Sunday, May 15, 2016

Is the T-55 the new Bf-109?

I don’t have the patience to count the number of 1/48 scale Bf-109s on the market. An accurate tally would require a calculator and a level of proficiency in calculus that I do not have. Suffice to say, it’s a large number.

Here we are the weekend after the 2016 Shizuoka Hobby Show, and we’ve learned that two companies are planning to produce variants of the T-55. Panda announced a T-55A (with parts for Soviet or Czech versions), and Miniart announced a T-54B. This news follows an announcement from Takom a month ago about their upcoming Type 59 and Type 69-I kits (which they originally said would be available only in the Chinese market but now say will be available worldwide).

Armor modelers have long enjoyed the Tamiya T-55, an excellent kit that the company has retooled in recent years for the Enigma and Ti-67 variants. More recently Takom released their T-55 AM and T-55 AMV kits to much excitement in the armor community.

We’ve come a long way since the Lindberg T-55 was the only game in town. Earlier this year I opined about why we see multiple releases of the same subject, but I’m hesitant to complain today about so many companies producing kits of the T-55, a tank which has seen enormous usage around the world over the last 50 years. With so many variants, it’s not hard to imagine each of these companies releasing additional kits to cover all of those T-55 variants. My excitement about these releases is tempered only by the finite time available to me to actually sit at the workbench and build them.

As a fan of Soviet and Russian armor, these are clearly good times. And by the way, we haven’t a peep from Trumpeter yet. I bet you a banana split they announce a T-55 series by the end of the summer.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

I want it now!

Have you ever been on a road trip with children who incessantly ask, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much farther?" Although we can acknowledge their enthusiasm about getting to the destination, the endless chatter becomes annoying after awhile, right? Children are impatient. They don't have the maturity to appreciate the value of waiting for something they want.

Judging from some of the discussions within the scale modeling community it appears that many modelers haven't developed any further than the are-we-there-yet stage of emotional growth.

Some time ago I posted a list of five questions we need to stop asking, yet I continue to see a lot of conversations asking when this new kit or that new set of decals will be released. Mind you, I'm not so pompous to believe that people are taking my rants to heart and making major life changes, but a blogger can dream.

Here are a few examples I found on discussions groups over the last couple of years, copied almost verbatim, bad grammar and spelling included.

"Just went and checked on the ARC site for the T-45 decals from Caracal! According to his post he was doing something crazy and releasing these in June [2013] along with the F-15s? I have a feeling we won't see these!"

"Any news on this [1/32 OV-10 Bronco] yet? thought it was meant to be released in September but not heard a peep?"

"Has anyone heard any news on the release date of Airfix's forthcoming C-47A/D Dokota/Skytrain kit? The Big H and others have it listed as due in April - well there's not an awful lot of April left now, I was expecting to have heard something by now so I'm wondering where it's got to."

"Still no news about the [Special Hobby] Mirage F 1? I heard soemthing that it will be available in September." And then three weeks later someone else asked, "Any news? in october?" on the same thread.

"The release date [of the Tiger Model Nagmachon] has been changed at least 3 times on Hobby Easy's website a few days at a time. Now it has been moved from 12-31 to 1-4…. Where the heck is my Nagmachon?"

"I'm really interested in this kit [T-72B3] from Meng that's "coming soon". I'm new to Meng and have no idea what their idea of soon would be, or if they release on a schedule or just willy-nilly. Would anyone happen to know?"

"Any update on the SLUF Guide? When can we expect this jem to be out for sale?" (Posted just six weeks after the publisher said he was finishing the book's layout.)

"Does anyone know why these [Sword F3D Skyknight and F9F-8T] are to be released? I have been looking at Hannants daily waiting to order them!"

Even dismissing the tone of some of these comments -- some of these guys appear to take it as a personal insult that new kits aren't delivered when promised -- I honestly don't understand the impatience. I'm as excited as the next guy about many of the models in the pipeline, but don't we have plenty of models to build while we await the next kit that will finally bring joy and happiness to our lives? Do we have to constantly barrage the forums seeking these updates? Even if, for example, Meng told us that their T-72M3 will be released on June 5, what difference does it make?

Let's give the manufacturers time to work their magic. If you've ever worked for a small business, hired a contractor, or been involved in project management, you know that things usually go wrong. Estimates are inaccurate. Last minute changes are made. Timelines slip. It's a fact of life. My advice today is the same as it was a few years ago: Build the kits you have, and one day you’ll find that the model or decal sheet you've been waiting for is available from Sprue Brothers, Hannants, or your LHS. I speak from experience; I've been quite happy during the 30-year wait for my L-17 Navion.