iHobby Expo 2010
It's that time of year again, when industry leaders descend on Chicago and offer up their latest news at the iHobby Expo. This year seemed a bit better in turnout over last year, although I'd wait for final official numbers to verify any of that. The overall impression in talking with a great many people, though, is that the economic downturn over the last couple of years might be turning upward. That's nothing but good news for us on the receiving end, as we can expect to see some great stuff coming down the road.Muses-C space vehicle. This small vessel was designed to land on an asteroid and then return to Earth.
At the Stevens International booth, Kinetic had a couple of new subjects on display with sprue shots. First up is the 1/48 Mirage 2000N. Slated for a November 2010 release, this looks to be quite nice in detailing. I know that the existing kits of this plane either suffer from accuracy issues or fit issues, so hopefully this new kit eliminates those problems and gives 1/48 scale modelers an accurate and easy to build Mirage 2000. I am sure we will see the single seater version before too long as well.
Over on the Trumpeter side, the most impressive display was the 1/200 USS Arizona. This has an imminent release date, and while the test shot is of a pre-release example, it still looked very impressive. Turned metal barrels and photoetch make this a full multimedia production, and it will definitely be a long term project for the modeler. If you want an Arizona, though, you'll be hard pressed to find a more impressive model out of the box.
Moebius Models had quite a few exciting projects ready for release or nearing release. For the figure modelers, expect to see Bela Lugosi and Elvira soon. The Lugosi as Dracula model looked quite good, with a beautiful supporting structure. Of course, who could not love Elvira, and this figure is beautifully done, with the Mistress of the Dark reclining on her red sofa. Both of these figures are large (I forgot to write down the exact scales), and will really pay off from some careful paint work.
Space and sci-fi are another big part of Moebius, and here we will see a reissue of their popular Moonbus. This time, though, it will be pre-finished, offering a nice alternative for those who want a quick and easy display model. Also on display were two Battlestar Galactica kits. First up is the Galactica herself. This was shown as a full build-up and it looked quite impressive. Next is the Cylon Raider, and while this one was unfinished, the test shot did a beautiful job of capturing that aggressive look to the Raider.
For the rod selection, the nickel silver options include 0.1mm, 0.2mm, 0.33mm, and 0.45mm, while the brass covers 0.5mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm, and 1.5mm. The nickel silver rod could easily be used for biplane rigging in most scales. For the angle stock, these are all in brass and include 90-degree, U channel, and C channel stock. The 90-degree stock comes in 1mm, 2mm, and 3mm sizes, while the U channel comes in 1mm and 1.5mm sizes. The C channel comes in 1mm by 1.5mm, 1mm by 2.5mm, and 1mm by 3mm sizes.
The packaging sorts all of these into three price points, and although the prices were in Euros, the most expensive one looks to be coming in at less than $10.
Alpha Precision Abrasives was present at the show with their colorful booth, and for those not familiar with that name, these are the folks behind the Flex-i-File system. I've long been a proponent of having high quality tools on the workbench (high quality tools provide high quality results, after all), and the broad selection of abrasive material provided by this company makes their catalog an essential item for any modeler. Their Plastic Sanding Needles are really impressive, coming to a sharp point that will allow you to sand in even the tightest corners. They also have several options for very fine sanding films, with one set going up to 60,000 grit! If you need to get a high shine on your model, this is the company to go to.
Osprey Publishing had their latest titles on display, including some of the new series they're developing. One of those should be of great interest to the modeler: the Weapon Series, This series covers a specific weapon in detail. The first title in the series was on the Thompson submachine gun, with other titles covering Browning .50 caliber machine guns, Katana swords, the Colt 1911 pistol, and the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle. This series will undoubtedly grow quickly with plenty of interesting subjects out there.
Xuron is still producing the best sprue cutters out there, but they have not rested on their laurels. With the help of a scale modeler, they have improved on their existing design to produce an even better sprue cutter. The Model 2175ET Professional Sprue Cutter has larger, more curved handles that fit in the hand better and provide more stability. The cutting jaws are longer and thinner, allowing for access into tighter spaces. With a shallower angle on the cutting side, the blades cut closer and smoother, resulting in a much better cut with minimal residue.
Alongside the sprue cutter, Xuron has improved their photoetch scissors along similar lines. Again, the handles are longer and more curved, giving a better fit in the hand. As photoetch sets get more and more compact, getting access to the fret is challenging. I had to put up my old Xuron scissors for that reason; the jaws were just too large. The jaws on this new Model 9180ET Professional PE Scissors are longer and thinner, allowing access to even the tightest edge on a PE fret. The cutting blades are just as good as the old scissors, quickly and efficiently cutting the brass with no twisting or pinching. These are easily the best tool for removing parts from the photoetch trees.
Overall, the iHobby Expo was a good experience, with plenty of interesting new kits lined up for the next year. Improvements continue to be made across the board, and our hobby is definitely looking good for 2011.