March 2017

The Return of Dragon Armor?

At long last, Dragon resurfaces with a new piece of armor: a 1:72 scale Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf D. medium tank – – 3.Kompainie, Panzer-Regiment 3, 2.Panzer Division, Western Front, 1940 (DRR60693)

“The objective of offensive Yellow is to deny Holland and Belgium to the English by swiftly occupying them; to defeat, by an attack through Belgium and Luxembourg territory, the largest possible forces of the Anglo-French army, and thereby to pave the way for the destruction of the military strength of the enemy. The main weight of the attack across Belgium and Luxembourg will be south of the line Liege-Charleroi. Forces engaged north of this line will break through the Belgian frontier forces. Continuing the attack westwards they will parry any immediate threats to the Ruhr Basin from northeastern Belgium, and will divert to themselves the strongest possible Angle-french forces. Forces operation south of the line Liege-Charleroi will force a passage of the Meuse River between Dinant and Sedan (both inclusive) and will advance through the French frontier defenses towards the Somme estuary.”

– Fuhrer Directive No. 10, February 1940

We were beginning to wonder if Dragon was backing out of the preassembled military vehicle space, much as they have done in other categories over the past few years. Then, this morning, we noticed that they posted a brand new piece of Dragon Armor diecast to their website, one based upon a Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. D medium tank (DRR60693). According to their web site, this new piece of long awaited military memorabilia is slated for a May appearance, perhaps in conjunction with the 77th anniversary of the Wehrmacht’s invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940. Guess we will have to wait and see. Interestingly, the wholesale price for a typical Dragon Armor piece has dropped appreciably, which had been creeping up in cost for a couple of years. This could, perhaps, point to good things for Dragon Armor aficionados, who were forced to shell out more and more as the sheet cost inched skywards. Taking a page from their playbook, we expect Dragon will be announcing a bunch of other Pz. Kpfw IV Ausf. D medium tanks, so stay tuned for further announcements in the days and weeks ahead.

German Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. D Medium Tank – 4.Kompanie, Panzer-Regiment 7, 10.Panzer Division, France, 1940 (DRR60694)
 
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Product Spotlight: USS Missouri (BB-63)

USS Missouri (BB-63) looks to be re-commissioned into the Forces of Valor navy this summer

 “It is my earnest hope, and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past — a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice.”
– Gen. Douglas MacArthur, aboard the USS Missouri at the conclusion to the signing of the Instrument of Surrender, September 2nd, 1945

Several years ago, we had the great pleasure of visiting the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. Part of our trip involved seeing the USS Arizona Memorial, as well as a trek through the Iowa-class battleship, USS Missouri, which is fittingly moored aft of the Arizona. I remember pausing when we came to the end of the guided walk through, and looking, quite fondly, at the spot on the deck where delegates of the Imperial Japanese Empire formally signed the instrument of surrender in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945, thus formally ending hostilities in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.

Therefore, it is, with great pleasure that Waltersons’ will soon be re-releasing a 1:700 scale replica of the USS Missouri in its WWII-era configuration, reworked and remastered to conform with their all-new warships lineup.

The ceremony aboard the deck of the Missouri lasted 23 minutes and was broadcast throughout the world. The instrument was first signed by the Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu “By Command and on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Government” (9:04 am). General Yoshijirō Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, then signed the document “By Command and on behalf of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters” (9:06 am).

At 9:08 a.m., U.S. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the Commander in the Southwest Pacific and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, accepted the surrender on behalf of the Allied Powers and signed in his capacity as Supreme Commander.[4]

After MacArthur’s signature as Supreme Commander, the following representatives signed the instrument of surrender on behalf of each of the Allied Powers:

On September 6, Colonel Bernard Theilen took the document and an imperial rescript to Washington, D.C., and presented them to President Harry S. Truman in a formal White House ceremony the following day. The documents were then exhibited at the National Archives.

Look for the USS Missouri (FOV861003A) to weigh anchor some time in May.

 
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Eaglemoss Stokes the Fires of the Star Trek Universe

 

Eaglemoss’ inaugural large scale take on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Apparently, late March is shaping up to be a big month for all things Star Trek. Not only were a number of new Star Trek-related merchandise announced by Eaglemoss last week, the Company also primed the pump and is now delivering on several products that were announced several months ago.

Perhaps the most noteworthy newcomer is their inaugural large scale starship, which is based upon the iconic USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Measuring some eleven inches in length (as compared with a 5-inch standard-sized Enterprise) and packaged with the customary collector magazine, we predict this one to sell out quickly, no doubt forming the cornerstone to an entirely new segment of the Eaglemoss universe. Also arriving is their first Designing Starships reference guide, a 160-page full-color, hardbound book detailing the creation of many of the earliest standard-sized starships. Of course, no discussion would be complete without a survey of the newest standard-sized ships to join the Eaglemoss navy. They are, in chronological order:

EMST0086 – Star Trek Gorn Starship [With Collector Magazine]

EMST0087 – Star Trek Federation Aeon Timeship [With Collector Magazine]

EMST0088 – Star Trek Vulcan Civilian Trasport – Vahklas [With Collector Magazine]

EMST0089 – Star Trek Federation Starship – USS Enterprise NCC-1701-J [With Collector Magazine]

EMST0090 – Star Trek Romulan Scout Ship [With Collector Magazine]

EMST0091 – Star Trek Federation Starship – USS Saratoga NCC-31911 [With Collector Magazine]

All of these highly sought after items are now in stock.

Star Trek Designing Starships: Volume One, in its full-color, 160-page, hardbound glory
 
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You Call it War Master, We Call it Solido

Solido’s all-new FAMO prime mover and towed 88mm FLaK gun, likely reaching the diecast battlefield this summer

There seems to be some confusion of late whether to call the new 1:72 scale military range produced by War Master for french manufacturer Solido, War Master products or Solido, since both marques appear on the packaging. Be that as it may, we’ve caught wind of some of their newest models likely scheduled for a summer release, which continue to introduce a wide array of combatants and their weapons of war to the 1:72 scale regime. Among them are this German FAMO prime mover hauling a 88mm FLaK gun. Also expected is a German Wirbelwind Anti-Aircraft gun, a British Cromwell tank, a USMC LAV-25 Piranha light armored vehicle and French LeClerc T5 Main battle tank. In the air, look for a British De Havilland Mosquito and Grumman Martlet fighter.

 
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Air Force 1 Pushes Up More than Flowers this May

Air Force 1’s brand new 1:72 scale look at the PLAAF Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter

It’s no secret that Chinese-based Air Force 1 has an affinity for modern aircraft fielded by the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), so when we received their latest sales brochure we were wondering what took them so long to offer up their latest fare? This May, no less than nine new models are slated for the collector’s market, all based on platforms used by the PLAAF. Perhaps the most intriguing new replica is this 1:72 scale take on the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter (AF10131), largely viewed by Western analysts as a pirated version of the US F-35 stealth fighter. Larger than the F-35, the J-31 may not be as capable or as stealthy as the F-35, so it remains to be seen how the PLAAF will operate their newest system.

The Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter, offered up in splendid 1:144 scale

In addition to the J-31, AF1 will make available an octet of 1:100-1:144 scale fixed- and rotary wing aircraft, which we are in the process of uploading to our site. While some critics point to a few inconsistencies and inaccuracies with the AF1 models, no one can take issue with their pricing. Most of the new items weigh in at around $20-$25, with the J-31 topping out at $49.99, certainly a bargain compared to other new modern aircraft being rolling out by other manufacturers.

 
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Eaglemoss Warps in with Their 2017 Star Trek Lineup

Hardbound Star Trek graphic novels will begin to appear in 2017.

Somewhat quiet for several months, our distributor shed light on what’s to come from Eaglemoss the first half of this year as it pertains to their Star Trek role call. Lots of new products were announced, covering everything from new special and larger scale starships to reference material, hard-to-find convention exclusives to graphic novels. The graphic novels represent a very nice tangential look at the Star Trek universe, essentially gorgeous, perfect bound, hard cover books that, in many instances, serve as superb compilations of previously related comics.

USS Yorktown NCC1717, a Star Trek show-exclusive, now becomes available later this year

Three Mirror Universe standard sized starships are also being offered up, each complete with their own full-color magazine. Best of all, many of these new introductions are expected to ship shortly, and carry us through the first six months of 2017.

Star Trek Constitution Class Cruiser – USS Franklin NCC-1743, the eighth special edition Eaglemoss Star Trek starship
 
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Forget Stocks and Bonds, Stamps and Coins. Invest in Collectibles

While most collectors don’t pay attention to the value of their collection, it’s nice to know that should you run into a bit of financial trouble, selling off your collection might prove to be a valuable lifeline. According to the Financial Times, https://www.ft.com/content/a44ba202-f9bb-11e6-bd4e-68d53499ed71, some legacy Star Wars memorabilia, many of which sold for a pittance in relation to today’s market, are commanding prices, at auction, into the tens of thousands of dollars. While not every item in every conceivable segment of the hobby has gone up in value by such stratospheric numbers, its nevertheless nice to know that some collectibles could serve as a retirement nest egg should things start to go south.

 
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Product Spotlight: DKM Bismarck

“Sink the Bismarck!”

– Prime Minister Winston Churchill, after learning of the demise of the battlecruiser HMS Hood, May 1941

Earlier this month, we began examining some of the reworked warships due out shortly from Forces of Valor. Many have been reworked, repainted and repackaged, all in an effort to bring the series up to speed and attract new collectors into the fold. Our second warship spotlight focuses on the German Kriegsmarines infamous battleship, DKM Bismarck, pride of the German fleet and one of its earliest victims in the Battle of the Atlantic (FOV861006A).

Operation Rheinubung (“Rhine Exercise”) was the sortie into the Atlantic by the new German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen from May 18th-27th, 1941, during World War II. This operation culminated in the sinking of the Bismarck.

During both World Wars, the island of Britain was dependent upon huge numbers of merchant ships to bring in food and essential raw materials, and protecting this lifeline was one of the highest priorities for British forces. Likewise, Germany recognized that, if this lifeline could be severed, Britain would be defeated, regardless of any other factor.

Operation Rheinubung was the latest in a series of raids on Allied shipping carried out by surface units of the Kriegsmarine. It was preceded by Operation Berlin, a highly successful sortie by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau which ended in March 1941.

By May 1941, the Kriegsmarine warships, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Admiral Hipper were at Brest, on the western coast of France, posing a serious threat to the Atlantic convoys. Two new warships now became available to the Germans: the battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, both initially stationed in the Baltic Sea.

The aim of the operation was for Bismarck and Prinz Eugen to break into the Atlantic and attack Allied shipping. Raeder’s orders to Lutjens were that “the objective of the Bismarck is not to defeat enemies of equal strength, but to tie them down in a delaying action, while preserving her combat capacity as much as possible, so as to allow Prinz Eugen to get at the merchant ships in the convoy” and “The primary target in this operation is the enemy’s merchant shipping; enemy warships will be engaged only when that objective makes it necessary and it can be done without excessive risk.”

To support and provide facilities for the capital ships to refuel and rearm, German Naval Command (OKM) established a network of tankers and supply ships in the Rheinubung operational area. 7 tankers and 2 supply ships were sent as far afield as Labrador in the west to Cape Verde islands in the south.

Lutjens had requested that Grand Admiral Erich Raeder delay Rheinubung long enough either for Scharnhorst to rendezvous at sea with Bismarck and Prinz Eugen or for Bismarck’s sister-ship Tirpitz to accompany them. Raeder had refused. The crew of the newly-completed Tirpitz was not yet fully trained, and Raeder cited the coming German invasion of Crete as a reason for disrupting Allied supply lines and diverting strength from the Mediterranean.

To meet the threat from German surface ships, the British had stationed at Scapa Flow the new battleships HMS King George V (sometimes referred to as KGV) and HMS Prince of Wales (PoW) as well as the elderly battlecruiser HMS Hood. Elsewhere, at Gibraltar, at Halifax, Nova Scotia and at sea in the Atlantic were the battleships Revenge, Rodney and Ramillies, the battlecruisers Repulse and Renown, and aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal and Victorious. Cruisers and air patrols provided the fleet’s ‘eyes’. At sea, or due to sail shortly, were 11 convoys, including a troop convoy.

OKM did not take into account the Royal Navy’s determination to destroy the German surface fleet. To make sure Bismarck was sunk, the Royal Navy would ruthlessly strip other theatres of action. This would include denuding valuable convoys of their escorts. The British would ultimately deploy six battleships, three battlecruisers, two aircraft carriers, 16 cruisers, 33 destroyers and eight submarines, along with patrol aircraft. It would become the largest naval force assigned to a single operation up to that point in the war.

 
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Films in Focus: SS-GB

With Amazon’s alternative reality series, The Man in the High Castle, now in its third season, BBC One is getting set to air its own look at a “what-if” scenario arising from WWII. According to Wikipedia, SS-GB is a 2017 British drama series produced for the BBC and based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Len Deighton. It is set in a 1941 alternative timeline in which the United Kingdom is occupied by Nazi Germany, having won the Battle of Britain.

 
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Iran Debuts Its Own Tank

This picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday, March 12, 2017, shows domestically manufactured tank called “Karrar” in an undisclosed location in Iran. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency is reporting that the country has unveiled a domestically manufactured tank and has launched a mass-production line. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP). The Karrar bears a striking resemblance to Russia’s T-14 Armata, so it would not come as a surprise if the Russians helped them to design the vehicle

In a move aimed at preventing reliance on foreign made weapons systems, the Iranian military unveiled its first domestically produced tank. Associated Press reports that it has been dubbed the Karrar (“Striker”), which is strange, in and if itself, since Wikipedia claims that the Karrar is a UCAV, not a tank. No matter, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan says that “the tank has the capability to fire missiles and precisely guide them.”

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency indicates that the “Karrar” is equipped with an electro-optical fire control system and laser range-finder and is capable of firing at both stable and mobile targets day or night. Dehghan also says the tank can compete with the most advanced tanks in the world in the three main areas of “power, precision and mobility,” although its unclear if these claims can be corroborated by Western analysts. Still, the fact that Iran can produced its own main battle tank, much as it does for other equipment including missiles, fighter jets and submarines, comes as a stark reminder that they wish to control their own destiny should they become embroiled in another conflict.

 
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