As we close out the month of October, I just wanted to remind everyone that we will be closed for vacation from Saturday, November 27th until Sunday, November 4th. All of our marketplace stores will be shuttered during this time frame although you will still be able to place orders through our main web site. Naturally, we will not be around to answer any questions but will do so upon our return.
Our Amazon store has been up-and-running for several months now and we’ve witnessed phenomenal results as well as some curious issues. We’re still learning the ins-and-outs of selling on Amazon and the importance of winning the “buy box” as a means of generating sales and moving inventory. Currently, we only sell to the United States and Canada. We were hoping to make the Amazon store available to customers in Europe and elsewhere, but have since learned that you must have a physical location within each “territory” to cater to the clientele. It doesn’t make sense for us to use their Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) operation as a means of selling product overseas due to the storage costs involved as well as logistics and other criteria that invariably affects our bottom line. So, for now, if you’d like to make a purchase from us and you live outside North America, eBay and our main web site remain your only course of action.
We’ve also discovered several other problems with selling on Amazon that we are attempting to address as expeditiously as possible. First, which ever retailer creates a listing for an item, generally gets to provide much of the information for it, even if its superficial in nature and less than optimal. For instance, we’ve noted, time and again that an item’s title may be inaccurate, containing little descriptive information and sometimes accompanied by line art images instead of actual photos of the product. Moreover, many products are not even listed on Amazon since they do not come with a UPC bar code or other means of digital identification to be entered into their product catalog. After we return from vacation, we plan to address this issue by purchasing independently-created UPC codes and affixing them to each item, thereby enabling them to be sold through Amazon and elsewhere. We’ve told several distributors and manufacturers that they need to correct these deficiencies in their product packaging if they hope to sell their products on Amazon or elsewhere, as more and more marketplaces require UPCs, EANs or ASINs for inclusion in their product catalog. Frankly, its a headache that a retailer shouldn’t have to address in this day-and-age. Be that as it may, we will rely upon this short-term fix as a means of getting more product online across the entire spectrum of marketplaces.
The Russian Sukhoi Su-34 “Fullback” is one of those aircraft that truly has to be seen to be believed. Designed to replace the aging Su-24, the Su-34 is actually a variant of the Sukhoi Su-27, with side-by-side seating that was developed in the late 1980s, and making its first flight on April 13th, 1990. It has a complex development history, being first developed as a carrier-based trainer, but by the time it was first publicly revealed in the mid-1990s it was as the Su-27IB (IB standing for Istrebitel Bomardirvoschik / Fighter Bomber), an advanced strike aircraft. Sukhoi, seeking export customers for the aircraft, has shown it as both the Su-32FN (FN for “Fighter, Naval”) and the Su-34. Its proposed export designation may be Su-32MF (MnogoFunktsionalniy, multi-function). At present its official designation appears to be Su-34. Its oddly shaped nose, said to be semi-stealthy, is reminiscent of that of the SR-71 Blackbird, and has earned it the nickname “Platypus,” although its NATO reporting name is Fullback.
Interstingly its flight deck is larger than the one built for the much larger Tu-160 “Blackjack”, a supersonic, variable sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed for long endurance, intercontinental flights. The Fullback’s flight deck even has space for a galley, a latrine, and a bunk bed, all the comforts of home for bombing enemy positions within reach of its base of operations.
The Su-34 has 12 stores pylons for up to 8,000 kilograms (17,635 pounds) of ordnance, intended to include the latest Russian precision-guided weapons. It retains the Su-27/Su-30’s 30mm cannon. A Leninets V004 phased-array radar is fitted, mated to a Platan electro-optical / laser targeting unit and an advanced nav-attack system. It shares the Su-35’s “stinger” tail with Leninets V005 rear-facing radar.
Hobby Master’s first look at the Fullback portrays a bomber that was recently deployed to Khmeimim Air Base, Latakia, Syria, in support of the Assad regime (HA6301). Look for it to lay waste to the opposition some time in January.
Certainly one of the most critical aspects of replicating combat aircraft is getting the mold right. Lord knows there are plenty of rivet counters out there that feel it their duty to hold each model up to incredible scrutiny, passing final judgement and giving the model their seal of approval only when they are confident the manufacturer got everything correct from every conceivable vantage point.
However, the hobby has changed over the years, with more and more companies hitting home runs instead of swinging and missing each time they offer a new model for consideration. So, in an effort to take it to the next level and differentiate themselves from the competition, a handful of companies are demonstrating their prowess in the art of painting, tackling subjects few would have dared to go near just a few years ago.
Take Hobby Master, for example. In recent years, the Company has been demonstrating its ability to not only offer compelling subject matter but also difficult schemes, showing why they have the right stuff to make aviation enthusiasts proud. Recently they announced plans to offer this Mitsubishi F-15J, which is clad in a 50th Anniversary of the Japan Air Self Defense Forces (HA4514). The aircraft’s fuselage and upper surfaces are adorned in an intricate apple blossom motif layered over the island-nation’s iconic Mount Fuji, contrasting symbols of the Japanese spring and winter. Clearly, getting this scheme correct takes a lot of patience and pride, requiring surgeon-like skills to not only apply the scheme but seamlessly matching it up so that every facet of the aircraft looks correct from every angle.
Look for this sumptuous example of modern art some time in March.
Admittedly, its not a US Navy PBY Catalina they decided to portray this go round but sometimes beggars can’t be choosers. If you don’t mind RAF roundels in place of Stars and Stripes, and can shift vistas from the vast Pacific to the grey Atlantic, then boy do we have a head turner for you.
Expected some time this holiday season is this handsome RAF Consolidated Catalina Mk.IVA flying boat (AA36111), which operated along Britain’s extensive coast line in search of enemy naval activity, both on and below the surface.
Although the Battle of Britain is regarded by most people to be the RAF’s most decisive victory of WWII, the constant struggle to protect Britain’s vital sea lanes against German U-boats and surface raiders proved arguably more decisive. It is difficult to imagine the mental and physical strain placed on the crews of Coastal Command aircraft, who were forced to endure arduous patrols, often lasting many hours and having to constantly scan vast expanses of ocean for even the smallest sign of enemy activity. Should a target present itself, they would potentially have to launch an effective attack at short notice, aware that the enemy would be frantically attempting to disappear below the waves or were preparing to defend themselves with every gun at their disposal. Add to this the knowledge that they were still many miles and several hours flying time from the safety of their home base and completely exposed should the engagement leave them with damage to their aircraft, or injuries to crew members and you understand why these men are viewed with such admiration to this day. As if to underline the perilous nature of these missions, four brave Coastal Command airmen were awarded Britain’s highest award for gallantry in the presence of the enemy, the Victoria Cross during the Second World War, but only one survived to receive the honor in person – Flying Officer John Alexander Cruickshank, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, RAF No.210 Squadron.
This particular warbird is part of Corgi’s 100 Years of the RAF Collection, a fitting testament to the men and machines that have helped to guard and defend the British Empire through times of peril and turmoil.
If you missed out on Hobby Master’s first look at Senator John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk released way back in 2007, then you’ll no doubt want to listen up regarding this newest offering. As part of their October announcements, the Company plans on producing yet another version, this one based upon a warbird he flew off of the carrier USS Oriskany when he was attached to VFA-163 “Saints” HA1429). Priced at just $79.99 per copy, we believe this is one of those rare opportunities where you can pay tribute to both the man and his machine, well before it sky rockets in value once they all sell out.
Late yesterday, we learned that Hobby Master planned to offer a 1:72 scale replica of a F-14 that was flown by VF-102 “Diamondbacks” (HA19006). Rather curiously, we discovered today that flight simulation maker DCS is coming out with a brand new flight sim that, you guessed it, is based upon an F-14B Tomcat operated by the very same squadron. What follows is a 10-minute long teaser aimed at showing off some of the hi-fidelity components of the game, along with some of its bullet points covering the game’s features, dynamics and fit within the DCS game world. Enjoy!
Several months ago, speculation had it that Hobby Master would be delving ever deeper into the 1:48 scale aviation market with a rendition of a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Turns out the rumors were true as the Company announced today their first foray into the early war fighter – a P-40 Warhawk that was flown by 2nd Lt. George Welch (HA9201). This particular warbird rose to meet the Japanese aerial forces as they were wreaking havoc at the US base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Following an extremely late night at
the Squadron Christmas party the day previously, USAAF pilots George
Welch and Kenneth Taylor woke to the sound of explosions and low flying
aircraft. The date was December 7th, 1941 and the United States naval
base at Pearl Harbor was under attack. Still wearing their mess dress
from the previous night, the men rang ahead to Wheeler Field, where
their Squadron had been deployed for gunnery practice and instructed
ground crews to prepare two P40 fighters for flight.
Driving their Buick at high speed and coming under fire from Japanese
aircraft, the men arrived at Wheeler and immediately made for their
aircraft – taking off beneath waves of attacking enemy aircraft, the two
pilots fought valiantly against overwhelming odds, even landing to
re-fuel and re-arm, only to take off and fight again. During a frantic
few minutes, Welch destroyed four enemy aircraft, with Taylor accounting
for at least a further two. For their heroic actions during the Pearl
Harbor attack, George Welch and Kenneth Taylor were both awarded the
Distinguished Service Cross.
Look for Welch’s P-40 to meet the aviation onslaught head on some time this Spring.
Several years ago, we were asked by one manufacturer if the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings held any significance to the collecting community as a potential marketing opportunity. Frankly, I didn’t think it mattered all that much since one could claim that it was just as important as all of the previous five-year marks that occurred prior, save, perhaps, the 25th or 50th anniversary celebrations in 1969 and 1994. However, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Western Europe by the Allies, certainly an epic event for those that took part in the campaign since many of these individuals are now entering their nineties and likely won’t be around that much longer to witness the next major milestone. It is also significant for historians, military enthusiasts and collectors alike, as the war to rid Europe of Nazi tyranny slowly starts to fade from memory and gets replaced by more contemporary conflicts.
Likewise, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of both the Market-Garden and Battle of the Bulge campaigns, two pivotal battles that were designed to wreak havoc on the enemy and possibly shorten the war entirely, depending upon your standpoint.
Having said that, we have asked a number of important manufacturers within the diecast ranks to examine their plans for the coming year and, where appropriate, denote the anniversaries on their packaging or even come out with exclusive limited edition collections that reflect the importance of the events. We hope that by promoting the importance of these campaigns, collectors will have a better sense of how they fit within the timeline of events of WWII and their critical importance on the path to victory.
Earlier today we received the October list of pre-assembled replicas from Modelcollect. The cache is both broad and deep, covering a number of categories, markets and military era. So, without further ado, here’s what we expect to arrive around the middle of the month:
AS72084 – Russian T-72B3 Main Battle Tank – Moscow Victory Day Parade, 2017 (1:72 Scale)
AS72108 – Soviet T-64 Model 1972 Main Battle Tank – 1970s (1:72 Scale)
AS72098 – Soviet T-64A Main Battle Tank – 1980s (1:72 Scale)
AS72109 – German E-75 Jagdpanther Tank Destroyer with 128/L55 Gun – Tri-Color Camouflage, 1946 (1:72 Scale)
AS72095 – Russian T-80UD Main Battle Tank – Leningrad Military District, 1998 (1:72 Scale)
AS72113 – German Schwerer Plattformwagen Type SSYMS 80 Flatcar – 1943 (1:72 Scale)
AS72114 – German Schwerer Plattformwagen Type SSYMS Flatcar – 1943 (1:72 Scale)
AS72107 – NATO M1014 MAN Tractor and BGM-109G Gryphon Ground Launched Cruise Missile (1:72 Scale)
AS72110 – US M983 HEMTT Tractor and Pershing II Tactical Missile (1:72 Scale)