Been away from the hobby for 10+ years and have bought quite a few 1/48 scale Tamiya aircraft in the past few years—and three in the past month.
But I noticed they vary in quality. You’ve got really top-notch ones like the P-47 bubbletop and the new Mk. I Spitfire. Canopy masks and PE, highly detailed cockpits, and the engineering is amazing. Then you’ve got their Mustangs (bought back when they were still the best thing going) and they’re good, but not Spit or Thunderbolt good. And then you’ve got the late-1980s Zero molded in dark green plastic. And other than reading reviews, there’s no way to tell what quality level you’re getting just looking at it in the LHS.
Is Tamiya gradually retooling all their quarter scale aircraft to the level of the early Spitfire and Thunderbolts, or are these brand new ones filling gaps in the line?
Aside from their Spitfire Mk.I, the newest Tamiya 1/48 aircraft kit releases are not repeats of older kits, but are variants previously not done before by them. And seeing how they play their upcoming release cards very close to their proverbial vest, we really don’t know what’s going to be next. Sometimes a new release is tooled in a way to hint that other versions may be in the future, but even then, it’s only a guess until they are announced.
As far as what is the history of what is in the box that you’re eyeing at the LHS, keeping Scalemates on your smartphone is your best bet for a quick background check.
I still havent found a manufacturer, apart from Eduard with their ‘Profipacks’ that do proper justice to the cockpit detail. Its a shame, because at 1/48 scale, the cockpit is a very visible thing usually.