When I got back into modeling in 2010, it seemed like the overwhelming trend in new armor kits was backfilling basically every single possible variant of every single World War II German ground vehicle.
Of course, that trend continues and, given the popularity of German armor, I doubt it will ever really go away. But over the last year-ish, I’ve noticed some definite changes afoot in the types of kits – and even in the manufacturers themselves – that are hitting the market.
All the Russian Things
The trend that seems most obvious right now is Soviet/Russian armor. Sure, we’ve had plenty of T-34s over the years, along with the various vehicles based on the T-34 chassis. But recently companies have been diving into more overlooked Soviet and Russian subjects.
Consider, in the past three years, we’ve gotten modern, state-of-the-art kits of the everything from the BT-7 Light Tank to the modern-day T-90. Trumpeter has recently released brand new kits of the T-80B, the ERA-armored T-80BV, and has a diesel-powered T-80BVD on the way as well.
In addition, we’ve got a growing collection of what I’ll call “things destroyed by Germans” – the lesser Soviet tanks that were basically destroyed in the Winter War and Barbarossa – such as the T-24, T-26, and T-37.
AND we’ve also got all kinds of curiosities in between. Trumpeter/Hobby Boss, who is way out front in this trend, is also prepping IS-4 and IS-7 heavy tanks. Trumpeter has already released one variant of the BM-21 GRAD rocket truck, with another on the way. And a new-tool BM-13 Katyusha, the legendary “Stalin’s Organ” of World War II. Three companies have already given us boxings of the experimental Object 279 heavy tank. And now Trumpeter is prepping kits of the multi-turreted interwar heavies, the T-28 and T-35.
On the modern side, Meng and Trumpeter are both prepping releases of the T-90-based BMPT “Terminator”, essentially an anti-personnel tank designed for urban warfare.
Long story short – if you don’t think Russian armor is a trend, you probably haven’t been paying much attention.
The Great War
The next big trend – which you can see unfolding right now if you look around, is Great War armor. Things jumpstarted last fall with Meng’s release of the French FT light tank in 1/35, and Takom’s release of the same in 1/16. Since then, Takom has tossed teh truly ungainly St. Chamond over the wall, while Meng has followed up with a just-missed-it Char 2c. Sometime this summer, Tamiya is set to drop their own bomb with a new-tool British Mk.IV Male.
UPDATE: Tamiya will not be the only one offering a new Mk.IV. Takom has just announced they will be releasing a Mk.IV Male and Mk.IV Female this summer!
I think this is coming about due to a confluence of three factors.
First, this is essentially greenfield territory. There’s no excellent Dragon kit or competent-but-dated Tamiya kit to compete against. Until last fall, the only real player in Great War armor was Emhar. And their kits are, well…if you have any I’d sell them on eBay right now before they become worthless.
Second, Wingnut Wings has spent the last several years proving just how popular World War I subjects can be, when backed by solid kits.
Third, 2014 marks the centennial anniversary of the Great War…so the next four years will be a general high tide for interest in all things World War I.
Obviously, this trend still has a ways to go before it plays itself out. But the groundwork is definitely laid, and I anticipate some pretty cool releases over the next two or three years.
Exploring trends wouldn’t be any fun without guessing what’s next. So I’m going to go ahead and say U.S. and NATO Cold War armor.
Meng has been taking charge in this arena to date with the M2A3 Bradley, French AMX-30B and AUF-1, and the German Leopard 1A3/4. In addition to further Leopard 1 marks, I’m assuming we’ll probably see at least an Anti-Aircraft Gepard, and perhaps a Beaver bridgelayer.
Those would represent a nice dent, but I think there’s probably more on the way. The market is pretty overdue for some new-tool M60s, M113s, a new M551 Sheridan…and if one is given to flights of fancy, a new-tool M270 MLRS. Surely there are more subjects-in-waiting than that, but you get the idea.
So what do you think? Is Great War armor the next big thing? Do you think we’ll see a raft of new US and NATO armor in the next few years, or perhaps some other corner of armor history?