All Good Things Come in Twos?
One cannot help but notice a trend in the scale modelling world: Whatever your area of interest is, chances are there are certain gaps in the lineup of available kits (unless, of course, you are into German WWII armor). These gaps are here for years, and no manufacturer seems to be willing to fill them. But then, finally, someone steps forward and announces a brand new tooling of such a gap-filling kit.
Only to be outdone by another company announcing theirs a week later...
Case in point: The M551 Sheridan light tank. If you are into Cold War Armor, this somewhat goofy looking tank may be high on your wishlist. There are some choices in 35th scale, but each of them has their issues. The 1970s Tamiya offering is simple, has shape issues, and is just not up to current standards. The 2005 Academy kit is more detailed, but brings its own major shape issues. And finally, the Jaguar resin kit is a beauty, but - well, resin.
Enter Tamiya again, who announced a new tooling of the M551 at this year's All Japan Model Hobby Show. By the looks of it this is going to be a Vietnam version with the appropriate modifications for this time frame.
Of course there were lots of "oohs", "aahs" and "Shut up and take my money"'s on the internet. Some of them from me, admittedly. Did I pre-order one? You bet. Should I have waited? Maybe.
I Should Have Known.
Just this morning I was confronted with an announcement by Rye Field Models:
Looks like they will be releasing a later version, which is more attractive to me. And going by the sprue picture, this is not a matter of them throwing out a bogus announcement just to stop people from buying the Tamiya kit and keep them waiting. They already did quite some work on the kit, and it looks like it will be ready soon-ish.
Maybe it's just me, but I do not believe in coincidences. And situations like this leave me wondering how this industry works. Are there tip hotlines at every major manufacturer, where you can call in and tell them "hey, I've seen these Tamiya guys in our museum taking measurements of a Sheridan. You better get your bums moving"? Is the scale modelling world populated by leakers and whistleblowers? Can we expect a future Bond movie with Daniel Craig fighting these machinations using just his panel line engraver?
What are your thoughts? Is it a good thing manufacturers try to one-up each other? Do we profit from this as builders? Or would you rather see them spreading their efforts to fill other gaps instead?
1 additional image. Click to enlarge.