Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We’re closed. Although you are certainly able to view and study our March release listing within these pages or at our e-shop, any purchases will have to be postponed. I understand that this sounds a little nuts, but it is not the result of some underhanded marketing ploy. It is a function of the fact that we are moving our entire retail department. It is also the reason why no sales will be going through our e-shop for the next seven days. As you will have probably already noted, the new items were available for early purchase from last Friday, and they will be available from our retail partners as well.
The move is being made from within the city of Most, where we suffered our fire claiming a lot of our plastic some two years and three months back, to a facility which we purchased just outside of the city last year and have been renovating for our needs. The village is called Sedlec, and borders an industrial park that houses, for example, a former brewery. That has long since been relocated. Our new facility is located about 4km from our head office in Obrnice. Our renovation is being done in steps. In January, immediately ahead of our departure for Nuremberg, we moved all of our plastic to the new facility which we call ‘the Barn’, but is officially labeled as ‘Hall No.2’. The relocation of the retail department is the second phase, and the third will be the move of the tool and press shops. This will include our design offices that fall under kit production. If everything goes as it has been up to now, that third phase should be complete by the end of the year. On the one hand, it complicates our life quite a bit, the third phase being the most complicated. The move of the heavy equipment will be the most logistically ambitious activity Eduard has ever embarked upon. It will also likely have an impact on the meeting of release schedules for the beginning of the year. This will mostly centre around the 48th scale S-199, but there will be a negative push against other projects such as the MiG-21F. But, there is the other hand, too, that will open up a more effective workspace for us, and not just with respect to the production of kits. The move will be to the benefit of the Brassin department as well, because the space freed up on the main floor of the main building in Obrnice will be allocated to them. This will give them somewhere between 6400 and 6500 square feet, and that will house their printers and other pieces of equipment very nicely!
This is all still in the relatively distant future. And you know how plans are. They have an awe-inspiring ability to not go the way they’re supposed to, they have an ability to fail, and so on. At the moment, it’s the retail department’s turn to move on up, and we began this today. We moved all the furniture and the IT equipment and tomorrow we’ll pick up with packing up stock items from the shelves and the latter’s disassembly. So, keep your fingers crossed and please, be patient. If everything goes according to those aforementioned plans, we should be open for business again next Wednesday. If you need anything from us, you can still write. We will be on-line and answering questions. Just bear in mind that we will be rather busy and there may be a delay in our responses for a short while.
The Nuremberg Toy Fair was different this year. From the point of view of our industry, it’s pretty simple to describe. It was small. All in all, there were six manufacturers represented: us, Special Hobby, Italeri, Airfix, Revell and Tamiya. There were some colleagues that produce accessory items present, AK Interactive, Vallejo, and Art Scale, which is also a retailer, but they do produce some masks and decals, along with some cutting saws. And that’s it. Beyond that…crickets. There was Zvezda, but they were in a bit of an undercover mode in an office in the service centre. In proportion to the new conditions, our table space was reduced and shared with Special Hobby. Retailers and journalists were fewer as well, and notable absences were Asian and American. But, it wasn’t as bleak as I am perhaps making it out to sound. There were fewer of us, but there was correspondingly more time for things. The discussions were not mechanically geared to business and there was a pleasant, friendly feel to it. There was also more general ‘chatter’, if you like. All in all, it was an interesting experience and I am happy for it. The atmosphere at this year’s Nuremberg Toy Fair reminded me of the old Chicago show RICHTA because, among other reasons, our exhibition hall at Nuremberg was, apparently for the first time, open to kids, and kids came! There were no Scout troops in attendance like in Chicago, but it was nice to see, regardless if it was because of the recent crisis or a simple organizational decision. It was a change and change is good. It wasn’t a revolution, but it was a step forward within the bounds of reason, and that is, in my estimation, the best way to move forward. Ultimately, what bothered me the most was the cold in the exhibition venue, and the stall that sold steaks on a bun that was closed. That was probably my greatest piece of enjoyment that I looked forward to. I will need to find another little gem to look forward to, and I am worried that this one will be tough to replace!
Don’t fret too much if these little philosophical musings don’t give you all that much. A dedicated, in depth look at Nuremberg follows in the pages of this newsletter edition.
New Releases for March – Kits
Of all of our new releases, which total 86 this month, modellers most gravitate to new kits. This month, there is nothing that is super new, there is no kit taking a bow for its premiere, but even so, it is an interesting mix of scales and aircraft from various periods in history. One is dedicated to the pivotal battle during the Second World War that was Guadalcanal and contains the F4F-4 in two development configurations from that period. At the time, naval fighters were not particularly striking in appearance on either of the opposing sides, but in my view, we were able to come out with an attractive mix of interesting aircraft that are accompanied by, to the contrary, riveting stories. Among them is a Wildcat that was flown by ‘Pug’ Southerland in a legendary fight with Saburo Sakai. This event was already once depicted on the boxart for one of our A6M2 releases. Other scheme options are provided for Wildcats that were brought to the forefront by pilots such as Joe Foss, Stanley Vejtasa and Donald Runyon. There is a total of twelve of these options, and the kit contains two complete sets of plastic for versions of the Wildcat that marginally differed from one another. Truth be told, the differences only concern the fuselages, but they are there and you need to be aware of them. If these sets of plastic aren’t enough for you, we also have the Overtrees options. And while still on the Wildcats over Guadalcanal theme, we have an article penned by Tom Cleaver in this issue of the newsletter.
The Second World War is our main focus of attention when it comes to kit production and our range reflects this. The 1:72 scale Bf 109E-4 in the ProfiPACK line is generally, but not exclusively, about the Battle of Britain, while the Spitfire Mk.Vc Trop deals with the later battles over the Mediterranean, North Africa and Southeast Asia. It represents aircraft equipped with the tropical filter, either the Vokes or Aboukir types, and the markings are anything but boring. We have British, South African, Australian, American and even a Yugoslavian Spitfire. We did make a subtle change to the design of this kit with the addition of the wingtips that were typical for aircraft equipped with the Aboukir unit. I also consider the boxart for this kit rather unique, and what is interesting about it, as well as with our other boxarts this month, is detailed in the Boxart Stories sections of the newsletter.
The Second World War theme is also expressed in the only Weekend kit release for March. Following on the heels of November’s Bf 110G-4, we have the Bf 110G-2 for March. In terms of camouflage schemes, this kit is no slouch either, but what sets this kit apart are the weapons options, and is different for each of the four marking options offered. We waited just shy of two years for the return to our range of the Bf 110 in the two main scales of 1:48 and 1:72. It was even longer for the Avia B.534. That one makes its return in the form of the B.534 IV Series in the ProfiPACK line. We should also manage to put out the B.534 III Series, and in the original boxes. Also being reissued in March is the MiG-21bis, also in the ProfiPACK line.
New Releases for March – Accessory Items
Of the 86 aforementioned new releases for the month, eighty of them fall under various accessory labels. Among them are some very interesting little items, often even unique, that provide a hint of the future. Among these, for example, is the cockpit for the 1:48 Mi-24V/Mi-35 in black form, which carries in its name PRINT & SPACE. This means that it is made as a 3D print with a small number of cast items, complemented by an instrument panel and other details made using 3D technology of the SPACE line. In April, we will release a set for the older and more traditional green version, common to Soviet era aircraft. I think that this combination is a fairly interesting concept, and with the advantages and features that it offers, will pique the curiosity of many modellers. For accessory items for model aircraft, this really is a new age, offering new opportunities and possibilities for improving your models, and certainly deserves a test drive at the very least. The colour sets include a small 3D printed item covering the ejection seat handle for the F-16A from Kinetic, also in 1:48 scale. The set is called ACES II Ejection Seat Lower Handles PRINT 1/48 and it really is as noteworthy as it is small. If it does get noticed, and becomes popular, it will open the door for further development of the technology. Printed engines are falling into the realm of classic items, and are offered for the F-4F-4 Wildcat, along with a wheel well set for the same type and scale, and yes, for the Eduard kit in general, and for the above mentioned Guadalcanal item in particular. I would also like to turn your attention to the set of guns for the Beaufort Mk.I, which are beautifully and finely printed items as well.
The collection also includes other interesting types of accessories. These cover, for example, the HKM B-25J in 1:48, in the form of masks, photoetched brass and SPACE sets, and the same can be said of the sets for the Revell B-24D Liberator and the F-16A MLU from Kinetic. A large collection of photoetched sets are designed for the Zvezda C-130J Hercules. So far, we have masks and a Space set for Zvezda’s Mi-8MT, while masks, photoetched and SPACE items are available for the 1:32 scale Hurricane from Revell and Spitfire Mk.IXc from Airfix. The latter, though, is in the bigger scale of 1:24. There is a mix of accessory items for Tamiya’s beautiful F-35A and, besides the wheels, I would point out the extensive masks for the RAM panels on the surface of Japanese and American aircraft which the kit offers as part of its eight marking options. Similar, but correspondingly simpler versions of these masks for the remaining marking options of the kit have been available since last month. These masks are produced using a different material from the one used in our canopy sets. Besides the advantages that this material offers for this type of application, they also differ in their black colour. With these two sets, we make a return to masks designed for camouflage schemes, national insignias and marking details. It’s not a one-off project, and we will continue with these sets primarily for kits of our own production. For the F-35A, we also have a BiGSin set of weapons.
Of the increasingly popular SPACE line, we have eight new items for March. I would also like to point out two 3D printed sets for 1:35 scale AFVs, and also the new LooK and LookPlus items.
Besides the articles already mentioned above, we have the next installment of the War Over Ukraine feature from Mira Maric. February 24th marked the first anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine. It came with a realization that we have ahead of us many months, if not years, of bloody fighting, the horrors of war and general gloom and doom. Regardless of how long it takes, it will end, and it must end if the world is to survive and maintain the values on which it stands. That means the defeat of Russia. After all, the Russians are working at it through their own tenacity.
With the use of four formerly Czech Hinds by Ukraine, we have a connection, albeit a loose one, to Tomas Dvorak’s article covering the Mi-24/Mi-35 that takes a look at not just the technical details of these aircraft, but also examines the interesting circumstances surrounding their acquisition by Czechoslovakia, and later deliveries to the Czech Air Force. This is an article that, although it is very detailed, it remains very easy to read and has a good continuity. It may not appear yet in the English translation of the newsletter.
The last of today’s articles deals with the sad news of the passing of Petr Samal on January 31, after a long illness. He led a ring of modellers that brought kids into the hobby and was also the head of the builders’ section of the SMCzR. Memories are offered by Fredy Riedel and Milan Mikulecky, and I think back on Petr fondly.