Are RAF subjects adequately catered for by the kit manufacturers.?

June 22, 2015 · in Aviation · 29 · 1K

Fellow modellers I am using this forum to air a slight beef I have about some of the subjects which are kitted and those which aren't. I grew up in the era of Airfix bagged kits and when Aurora and Frog were still around and I think the market for modellers nowadays is very healthy especially for people like me who enjoy building large scale WW2 aircraft. In the last couple of years Airfix have provided us with the Mosquito and Typhoon in 1/24th scale, Revell have always done reasonably well and with the arrival of Trumpeter we have been spoiled. For years I kept an old Airfix 1/24th Hurricane Mk1 with the hope that one day I could convert it into a Mark 11D desert Hurricane and lo and behold Trumpeter produced it plus other variants as well.

I have a problem with the fixation there seems to be with what I believe are known as Luftwaffe 46 - obscure types many of which never got past the drawing board while interesting RAF subjects are not kitted. It amused me to see a kit of a Horten 229 which contributed little to the war effort while classic aircraft such as the Blenheim and Hampden have only been done in 1/48 by cottage industry type manufacturers. The much awaited 1/32 Lancaster from.HK Models seems to have disappeared into the nether world of "future releases" or "in planning" which are bywords for "won't happen" Am I alone with this notion or are there others out there ? How do manufacturers go about establishing what modellers actually want?

Reader reactions:
1  Awesome

29 responses

  1. Good point William,howcome I can get in 1/48 virtually every aircraft British FAA operated except the Scimitar ?

  2. Some manufacturers actually canvas modellers for project suggestions, and while the choices may not suit everyone, it's not so curious that there's a seemingly endless offering of new boxings of Luftwaffe subjects across the board, followed closely by Spitfires, Mustangs, P-47s, and mid-to-late 20c jets: manufacturer bank accounts ker-ching.

    Of less interest are Japanese aircraft as they seem not to register as worthwhile subjects with many modellers, when in fact the subject range, and scale choice, is important and varied.

    At a recent show (see yesterday's Headline posting), fully 80% of models were aircraft, which is standard for the hobby so no surprises there, and of that, about 50% were Luftwaffe subjects, and 25% American/RAF types. The remaining 25% of the original 80% is 'all others' - novelty builds, rare types by short run manufacturers, and so forth.

    It's a case in point that your query centres on RAF types, which reinforces the hobby prejudice for certain aircraft (Do we really need another Spitfire/ Mustang/Bf109?) Not that there's anything wrong with such a query, but we could have the same discussion about armour subjects, and probably make the same points.

    HK have just released a new 1/32 Mosquito, and there's a new P-40 series due soon, I think from Trumpeter but not sure, and no doubt there are many modelers out there who will say 'and about time, too!'

    The original point of this discussion is doubly reinforced here, in that I've just written several paragraphs about aircraft, and common types at that. If we stop buying/hoarding such kits, maybe manufacturers would step out of their comfort zone. You know the one, turn left at Spitfireville and head straight for the shop at 109 Luftwaffe Street...

    • Neil/Rob Many thanks for your observations and support, I have touched a sensitive area but I'm not the first and won't be the last.

      My article is something which has been niggling for a while and when I saw the box art of the Horten attacking an allied bomber it prompted my outpouring at such a ludicrous scenario. I wonder did Trumpeter do some form of research when they first appeared as some of their subjects did fill some holes in the market ie not just one but two 1/48 Wellingtons,it made any flaws in the kit quite forgiveable. Anyway i hope we get a good debate going, I have just got another comment coming through on my phone..As a PS I posted my article on the HK Models Facebook page and got an apologetic and extremely nice reply promising that the Lancaster is still very much a runner

  3. I agree with you Rob, totally. Well said.

  4. Unfortunately, I don't see a strong shift of "marketable"-type aircraft in the immediate future. And I agree re the fact that are way too many of the "usual" kits out there (and they're still coming)!
    I guess the manufacturers know what sells, regardless of what the paying public really wants. The 'wish-list' of most modelers apparently makes no difference.

  5. I always think of the Ho-229 as not being a whiffer or a Luft-46 kit was a development aircraft or design that was being done in parallel with what Jack Northrop was doing with the XB-35 and YB-49 tail less bombers or flying wing aircraft of WWII. Which came to fruition with the B-2 bomber which by q incidence is the same size as the two after mentioned a/c. So those Ho-229 kits are relevant historically from engineering point of view or proof of concept that proved that one stealthy bomber could be a game changer in several conflicts. In my book that makes the Ho-229 kit a relevant subject and kit.

    One thing to remember modeling companies are businesses first and they need to make money to survive and develop their product lines so that they can do those off beat or relevant kits for those hardcore modelers.Furthermore, Monogram/Revell did make kits that modelers wanted like the Catalina and the Ju-52 in 1/48. Every body cheered when they made them and then realized that the dang things are pretty big and have storage issues or require a lot to space to display. Those kits became shelf sitters and didn't sell well. Even, though John Doe modeler wanted them. Remember when Trumpeter made the North American RA-5C "Vigilante", the kit was on the list of every modeler out there. It was discovered that the kit had issues and needed several after market goodies to bring it up to par and it didn't make any sales records.

    Furthermore, if you were modeling during the 60 and 70s , we baby boomers were entertaining are selves with cheap plastic models and it was the golden age of modeling. The numbers were there, lots of kids and young adults to buy new models and help expand all of those neat Airfix and Revell kits that were off beat. Kids weren't so demanding in kits accuracy either and the modeling companies could press lots and lot of kits. The money was coming in and Airfix could afford to make those interesting kits. Not like today when some companies will press 1000 kits like Encore doing the Douglas Skynight. Today s markets ...the kids have computers,gaming,and a lot more choices of entertainment. Stuff that is canned and doesn't require much assembly. Plus, they have more discretionary income or expectations than the kids of the 60 s and 70s. So we find a lot of Spitfires,Hurri's,P-47s,Zero's,Me-109s and Fw-190 being release. Because, there bread and butter kits that keep companies in the black. Lets remember that the hobby is being discovered by new members too. There is nothing wrong with building a better mouse trap if it really is better.

  6. I think nearly everyone who is new to modeling wants it's own 109, Mustang or Spit - and it's normal, because it's iconic aircrafts. So we will see new 109s, Mustangs and Spits kits and you can't do anything with it. Maybe simply there is no sufficient number of people who wants to buy kits in 32 or 24 scale - 4400 kits in 72 scale on Hannants compared to 445 in 32 scale says about this pretty well. It's just a business.

    But there is a good news - I've already seen first high quality 3D printed kits, so maybe some day all you'll need to build your 1:24 Lancaster is just a few files and 3D printing service in your city.

    • This is already an well known modelling fraternity, originally Eastern European, who model with card. The models come in book form and the printed sections are cut out and assembled. It sounds easy, but my Polish friend Adam has spent a year on a spectacular 1/200 Japanese battleship which won best ship in its class at the Scottish Nationals. The card is pre-printed in colour.

  7. William, what period? I'd like a Hart, or a (Saints preserve us) Vildebeast. I'd be happy in 1/72nd, Or a Gauntlet or Grebe. Planes from the policing the Empire. I know some of it is out there from short run and vacuforms.

    Given the initial outlay by the manufacturer, there is a "break even" point, and so many kits have to be sold to produce a profit. Thus, the never ending ME 109, Spitfire, Zero, Mustang, F-18.

    Also, does the latest supersede what went before? I remember the Aurora ME-109, then the Monogram, then the Hasegawa, ad infinitum.

    That said, roll on Scimitar, or Swift in !/48th! Before they trundle me off to the elderly bivouac. I hear they have Bingo. God help us!

    • The Vildebeest (Wildebeest?) was done by Special Hobby in 1/72, seen in a review or two, but never seen in Hobby shops or shows. Try to find one-no go. You sure you want to mess with triple-bay 1/72 rigging? I am one of those who would rather have a 1/48 Hampden or whitley than another friggin' TA-152 also.

      • Yeah, Bill, I couldn't either.
        One of our guys had the Classic Airframes Whirlwind and Blenheim I at our last IPMS meeting. They looked good, but he'd had to use all of his skills to get 'em done.
        Agree the 48th Hampden and both Blenheims from a mainline company would be good, as would a Battle and Defiant.

    • Assuming the veracity of the commonplace that 'the winners write the history books' a casual visitor from another planet would be forgiven for assuming that the Germans had won the war, such is the weight of German rules on hobby shelves.

      The converse argument is the difference between the popularity of swastika-toting aircraft in the hobby, considering the fact that German aircraft up to mid 1944 were inferior to main American types, and even the introduction of the German TLTL types (too little too late) made little difference, as the whole Reich infrastructure had been bombed out by then. The air war had been strategically lost for Germany even before D-Day, or 'Invasionfront' as the Germans termed it, and no Luftwaffe senior officer believed in Miracle Weapons in spite of the newsreels.

      Interesting to know how many people reading this could look at their stash and weigh up the ratio of 'grudgingly cool' Luftwaffe types as opposed to technologically superior Allied offerings.

      • Well, I don't have a single Luftwaffe kit in the stash or the shelves.
        I do have a modern Luftwaffe Tornado IDS, but nothing from the WWII era. Just not interested in them.

      • Rob wrote";Interesting to know how many people reading this could look at their stash and weigh up the ratio of ‘grudgingly cool’ Luftwaffe types as opposed to technologically superior Allied offerings."

        Lets remember the Germans made some pretty good tanks and aircraft. The problem is that they didn't make enough of them like the Sherman tank or T-34/36. The Yanks and the Russians made tanks like hot cakes and Brits...during the Battle of Britain
        were pretty darn good at making Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Germans squandered the Me-262 ...had they produced them in numbers earlier in the war things may have been different. The Germans were very good at making some excellent technological hardware put failed at producing them in numbers when compared to the Allies.

  8. I agree, though I build in the 1/48 scale only. But it's a similar problem. I have the Classic Airframes and Special hobby style British subjects, and they're better than nothing. Just finished a Walrus and love it. But a major stream Stirling, Hampden, Halifax, Wellesley, Whitley...the list goes on. Why aren't they being done? The general feeling with polls I've seen suggest these subjects would be very popular. I imagine it'd be even harder in 1/24...

  9. said on June 23, 2015

    It seems to be the same with military modelling in 1/35th - Dragon releases an obscure German prototype of which three examples were built and before you know it Trumpter, ICM et al have one in thew new release list. Or every SdkFz half track variant ever produced. I have no problem with this, they're interesting subjects, but if you want British soft-skinned vehicles, you have to spend serious money on resin kits - where are the Scammel Pioneers, Morris CS8, Bedford MWs, etc, that were used in their thousands from the early days of the BEF to post D Day operations in Europe? We finally have a few 1/48 types from Airfix and Bedford MLs and Matadors from the likes of IBG and AFV Club, but British military vehicles are quite thin on the ground

  10. Fellow modellers

    The debate goes on and it is great to see what a diverse collection we modellers are : long may that continue.I gladly accept the point that kit manufacturers need to produce Spitfires,Mustangs,109s etc as these are their bread and butter earners and possible good for attracting new modellers as these, plus more recent jets, are the best known to the general masses.

    However i believe that there has been a shift in the age profile of modellers over the years. Model-making was the toy of a pre-computer generation and many have returned to it,in fact some never left it. We are the people with time and maybe the money to expect more of the industry as is witnessed by the plethora of after-market manufacturers making products that will improve on out of the box kits. Also the cottage industry has strived to produce a range of more esoteric subjects. That saId I believe there is a good market available for those subjects as yet unkitted.. Bear in mind that a lot of these subjects actually were major contributors in the war effort. When somebody asks the question about the colour scheme of a Luftwaffe 46 subject the answer would often be blue and white as many didn't make it beyond the draughtsman's table.

    My feeling at the moment is that our only hope lies with the Chinese and Czech manufacturers. Trumpeter have done very well and I think that Hobbyboss and HK Models.are all the one company. Maybe the very obliging Mr' Neil Yan.could be of some help there.

  11. said on June 23, 2015

    Airfix has given us some nice RAF kits as of late. WW II types will always be popular amongst modellers and manufacturers alike. A new tooled Shackleton and Whitney in 1/72 scale by Airfix is surely a step in the right direction. Now if only we could get a new Victor to complete the V-bombers and a Supermarine Swift (upscale the latest 1/72 Airfix version) and PLEASE a Supermarine Scimitar!

  12. The Lancaster will be out at the end of the year and you're about to get two good Mosquitos in one month. Relax. The reason kits don't get made and released is because someone takes the time to consider whether investing $250,000 will result in a product that will return the original investment plus enough profit to have made things worthwhile. You're about to get a Whitely Mk.V, and two different Shackletons from different manufacturers (admittedly in 1/72, but they're not exactly small subjects).

    • I welcome the release of the Mosquitos which will be an upgrade on the old Revell kit. Upgrades are fine but at least an old kit is better than none at all. The last contact I had with Neil Yan he wasn't too optimistic about the Lancaster appearing this year,still having teething problems with the nacelles but he is,however, very open to suggestions about new subjects.

  13. Another plus, Revell is coming out with a DC-4/C-54 soon ...August is the opinion of some. Eduard is retooling their Messerschmidt G-6 in 1/48th so it will be new and improved. How about those WingNut Wings WWI biplanes ...the Sopwith Snipe,Pup and Triplane all are great biplane kits that do a good job of representing the U.K. Were in a Renaissance of plastic ...

    • Wingnut Wings have an excellent reputation and a browse of their website shows a real variety of subjects and their WW! theme has become a WW1 modelers heaven.I was slightly surprised to learn from one of the model magazines that they are only now getting round to planning a Sopwith Camel,which I understood was one of the most important fighters of WW1. I would have thought that someone starting an entirely new modeling theme would have started with the main subjects and worked out towards the fringes. However this company are a breath of fresh air in the model world. Your reference to the Messerschmitt 109 G6 from Eduard illustrates my original argument - yet another 109 !

      • Yes, I share your lament ...however, the definition of "Fanaticism" could be equated with the words Messerschmitt 109. For Eduard making the best and most accurate 109 for those Uber 109 modelers is a must. Eduard also, has done a superb job of making series of 1/48 scale Spitfires in

        1/48. Adjectives, being used to describe both kits are the words "Best" and "Most Accurate." Subjective at best and esoteric for normal people.But, are modelers really that bland or off beat...

        I've got the WingNut Wings Snipe and it is a sight for sore eyes, A lovely kit.

  14. I like to model WWII Luftwaffe subjects mainly because of their varied camo schemes ... I like the WWII classics, But kinda agree that we don't really need anther 109, FW190, Me 262, P-51, Spit or Hurricane kit...however, they ARE what sells. I'd reaaly like to see a modern molded 1:48 scale Tempest II ,any WWII Japanese twin AC or a few late 30's French AC-just dreaming!

  15. Eduards ME-109 G release and the subsequent nit picking was like a feeding frenzy at the shark tank! Egad! Everybody has an off day every now and then.
    Having licked their wounds, I hear that they are modifying it, and will release it in modified form in the future.
    Yeah, I have one, and will probably go for the new, improved one.
    Hey, I'm afflicted!

Leave a Reply