Every time a Shizouka Hobby Show or All-Japan Model & Hobby Show roll around, the modeling community gets all pins and needles in anticipation of the latest Tamiya release. There are other manufacturers, too, but for the most part their new stuff blows cover well before it’s shown publicly. Tamiya seems to be one of the very few that holds its powder for industry event reveals.
At this year’s AJMHS, the betting money was on a variant of their excellent F-14. Well, until the last few weeks, when work of a new 1/48 tooling squeaked out.
It turned out to be a new 1/48 Bf 109G-6.
Unlike last year’s F-14, or even the Ki-61 (more on that in a minute), it seems like the 109 is receiving something of a muted reception. But I’m sure it’ll still sell like hotcakes.
With Tamiya’s 1/32 releases, I usually do a quick post on the kit and its implications. Even though the 109 is 1/48, I figure that it’s a significant enough release to justify the same. So let’s get into it.
Great. Another 109.
This is the prevailing sentiment floating around the interwebs right now. And it’s valid. Usually, Tamiya does a pretty good job of wading into a subject area it can exploit. But with the 109G-6, the field is already littered with competitors. Many of them – like Academy and Arii – aren’t particularly great and can be more or less discounted. That still leaves the venerable Hasegawa and the newer Eduard and Zvezda kits, however.
What can Tamiya possibly bring to the table that’s not already there?
In a word – itself. Tamiya is one of the few brands that is an absolute guarantee of quality engineering and fit. I have no doubt this 109 will build beautifully.
And the Tamiya quality alone will ensure that they sell a ton – unless they do something crazy with the price and list it at $80.
The Price is an Open Question
Eduard’s Bf 109G-6 Profi-Packs have an MSRP of $50, and a street price of around $40. I’d expect Tamiya to show up at a slight premium above that, especially considering the included engine.
The similar-sized, DB 605-having Ki-61 has an MSRP/Street of $52/$42, for example. And the 109 will probably follow in its footsteps.
The Variants are Another Open Question
Tamiya sucks at covering off on variants. They’ll do a few and then move on, leaving us without, say, a P-47N or a Spitfire Mk.IX or an A6M2 Zero. Or the oft-wished for F-16D.
And if there’s one thing that the 109 is known for, it’s an absolute fuckton of variants. Even among the G-6, you’ve got the early short tail, the later with the taller tail and rudder, versions with the usual canopy cage, versions with the Erla Haube hood, and so on. Then you’ve got the various G-10s, the G-14, and the like.
It’s practically a given that Eduard will produce every single one of these. But Tamiya? Don’t hold your breath.
Granted, they have clearly designed the kit with provisions for additional variants. The cowl “cheeks” are separate, and the tail in particular is cut up to easily fit the tall tail and rudder if desired.
BUT the F-16 has provisions that set up a two-seater, so just because Tamiya’s laid the groundwork doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
It Has an Engine
Like last year’s Ki-61, the new 109G-6 boasts an engine, something of a rarity for a V-arrangement engine in a Tamiya 1/48 kit, and something that will set it apart from the Hasegawa and Eduard kits (but not the Zvezda). I’d imagine this kit’s development is perhaps part of the reason that we got the DB 605 in the Ki-61 kit, and can’t help but wonder if it has implications for future larger scale subjects.
There are also separate parts for building the cowl panels opened up, or closed. A practice that Tamiya has used to great effect in the past (for landing gear doors, or for wing sweep components on the F-14), and that manufacturers like Kitty Hawk could stand to learn from.
New Paints? Maybe?
New Tamiya kits are frequently accompanied by new Tamiya paints. Frustratingly, those paints are often rattlecans. But while a rattlecan might work for, say, a 1/32 Corsair, it’s not going to cut it for 1/48 mottling. So we might – might – be seeing some new XF paints for RLM 74/75/76.
It May Portend Future 1/32 Developments. Or Not.
At this point, outside of timing, I have no idea what the fuck is going to happen with Tamiya’s next 1/32 subject. Precedent would have had a whole new subject landing this past May, but instead we got the F4U-1D. Next year, odds are we will be seeing a whole new subject.
What will it be though? If they keep going along their 1/48 release order, a P-47 or Me 262 still seems likely. But their 1/48 moves are muddying the waters. A case could be made for a new-tool 1/32 F-14 to replace their nearly 40-year-old original tooling.
And now, a case could certainly be made for a Bf 109. It would require some backpedaling from Tamiya in terms of pricepoints. I’ll buy kits at the drop of a hat, and even I’d balk at spending $100+ on a 109 kit, no matter how good it was or who made it. I can only imagine the reaction of those who think that Hobby Lobby’s kit selection is overpriced.
I’m pissed at the prospect of a 109 potentially bumping a 1/32 P-47 out of the way, but at this point, if we’re being honest, I’d have to say that a 109G-6 just became the favorite for Tamiya’s next 1/32 release. And I’d buy one, and build it up in Finnish or Romanian or Italian service. All the while stewing at not having my dreamed of 1/32 Tamiya Jug.