Since returning to modeling in 2010, I’ve seen several new kitmakers come onto the scene. Quality has sometimes varied. Some manufacturers burst out of the gates while others took a few kits to find their footing. But they’re all injecting a steady stream of vitality into the hobby and keeping the established players on their toes. For all of those who like to gripe about the hobby dying out, these new manufacturers offer a powerful argument that that is just not the case.
And now we have another to keep an eye on – TANMODEL.
Bucking the trend of new kitmakers emerging out of the Asia Pacific region, TANMODEL comes to us from Istanbul, Turkey. They’ve already released one kit – a 1/72 Hurkus trainer – but it’s their impending 1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash that first brought them to my attention.
The more I looked into TANMODEL, the more interested I became. From their commitment to working from 3D scans of actual 1:1 aircraft to the quote on their website of “thinking like a modeler, not despite the modeler”, to their rather ambitious roadmap, which includes a 1/32 F-4E Phantom, 1/32 F-111 Aardvark, 1/32 F-5A and F-5B Freedom Fighters, and a new-tool 1/48 SR-71 Blackbird.
Who is this company? To find out, I reached out to TANMODEL’s founder, Baris Tansoy, to see if he’d be willing to answer a few questions. Graciously, he accepted, and his answers follow below. Enjoy!
Q – How did you come to start Tanmodel? What inspired you?
My desire for improvement and of course my wife’s support.
Q – The RF-84F Thunderflash is your first 1/48 kit. What made you choose it in particular?
1/48 F-84 series kits were available at a reasonable quality. The fact that a high quality RF-84F kit will complete the collections of the modelers and that we have access to the actual aircraft in Turkey made it easier for us to decide.
Q – I’m thrilled that you are using LIDAR to scan real aircraft. Will you be using LIDAR for all future subjects such as the F-111 and SR-71?
First of all I should explain what LIDAR is. Because, modelers are using wrong terms unintentionally due to another model kit manufacturer. LIDAR is a cartography term. Geographical elevations are determined by airborne laser measurement.
On the other hand, we perform 3D scanning via laser. 3D laser scanning is easy in application, but the data processing is difficult. It requires powerful computer infrastructure and high engineering. Our specialist team is processing these data. If we don’t have reliable technical documentation, we will continue to use 3D scanning in our other projects. TANMODEL is a leading brand in model kit industry in terms of number of aircraft and helicopters scanned.
Q – I’m familiar with how LIDAR works in general, but I’m curious about the reality. For instance, I recently saw a comment you made stating that the rivets on the RF-84F match those on the real aircraft. Were these captured in the scans, or did you have to use other methods such as photography to augment the point cloud?
We made the 3D design by using the technical specifications of RF-84F’s manufacturer and performed measurements on the actual aircraft located in the Istanbul Aviation Museum. For panel lines and rivet details, we used the rivet map that we prepared. Our kit can be taken as a perfect reference in this regard.
All panel lines and rivets are visible on scanning data of the aircraft we have scanned. Our 3D laser scanning device has measurement/precision in microns. After scanning is completed, device takes pictures from the same location using HDR method. These pictures are converted into a point cloud, then they form a separate data set after being matched with the point cloud obtained from scanning. We create surface modeling using these data points. We can display either the point cloud or 3D picture data and we can transfer these directly into our design.
Q – Are there some places LIDAR can’t go? Cockpits, gear bays and so forth?
Scanning device scans without contacting the actual object. Including inside of the cockpit, we can scan all details we want such as wheel bays and nozzle.
Q – Will LIDAR scanning allow you to recreate certain details that might be difficult otherwise (e.g. stressed skin effects)?
The 3D scanning device converts the whole whole aircraft surface into a point cloud. However, we have to deliver you a surface that looks like straight out of the factory. Thus, we re-create the surface conditions on 3D design.
Q – Your website includes the statement “Thinking like a modeler, not despite the modeler”. Could you elaborate on this?
Why does a model kit manufacturer present the fuselage in 3 parts?
Why does a model kit manufacturer sell the same kit with same decal option in 20 different boxes?
Why does a model kit manufacturer just renew its box every 5 years instead of completely renewing a 40 year old kit?
If you, as a modeler, object to this and despite your objections the model kit manufacturer still maintains the same mentality – then you should know that we don’t think like them. We think like modelers, we design and manufacture as modelers want.
Q – One common lament among modelers is the tendency of certain manufacturers to pop open every hatch and access panel. I’ve read that you are taking a different path, leaving those panels closed but including provisions to make it easier for those who want to open up panels to do so. Can you go into a bit more detail about this?
As you build a kit, you look at related books and dive into your picture archive for reference. What do you see? Generally, parked aircraft, ready to fly. Very few of them show aircraft under maintenance. That is, with their engines removed, access panels opened, etc.
If a kit comes with engine parts, then it should also include the engine base, some technician figures, hangar parts and other similar stuff. As a matter of fact, modelers who make such kits are actually making a diorama. If you are not going to be making a diorama ( or a kit including special details ), do you ever want any parts that would raise difficulties? I don’t. That’s why TANMODEL is different. We design by thinking like modelers.
Q – Your Facebook page talks frequently of the importance of fit. What steps are you taking to ensure your kits fit together well?
I am also a modeler and we set the outlines prior to 3D design by using a method similar to storyboarding.
In other words, we design the design itself. This means our designing process may take a little bit longer than the usual.
Our purpose is to create a parts breakdown that makes it impossible for the modeler to make mistakes. We proceed in design if the part structures are compatible with the mould method and we always consider the next step.
[For example, on the RF-84F], a part of the wings can enter into the fuselage. When you assemble the kit, you will notice that, as the wings enter into the fuselage through a channel, it doesn’t move up and down and doesn’t cause any gaps.
Because the parts inside the intake also enter into the channel in the intake end part, each one are self contained separately but together, they form a structure that supports all of them. Our kit has more of these modeler-friendly solutions and we will maintain this in our other kits.
Q – You have an ambitious roadmap of future kits, and a few, such as the 1/32 F-5A and F-4E, are already into the design process. When can we expect to see more of them?
We don’t want to give away too much, so we may remain silent for a while. But I am pretty sure that you will hear a lot from us later on.
Q – Are you taking any steps to keep prices manageable for modelers? Particularly with some of the larger subjects on your roadmap such as the 1/32 F-4 and F-111 families?
Pricing is the most important part of sales operations. The RF-84F enabled us to gain crucial experience in terms of design and manufacturing processes. I believe we will become a brand with reasonable prices and multiple box options.
Q – Are you working with any third party specialists to print decals – Cartograf for example?
For us, accuracy of decal drawings and colors is very important. Previously, we worked with Cartograf for two different projects. But we also wish to collaborate with different printing companies. If all manufacturers are to work with the same printing company, this would cause a monopolization. We should give as much chance to other companies as we can.
My sincerest thanks to Baris Tansoy and TANMODEL for answering my questions. The RF-84F should be coming out later this year. In the meantime, you can keep up with TANMODEL by following them on Facebook.