Cold weather is a great excuse to take the little intern to the air museum. No matter how many times I go there, I always find something interesting and last time was no different. I found this gem on the bookshelf in the kiddie drawing & reading room:
“Model Planes For Beginners” was first printed in 1942 and was an odd find tucked among more recently published space and flight picture books for kids. My guess is that someone thought a book about building models would be appropriate kids reading material.
As my kid was drawing planes and making friends I paged through this hardcover. The pages of this ancient text contained material that reinforced my theory that we are currently in the best era in scale models. Just look at what scale modeling was all about back in the 1940s:
Wood saws? Wood sandpaper? Are you serious? I don’t know about any of you but there is no way I would be able to make anything that looks like a Corsair out of a block of wood and these “plans.” So hats off to those guys who suffered through all that to get a model of an airplane they liked!
Today? There is no comparison at all. We have it easy compared to those pioneers with their grease pencils, t-squares, axes and rasps. Today, we have comparatively excellent kits and even better tools and finishing products.
And proof that we have it so easy can be found in our complaints. This is especially true when discussing new releases. Some of us modelers may hope for a certain model to be released and we may be reasonably disappointed when it is not. In the event we are lucky to get the model we were waiting for, some of us modelers might be reasonably disappointed if the model is not the latest and greatest.
However, others will be extremely vocal when a newly released model is not 100% to their liking. And some take that a bit further. These complaints sometimes gather a crowd and everyone chimes in. It’s this form of complaint ‘critical mass’ that can be memorable.
Going from memory and some online suggestions, I have assembled a list of aircraft models that broke the internets:
Trumpeter 1/32 Wildcat
What was wrong with the kit?
- Major shape issues on the fuselage, rudder and wings.
- Profile of the aircraft was wrong
- A full floor was modeled when it should not have been
- Wings too short
Did it break the Internets?
To be honest, this is well before the time I came back to the hobby so my observations and what I have been told might not be completely accurate. But, yeah, it sort of broke the internets.
Back in 2003 this kit was a highly anticipated release by an upstart model company known as “Trumpeter”. Keep in mind, those in the hobby just came off the heady 1990s. Those years brought builders an unending supply of excellent 1/48 aircraft kits; the “2 sprue wonders” from Tamiya, Hasegawa, and many more. Those set the standard for aircraft kits at that time.
But things were about to change and the new releases of 1/32 props (and jets) showed unbelievable promise. If 1/48 kits could be cutting edge in terms of detail, accuracy and engineering – just imagine what 1/32 could offer! However this was not always the case. And the initial release of the Trumpeter Wilcat was met with poor ratings from reputable modelers. At least one retailer canceled its order from Trumpeter and refunded all pre-orders. Brett Green over on Hyperscale offered an in depth review of the initial release that pulled no punches.
And this started one of the first times we saw the now commonplace online fighting between those who demand that accuracy goes hand in hand with price and those who are just happy to have an up-to-date model of whatever is on offer.
So What Happened?
It was obvious that the model’s shortcomings could not be glossed over. Trumpeter pulled back the kit and spent some six months re-working the molds to correct the kit’s faults. The ‘corrected’ Wildcat was well received.
Dragon 1/32 P-51D
What was “Wrong” with the kit?
- Trench-like panel lines
- Excessive rivet detail
- Rough surface finish
- Backwards propeller
- Cockpit floor too narrow to reach the cockpit sidewalls
- Incorrect flaps and ailerons
- Incorrect main wheel wells
- Incorrect main gear doors
- Pointy nose
Did it break the internets?
Dragon is a very well known player in armor models, especially for WW2 armor. Their 1/48 aircraft were very nice kits and some are still sought after. However, I believe most, if not all of these aircraft kits were from molds bought by Dragon and not designed by Dragon. This Mustang was Dragon’s first 1/32 aircraft kit and I believe it was the first aircraft kit designed entirely by Dragon.
Oh yes, it definitely broke the internets starting sometime in October 2006. Now keep in mind, this kit was released with an extremely attractive price – roughly a third of what Tamiya would charge for its Mustang. I’m also told the kit went together very well with great engineering (read: no gaps and no filler needed).
But the real Mustang was “smooth” and the Dragon Mustang is definitely not! This was the central theme to the back and forth on this kit. That, and the dashed high hopes modelers had for a new tool Mustang from Dragon.
The model was not corrected is actively avoided by modelers. Not to put too fine a point on it, have you seen any new aircraft kits by Dragon?
Eduard 1/48 BF-109G
What was wrong with the kit
- Overly large cockpit opening
- Overly long fuselage.
- Misshaped nose
- Wings too long
- Bottom line – the kit was over scale
Did it Break the Internets?
Hoo boy did it ever! If memory serves, the whole kerfuffle started with a slick video ad campaign announcing a world beating BF-109, nay, the best scale model of a BF 109 in the universe. When you throw down that sort of gauntlet, you know you are going to have to deliver. And when you brazenly mess with the established order of BF109 models, you should also know that a lot of expectations will be built up.
There were many pictures of this kit with those famous ‘red lines’ and/or the fuselage half on top of BF109 line drawings… But unlike a strut being 1/1000th of an inch too long, this kit was a mess and those complaining were clearly showing that something was very wrong with this 109.
What Happened in the End?
Eduard has had a few PR missteps in the past. Their early response to the 109 issues was initially dismissive and belittling to those who criticized the ‘ultimate’ 109. They disputed the fact that there were errors, then disputed the magnitude of the errors, then disputed whether or not the errors could even be seen. However, they eventually admitted the kit’s shortcomings in a letter on their website:
“Unfortunately, we do have to admit that our kit is definitely larger than the scale for which it was designed, and therefore oversized. It is our fault. We admit that. We wrongly calculated the expected dimensional attributes of the final model, in comparison with the master model we were using. In our case, this is a virtual 3D master model. If we accept 9020 mm as a correct length of the real aircraft, then we are about some 3 mm longer in scale, which means the kit is about 1.5% larger than it should be, and therefore gives an overall scale of 1:47.26. Concerning the wingspan, we are wider in overall span by about 2.6mm on each half of the wing, giving an average oversize of around 2.5%. I want to let you know that I’m personally very sorry that this has happened.”
Ultimately they corrected their Bf 109 G-6 and this re-tooled 109 is now considered one of the best out there in any scale.
AMK 1/48 F-14D
What was wrong with the kit?
This is not an easy question to answer. I believe there were issues with the kit as it was being developed. Whatever those issues were, I think they were made worse by some of the decisions made and actions taken by AMK:
- AMK touted this kit as being the best most accurate tomcat model ever produced;
- Following this announcement, they took years to release it;
- They announced multiple release dates;
- During this long period they took pre-orders and sometime later started a crowd funding campaign;
- They also released “in development pictures” that showed some issues with the kit’s shape; and
- AMK did not react well when these issues were pointed out.
Did it break the internets?
Oh yes, yes it did. Over on ARC there is an ongoing forum thread that, at the time of this writing, has 323 pages, over 8000 replies and over 790,000 views. There were multiple entries over at Hyperscale and other forums. There was no end of commentary on facebook.
During this long development period, it seemed as if the kit would never be released. Then we would see a pattern of AMK making an announcement or publishing a picture and a flurry of vicious internet commentary would follow.
Well, I don’t think anything happened but it may still be too early to tell. The kit was eventually released some 4 years after the initial announcement. I’ve seen the contents of the kit when a club member brought one to a meeting. It reminds me a lot of their Mig-31 and that kit is very nice. I have seen a few online builds as well and the kit looks great.
I’ve always found these model blow ups entertaining and strange because we are talking models here, it is not like anyone HAS to buy or build one. It isn’t that I am firmly in the “happy to have a model at all” camp because complaints about accuracy issues can lead to improved models…. sometimes. It just seems to me that when the criticism turns to that level of legendary viciousness, then that criticism is out of touch with any form of reality or sanity.
After all, these are just plastic models and are far better than carving shapes from pinewood.
As always, I love to hear from you. Do you remember those releases and the fallout they created? Any others I should have covered? Let me know in the comments because I am sure there are others.
The Hasegawa 1/48 Spitfire IX was also met with a bit of an uproar, when first released
All those years of waiting for an up to date Spitfire to replace the old Otaki and difficult to build ICM kits, and Hasegawa got the fuselage length wrong! people were not happy! Great post. I would also be interested in reading your thoughts on how FB and Insta have relegated the fora to the back seat these days. Myself, I only really visit Britmodeller as that still seems the most active. I used to daily visit Hyperrscale and ARC, but hardly look at them these days.
Keep the posts up
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Thanks for that example – I was not familiar with the Hase Spitfire issues. Too bad – they usually turn out great kits. As for the demise of the forum, I think there were many issues leading to it. I was a regular on ARC too and what brought me there was the massive participation of other builders as well as those ‘in progress’ threads where someone would break down all the steps and show how it is done. Both of those aspects have tailed off in recent years. A lot of people left ARC for various reasons. Facebook is free for everyone and compared to most forums, extremely easy to upload images. But you don’t get those great threads, unfortunately. I agree that Britmodeller is probably one of the better ones still going.
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