June 2019

Tales of Transparency: The Science of Diecast

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: there is no science to diecast. While some people would like us to peer into a crystal ball and predict the availability of certain items with the utmost of certainty, the fact is that there is a lot of grey area in this business, complicated by the fact that this is a relatively small industry continually affected by the vagaries of trade squabbles, big business dealings, private “don’t quote me” discussions and, dare I day, a lot of hocus pocus. There are no conspiracies, just people who would like to believe they exist to better help them understand why things happen the way they do. There are things I feel comfortable discussing with the public-at-large and other minutiae better left for my memoirs, provided I ever get around to writing them.

We’ve been doing this for almost twenty years and the one thing I can predict with certainty is that every day is unpredictable. We wake up every morning — sometimes well before 6am — pour ourselves a cup of coffee, read our e-nail, poor out a second and oftentimes a third cup of Joe, and wonder what each day will bring despite our best planning the day before. Now I know this sounds a bit amateurish in today’s world of “get it to the customer in a heartbeat” but the fact remains that the world of diecast is not governed by the same laws of physics that rule the real world. Its a “catcher’s catch can microcosm” where we sometimes have a handle on things based upon what those in-the-know tell us only to be confounded by things we never saw coming by those that think they know better.

So, as we close out the first half of the year and begin looking at the all-important third and fourth quarters, I just wanted to remind everyone that it helps to be patient, read and re-read our posts, and generally keep a smile on your face if you hope to enjoy this hobby as much as we do. While we admit we aren’t perfect, we strive for perfection each and every day. When I was a young lad, maybe no more than six or seven years of age, I fondly remember my grandparents pulling me aside one day, looking me straight in the eye and telling me the following which has stuck with me to this day: “You are of German blood. Always remember that. Persevere when other falter. Achieve when no one thought it possible.” And with that, have a happy Fourth of July.

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Free Ground Shipping for In-Stock Orders of $250 or More!

With the recent changes to the way the US Postal Service calculates shipping rates, we’ve decided to bring back our free shipping offer for orders of $250 or more. Keep in mind that all of the items on your order must be listed as being in-stock to qualify. Please do not include items marked as being on back order, pre-orders or special order merchandise. Non-qualifying items will be removed from your order and we will contact you to see how you wish to proceed. If the order falls below $250, then normal shipping rates apply. We thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

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No June Swoon for Hobby Master

Hobby Master’s 1:72 scale USN Grumman TBM-1C Avenger Torpedo-Bomber – “Barbara III”, Lt. George H. W. Bush, VT-51, USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), September 1944

It looks as if we’re going to be busy as bees next week, with lots of product rolling in through our doors ready to find new homes. The latest manufacturer looking to book receiving time with us is Hobby Master — their June shipment now en route to us with several key items shown front-and-center on the manifest. A number of items are already sold out at both the factory and distributor level, meaning they’ll likely go fast once they get listed as being available. Here’s a list of what you’ll be able to wrap your mitts around in the coming days:

HG5007 – German Sd. Kfz. 7 8-Ton Personnel Carrier / Prime Mover – 10.Infanterie Division, 1942 (1:72 Scale)

HG5607 – USMC M60A1 Patton Medium Tank with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) (1:72 Scale)

HA2011 – Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” Torpedo Bomber – Lt. Cdr. Shigekazu Shimazaki, IJN Carrier Zuikaku, Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941 (1:72 Scale)

HA4105 – Royal Navy BAE Harrier II FA.2 Jump Jet – “Operation Deliberate Force” No.800 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, HMS Invincible (R05), Mediterranean Sea, July 1995 [Low-Vis Scheme] (1:72 Scale)

HA1221 – USN Grumman TBM-1C Avenger Torpedo-Bomber – “Barbara III”, Lt. George H. W. Bush, VT-51, USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), September 1944 (1:72 Scale)

HA8650 – RAF Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIc Fighter – PZ865, “The Last of the Many!”, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

HA8652 – RAF Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIc Fighter – JX-E/BE581, Karel Kuttelwascher, “Night Reaper”, No. 1 Squadron, 1942 (1:48 Scale)

HA3550 – Royal Canadian Boeing CF-18B Hornet Strike Fighter – “2016 DEMO”, Captain Ryan “Roid” Kean, 2016 (1:72 Scale)

HA4608 – USMC Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter – BF-05, Cdr. Nathan Gray, VX-23 “Salty Dogs”, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), 2018 [Low-Vis Scheme] (1:72 Scale)

HA6202 – USN Lockheed-Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter – CF-01, VX-23 “The Salty Dogs”, NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, Naval Air Systems Command, 2012 [Low-Vis Scheme] (1:72 Scale)

HA5150 – US Navy Boeing E/A-18G Growler Electronic Warfare Aircraft – 168893 VAQ-141 “Shadowhawks”, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), Atsugi Air Base, Japan, 2017 (1:72 Scale)

HA5225 – US Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat Fleet Defense Fighter – 161616, VF-21 “Freelancers”, USS Independence (CV-62), CVW-5, 1994 (1:72 Scale)

HA0307 – USN Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Fighter – “White 50,” VF-17 “Jolly Rogers”, USS Hornet (CV-12), 1945 (1:32 Scale)

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Corgi Launches its Own Fireworks Celebration

Corgi’s 1:72 scale USAF Douglas C-47A Skytrain Troop Transport – “That’s All Brother”, Lead D-Day Aircraft, 87th Troop Carrier Squadron, 438th Troop Carrier Group, June 5th/6th, 1944 [75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion]

With just a week to go before the all-important July Fourth weekend, Corgi has touched off its own fireworks extravaganza of sorts with the release of several eagerly-awaited Aviation Archive aircraft. Headed our way are the following models, each meticulously handcrafted and painstakingly researched to evoke memories of days gone by steeped in the annals of aviation history:

AA38707 – RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XIV Fighter – RM740, No.322 (Dutch) Squadron, Deanland, England, August 1944 [75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion] (1:72 Scale)

AA36809 – RAF Westland Lysander Mk. IIIA(SD) Reconnaissance Aircraft – V9822, No. 161 Squadron, Special Operations, Tangmere, England, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

AA38508 – German Messerschmitt Bf 110 E Destroyer – Stab II./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1, Deelen, Holland, Spring 1942 (1:72 Scale)

AA38210 – USAF Douglas C-47A Skytrain Troop Transport – “That’s All Brother”, Lead D-Day Aircraft, 87th Troop Carrier Squadron, 438th Troop Carrier Group, June 5th/6th, 1944 [75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion] (1:72 Scale)

AA27901 – Royal Navy McDonnell F-4 FG.1 Phantom II Fighter-Bomber – No. 892 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Ark Royal (R07), November 1978 (1:48 Scale)

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Product Spotlight: Have Gun, Will Travel

Oxford Rail’s 1:76 scale British BL 14-inch Railway Howitzer – “Boche Buster”

Earlier this month, we were treated to our shipment of Oxford Rail’s 1:76 scale British BL 18-inch Railway Howitzer, which the British Army of WWI dubbed “Gladiator” (BOOM02). Heavy in hand and packed with lots of detail, Oxford’s railway howitzer is one of those extraordinary models that can be displayed alongside other diecast military vehicles or simply added to an OO gauge rail layout. Priced at just $79.99, our shipment of “Gladiators” has already sold out, and, to our dismay, won’t be available again until well into 2020 when Oxford gets around to reproducing it. Now, if you’re a latecomer to the game, eager to own a beast on tracks, you might think you’re sh*t out of luck until you learn that two more iterations are due out shortly.

Expected in July is “Boche Buster” (BOOM03), a 14-inch Railway Howitzer clad in a sumptuous tri-color camouflage scheme. Its roughly the same size as “Gladiator”, but sporting a slimmer gun capable of launching a projectile a bit farther than the wider 18-inch version. While we still have a few available for pre-order, we believe this gun will likely sell out even faster than “Gladiator”, simply because it looks more onerous and will likely attract the attention of those still interested in purchasing “Gladiator”.

Oxford Rail’s 1:76 scale British BL 14-inch Railway Howitzer and Rod 2330 0-6-0 Locomotive Set – “Boche Buster”

And, if that doesn’t whet your appetite, there’s “Boche Buster” deluxe, a more upscale version of the 14-inch gun that comes bundled with a Rod 2330 0-6-0 locomotive and accompanying coal tender. Its a bit pricier, weighing in at $219.99, but it comes with a working locomotive thereby giving it true “Scoot-and-shoot” potential. And lastly, there’s “Boche Buster” super deluxe, which adds digital sound to the deluxe set all aimed at bringing your prized possession to life. Admittedly, it tops out at $349.99, but if price is no object and you’re looking to scare the neighbors out of their beds, then this version has got your name written all over it. Now wipe that smirk off your face…

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Product Spotlight: In League with the Devil

Oxford’s 1:72 scale German Focke-Wulf Ta 152 Interceptor – Obersleutnant Fritz Aufhammer, Stendal, Germany, Stab Jagdgeschwader 301, March 22nd, 1945

Unfamiliar with the Focke-Wulf Ta 152 Höhenjäger (high altitude) interceptor yet keenly aware of its capabilities particularly in the hands of a skilled airman, Kommodore Fritz Aufhammer, commander of Jgdgeschwader 301, decided to familiarize himself with the aircraft by flying it to the Focke-Wulf factory at Rechlin, Germany, so that he could attend a meeting with the Focke-Wulf leadership. Hoping to avoid ground fire by trigger-happy German Flak crews, he ordered the ground crew to first paint the machine red so that it could easily be distinguished from rampaging Allied fighters. Impressed with the machine but frustrated with the Focke-Wulf officials, Aufhammer ended the meeting by stating, “I don’t care about your problems, you can kiss my ass! I need those machines now!”

Look for Oxford’s unusual take on Aufhammer’s devilishly red machine (AC096) late in 2019.

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USPS Dimensional Rates Now in Effect

On June 23rd, the USPS began implementing changes that are better designed to reflect the true costs of shipping various sized packages around the country. Being on the east coast, we anticipate shipping costs to rise dramatically for large and over-sized parcels that need to be shipped across the country, particularly to destinations along the west coast and northwest region of the US. For now, we do not plan to make any adjustments as we wait and see how much it will cost us to ship certain items to different parts of the country. It is more than likely that we will have to dispense with our flat rate shipping rate in favor of a variable rate system that will address these changes. Please bear this in mind if you are looking to order larger-sized items and reside on the West Coast and/or several postal zones away from us.

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The FOV Update: Two Steps Forward

In the wake of several recent Facebook posts, Forces of Valor has made significant strides updating their web site with relevant information that is designed to keep everyone informed about their progress to date. While some upcoming releases are still showing historical photos instead of product imagery, and not every section of the web site has been worked on in a consistent manner, its comforting to see that the Company is finally spending the requisite time to provide meaningful and pertinent information to both its customers and retail network alike. For more information on the Forces of Valor web site, click on the following link.

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Anatomy of War: Turkey Looks to Go Hi-Tech

Lately, it seems as if every nation on Earth is working on a fifth/sixth generation fighter. So many projects are in the offing that we wouldn’t be surprised if several third world countries jumped on the band wagon, claiming they too have the ability to develop and field an aircraft that can hold its own against either the F-22 or F-35. Frankly, its hard to take some would-be candidates seriously, among them Iran’s supposed IAIO Qaher-313 “Conqueror”, which was shown taxiing around an airfield a couple of year’s back, with no real attempt to take off.

The latest nation to unveil efforts to deploy a stealth aircraft is Turkey, who, at the recent Paris Air Show, showed off conceptual drawings and a CGI-rendered video of their TF-X program, which looks remarkably similar to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Apart from sporting two engines as opposed to one, it might be difficult to tell the two aircraft apart, no doubt paying homage to an aircraft they were supposed to purchase but were denied approval because they were pandering to Russia.

Developed in response to the US refusal to sell Turkey the F-35 stealth fighter because they chose to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia instead of a NATO-aligned nation, the TF-X is currently scheduled to enter service in 2028, provided it can overcome a myriad of hurdles associated with building a true fifth generation fighter. In fact, Turkey has little experience building an indigenous aircraft, its aging fleet of US-built F-16 Falcons representing its last foray into acquiring a cutting edge aircraft. Amazingly, the nimble F-16 is still serving as its front line fighter, and will likely do so well into the 2030s. Frankly, its hard to take Turkish Aerospace and the Turkish government seriously with its proposed TF-X program when other nations — with far more experience building aircraft and deeper pockets to fund them — are already looking towards building a sixth generation fighter that could outclass the TF-X before it can even be deployed.

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Pretty Awesome

If you’re looking to jazz up your collection and budgetary constraints are someone else’s worries then we may have the solution for you. Basekraft offers a number of wood and resin display bases that are designed to add life to even the most stoic subject.

We’ve posted several photos of what they currently offer and have no doubt that they can even create a custom backdrop that will make even the most jaded collector green with envy. No prices were posted on their Facebook page, which generally means you’ll need to be careful how far you’re willing to splurge to bring added detail to your diecast battlefield. They’re beautiful, but like most things of beauty, they oftentimes come with a stiff price.

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