SCALE MODEL WORLD 2018 – A FEW THOUGHTS…

This year’s show was memorable for all sorts of reasons, not least of which were some astonishing new releases…

“This year, as the crowds collected in eager anticipation, the Airfix ringmaster pulled forth the velvet cover to reveal what may be their most daring kit yet, a huge and frankly astonishing 1:24 Dash 5 Hellcat…”

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From a personal point of view, SMW is the bookend for my working year, my 12 months of building and writing ending and beginning over the weekend of the event. As with many modellers, all of my work builds up to the Friday of the show, so by its completion on Sunday night, I can finally take a breath, ready to start over with plans and ideas for the next twelve months.

This year’s SMW was a show that became important for a number of reasons, not least of which was the appearance of my new book on the Tomcat. Working on that almost solidly since the summer has meant that nervous exhaustion has competed headlong with excitement, so it was good to finally release it and be able to move on! Add to that my professional responsibilities with Model Airplane International and the usual round of meet and greets, conversations with those that have supported us through the previous year and the general energy and vibrancy of the event and you get some idea of why this show is such an important curtain-drop for not only myself, but the industry as a whole.

There is no getting away from the fact that SMW is a huge gathering of modellers, their models and the traders that we all visit to purchase the kits and materials needed to complete each one. This year was no different and though the cloud of uncertainty that is our current political situation hung in the air, modellers from around the world came together to share in a common passion – that of building models and talking about them! And boy did they come – seemingly huge numbers queuing up long before the doors opened on the Saturday morning – thank goodness for the tradesman’s entrance!

Though the show will be remembered for the basics that are now so familiar such as the clubs, traders and oh-so-important competition, it will also live long in the memory for four other reasons: two 1:32 Lancaster’s, a huge Hellcat and what to me was the real show-stopper: Wingnut Wings O-400…

Over the last few years or so, Airfix has used the event to announce their showcase release for the following year, as well as the smaller, cheaper kits that form the basis of their range. We have seen this previously with the announcement of their 1:72 Victor and 1:24 Typhoon, modellers being able to see either test-shots, or printed mock-ups of these models within a central display case that’s unveiled almost magically at 11am on the Saturday morning of the show. This year, as the crowds collected in eager anticipation, the Airfix ringmaster pulled forth the velvet cover to reveal what may be their most daring kit yet, a huge and frankly astonishing 1:24 Dash 5 Hellcat…

Hands up who expected that news?! One…Two…Three…

Like many, this caught me by surprise, the news of another 1:24 release being as shocking as it was welcome. Resisting the temptation to berate Airfix for once again ignoring my pleas for a 1:24 Harrier GR.9(!), I did take up the chance to chat to the design team and get their take on this new project and how it had made it’s way to fruition. Seemingly in development for around 4 years, the kit was originally chosen from two possibilities, the other being a particularly famous ‘bent-Wing Bird’, that choice being curtailed rather by the appearance of not one, but two kits from the Far East that all-but closed the large scale book on that particular story. Add to that the mountain of information that came the way of Kent via the United States, and the design team had all they needed to create this large scale kit.

Fast forward four years and the design for the kit has been completed and we are well of the way to seeing it hit the model shop shelves in May of next year, a date that’s refreshingly close to Saturday’s announcement and a pointer to Airfix’ new-found desire to only reveal new releases when they are almost ready to go, rather than as distant products running the risk of being forgotten amongst the fog of other announcements. And what a splash it made! Though there has been the usual round of criticisms from those complaining that it is too big, too expensive, not their scale, or not British enough (despite one of the core schemes in the kit being Royal Navy(!), many have been thrilled by what looks to be an evolutionary leap for Airfix where many of the design ideas trailed in their Typhoon (such as rippled skin panels) have now been perfected in the Hellcat. Add that the idea that it contains an 80+ part engine, full cockpit and gun bays and for what we believe is the very first time in a kit in this scale, folding wings, and you get some sense of what you can expect from this £120 kit when it’s released next spring.

“Whilst Airfix were basking in their moment of plastic Hellcat glory, across the halls, Wingnut Wings were wowing crowds with their 1:32 Lancaster kit.”

Whilst Airfix were basking in their moment of plastic Hellcat glory, across the halls, Wingnut Wings were wowing crowds with their 1:32 Lancaster kit. Having worked on it in secret for the past 9 years (yes, you read that correctly: 9 years…) Wingnut Wings were rightly proud of what to many onlookers, appears to be the finest plastic model kit ever produced…and that, despite the fact that the build on show, was incomplete and not finished with its full complement of surface detail! The results it has to be said were, are, will be, staggering, with levels of detail and an airframe surface that is almost startlingly lifelike in its depiction of the Lancaster’s construction. Discussions with Richard and David behind the stand revealed that unlike the Hong Kong Hobbies kit, this one is not fully detailed within the fuselage, but no matter, what you can see — especially in the cockpit and thanks to the kit’s 1000+ parts — there is more than enough to satisfy all but the most pernickety of modellers.

Though the kit will obviously be a complete Lancaster when it appears towards the end of 2019, the nose will also be offered as a separate section, as it would appear, will the engines. Plans seem to be in place to only supply one Merlin in the box, others being offered as separate add-ons should you wish to display more as part of your build. Frankly, I think that this is a good idea and offers a degree of welcome customisation when the time comes. The separate nose kit is genius! I can see a huge number of these being built by modellers who would like to enjoy the whole kit, but who may not have the model, time and space to deal with the complete kit…

But of course Wingnut Wings’s kit was not the only Lancaster and it was pleasing to also see more of HK’s approach to the this aircraft in 1:32. Simpler is design and cleaner in finish, their kit is no less impressive, with high levels of detail for the modeller to enjoy. Talking about the kit with HK’s owner, they have unashamedly created a kit that though huge, should be well within the grasp of modellers with average levels of skill, larger parts being created to deal with complex sub-assemblies and detail. Unlike the Wingnut Wings kit, HK’s features detail that runs the entire length of the fuselage and though the surface finish is smooth, the way that they have dealt with the panel lines and rivets will no-doubt please modellers used to this manner of production and the possibilities that this type of panelling allows, when it comes to painting and weathering.

“From what we could see, the kit will be a fitting tribute to this most incredible of aircraft and something that will form the centrepiece of many collections for years to come…”

So that was that – or so we thought. Wingnut Wings had other ideas…

They had already announced that they would be revealing a new project at the show, so we all waited with increasing levels of anticipation to see what the new kit would be and then it arrived…a 1:32 0/400, the huge biplane bomber used by the British during WWI. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so gobsmacked by a new kit release as I was when I saw what Wingnut Wings have planned for this one. It’s huge of course being only a couple of feet narrower in span than the Lancaster, but its biplane construction and the way that they have approached it that makes it so awe-inspiring. We are of course used to seeing large kits from this company, but this seems to take that idea one step further and that has, or rather will, result in something to truly enjoy when the time comes midway through next year…

Once again, further investigation revealed that the kit will be detailed within the fuselage will be comprehensive, two complete engines will be included and that the wings can be posed open, or sweet back against the fuselage, carefully included spars ensuring strength and integrity across the wings. From what we could see, the kit will be a fitting tribute to this most incredible of aircraft and something that will form the centrepiece of many collections for years to come. Having already decided that I want to build this one myself, I cannot tell you how excited I am by what the the kit will include anyhow I will approach its construction and painting next summer…

See you next time!

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3 thoughts on “SCALE MODEL WORLD 2018 – A FEW THOUGHTS…

  1. nanooklee November 12, 2018 / 7:48 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts and review of the big news from the show.

  2. ModelAirplaneMaker November 15, 2018 / 5:19 pm

    I’ll be the first to admit I was beyond surprised at the Hellcat announcement. It is very unfortunate that they did not proceed with the Corsair but I suppose there would have been the inevitable comparison with the Tamiya 1/32 products and the risk that large scale Corsair market being sapped by those excellent kits (though I certainly would have bought a 1/24 model as well!) Thanks for the update and pictures!

  3. Gerald Everett December 9, 2018 / 10:40 am

    I had hoped one day for a 1\24 Corsair , it can be built in mant different versions but the Hellcat is much appreciated , how about a 1/24 BF110 to complement the Mosquito , the versions are endless and would be stunning when built .

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