A Fine Time
You might say that I am a born-again modeler. I left the hobby almost ten years ago when I went to college. School work, then marriage, coupled with moving from one small apartment to another made it difficult to do any modeling. Only within the last year or so have I had both the time and space to get back into this hobby.
I thought I had kept up to date with things, but when I started building kits again I discovered that things had changed. When I left, modeling seemed to be in a decline. New models were becoming fewer and fewer, and the variety was dwindling as well, which was a pity, because the kit quality was beginning to improve, with etched panel lines and good engineering. Photoetch brass and resin details were just coming onto the market, and most of the modelers I knew back then looked down on them as the easy way out, preferring to do it the old fashioned way with plastic rod and card stock.
Step forward ten years, and I am immediately struck by the huge variety in front of my eyes. Being a die-hard 1/72 modeler, I cant believe the amount of new injection kits out that 10 years ago would have been a fantasy. Everything from the Pfalz D.XII to an FF-1 to a J-35 and F-86D has been done, and done to an incredible level of detail. Those brass and resin detail sets that were looked down upon 10 years ago are now in proliferation, and instead of being derided are almost essential.
With this explosion of great kits in such a short amount of time, those detail sets reduce the building time needed, allowing the modeler to remain at the same build/buy rate of about 1 to 10. If I tried to do all the detailing I did 10 years ago without brass or resin, I would be building one plane for every fifty bought! Resin and brass are also becoming the medium of full kits, too. Eduards Strip Down kits are stunning works of art that look like a quick and easy way to the insane asylum.
Resin, on the other hand, is opening doors to kits that we would otherwise never see. The level of detail that can be made in a resin kit easily rivals that of injection kits, and often times surpass it. The only difficulty is in the assembly, but even that isnt too hard. With resin, we are seeing such kits as the X-3 (finally!) and AM-1 Mauler, kits that no injection molded company would ever pick up because they could never recoup the cost of making the molds.
Ten years ago, the driving force behind kit manufacturers seemed to be coming out of Asia, with Japan and Korea both pushing the envelope in mold quality. While they are still putting out some great kits, I think that the current driving force is centered in Eastern Europe. Ten years ago, the Iron Curtain, while extremely rusty, was still up, and all we were seeing kit-wise was some poorly done Russian and Czechoslovakian kits that left much to be desired. Now, we have companies like MPM, Toko, and Dakoplast putting out kits that easily rival those of Hasegawa and Academy. With all of these great advances and incredible choices in kits, all I can say is that it is a fine time to come back to this hobby.