Dear Friends and Fellow Modellers,
Welcome to the first newsletter of 2023. The January issue traditionally introduces our planned projects for the year. This year will be no different, so we’ll waste no time and get right down to the nitty gritty. We’ll start off with January, new releases for which are already available from our e-shop and have been since last week.
New Kits for January
For the second time in a row, a new release within the ProfiPACK line untraditionally draws on plastic from an external source. Such sources are generally used by us in releasing kits in our Limited Edition line, but there have been some exceptions in the past. In December, we released a 1:72nd scale Bf 109E-3 with the plastic coming from Special Hobby, and last year in February, the ProfiPACK line saw a Hurricane Mk.I that hailed from the Polish firm Arma Hobby. This time around, again in 1:72nd, we have a B-25J based around the Hasegawa molds, along the same lines as September’s Limited Edition ‘Gunn’s Bunny’. I expect this ProfiPACK B-25J Straffer, a B-25J with the metal plated gunned nose, will be just as popular as Gunn’s Bunny, not just because of an attractive assortment of accessory items, but also because the marking options include items that simply could not be included in Gunn’s Bunny due to space limitations. That felt like a crime. But the development of this item was not to just create the opportunity to rectify said crime. It was more of a response to the slowing of the market brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The market slowing was a reaction to this idiotic war. Between April and September of last year, it dropped our sales by some twenty percent, and we reacted by reducing the number of editions of some of our kits, notably in the Limited Edition line. That gave us a surplus of B-25J plastic, that was then diverted to this January release.
Coincidentally, we have another 72nd scale twin coming out this month, the Bf 110E. It is a repop of the original ProfiPACK, and signals a continuation of the return of the Bf 110 family to our catalog. January has a total of three such re-editions, and besides the aforementioned Bf 110E, we have our tried and tested P-400 Airacobra in 1:48th, and the recently sold out A6M2 Zero Model 21.
Besides the four ProfiPACKS, we have a couple of new Weekend kits, the Sopwith Camel with a Clerget engine and the Spitfire Mk.Vb. The Mk.Vb is an extremely complicated type, featuring a host of consecutive manufacturing modifications. The subtype being released this month can be considered, albeit as a bit of an oversimplification, a mid production version, characterized by an armored windscreen and a newer wing with asymmetrical kidney shaped cannon fairings under the wings.
New Kits for February
Coming in February is the 48th scale Limited Edition kit of the Hind-E. The kit will feature Zvezda’s plastic and eight marking options. Besides masks and coloured photoetched, accessories will include Brassin wheels, chaff/flare dispensers and GPS antennae. The theme of the markings is geared towards service with the air forces of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. As with our other 72nd and 48th scale Hind kits previous, this edition will include a publication from noted Czech military pilot Jaroslav Spacek.
The Hind E is historically a striking subject matter for a kit, and one that we will return to one more time in 2023 with a specific item. No less striking, however, is the ProfiPACK Fokker D.VII (AOW), signaling a return to World War One subjects. This kit was originally envisioned as a re-edition of the most successful of the Fokker D.VII kits, the ProfiPACK Fokker D.VII (OAW) with the catalog number 8131. But because this was repeatedly reissued several times in the past, we decided to create a new item this time around. The boxart shows what is quite possibly the most depicted aircraft of the First World War, Lo!, flown by Lt. Ernst Udet, during combat in the cockpit of a very elegant Fokker D.VII which this popular aviation personality flew during that time. The aircraft carried the somewhat enigmatic inscription ‘Du Doch Nicht!!’ on the elevators and was shot down by defensive fire from the Breguet being attacked. The marking options are a collection of six choices used in previous issues of the Fokker D.VII OAW kit. All in all, the options offer an attractive set of both striking and historically significant aircraft that includes among others the red and white aircraft flown by Lt. Kurt Monington of Jasta 18 with a raven and skull on the fuselage and another famed Fokker with artwork inspired by a fable of the Seven Swabians (the Brothers Grimm) from Jasta 65.
The February ProfiPACK line picks up with the Zero line, and will come in the form of an A6M3 Model 22/22a. It contains decals for five aircraft that served with ground based units of the Japanese Navy in the South Pacific and Japan. And be aware, the A6M3 Model 22 is not identical to the Model 32!
Carrying on with the Pacific theme, we have another kit, the Spitfire Mk.VIII in 1:48th, which is being released as a Weekend kit. The kit is based around the proven Spitfire Mk.IX/VIII/16 molds, and same as other February new kit releases, it is a component of our range renewal efforts. The decal options will allow building one of four aircraft that served with the RAAF in Australia and Indonesia, and within the RAF in Italy and Burma.
Another item for February’s Weekend line and based on older but proven molds is our popular Fw 190A-8/R2 ‘Sturmbock’ in 1:72nd scale. These armored machines were developed for combat with American four engined bombers and their kits are traditionally among our best selling items. One interesting fact related to this is that the subtypes Fw 190A-8 and Fw 190A-8/R2 account for half of all Fw 190 kit sales, which is furthermore the most popular type of aircraft we have kitted in terms of sales. This kit includes four marking options from JG 3, JG 4 and JG 300. The boxart depicts some of the most dramatic aerial combat to take place during the Second World War over Austria.
A significant force behind the momentum of our aforementioned range revival comes in the form of the only February re-edition. This is the ProfiPACK Bf 110E in 1:48th. This is the first Bf 110 release in 1:48th since our fire, the second anniversary of which came just before Christmas on December 19th. The re-emergence of these kits had to wait that long due to production capacity limits. In the coming months, Bf 110 kits in both 48th and 72nd scales will be expanding into the ProfiPACK and Weekend lines, and both kits will come back in the Limited Edition family as well, under the name Adlertag. At approximately the midway point of the year, the much requested Bf 110G-4, catalog Number 8208, will be making a comeback.
New Kits for March
For March, we are prepping for the continuation of the Wildcat series with a Limited Edition kit dubbed ‘Guadalcanal’. This will be dedicated to the F4F-4 Wildcat early and late versions. It will be another of the Dual Combo kits, with two complete kits in the package. In this case, it will be one set for the early version F4F-4, the other will be geared towards the later variant. These differ in the fuselage. The decal options will cover not only Guadalcanal operations conducted by the Cactus Air Force, but also aircraft operating off of aircraft carriers in various regions of the PTO during the same timeframe.
In March, the ProfiPACK line will see another 48th scale Spitfire, this time the Mk.Vc Trop and a 72nd scale Bf 109E-4. The Weekend line will grow by a 72nd scale Bf 110G-2, while the re-edition concept will be applied to the MiG-21bis and Avia B.534 of the fourth production series. Both of these will be in 1:48th. Actually, I can’t rule out that the MiG might be a new item with new markings. We have what we need to go down that road.
Kits for the Second Quarter
Truth be told, every year I have a greater problem with the structuring of information regarding planned kits for the upcoming twelve months. It’s mostly the result of the sheer number of new releases that come out each year. Despite the fact that many modellers on internet forums complain that we release too few kits and the wait times are long, we do put out some seventy new items per year. That sort of a schedule makes it very difficult to put together a summary of all planned releases. There is also the perception held by many modellers that only the initial release of a given kit can and should be considered a true new release. Anything else is often considered a repop and is overlooked by both the buying public and reviewers. I have a problem with this, because at least in our case, the re-editions are carefully planned items and not straight repops. It’s not like we put the exact same items into twenty different boxes. Each of our projects includes as much as a dozen sprues. Typically, we try to group into main sprues all of the fine details that will be common for a specific type, and complement these with version specific sprues that hold fuselages and wings that are the items that normally will bear the brunt of the differences. The kit then contains the relevant combination of sprues. As a goal, we avoid requiring the end user to apply any surgery to these types of things, which would allow a certain level of modularization. This would be a comparatively comfortable ‘out’ and would be pretty cheap to boot, but the same cannot be said for the modeller. So, we reject that route and keep the end user at a higher level of priority, which explains why we include version specific fuselages and wings of a given type.
It will be during the second quarter when this philosophy will show itself in all its glory. That is when we will be unveiling our Rufe. Formally, it is a version of the Zero. However, our version will not have very much in common with our Zero Model 21, from which the float equipped A6M2-N was derived. The new kit begs for four new sprues for its proper evolution. I have to say that I am very much looking forward to this kit. Initially, we thought that we would suspend the tradition of releasing new kits as Limited Edition items, but after a detailed historical analysis of the type, we thought that it would be a shame to do so. So, in April, we will start off with the now-traditional Limited Edition kit. The ProfiPACK version will follow in July.
For May, we have another Limited Edition kit coming. This will be the F-104C in 1:48th, another in the line of Starfighters, of which we have released a few to date. In this case, however, we have changed the supplier of the plastic and this Vietnam War version will hail from Kinetic.
June will see a significant premiere. The Limited Edition Wunderschone Neue Maschinen Pt.1 will introduce the Bf 109F-2 and F-4, the first of our Bf 109F, G and K kits in 1:72nd scale, which will be with us for a good number of years. The 1:72nd scale Bf 109F, G and K are a very complex undertaking, and up to now, we have never committed to such an expansive type under one project umbrella. This is one of the reasons why it has taken as long as it has. Another major reason that the road to fruition was as long as it was even for us is that the basis for the project was data developed for our 1:48th Bf 109F/G/K, and we changed and corrected it to a large extent. These were on a technological as well as a conceptual level. Since those first 48th scale kits were released, our technological abilities have evolved, and with them, our view as to how a model kit should look and go together. Those of you familiar with last year’s released S-199 and CS-199 will now have insight into how these Bf 109s will look, because the S-199s are part of the overall same project and share a lot in common with the Bf 109F/G/K.
The release schedule of the Bf 109F, G and
K will be the same as the 1:48th scale Spitfire Mk.I-V. the Zeros,
the Wildcats and Trener kits. Taking it in order, in the coming months we’ll
see Wunderschone Neue Maschinen Pt.2 with the Bf 109G-2 and G-4. This will be
followed by ‘Gustav’, with the Bf 109G-6, and next year, we’ll pick up with the G-14. This will be
followed by the G-6/AS and G-14/AS. This year will also see the release of the
first ProfiPACK Bf-109F-2 and F-4. New kits of specific Bf 109F, G and K
variants will be spread out over several years and will total somewhere in the
neighborhood of dozens. The entire project includes fourteen sprues (not
counting the molds for the S-199 and CS-199), and most of these deal with
differences in the fuselages and wings. We are also, of course, covering detail
changes as well, including such things as the sizes and types of tires and
wheel hubs, tailwheels and rudders. As with the Rufe model, this approach will
raise your comfort level in the build without the need of any major surgery.
For those of you that really want to take your work to the next level, we are
also preparing a slew of accessory items, such as photoetched, and 3D printed
parts, starting with simple wheels to more complex items like engines and
We’ve got one more special edition coming
in the second quarter. We decreased the number of kits produced for the Hind E,
and diverted the resulting balance to a truly unique release. Unlike the Hind E
kit, this one will not include the publication and will feature just one decal
option. This will be for Mi-35 coded 3366, a Hind who’s paint scheme was
inspired by the Alien franchise. The decals are the centerpiece of this
project. From a graphic development standpoint, this is a very complex item,
and its development was accompanied by constant doubt within our design team.
But, after successfully completing the rivet sets for the Mi-24 and Mi-35, it
was concluded that the completion of this decal set was well within our
capabilities as well. In the past, we have designed and produced many large
decal sheets, but in the case of Alien, it’s a collection of decals that end up
covering the entire model. The project is unique, and a first. It will be
produced in very limited quantities, no more than 1,000 units, and will also
likely become a real collector’s item.
We don’t live off of unique items alone, and so there are ProfiPACK and Weekend kits planned for the second quarter, as well as for the following ones. Amongst 1:48th scale ProfiPACK kits, this will include the initial release of the naval Camel 2F.1, the Z-326 Trener Master, and there will be another Wildcat. It may be a late F4F-4, or we may opt for the FM-2. This year, we’ll put out both, but the order of their release has not yet been set. Putting out a Dual Combo FM-2 boxing as a Limited Edition release is also on the table. The second quarter will also see a Bf 109E-1. Re-edition efforts will centre around a quarter scale Bf 109G-6, MiG-21PFM, another Bf 110, and in 1:72nd, an Fw 190F-8, MiG-21MF (Fighter Bomber), and a MiG-15UTI. For the Weekend line, we are planning a Tempest Mk.II and a Series 2 Tempest Mk.V, an Fw 190A-4 and A6M2 Zero Model 21. Not long ago, someone wrote in a modelling forum that after the release of Academy’s Model 21 Zero, this will be the final option for a release of this type from Eduard. Rest assured that this is definitely not the case. As always, we will give you plenty of reasons to consider the Eduard kit as your FIRST choice!
Here, we begin to skate on some thin ice. Not that there are no plans, but as a rule, that has so far not been broken, plans tend to be subject to some dynamic changes after the second quarter. In any case, the main project for the third quarter is the 1:48th scale Bf 109K-4, which we would dearly like to release in time for the IPMS Nationals in San Marcos. This model is in a similar boat as the 72nd scale Bf 109 line – this kit also comes out of the earlier Bf 109F and G releases that came before it, but the design of the Bf 109K-4 introduced some technological and conceptual changes and innovations. The same can be said for the S-199 and CS-199, being prepared for the end of the year. In both cases, we have achieved technological and conceptual maturity, and I dare say we’ve fine tuned these things just right. When we get to the realization of the Kurfurst Limited Edition kit, we’ll do the same for the marking options. Of course, we’ll complement it all with accessory items, down to 3D prints, so you have something to really look forward to!
The third quarter also sees plans for a Limited Edition Z-526 Trener, the final sub variant of the line. There will also be Wilde Sau Episode Three, the Final Countdown, dedicated to Wilde Sau units equipped with various versions of the Fw 190A. In the ProfiPACK line, we should see the 48th scale Rufe, another Wildcat, another Camel, and the aforementioned Bf 109F-2. The Weekend line will expand by the addition of the A6M3 Zero Model 32, another quarter scale Bf 110, Spitfire Mk.16 and an I-16 Type 10.
Economists would call this venturing into speculation. At this point in the New Year, the fourth quarter is still very far off and plans change. At the moment, what Limited Edition kits based around outside sourced plastic will be developed is up in the air. Whatever it will be, this item is normally the hit of E-day in the fall. Finalizing agreements for the supply of the outsourced plastic won’t occur until next month at Nuremburg, and there are currently several items in the running. Where this will go is uncertain also because the Nuremburg Toy Fair, at least as far as our industry is concerned, will not be exactly a beehive of activity due to kit producer attendance. And really, the same can be said of retailer attendance, so this will be the most unusual Toy Fair over the past fifty years. I do hold out some hope that it won’t be so bad, and that it might end up like this past E-day, or the soccer World Cup in Qatar. These were also events that had a lot of negative predictions associated with them, but came through surpassing all expectations. Regardless of this year’s outcome, I believe that the Toy Fair will rebound over the coming years, recovering from the covid restrictions, and return to its former prosperity. How the fair goes, I will report on in the March newsletter.
Be that as it may, the main focus for the fall will be the 1:48th scale Avia S-199. It will have its premiere at E-day, and same as the Bf 109K-4, it will come from a completely new set of molds. We are also planning a Limited Edition kit for the end of the year, ‘Malta’, featuring the Spitfire Mk. V, and the aforementioned 1:72nd scale Gustav, the Bf 109G-6, which will apparently also include a Bf 109G-5.
We also have another new release planned for the very end of the year, and on the table are several possibilities. Whether it will be the MiG-21F-13, the P-51B Mustang, the A6M5 Model 52 Zero or something in 1:72nd will be finalized in the coming months. Take it as an early Christmas surprise, to be revealed at E-day, because within our system of releasing information, it just has to be that way.
Accessory Items for 2023
Out of the planned accessory items, I will point out those that jump out at me from the long list of things to come. The first of these would be the Brassin wingfold set for the F4F-4 Wildcat . I consider this a true masterpiece, able to turn a normal model into the pearl of a collection and able to attract the eye of any onlooker like a pole dancer. This printed set contains a set of plastic wings, because its integration naturally requires the cutting up of these items, which is much easier to do with two sets of wings rather than with just the one set from the kit. The Brassin line will also include 3D printed parts for the Fw 190A-8 in 1:48th scale. The first of these will be the cockpit, replacing the older cast resin item, and among other things, illustrates the advances made in this technology. Our plan is to replace the cast cockpits with 3D printed ones over time. We are also going to produce 3D prints for armor in 1:35th and ships in 1:350th. Also of note are eleven new Space sets, complemented by a set for the raised rivets on the 1:48th scale Su-25 using the same technology. Among new mask and photoetched sets, I would point out items for the Tornado IDS in 1:32nd from Italeri and the first sets for the 48th scale Airfix Anson.
It looks like the revival of the show season is unstoppable. That would mean that after Nuremburg, we will attend all significant shows through the spring, including Prosek and Moson, and even Lingen between them. We will also attend some smaller local shows, although these will be more for exposure of our new items than as vendors. In the summer, we will be in Texas at the IPMS Nationals, the fall will have us at E-day, in which we want to draw on the success of the last show, and take it a step further. Unfortunately, Telford will is not in our plans.
Excellent news has come out of Slovakia, which will see the return of Bratislava’s Plastic Winter. It will be the return of a legend in a big way. It will have a new venue and you have no idea how much I am looking forward to this show! So much so that the final big premiere of our making that I mentioned in the last paragraph will take place in Bratislava on November 11th, 2023!
There are two, in this issue, both from Mira Baric. There is the tenth edition of his report on the air war over Ukraine and the second part of Midway, about the search for sunken ships with Paul Allen. As is now our custom, we have five Boxart Stories. This newsletter is published in the classic PDF format and can be downloaded as you have in the past. At the same time, it is available through the Triobo publishing vehicle. You had an opportunity to test this new system out back in December, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There are some negative points that were raised, but among modellers, how can it be any other way? It does appear as though there are no fatal flaws in the system. If you should run into an issue, though, you can bring it to our attention, and we can discuss the principles of its functionality. Starting with February, our newsletter will be published using Triobo exclusively.
The space allocated for my introduction to the newsletter has been pretty much used up, but I would at least like to summarize some stats for 2022. The year has been an interesting one and somewhat surprising, because over a six month period of the market cooling, and the associated drop in sales, it ended with a recovery that brought us in line with our best year ever, 2020. This is because of excellent performance over the first and fourth quarters last year, brought on by your support for us and our products. Our main markets, traditionally the Czech Republic, the EU, the United States and Japan, even saw relatively significant growth. This amounted to 7% in the Czech Republic, 9% in Japan, and as high as 14% in the US. There were some major jumps in the year in smaller markets, such as China by 58% and Australia by 71%, but the champion amongst the developed world is Canada, with a jump of 84%.
With the EU, it is a bit more complicated, because we trade with individual nations. The results vary, and while we recorded an increase in sales of 11% in France and even 26% in Poland, in Germany we registered a decrease of 11%. There were downturns elsewhere as well. Predictably, Russia fell by 47% and this year the bottom will fall out if the war doesn’t end soon. We’ll see no sales in the Russian market immediately at the start of this year. Less understandable is the drop in sales to Great Britain, where they amounted to 25%. In a market that has seen long term growth, this is rather shocking. It can’t be blamed on Brexit, and in Britain we saw a drop in the year before last of 5%, in line with the global figure compared to 2020. In short, everything appeared pretty normal and back then, there was a drop of about a percentage across the board. Last year’s 25% drop in sales is more dramatic, and I would venture a guess that it points to a worsening condition for mutual trade between Great Britain and the EU. Furthermore, even we are seeing worsening conditions with respect to imports from Britain, almost to the level seen back in the days of communism. We have even refused delivery of some items, because the additional duties and import taxes were higher than the cost of the actual goods. Add to that the cost of postage, which has risen, and continues to rise enormously, and you can see why there is fear for the future of international trade. I would like to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to all those who, despite these conditions, still purchased items off our e-shop. Your help in maintaining this avenue of sales is not taken for granted.
That was the good news. Here’s the bad news. The other side of the coin when it comes to sales are expenses. These, unfortunately, rose exponentially. At the end of the summer, it even appeared as though these would not see any limits. There were also the effects of supply issues from earlier in the year. Luckily, our industry was not as hard hit as, say, the automobile sector. We never had to stop, or even limit, production. Nevertheless, inflation raised our expenses significantly, bit into our profits and put the brakes on development. The fall brought some relief on all fronts, including on the threat of further increases in energy costs, even though if these costs reach the government mandated ceiling, we’ve got something to look forward to….we’ll still end up paying three times as much as last year. The rising cost of production is the main, and really, the only, reason for price increases which we needed to implement with the New Year. We tried to minimize these as best we could, and because this was our responsibility alone, I put a lot of careful thought into this step. Despite all this, I firmly believe that we still provide the best value for the money compared to other firms. I believe that this will be noticed by you, and that we can count on your continued support for 2023!
And, I wish all the best for the New Year, much success and good health!