According to several sources, Russian military forces have occupied several installations in lower Ukraine, principally around the Crimean region. The new Ukrainian government says it has been invaded by Russia and has appealed for the United States and United Kingdom to protect it, as guaranteed under a 1994 agreement. The move came after a series of armed takeovers and provocations in the Crimea region that began on Thursday with the seizure of the regional parliament building and continued on Friday. Soldiers without national insignia have been seen blocking off and guarding the region’s airports and other military assets, including helicopters, trucks and naval vessels have been reported in and around the area.
The so-called Budapest Memorandum, signed as part of a deal that saw Ukraine give up its nuclear weapons in 1994, is now being examined closely to see what the repercussions would be for the global community. According to the agreement, the US, UK and Russia all agreed to protect the sovereignty and “territorial agreement” of Ukraine, meaning any Russian support for an attempt to declare Crimean independence would be in violation of their international obligations.
The three powers committed to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine”. Significantly, the wording suggests Russia’s insistence that Ukraine forgo an EU trade deal may have already breached the terms of the agreement. The signatories agreed to “refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind”.
If Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has his way, a deep set of funding cuts will affect the US military, spanning everything from base closures and personnel draw down to retirement of several mainstay aircraft. On the chopping block is the Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft as well as the Lockheed U-2 spy plane, two aircraft that have served the USAF well for several decades.
The new cuts are designed to make the military smaller and more nimble, rely upon several soon-to-be-fielded new weapons systems such as the Ford Class aircraft carrier and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and make more use of unmanned aerial vehicles. It remains to be seen if Congress will authorize these cuts, since base closures always have a deleterious affect on the political constituency for each affected state.
Late yesterday we learned of Hobby Master’s spate of June releases, which includes several repainted WWII and post-WWII era aircraft and a pair of 1:72 scale military vehicles.
We hope to have the entire roster up to our web site by later today. East meets West. An East German MiG-21MF fighter stares down a West German M48A2 Patton tank.
At this year’s Toy Fair held in New York City, Unimax, the makers of the wildly popular Forces of Valor line of military replicas, confirmed that several new vessels can be expected over the course of 2014. Two new aircraft carriers are currently getting their keels laid for late year release, including the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) and USS Hornet (CV-8). Also, scheduled to sortie with their growing fleet is the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39), which should make port in June.
In the air, several new warplanes are in the FOV defense budget, including a 1:72 scale rendition of a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopter, a Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter, US Navy F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, and, of course, the previously announced MV-22 Osprey, which will indeed feature tilting rotors and a drop down rear ramp.
The Company plans on taking a breather with their military vehicle range, although a handful of repaints are still on the docket.
Late last year, we learned of a new partwork range of military vehicles being produced by UK-based Eaglemoss Collections and have been keeping our fingers crossed that a distributor would be able to bring the line to the North American marketplace. Just days after the Nuremberg Toy Fair we have now learned that a distributor has indeed stepped forward, indicating that the first 12 vehicles in the series are expected in April. Big and beefy, these handsome 1:43 scale replicas harken back to the days of Solido, when military replicas were both attractively priced and beautifully displayed.
We hear that the line will encompass some 60 replicas, although we are not sure if that will include any repaints or Post-WWII era armored fighting vehicles. The pre-order window is now open and we anticipate brisk sales for the entire range.
In a surprise move, Hobby Master returned from Chinese New Year with news that they plan to enter the 1:6 scale posable action figure category. Their first 1:6 scale figure will replicated famous WWII ace, Colonel C. E. “Bud” Anderson, a triple ace that has gone on to become one of the most iconic figures of the second world war.
Two versions will be offered – one featuring a signed name plate while the other will not. No word concerning pricing or dates of availability just yet, but we anticipate a mid-Spring release.
Astute collectors will be happy to learn that we are now stocking Italeri’s line of 1:100 scale combat aircraft. Nine manned fixed and rotary wing aircraft comprise the initial mix as well as a 1:72 scale rendition of the Predator drone. All ten aircraft are expected later this month, each carrying a price tag of just $11.95.