Browsing through the 2024 Wish List thread, it occurred to me that there are lots of support vehicles, tanks, and trucks, but no cars. Is that because cars are considered a different genre from military vehicles?
A fair number of 1/35 car models now exist from the 1930s and 1940s. They make great additions to dioramas and display case collections. Based on what I read, many military vehicle modelers enjoy them. Yet, to my knowledge, not a single muscle car model exists in 1/35 scale. Given the age of most modelers, this seems like a completely unexploited sub-genre. Is this ground left fallow because of licensing fees? Is this an unexploited sub-genre because it lies outside the perceptual bounds of automotive and military vehicle modeling?
Border Models is now making World War II military aircraft in 1/35 scale. The people at that company are challenging the perceptual boundary between aircraft and military vehicle models. Is any model company brave enough to challenge the perceptual boundary between automotive and military vehicle models? Would you want them to?
Here’s why: Try to find three photos of muscle cars in proximity to a tank or other military vehicle that is the subject of an existing 1/35 kit, or in use by uniformed servicemen in a military situation. (That is, not one of a soldier sitting in the '69 Chevelle he bought in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania a week after he came home.)
A 1/35 street rod would have as limited a market as those 1/35 planes people say they want for dioramas but don’t buy once they realize how big they are and how much they cost.
For me, it does lie outside the perceptual bounds of automotive and vehicle modeling. I’m a big car guy myself and thinking as someone who builds cars, planes, and tanks, I don’t see situations where I could depict a muscle car alongside a tank (besides maybe a diorama of an M60 driving over someone’s unfortunately street-parked Challenger).
All that said, I’d happily take some more generic cars that could be background pieces to scenes alongside tanks or more pickups for technicals in 1/35th (that Meng F250 is hard to find these days). I can think of many ideas where something like a Trabant would make for some good “scenery” for a 1/35th East/West Germany dioramas. I can’t think of a muscle car in the background of the same (keep in mind, the Berlin wall fell 9 years before I even existed, but I’m not sure soldiers were bringing over their muscle cars from stateside, and imported muscle cars are and were few and far between).
I do however like 1/35th planes because it opens up many many options for dioramas, there are far more vehicles and figures available in 1/35th than 1/48th and personally, I prefer 1/35th to 1/72th just because I like to make large display pieces and figures in 1/72 don’t quite fit my artistic vision - but that’s just me.
In the mid-seventies my German cousin taught me the German expression ‘Amischlitten’.
Ami is colloquial for an American person.
Schlitten means sled (Santa rides in a big shiny one)
American cars and presumably even some muscle cars were seen on German roads back then.
As for market for such models … I think Kurt sums it up.
I would be interested in some plain Jane modern civilian cars just to provide a visual size reference for the military models in the display cabinet.
As a tanker stationed in Germany in the late 1970s the NCOs on their second tour quite often brought their muscle cars (Mustangs, Camaros,etc…) over with them. The Army paid to ship your car on a permanent change of station once you had enough rank.
What would work for Cold War dioramas would be European cars of the era. As a tank driver we constantly had to be aware of German drivers weaving in and out of our convoys, often getting very close to the tanks.
My guess is that you never saw them in a situation much different than what they would be in at home, meaning that the scene could just as easily be modeled using the many existing kits, figures, and accessories in 1/24, 1/25, or 1/43, meaning why would a company take the risk?
This isn’t to say that there aren’t photos of a 'Cuda parked next to an M151 or M113 at a Family Day somewhere, but who here is willing to mortgage their house and cash out their 401(k) to fund the production of a line of 1/35 muscle cars to pose next to tanks?
1/35 scale manufacturers have never heard of chroming parts . The few civilian vehicles in 1/35 are all a single color plastic. The modelers are left to their own solutions on chroming bumpers, trim, windshield frames, etc. with Molotow, silver paint, etc.