assuming of course that the effect in reality matched up with the perception of it in my mind.

Maybe I’d be happy with a middle ground. Something like an armoured train with turrets that turn, smoke that issues forth and the sounds of engines etc is something I could live with. But in dioramas the figures are the focus for me, the vehicle being the canvas. I could never see that being able to be adequately animated, and so something as gimicky as a revolving turret would seem out of place. Like a painting that had one part as a hologram. It would never move the way I really wanted it to, not all of it anyway.

But I do sometimes think that I’d like to at least try.

Just something simple.

Maybe just a crane lifting out an engine.

Must go check the stash now.

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