SPECIAL REPORT - 2001 RCHTA Hobby Show News

By Michael Benolkin

The 2001 Chicago RCHTA Hobby Show was an interesting mix of news. As we've been observing over the last few years, the big companies are putting new kit subjects on hold and filling the void with reissues until their business economies improve. Those of us who are old enough to remember when Paul McCartney was in a band before 'Wings' will also remember a similar hobby slump in the 1980s. I remember hearing that the hobby was dying back then, just as I've heard those same words at this show. As with all things cyclical, the economy will change back and we'll see the giants (those that survive) back in full swing.

On the other hand, many of the smaller companies and a few new start-ups are jumping in to fill the new-kit void. We will be seeing many more kits in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 that have never been done in those scales (or in some cases, any scale) before. From our point of view (the buyers/modelers), there will be plenty of new stuff coming to make our wallets scream for mercy.

As is standard for RCHTA, Thursday and Friday are reserved for distributors and store owners (and the press) to come preview what is going to be available for their store shelves. The real pandemonium is on Saturday and Sunday when the doors are open to the public.

Attendance on Thursday was somewhat light. Nevertheless, there was plenty of news. I met with the various scale modeling manufacturers and will summarize their news/views below. What fascinated me was the model railroad side of the show. With few exceptions, nobody was interested in talking. Not just to me, but to many of the trade-only attendees that I watched around me. I wondered why these vendors even bothered to come.

The list is rather long, but the manufacturers are listed in alphabetical order:

Absolute Air, Land & Sea

As we reported from the 2001 IPMS/USA National Convention, Absolute ALS is preparing another round of reference releases. The Fw190 disk that was previously announced has been delayed while they await the availability of a soon-to-be airworthy Focke Wulf. In the meantime, the upcoming release schedule now looks like this:

  • Panther

  • King Tiger

  • Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress


MRC was displaying a number of Academy's current and upcoming releases. According to MRC, the number one seller in last year's Boeing 377/KC-97 kit series was the civilian airliner. They also indicate that all four versions of the kit are still in production. On the upcoming release list:

  • 1/35 British Tank Destroyer Achilles

  • 1/35 M10 Tank Destroyer

  • 1/144 Convair B-58 Hustler

  • 1/144 Boeing B-47B/E Stratojet


The folks from Airfix returned to display some great progress in updating their product line. Last year, they announced the update of their 1/24 Harrier GR.1 kit to the GR.3 version. Sales of this kit are evidently strong. On dsiplay this year were updates of the 1/24 Spitfire to the Spitfire Mk.V, 1/72 Westland Lynx updated to the Lynx Mk.8, and the Dornier Do217 Mistel w/Me328.


AMT/ERTL has now terminated all of the plastic kit subjects that are not cars. According to the representatives at the show, there are no plans to produce any new models in conjunction with the new Star Wars movie nor the new Star Trek TV series. There are also no plans to reissue any of their aircraft kits.

Upcoming from AMT (non-die-cast):

  • 1/25 Ala Kart Show Car

  • 1/25 1958 Plymouth Belvedere

  • 1/25 1966 Mustang Hardtop

  • 1/25 1957 Chevy Hardtop

  • 1/25 1957 Ford Hardtop

  • 1/25 1956 Ford Victoria

  • 1/25 1966 Ford Galaxy Hardtop

  • 1/25 Chevy Nova Street Machine

  • 1/25 1972 Chevelle SS

  • 1/25 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner

  • 1/25 1967 Mustang GT Fastback

  • 1/25 1953 Ford Pickup Street Machine

  • 1/25 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup


This is a very new company that hit the market with a bang. Their first offering is the 1/48 scale Ta183, complete with two engine options and even air-to-air missiles. Our own John Lester has a build-up review of the kit in this issue of Internet Modeler.

Upcoming from AMtech:

  • 1/48 P-40E

  • 1/72 EC-135E ARIA

  • 1/72 Ju88S-3/T-3

  • 1/72 Ju88S-1/T-1

Classic Airframes

Classic Airframes has really turned up the heat with new releases and especially releases of previously ignored kit subjects in 1/48 scale. On the heels of their Lockheed Model 14/Hudson Mk.1 kit (build-up article in this issue of Internet Modeler) and the recent Regianne RE2001 come the following:

  • 1/48 Regianne RE2000 (Oct '01)

  • 1/48 Supermarine Walrus/Seagull (Nov '01)

  • 1/48 Lockheed Hudson III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1 (Nov '01)

  • 1/48 Savoia Marchetti SM.79 (Dec '01 or Jan '02)

  • 1/48 Regianne RE2001CN (Dec '01 or Jan '02)

  • 1/48 Regianne RE2002 (Early '02)

  • 1/48 de Havilland Hornet (Early '02)

  • 1/48 Arado Ar68E/F ('02)

They did mention that there is interest in an all-new tooled version of their popular Boulton-Paul Defiant on the horizon as well!


As I approached the CMK booth, I could not help but notice one of their latest releases, the 1/35 BR 52 WW2 steam locomotive. This thing is as huge as it is detailed! While not compatible to the average modeling budget, this kit would build into a mantle piece for the armor builder and model railroader alike. It would also work great for all of the 1/35 WW2 German railcars that have been released by DML and others. Some of their current and upcoming kit releases include:

  • 1/35 Kriegslokomotive BR 52

  • 1/35 Studebaker 750 Gal Fuel Truck

  • 1/35 Studebaker 2.5 ton 6x6 Truck

  • 1/48 Aero L-39C Albatross (MPM)

  • 1/48 Arado Ar231 (MPM)

  • 1/48 Dornier Do24 (HML)

  • 1/72 Douglas DC-2 (MPM)

  • 1/72 Ki-21 Sally (MPM)

  • 1/72 X-4 Bantam (MPM)

  • 1/72 Hawker Seahawk (MPM)

  • 1/72 Fairey Albacore (MPM)

  • 1/72 Fairey Battle T.Mk.I (MPM)

  • 1/72 SA-2 Guideline Missile & Launcher (Planet Models)

  • 1/72 Junkers Ju388J (Special Hobby)


It was a great pleasure to meet the President of Hasegawa at the show, Mr. Katsushige Hasegawa. While Hasegawa normally allows their regional distributors to represent their interests worldwide (Marco Polo Imports is the US distributor), they brought their own displays in for this show. On display were a variety of build-ups from their product lines as well as two of their 1/8 scale museum-quality kits that are being re-issued for a limited time - the Fokker Dr.1 and the Wright Flyer. Also on display in their booth and at the Marco Polo booth were test shots of the up-coming 1/48 AH-64D Longbow Apache kit. This one looks outstanding!

On the list for announced releases:

  • 1/8 Fokker Dr.1 ('01)

  • 1/8 Wright Flyer

  • 1/24 Lancia 037 Rally 'Jolly Club'

  • 1/24 Lancia Stratos '1977 Monte Carlo Rally Winner'

  • 1/32 Messerschmitt Bf109G-6

  • 1/48 Douglas A-4F Skyhawk 'Lady Jessie'

  • 1/48 General Dynamics F-16D 'Thunderbirds'

  • 1/48 Kawanishi N1K2-J Shidenkai (George) (Clear version)

  • 1/48 Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Type 3 Hein (Tony) '56 Ftr Rgt'

  • 1/48 Lockheed F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War'

  • 1/48 Lockheed F-104S Starfighter

  • 1/48 McDonnell Douglas AH-64D Longbow Apache

  • 1/48 McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II 'Blue Angels'

  • 1/48 McDonnell Douglas FA-18B Hornet 'Top Gun'

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109G 'Experten'

  • 1/48 Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero Type 22 'Rabaul'

  • 1/48 Mitsubishi A6M5c Zero Type 52 Hei '203 Sqn'

  • 1/48 Mitsubishi A6M8 Zero Type 54/64

  • 1/48 Nakajima Ki-43-II Late-Model Hayabusa (Oscar)

  • 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang 'Man O War'

  • 1/48 Republic P-47D Thunderbolt Razorback 'In The Mood'

  • 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb 'Malta'

  • 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VII

  • 1/72 Aichi E13A1 Type Zero (Jake) 'Battleship Yamato'

  • 1/72 Curtiss P-40E Warhawk 'Red Star'

  • 1/72 de Havilland Mosquito FB.VI 'BOAC'

  • 1/72 Focke Wulf Fw190A-6 'Galland'

  • 1/72 General Dynamics F-16D 'Thunderbirds'

  • 1/72 Grumman F-14A Tomcat 'Tophatters'

  • 1/72 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIB '274 Sqn'

  • 1/72 McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Plus Harrier II

  • 1/72 McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Night Attack Harrier

  • 1/72 McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II 'Bicentennial'

  • 1/72 McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom II 'JG71'

  • 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf109G

  • 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf109G-6 'Barkhorn'

  • 1/72 Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Type 11/21 'Samurai Pilot'

  • 1/72 Mitsubishi A6M5b Zero Type 52 Otsu

  • 1/72 Mitsubishi Ki-46-II Type 100 Recon (Dinah)

  • 1/72 Nakajima Ki-84-I Type 4 Hayate (Frank) '1st OFTU'

  • 1/72 North American P-51B Mustang 'Geronimo'

  • 1/72 Panavia Tornado F.3 'Firebird'

  • 1/72 Panavia Tornado IDS 'Black Thunder'

  • 1/72 Republic F-105B Thunderchief 'NJ ANG'

  • 1/72 Yakovlev Yak-3 'Normandie Nieman'

  • 1/72 SdKfz 162 Jagdpanzer IV L/48 'Early Version'

  • 1/72 SdKfz 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) Lang

  • 1/200 Airbus A321 'Air France'


HiPM continues to deliver some great kit subjects, including the recent Petlyakov Pe-2 series. On display were some parts trees and box art from the upcoming 1/48 MiG-19 series. From the looks of things, we finally have a decent MiG-19 in quarter scale! The upcoming releases include:

  • 1/48 S-105 (Czech-built MiG-19) ('01)

  • 1/48 MiG-19S Farmer ('01)

  • 1/48 Shenyang J-6/F-6 (Chinese-built MiG-19) ('01)

  • 1/48 MiG-19PM (radar-nosed variant) ('01)

  • 1/48 Heinkel He70 ('02)

  • 1/48 Heinkel He170 ('02)


We hadn't heard much from Hobbycraft until now while they moved their production facilities to a new company in a different country. The launch product from their renewed operations was the A-4 Skyhawks. On display were some nice test shots of their upcoming 1/144 B-36 Peacemaker series, including the version with the RF-84K Thunderflash FICON parasite fighter.


  • 1/144 B-36B Peacemaker

  • 1/144 RB-36H Peacemaker

  • 1/144 GRB-36/RF-84K FICON

  • 1/144 B-2 Spirit

  • 1/72 Tu-16 Badger

  • 1/48 F9F-2 Panther

  • 1/48 F9F-6 Cougar

  • 1/48 F9F-8 Cougar

  • 1/48 F-111E

  • 1/48 CT-141 Tutor

  • 1/48 CT-141 Snowbirds

  • 1/48 A-10 Thunderbolt II

  • 1/48 Su-27 Flanker

  • 1/48 A-4M Skyhawk (USMC)

  • 1/48 A-4N Skyhawk (Israeli)

  • 1/48 YP-59 Aircomet

  • 1/48 P-59A Aircomet

  • 1/32 Spad XIII


ICM was showing off their latest releases - the 1/48 Spitfire XVI, 1/48 Spitfire VII and 1/35 Panzer II. While their release schedules have been adjusted, they've also updated their new kit line-up. No release dates are available yet:

  • 1/35 2S19 MSTA

  • 1/35 Cromwell IV

  • 1/35 Panzer II Ausf D

  • 1/35 Panzer II Ausf F 'Flamingo'

  • 1/35 Panther Ausf D

  • 1/48 Curtiss P-40F-1 Warhawk

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109F-1

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109F-2

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109F-4

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109F-4B

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109G-2

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109G-6

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109G-14

  • 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf109K-4

  • 1/48 North American P-51B Mustang

  • 1/48 North American P-51C Mustang

  • 1/48 North American Mustang Mk.III

  • 1/48 North American P-51D-5 Mustang

  • 1/48 North American P-51D-15 Mustang

  • 1/48 North American Mustang Mk.IV

  • 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VII

  • 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVI

  • 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXE (Czech S-89)

  • 1/72 Sukhoi S-37 Berkut

  • 1/350 Takao Japanese Cruiser

  • 1/350 Chokai Japanese Cruiser

  • 1/350 HMS Hood

  • 1/350 USS Essex CV-9


The first release under the banner of Minicraft's new owners is the Boeing 777 in 1/144 scale. Even in 1/144, this is a larger model! Also forthcoming is a limited edition set (2500 total) featuring the aircraft of the US Presidency.

  • 1/144 Boeing 777-200 (RR engines) American Airlines

  • 1/144 Boeing 777-200 (GE engines) Continental Airlines

  • 1/144 Boeing 777-200 (P&W engines) United Airlines

  • 1/16 Ford Flatbed V-8 Pickup Truck

  • 1/144 Aircraft of the US Presidency:

    • VC-118 Liftmaster - Truman

    • VC-121E Constellation - Eisenhower

    • Boeing 314 Clipper - FDR during WW2

    • VC-137 - Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon


Modelcraft was present and displayed build-ups of their recent Oriana (cruise ship) and Chieftain tank kits. Also on display were the soon-to-be-released kits that will make the civilian air modelers and naval builders happy:

  • 1/48 Cessna 172 (floatplane and normal landing gear included)

  • 1/400 USS New Jersey (WW2)

  • 1/600 USS New Jersey (WW2)

  • 1/400 USS Missouri (WW2)

  • 1/600 USS Missouri (WW2)

  • 1/400 Bismarck

  • 1/600 Bismarck

  • 1/400 Tirpitz

  • 1/600 Tirpitz


As with every year, the folks at MRC had their great array of hobby products on display, and the one that we've been waiting for - the 1/35 Sikorsky MH-60G Pave Hawk was there. This kit is due to be released in the next few weeks! The details look great and I know that the Cobra Company detail set for this kit is ready for release as well.

On the model railroad site of the house, MRC is launching a new line of DCC control systems that are targeted toward the smaller model railroads. The Prodigy controller features a rotary selector for engine operations and push-button access of four special functions as well as some other interesting growth areas. The system is supposed to be compatible with all of the NMRA DCC decoders on the market.

Polar Lights

All I can say about this company is WOW! Where all of the other manufacturers have avoided or dropped their science fiction subjects, Polar Lights has taken the venue on in full force. Take for example the recent release of the Forbidden Planet 1/72 (!!!) C-57D Spaceship. While I knew that this was going to build into a large model from the example that I bought upon its release, I was amazed at just how large this model really is based on the one on display at the show! So what is coming next?

  • Classic Godzilla Diorama (16" Godzilla) (Jan '02)

  • 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' Seaview Submarine (Mar '02)

  • 'Land of the Giants' Spindrift Spaceship (Jun '02)

  • 'Land of the Giants' Snake Scene (Sep '02)

  • Jetson Family Car ('02)

  • 'Back to the Future' DeLorean (new tool) ('02)

  • 'Ghost Busters' Ecto-1 (new tool) ('02)

In their automotive line-up, Polar Lights is featuring several race cars. These include:

  • 1/25 Richard Petty Dodge Charger (Sep '01)

  • 1/25 Richard Petty Torino Talladega (Oct '01)

  • 1/25 Buddy Baker K&K Stock Car (Feb '02)


The big news is the acquisition of Revell-Monogram by Alpha International, owners of Gearbox Toys and Collectibles. This acquisition also includes Revell/Germany, which gives Gearbox distribution access into Europe. What this means to the scale modeling portion of the business, time will tell. In the meantime, we asked R-M if there was any truth to the story that there would be no new-tool aircraft releases. R-M told us that while there were no new aircraft releases planned for the first few quarters of 2002, there are designs in the works. In the meantime, the name of the game will be primarily re-issues. The announced line-up looks like this:

  • 1/24 Bell UH-1B Huey Gunship

  • 1/25 'Blade' Metal Body Dodge Charger

  • 1/25 Corvette C5-R 2001 Daytona 24 Hour

  • 1/25 '81 Chevy Citation Lowrider

  • 1/25 35th Anniversary Camaro SS

  • 1/25 VW New Beetle Tuner Series

  • 1/25 '67 Plymouth GTX 2N1

  • 1/25 US Army Top Fuel Dragster

  • 1/25 '59 Chevy Corvette 2N1

  • 1/25 '58 Ford Thunderbird Convertible 2N1

  • 1/48 Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina

  • 1/48 Junkers Ju52/3m

  • 1/48 Republic F-84E Thunderjet

  • 1/48 Junkers Ju88C-6 Natchjager

  • 1/48 Grumman F9F-5 Panther w/Bert Kinzey's special monograph (part 1) - they indicated that part 2 would be coming late next year with the reissue of the Grumman Cougar

  • 1/72 Space Shuttle


Ending much speculation from last year, Tamiya displayed their upcoming 1/32 F-4E Phantom II. The kit has a clear nose with very detailed radar and 20mm Vulcan cannon details inside. In addition to two new versions of their M4 Sherman series, most of the news is reissues of existing 1/48 aircraft and 1/35 armor kits that are motorized. One welcome sight in the display was the 1/48 Avro Lancaster B.I Grand Slam which will be issued with motorization of all four engines. While retail pricing is not yet available, this otherwise hard-to-find kit will still likely be cheaper than purchasing it from the collectors' market.

  • 1/12 Yamaha YZR500 Works (Owl 6) (Nov '01)

  • 1/24 Ferrari 360 Modena Spider (Oct '01)

  • 1/24 Ferrari 360 Modena Yellow Version (Nov '01)

  • 1/24 Subaru Impreza WRC 2001 (Nov '01)

  • 1/32 McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II (early version) (Dec '01)

  • 1/35 M4A3 Sherman 75mm (Nov '01)

  • 1/35 M4A3 Sherman 105mm (Dec '01)

  • 1/48 Avro Lancaster 'Grand Slam' (Nov '01)

  • 1/48 Focke Wulf Fw190D-9 'JV44' (Dec '01)

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