It’s always great fun to dig into Tamiya’s release patterns and try to make some predictions about where we might be heading. I’ve written on this topic plenty of times before – most recently HERE – and the general precedents have been holding for some time. Broadly, in TL;DR terms:
- New 1/32 subjects come in the summer of odd-numbered years. Spitfire in ’09, Mustang in 2011, Corsair in 2013, and Mosquito in 2015. So we’re due for something new this next summer.
- Variants follow in even-numbered years – with the exception of the Mosquito, which I’m starting to think won’t see a variant release.
- Subjects all exist in some fashion in their 1/48 catalog. The only real exception is the Spitfire – and that’s an exception in variants, not in subject.
- Tamiya’s 1/32 releases have been coming out in the same chronological order as their 1/48 releases, albeit skipping aircraft like the Dewoitine D.520 that would be a long-shot for 1/32 release.
- Tamiya’s subject choices have been of iconic aircraft with enough detail potential and bulk to justify the $100-plus pricetags.
But…recent signs may point to that precedent shifting.
Highway to the…
Earlier this year, Tamiya dropped their first jet since their lauded F-16, a 1/48 Grumman F-14A Tomcat.
The kit has some minor frustrations in terms of detail and limitations on which F-14A production blocks you can build out of the box, but engineering and fit-wise, it’s a simply wonderful kit.
Now…it’s not likely…but it’s within the realm of possibility that they may stray from props for their next 1/32 kit, and drop a new-tool F-14 on us instead.
If you’re not aware, Tamiya has already done a 1/32 Tomcat – but the tool dates to 1980, making it nearly as old as I am. It’s generally regarded as Tamiya’s weakest 1/32 kit.
“But Tamiya never goes back and revisits old subjects” you might say. And that’s largely true, with one exception. Not so many years ago, they released two brand-new 1/48 A6M Zero kits to replace another ancient tooling.
So…it could happen.
While most of the buzz around Tamiya this year has focused on the new Tomcat and 1/24 Acura NSX, they just very recently announced another 1/48 kit, set to release toward the end of the year – a Ki-61 Hien.
Now this is pretty remarkable on its own – I think the last time Tamiya released two new-tool 1/48 kits in the same year might be the P-47 and Me 262 (ironic). But there may be more going on here.
Just look at the CAD renderings.
What the fuck is that?
Tamiya typically doesn’t go in for exposing the engines in its 1/48 inline props – I can’t think of a single one honestly – but there you have it, a Ka-40, the Japanese license-built version of the famous German DB 601.
Why does this matter?
Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe Tamiya’s just stepping up their 1/48 game.
Or maybe they’re twin-tooling and since they’re already doing something in 1/32, may as well put a simplified version in the 1/48 kit.
So…could Tamiya be ramping up a 1/32 Ki-61? Maybe?
Let’s Throw Some Odds
So…the way I see it, there are four distinct possibilities in play for Tamiya’s next 1/32 kit. But what’s the likelihood of any one of them happening? At this point, fuck if I know, but I’ll throw some numbers out anyway:
- P-47D Razorback – 35%
- Messerschmitt Me 262 – 20%
- F-14A Tomcat – 10%
- Ki-61 Hien – 15%
- None of the Above – 20%
Bring on May 2017!