As I see new kits being developed I wonder when will I/ we reach good enough? I started modeling shortly after Moses came back down the mountain so I have seen many positive changes to our kits and maybe that has jaded me. We all use to crave better fit and detail and slowly as technology improved we got our wish. There was a penalty though in cost. We could only dream about the quality of what we have today. I never imagined the cost we would have to pay. Today a kit, PE, barrel and Indy track may set you back $120. The newer kits may not need PE or Track if Indy are supplied. I see interiors becoming a fad ( I am particularly interested in the new T72 with interior) and was wondering when we would reach a that’s good enough point. There is a point of diminishing returns and we may be approaching that. Would I the average modeler want to build a 2000 part kit on a regular basis? I can easily see the ability to make a kit with that many parts if you consider a highly detailed interior with a multi piece indy track on a modern complex vehicle. heck you could make it down to the pistons and crank. Sure there are a few who would go for the max but I think there are quite a few who would think maybe not. Our community of builders range from occasional builders to those that do it for a profession and I’m closer to the occasional builder than the professional. Is the level of molding quality, price point, and part count reaching a point that it is hard to improve on? I think we are close. I don’t know if they could mold the exposed bolts threads on fenders that we could tell it was there. The jump from Lindberg to Meng is exponential. I don’t think that the same amount of change again is practical.
Miniart is taking both paths, their series of T-54/55 variants come in two flavours, with and without interiors.
I “always” close the hatches and forget about the interior. Trucks with complete undersides is another thing.
There seems to be a fairly diverse range of “kit content-complexity” across the various and different manufacturers. Not all new kits are “mega-kits.” I honestly don’t see a significant potential for the “degree of complexity” to really harm the hobby.
Of course, if someone wants to build a model of a particular subject, and the only kit available is one of the newer “mega-kits,” then that individual modeler may be discouraged. However, you could just as easily turn that argument on its head and make the example a modeler who wants a “mega-kit” of some subject, but can only find it available in “simple-kit” form.
Both modelers have to temper their expectations and desires and overcome their disappointment through the use of their own imagination and skills, one to simplify the build and the other to add more detail.
I think the vast majority of modelers fall in the gray area in between, though, and will seek and readily find other kits to build that better match their expectations and hobby goals.
In the end, kit manufacturers can’t possibly satisfy everyone with every release. They respond to market forces just like any other business, though, and they will develop, manufacture, and hope to sell what their customers want. Customer sales are the message to the manufacturer that the product is or is not what is wanted.
Personally, I think there has been a lack in the armor modeling genre creating an unfulfilled demand for more detail and complexity in kits. Aircraft, nautical and automotive modelers have been able to get more and better detail from kit makers while armor modelers have been stuck with “simple” toy-like kits for decades. The pendulum is now swinging towards giving armor modelers what many have wanted - more detail and complexity. Kit manufacturers are simply responding to that demand.
But not all manufacturers (in fact, not even a majority)…
Companies, like Tamiya, are still releasing new armor kits that emphasize simplicity and “buildability” over complex detail. As noted by @Uncle-Heavy, MiniArt is leveraging their somewhat unique kit design approach that breaks their kits down into more than the average number of sprues so that they can mix-and-match and re-box simpler versions of their other kits. Companies like Italeri, Zevzda and Airfix continue to release “simple kits.” Hobby Boss and Academy are two others that release fairly “simple kits.”
Years ago modelers were whining about “not enough detail”; now they’re whining about “too complicated”, and “too high parts count”!
I think there is balance that can be achieved that fits mostly modelers. A part count around 200-400 minus tracks. Provide both link and link/length and rubber band.
I know alot of modellers like the internal dimension of when they can do a full rendition or dvrs cab, engine bay, inside a turret etc etc, but for me I dont want to do a full internal build. I know a great many build it like that and they do it as they know its there, but my way of thinking is if I cant see it, I dont need to build it. Is it worth all that effort not to then be able to look at it, for some it is, or if its for a display or similar thats fair enough so each to his own. I do wonder why there is a need to do a track with maybe 3 to 5 individual parts per link, that just seems overly excessive. Is it to increase the parts count ? maybe ??
I think as @Tank_1812 said there are plenty of kits out there that cater to everyones needs and desires, its just what one person is prepared to pay and how far down the rabbit hole they are prepared to go.
I’m fine with lots of complexity in a kit. One thing I wish were true though - I wish everything were molded in plastic with the option to replace those plastic parts with PE. Sometimes I will, sometimes I won’t.
Build a mix of kits. Get some detailed and some easy-to-build. Work on the detailed one until your nerves can’t take it, then work on the other. The newest Tamiya kits have enough detail for me but easy on the nerves. I have tried building some AFV Club kits, and while I love their selection of subjects, I’ve found that just getting past the first few steps tires me out.
I agree with Gary, a mix. I love Takom kits, easy builds, great detail, minimal PE. I build Tamiya, usually straight from the box to relax and get away from super detailing and all the craziness. I usually stay away from separate track links, life’s too short, lol, but I’ll do link and length. Back in the day I got every PE set, resin set, update set, track set I could find, but not anymore, one reason is that most of the stuff the resin sets were for is available in plastic now, M728, M1 ABV etc. I’m building the ancient Tamiya M41 Walker Bulldog right now, adding a ton of styrene, taking my time and its relaxing
I like the kit. There is some nice plug and play shapeways products to update the kit. I am using Archer 3D welds and AFV kit instructions and photos to update the Tamiya kit.
I’m with you TopSmith. I’m reaching the stage where my eyes and hands aren’t good enough to deal with the latest kits. I’m still doing the Takom King Tiger with Interior - I think it’s taken me about two years so far. I’m not an occasional builder by choice - I’ve been forced into it by the complexity of the kit and I’m sure there are worse! Yes it goes together well, but having to constantly break off to paint small internal parts that can’t be accessed later slows progress. Also I would happily settle for slightly less detail and fewer tiny parts that I have to crawl round the floor for when they disappear! My knees aren’t up to it any more! (I ought to mention that around six other projects came to fruition during this build, including rebuilding the engine on my bike in 1/1 scale!)
I was also thinking about the quality of molding. I think we maybe reaching a point that major improvements in molding capability have already passed. We may be reaching the limits. Slide molding is a nice improvement but it comes with increased costs in tooling. Making more parts reduces the molded on pieces but also increases the number of molds made for that kit. Check out the expected cost of Mengs GT 40. That could be a sign of what the future could be. I generally don’t want to pay more than $60 for a kit.
The new Tamiya KV1 is the sort of new kit I want. Low part count and excellent molded detail. One look at the design and instructions plus a picture of the model and I immediately ordered one. I confess to preferring indy link tracks over link and length but otherwise the new Tamiya KV1 is 99.95% EXACTLY what I want and and am willing to buy.
Meng’s Panther A is exactly the sort of kit I don’t want. Needlessly complex with like 1,100 parts and missing the mark in detail and accuracy. The worst of both worlds. Of course one can buy a set of Fruil tracks and nearly cut the part count in half.
My time is limited so ~100 hours investment in a model build in about my limit. In my experience that’s ~350 parts or less for a 1/35 scale tank build. The +600 part kits are to be avoided in all cases unless they are Panzer IV’s Any kit with a +1,000 plus parts is automatically off my interest list.
Lot of my model building friends felt that was overly restrictive. Yet when I’m building I can typically finish six or seven projects a year compared to their zero to two projects a year. They will go for the ~800 + part kits and get bogged down during the building GRIND and on the shelf it goes. Then they start another more magnificent mega project with ~900+ parts.
Folks have laughed at me for looking over the instruction sheet of a new release FIRST before looking at the fresh new part trees. I want a build that’s ENJOYABLE and well designed so its fun and relaxing to do not a war of attrition against the kit. Engineering and design are actually more critical than jamming in details in my opinion.
That’s why 2/3 of my kit collection is Tamiya. It’s also why 3/4 of my builds are Tamiya. They seem to be basically the only manufacturer with a clue on what makes a FUN relaxing model build experience. I’ve built 150+ 1/35 scale model tanks. The only fun builds were the Tamiya kits, Italeri M47, Leopard & Leopard 2 plus a DML Type 21 U-boat. The rest of the ESCI, DML, Dragon, AFV Club, MiniCraft/Academy stuff was an unpleasant grind.
Other Dragon’s Panzer IV kits, I reached the point I won’t buy Dragon/DML products. I despise their typical engineering, poor instructions and nasty parts trees with excessive attachment points. Dragon maybe provide what sales and what the market wants but their kits aren’t fun to build. That was true back in the early 90’s and was true of the 2008 era “Golden Age of Dragon” Panzer IV F, I built in 2012.
This was my first Tamiya kit built around '73, after years of Monogram and Revell I was immediately a fan of their products. Working on AFV Club’s ACAV right now and although the molding is scaled accurately it’s fatigueing plotting the paint process through the construction, far too many unecessary tiny parts such as wheel bearing caps etc., still a nice kit though.
I think there is still room for improvement -which does not mean more parts count.
Detail can be better, slide moulding can be used more, allowing round parts without seams.
And there are new technologies that will also change modelling the way photoetch did. Yahu or Quinta Studios are producing amazing dashboards in colour, Monroe Perdu makes zimmerit with laser cut paper, KAV makes tinting film for transparent parts, and 3D printers are not hard to find at homes, producing excellent parts and replacing scratchbuilds…
Probably I am missing more innovations, and who knows what the future will bring. But it will be good for sure, this is a great time for modelling.
This is a bold, maybe even brave stance to take, but I have to say I find much in your post I agree with. I’ve found that my stash now contains as many Ukrainian and other eastern manufacturers as Chinese. You are right - Tamiya builds are fun and that’s what the hobby is supposed to be about. It’s not stress relieving if you are crawling around the floor for the nth time trying to locate some tiny part which goes to make an assembly that with very little loss of detail could be moulded in one part.
Hohenstaufen, thank you. I think its wonderful there’s such a variety of kits these days. I’m happy the mega 1,000+ part uber detail kits are there for those that want them. I suspect there is a fairly large number of modlers that like nicely detailed straight forward kits with lower part counts.
Part of this is based on all the complaints things like individual link tracks create with a large number of excellent modelers. I just can’t image that segment of the hobby will be honestly happy with uber detailed but complicated kits like Bronco’s 1/35 OQF 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun Mk.I/II (British Army).
I saw that thing nearly drive a true master modeler (Yoda level) insane before he got it assembled. I think he was afraid to paint the thing because it’s still sitting in a box unfinished. Fun for a masochist perhaps but not for most of us.
Having scratch built a Tiger interior once with the help of a Verlinden transmission & engine, I’ll just say NO to the big part count Takom uber kits with interiors. The Das Werks versions of the Takom’s - without interiors seem like an excellent idea to me.
IMO, this is what’s most important. We’re fortunate today, as a community, to have as many kit options as we do. It’s not just holes in the availability of particular subjects that are being filled by manufacturers, but we’re also provided with options on detail and complexity to suit just about anyone.
Sure, you may not personally like complex “mega-kits,” but clearly many modelers do or else manufacturers couldn’t sell them (and if they didn’t sell, they wouldn’t make 'em).
Same with very simple “low-parts-count kits.” It’s just as clear that those sell and satisfy a real demand, or, again, manufacturers couldn’t sell them.
I’d submit that some folks should keep in mind that manufacturers are always vying with each other for market share, and when two (or more) manufacturers release kits of nearly the same subject (or a manufacturer releases a new kit of a subject that is already covered by many other kits), that often as not each manufacturer is targeting its release at some part of the market that it believes will respond to the features of its new kit vice its competitor’s version(s).
Do we, speaking as a community, “need” another Tiger tank kit? In terms of just subject coverage, possibly not. However, the modeler who wants a state of the art, new mold Tiger without an interior might just be the potential customer that new kit is made for. Alternatively, a new release Tiger kit with full interior is certainly targeted to that share of the market that wants that level of detail and complexity with an appreciation by the manufacturer’s decision makers that they are deliberately trying to capture those particular customers.
This may be hard to swallow if the only kit available of some subject is not designed and manufactured to your personal standard of complexity and detail or acceptable price-point (either not “complex” enough or not “simple” enough for you). However, that’s just life.
There is simply no “one size fits all” approach that any manufacturer can take that will satisfy everyone in the modeling world in regards to complexity and detail. Some modelers enjoy knocking out a build over a weekend, and others enjoy spending a year on a project. You may believe that the modeler who enjoys spending a year on a single project is a masochist, but if that’s how he or she enjoys the hobby, why feel compelled to criticize that modeler because he or she doesn’t fit your view of the mean or norm? There’s no right or wrong way with either approach to the hobby and art, and manufacturers should continue to supply kits that satisfy as many of community as they can - across the entire spectrum of modeling goals and needs.
What would be wrong, IMO, would be to demand and expect that everyone has to enjoy the hobby in only one, same way and that manufacturers must only make kits to that standard.
There’s a rare breed that completes the one uber model a year super build for sure. My comments are obsevations based on the long standing trend of ever more complicated kits with high part counts. I have no desire to ever criticize any given modeler unless that person requested constructive criticism. .
Various manufacturers know the complexity issue is a problem for part of the community. Kits with Link and Length tracks (L&L) , magic tracks, DS tracks, smart kits etc have appeared as attempts to simplify.
Sadly the majority of “super projects” attempts I’ve witnessed in thirty plus years, ended with a flustrated modeler after several months. Its pretty obvious those modeler’s didn’t enjoy the experience based on the discussions that followed.
Regarding manufacturers, watching local Accurate Miniatures implode back in the mid 1990’s to early 2000’s before two investors rescued the company was pretty enlightening. Market research basically amounted to what the founders found interesting. Sort of a “if we release it…customers will follow” philosophy. I suspect that’s still very probable with small start up companies.
The amount of detail I want depends on the vehicle subject, I suppose. I would like early production Shermans to include a turret interior, because the huge commander’s hatch means it will be visible, even if a figure is installed (and it’s aggravating that Tasca/Asuka doesn’t include eveb a gun breech). I don’t need an engine compartment, though, as I don’t do maintenance dioramas. And the driver’s compartment is not visible if a driver is in the hatch, so again, I don’t need it.
The marketplace often offers multiple choices, with high and low parts count kits. I wanted a Panzer 35t, and didn’t need the full interior that Bronco offers, so I bought the recent (and very creditable) Academy kit. I wanted a Panzer I Ausf. F, In this case, it has a couple of huge crew hatches on the side, so the interior could be visible. Nevertheless, I opted for a closed vehicle, and chose the simpler Hobby Boss kit, instead of the full-interior Bronco version.
If the access hatches are tiny, I see no reason for installing interior parts that will never be seen. And link and length track are an ideal compromise, as far as I’m concerned, as I don’t show the suspension articulated over broken ground.