Richard Marmo's


I recently received an email that posed an interesting question…who makes floatplanes anymore. The answer, of course, is that there are quite a few who do. BUT…you have to hunt to find many of them.

Floatplanes are, by their very nature, a minority category. Granted, you have certain float subjects that everyone lusts after…the new Tamiya Fairey Swordfish being a prime example. At the same time, it's not unreasonable to assume that the majority of modelers have never even thought about building a floatplane, unless it happens to be a Rufe or an Ar-196.

There are some very interesting and unique floatplane kits floating (sorry about that) around. The old and recently reissued Grumman Duck from Airfix, a Hansa Brandenburg W.29 in 1/72 from Pegasus, an Ar-95W in 1/72 from MPM and the reissued 1/48 Kingfisher from Revell-Monogram prove that the floatplane enthusiast hasn't been totally ignored...but close.

So what's the answer to more floatplanes? The same as with any other kit subject you've wanted and thought you'd never see. Let the manufacturers know. Don't browbeat'em or threaten to never darken their door again if they don't produce what you want. And when someone does take a chance on a subject that most people have never heard of, buy a couple or three to show your support. Then encourage other modelers to do the same. Remember, the bottom line is always a question of economics. They can't produce a kit of your subject if you're the only one who's going to buy it.

Think about it.


Even if you don't normally give car models a second glance…never mind a first…there's a little gem from MINICRAFT MODELS, INC. that deserves your consideration. The kit in question is a 1/16th scale '31 Ford A V-8 Highboy Roadster. Put another way, it's a hot rod, the kind that were common sights in the 1950s. It was basically a Ford Model A Roadster with a flathead V8 engine block crammed into the front. Add a long list of custom speed parts to the mix, along with a killer paint job and it was show time. Also traffic ticket time if you got caught in the wrong place.

You get over 170 parts molded in gray, black, plated and clear, all packed in 12 bags. Only the instructions and small decal sheet with California tags are loose in the box. One bag contains a metal axle, two rivets and four metal hinge pins. Everything, in turn, is contained in a sturdy, conventional, top over bottom box.

Quality of the moldings is excellent with no extraneous flash evident, as is the detail. The front steering is functional, thus making the front wheels poseable. If I'm reading the instructions correctly…I haven't built it yet…you can pose the steering by turning the steering wheel. And as long as we're dealing with the wheels, consider the following. Unlike most car kits that are produced today where a hard plastic ring is used to simulate whitewalls on the tires, MINICRAFT provides vinyl tires (in their own bag) with whitewalls painted on. The end result is much more realistic. I love it!

The 12-page instruction booklet is excellent with clear illustrations and descriptive text. There's only one fly in the ointment and I don't know whether it's omission was accidental or intentional. No color information of any kind is provided other than the boxtop photo. At first glance, the lack of color data is a little jarring. But on reflection, it's really not that big a deal. If you stop to think, most modelers who tackle a level three kit will pretty much know what colors various components should be…or know how to find out.

Bottom line? This hot rod is a superb kit. If you're looking for something different as a change of pace…or you've been wishing someone would produce a '31 Ford hot rod…there's no need to look further. Price? $30.00.


MINICRAFT MODELS, INC. has also added a couple of new airliners to their 1/144 scale line, a Boeing 707-320 and a C-32A. Both wear a price tag of $16.00 each.

If you're familiar with their 1/144 line, then you know exactly what to expect. But for those who haven't seen them, a quick rundown.

Parts breakdown is conventional and relatively few in number. Fuselage halves are molded without window openings, those openings instead being applied as decals. In this scale, I really prefer that approach. It also makes painting far easier. The cockpit windscreen is clear in order to provide a little depth if you try to look thru it. If you prefer, you can simply paint it over to match the decal windows. Landing gear is nicely detailed, though you can build the planes in flight configuration if you prefer. Take that approach and you'll have to create your own pedestal to mount them on. Instructions are quite clear and include comprehensive color information on the last page.

The Boeing 707-320 is molded in medium gray styrene and all parts are bagged with only the decals and instructions being loose in the top over bottom box. This is common to all of their airliner kits. Parts are flash free and surface detail is lightly recessed. Markings are for an aircraft in Pan Am livery. One thing that's slightly different on this kit is that MINICRAFT provides you with windscreen decals if you prefer to match the decal approach for the passenger windows.


Same song, second verse for the Boeing C-32A Executive Transport…which is actually a modified 757. Operated by the Air Force, it's exactly what the name implies. Essentially it's a luxury limosine with wings and is used to transport high level government officials. How high? Consider that when the vice-president is on-board, the aircraft is referred to as Air Force Two.

The kit follows the same pattern as the 707, with a couple of exceptions. Parts are molded in white and there are no optional decals for the windscreen. Markings, of course, are United States of America.


POLAR LIGHTS continues to expand their line, much to the delight of figure enthusiasts. One of the more recent releases is another Aurora repop, this one being The Witch.

To 1/12 scale, you don't just get the figure of the witch. It's a complete diorama, the result being a fascinating scene. The witch is standing beside a bubbling cauldron that's placed over an open flame. There's a chopping block to one side with a meat cleaver stuck in it, stone wall behind her with cages visible. Overhead is a beam with a snake wrapped around it, several bats and rats (presumably dead) hanging from hooks along with a kerosene lantern. In the witch's left hand is another bat (either dead or fixing to be) and a live rat in her apron pocket. And, of course, there are the usual accessories such as a broom, bottles, jugs, chain, wooden spoon, green toad, bones and more.

The kit itself is everything you've come to expect from POLAR LIGHTS. Close to sixty parts, most of them molded in a yellowish cream styrene. One sprue is clear and contains all the bottles and jugs. Paint the insides, cement the halves together and you're on your way. Or get creative and fill'em with colored water after you've made sure the seams are watertight. All parts are contained in three bags and instructions are the familiar Aurora retro style.

Price for all of this entertainment? Only $17.00 and Halloween coming up, too. Do I hear screams and cackling in the background?


A new series of books has made their appearance from SPECIALTY PRESS. The premiere issue of their RACEPLANE TECH SERIES is Volume 1, Griffon-Powered Mustangs by A. Kevin Grantham and Nicholas A. Veronico.

Format is identical to their well-known Warbird Tech and Airliner Tech series. 100 pages, around 160 b&w photos and illustrations, 4 pages of color, semi-stiff covers, 8 1/2 x 11 size and a price of $16.95. Only the subject matter changes.

Contents include a complete history of the Griffon engine, including photos, illustrations and interior cutaways. You'll find a complete description of the evolution of the Red Baron, including Miss RJ and Roto-Finish, also extensive coverage of World Jet and the evolution of Miss Ashley II (a highly modified Mustang with swept wings and contra props).

Color photos include Red Baron, Miss Ashley II in her final configuration mounting the NACA belly scoop and World Jet in flight that gives you a clear view of her polished aluminum fuselage and lime green (yep!) wings.

While not military versions, these air racers are the ultimate Mustang development. P-51 lovers need to add this one to their bookshelf.

If your local bookstore or hobby shop doesn't carry it, you can order the book directly from Specialty Press, 11605 Kost Dam Road, North Branch, MN 55056 or call them at 800-895-4585. Keep in mind that there is a $4.50 shipping and handling charge per order.

Those of you in the United Kingdom can order from Airlife Publishing, 101 Longden Road, Shrewbury SY3 9EB, ENGLAND or call them at 01743 235651.

BULLETIN! There were several fascinating announcements from the Tokyo Hobby Show. You can find a page of images at this link. Probably the most interesting, at least to me, was the Tamiya Gekko (Irving) in 1/48 and a boxtop of a Revell He-177A-5. I'm assuming that it's Revell of Germany and to 1/48 scale, but there's nothing firm about that.


And that, folks, is it. There's more to cover but my deadline's screaming. See you next month.

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