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2023 in review ...


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A few of weeks or so ago Ern asked me to cover 2023 in retrospect … the year that was. The below result is in no way comprehensive and represents what has stood out to me in particular … and has taken several weeks to put together, trying to fit it in with work and rest.

 

We’ve had a lot of people around (supposedly those in the know) who - for at least the decade and a half that I’ve been back into plastic modeling – have reported that modelling is steadily on the decline … especially in large scales. But … I’ve been saying for a number of years now … that the evidence is to the contrary and that modelling (in all scales) … but most especially in large scale - and despite the plethora of ‘nay-sayers’… is not only alive and well, but positively thriving! … Even during times of economic downturn.

2023 alone should prove that this theory is correct!

I look through my list of known incoming releases from January and marvel at the amount of ’32, ’35 and ’16 scale action (especially the latter!) … that we’ve seen this year.

Some of this stuff may vary a little on timing with what you have experienced in your locality … Deliveries to Australia are sometimes delayed by a few months over other countries.

 

To kick off …

Zoukei-Mura … Got it’s regular boxing of the Bf.109G-14 out. For a while, a few of the ‘Limited edition’ Eric Hartmann 10th anniversary celebration ones were still around to buy – but as soon as the ‘regular’ boxing was released for the much higher pricing, the limited editions were snapped up fairly quickly!! … Finally we got the first Fw-190! … The discounted and limited edition collectable – pre-order only -  Fw-190A-4 … Although we’re still waiting on the regular boxing (Stores - or friend shops – were wise enough to participate in the pre-order so there’s still a number of these boxings available via retail for now). For those interested in their ‘48th stuff the Phantom II G ‘Wild Weasel’ was released also.

Kotare managed to start distribution of their 32 scale Mk.Ia (Mid) Spitfire … Following it up with a limited edition ‘Brian Lane’ boxing. These guys, being the artists formally associated with Wingnut Wings, were expected to produce great things … and they have not disappointed! The way that they have engineered the assembly of the kit attests to their knowledge of it – ensuring that joins occur along panel lines to avoid clean up work of seams in places they shouldn’t be, later on.

 Infinity (the new HPH injection moulding brand) was a bit of a disappointment … Not in the sense of it’s product quality … which continued to improve – and the 1/32 Aichi D3A Type 99 Val was, by all accounts, the best kit yet. With everyone eagerly anticipating the 1/32 Nakajima B5N2 Kate to add to their collection … Infinity announced closure of it’s business and prospective sale of it’s current moulds and designs. It appears that there was no takers and so HPH has folded Infinity back into the parent organisation. For those waiting on the Kate it was announced shortly afterward that the injection moulds created to date would still be utilised – but now in conjunction with resin moulded parts to complete the model (as per HPH standard kit assembly) … we’ll now have to wait to sometime in 2024 to see how this arrangement works out!

 

Most of the Hong Kong or Chinese based Manufacturers had a stunning run in the 2023 year …

Hong Kong Models … have released one of the major items on my 1/32 bucket list … The Douglas A-20G Havoc. I would have been happy with a ‘near enough’ example … given that the A-20 is not exactly trying to emulate the super-model’esque lines of a Supermarine Spitfire or DeHavilland Mosquito! Instead we were treated to what appears to me, in all 5 categories (Engineering, Detail, Fit, Finish, Accuracy) to be the best kit HKM have ever produced! … The reviewer from the International hobby store I buy from here says it’s the best 32scale kit – period. While I’m always sceptical of sweeping statements – he does have a point for it to be in the conversation, most definitely. The A-20 J/K is due out early in 2024 :) … nuff said!

 Trumpeter finally ... after a decade of false announcements ... got a 1/32 TBD Devastator to market!

Both Takom and Meng got an AH-64 out in the (now, for helicopters) traditional 35th scale … In Takom’s usual style … 2 or more variant boxings have hit the shelves. Both have produced a number of other kits in 2023 but Meng have also decided to make a foray into large scale F1 – blindsiding everyone I think … In 1/12 scale they have released a McLaren (Honda) Mp4/4 … one of the most successful F1 cars to ever be produced – driven by 2 of the sports best drivers: Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna … These kits have had excellent reviews posted to date!

Italeri … not to be outdone - fielded a 1/12 version of the F1 version before it: The McLaren (TAG Porsche) MP4/2B driven by Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg … So it would seem that 1/12 F1 is making something of a comeback! Italeri meanwhile, have not been idle in the 1/32 aircraft department either, with the Macchi MC-202 hitting the shelves … and more promised for the future. Reviews for both releases so far have been good.

Border have continued with their esoteric releases in 35th scale … aircraft. Reviews to date have been mixed for the majority of their releases … Their Pz.IV’s in 1/35 were incredibly good … while their Tiger.I ‘early’ was a little off in some of the details and instruction book.

Takom have continued smashing out 1/35 armour with multiple releases and it seems, with multiple announcements, it won’t be slowing down in 2024 either.

Dragon are back! ... They have released a couple of new 1/35 kits … BUT the big news here is that they’ve stopped including the failed experiment of crappy DS tracks … they’ve re-released a bucket load of older kits with the standard swath of ‘inclusions’ that we came to know and love (PE, Metal barrels etc), finally adding back in the Magic Track link arrangement for their tanks that worked so well. They are still expensive when compared directly with their fellow Manufacturers (Meng, Takom etc) but while the others can be hit and miss, with Dragon you know you’re nearly always getting an accurate scale representation, along with good detail levels, positive fit and finish.

Airfix’s Spitfire Mk.IXc in 1/24 finally got out for distribution to mostly good reviews also.

In 1/16 scale: 

·      Gecko Models got their Panzer II Ausf.F out, while their Ausf.B was delayed.

·      Takom put out an M50A1

·      New tooled Tiger.1’s came from Andy’s Hobby Headquarters (Early), Hobby Boss (Early) and Trumpeter (Late)

·      Trumpeter also delivered a ‘late’ version of their JagdPanther, a ‘late’ version of their StuG.III and a Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.D halftrack.

·      Hobby Boss re-released the Panda Hobby Pz.38(t) with a full interior added!

·      Freedom Model released a Kettengrad

·      Das Werk put out a Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.D halftrack and a Winterketten version of their ‘early’ StuG.III

·      A ton of conversions and figurines have also been released in 1/16

 

As you can see, even though I’ve probably left out a TON of large scale stuff, there was a wonderfully huge amount of new releases to select from in 2023 … 2024 promises to be even better!

Rog :)

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A great summary Rog. It shows that not only is the hobby not dying, but it's expanding into new areas and revisiting older ones. 

Kit companies are taking the plunge into new subject areas for them and expanding others.

The new 1/16 armour kits have been something I didn't expect but having picked up a couple now and seeing their continued rollout is amazing. 

A couple omissions from your list. 

- Andy's 1/16 M10 and Achilles.  He has an M8 Greyhound coming out in a couple months. 

- X-Plus released a Jurassic Park T-Rex 30 years(!) after the movie came out. 

 

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1 hour ago, BlrwestSiR said:

A great summary Rog. It shows that not only is the hobby not dying, but it's expanding into new areas and revisiting older ones. 

Kit companies are taking the plunge into new subject areas for them and expanding others.

The new 1/16 armour kits have been something I didn't expect but having picked up a couple now and seeing their continued rollout is amazing. 

A couple omissions from your list. 

- Andy's 1/16 M10 and Achilles.  He has an M8 Greyhound coming out in a couple months. 

- X-Plus released a Jurassic Park T-Rex 30 years(!) after the movie came out. 

 

Carl ...

Thanks for picking up on my shortfalls - you're more than welcome to add anything you think I've missed!! ... The post is open and if anything comes to mind, from anyone, they can add it in here! ...

I didn't add Andy's M10 / Achilles kits in here because I honestly thought they were 2024 releases (2023 announced). The big surprise for me was Trumpeters late Tiger.1 ... didn't hear a thing!!

Rog :)

 

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Let’s not forget some of the larger syfi releases too.  The big Tie fighter is a doozie!  While these may not be “our” cup of tea, it might introduce others into the hobby of plastic models.  The more they look into things, they may take a liking to military modeling. Not to mention it’s a welcomed income flow to the manufacturer to keep the lights on.  
Im on several hobby mailing lists.  New car kits, new Gundam stuff.  A great time for the hobby for sure! 

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