Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Missed opportunities

We modelers are a selfish bunch. Linger on any discussion forum longer than a fortnight and you'll be sure to find a hijacked thread where someone starts listing their personal wish list of kits they'd like to see produced. It's safe to say that everyone wants everything.

But that's just one side of the coin. If you haven't thought about it (and you really should), the manufacturers need to make the best decisions possible when it comes to selecting a new model to tool and produce. They're in the business of making money; two or three bad choices and they could go the way of the Caribbean Ground Sloth, taking the prominent rivets, misshapen noses, and missing access panels with them. We'll build what we have until all that's left is a pile of bagged Frog kit, and nobody wants that.

That got me thinking about the aircraft that are sorely under-represented in the hobby on this day in 2013, the aircraft that could have earned the manufacturers a lot of money over the last 10 or 15 years had they made better decisions. I call these "missed opportunities," because while I could easily name three aircraft I'd like to see in model form (a 1/48 L-17 Navion being at the top of the list), they wouldn't necessarily be a wise business investment. Clearly, there are aircraft that we all would have purchased years ago had Special Trupegawa Boss produced them.

So here are five aircraft where I think the market has missed out. Note, these are not necessarily my favorite aircraft, just those that meet the following criteria in my cursory analysis:

The airplane must be historically significant.
The airplane must not be available beyond a first- or second-generation kit.
The model must have wide market appeal.

Here we go.

A U-2 in 1/48 scale. If one aircraft epitomizes the Cold War, it's the U-2 (and probably the B-52). That we don't have a new-tool kit is an embarrassment to the hobby and an insult to everyone who designed, built, and flew the airplane, not to mention all of the civilians who unknowingly benefited from its capabilities.

A 1/48 UH-1B/C/H in 1/48 scale. The Huey is the most popular helicopter ever and the best we have is the old Monogram kit. Yea, Hobby Boss just release a new tool kit, but I'm not sure it really represents the best that the industry can offer.

An A-1E in 1/72 scale. Sure, there's the Monogram kit, but have you seen what it takes to make it accurate? I bet you'd go through at least a hundred No. 11 blades to get it right! Hasegawa's A-1s are beautiful kits, and they missed the mark when they failed to leverage the molds to produce an E. I could say the same for their 1/48 kits as well.

A Boeing C-135 series in 1/144 scale. The airplane entered service in 1957 and has served the U.S. Air Force in many capacities since then. It's easy to envision an expansive line of the more prominent variants beyond the KC-135, such as the RC-135 Rivet Joint, EC-135 Aria, and VC-137.

I'm not sure about this last one, so I'll look to my expat friends and readers across the Atlantic to set me straight. Why haven't we seen a new-tool Blackburn Buccaneer? For crying out loud, we have a Gloster Meteor Prone (whatever that is) and the fugly de Havilland Sea Vixen, but not a good kit of an aircraft that saw service in the Gulf War and with the South African Air Force? What has this bloody world come to?

Is there any hope for humanity?

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