Japanese Model Plane Score – July 2021

One thing I love about modelling is the chance to encounter the past. This is both literal and figurative, in my case. Figuratively because when building a model of a vehicle (or person) from the past, one gets to connect in a very unique and personal way to the subject. Most of us do research on the focus of our labours, and so we learn something of history every time we build something. That’s why most modellers have extensive libraries!

However, for me, the literal part is just as enjoyable. If you’re a regular to the Sprue Lagoon, then you know I have real, abiding love for older kits. Except for mecha, where I generally prefer newer kits, I am always on the look out for “oldie but goodie” kits. Of course, many are “oldie but not-so-goodie”, as my Farpro Score helped to underline. That doesn’t bother me, though. The chance to take a run at a kit that’s 30, 40 or even 50+ years old and try to make something of it is really a challenge, and a game, that I love. Sure, it’s frustrating, but so is golf. Of course, I don’t get paid to do either… maybe that’s a sign?

Regardless, coming across old kits used to be pretty easy; I’d find them at toy shows, nostalgia shows and of course, model shows! Barring that, there were always cross-border hobby shop runs, and runs to Toronto! However, the Pandemic has put paid to all of those things. While my hometown of London, Ontario, has some very good shops, most don’t carry old stuff. They stock the new stuff, sure, but for someone like me, who really loves the ancient ones, it’s a bit disappointing.

Then, as you know from my Matchbox Mega Score, one of the local shops (Broughdale Hobby) got in a huge whack of old kits, and I exhumed 25 relics from the 1200+ that avalanched their way into the store like a musty styrene force-of-nature. Of course, I couldn’t get all I wanted in the first sweep. It takes time to go through things, and several passes are needed. That’s the kind of challenge I love, and I’ve actually taken Faust out a couple of times to make “one more sweep” of the shelves, just so I can be sure nothing cool has been left behind.

It will come as no surprise, I’m sure, that I have managed to snag many, many more cool things from that store, including a bunch more Matchboxes and a number of Japanese kits, as well as a few other oddities. Today, I’d like to share my recent non-Matchbox findings with you, and then I can get into another big Matchbox haul later. So, without further ado, check out some more new oldies that now call my basement home!

Japanese Airplanes are like Hope – they Float!

I have a lot of different kinds of planes that I like. One kind of plane that I have a thing for is float planes. My Float Stuka and my Norm are proof of this, but I have many more to build. A good number of them came from my friend Alan (from who I’ve not heard recently, and who I hope is doing well), who picked up on my love of all things floaty early on. But too much is never enough, and I was able to get my grubby mitts on even more waterborne awesomeness!

I grabbed a real mix of the sublime and the ridiculous on my last adventures. If it floated, I wanted it, and man, I got it! On the ridiculous side were the ancient Aoshima Aichi E16A Zuiun (Paul) and M6A1 Seiran. Both of these are the same age and moulding style as the Farpros linked earlier, and I was really pumped to get these because a.) they filled a hole in my Farpro/Aoshima collection and b.) they came in original Japanese boxes! The Zuiun’s box art is the newer, and shows a Paul pulling out of a diving attack on an American fleet. It’s cool and exciting, and Paul is wearing his proper uniform. I mention this because the Seiran is not painted anywhere near authentically, and that was a common thing for these kits back in their earlier days. I’m not sure what Aoshima was thinking with that paint scheme, but man… there was no concern for historical accuracy. That alone is awesome and adorable, while at the same time being inexcusably terrible.

So, I have this thing for float planes, see… Thankfully, the IJN and I saw eye-to-eye on this front, so there’s lots to build!

The two Hasegawas are a Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu (Rex) and an E7K1 (or Type 94-1) known by the allies as “Alf”. (You can insert cat-eating joke here. If you get that, good for you.) These two are opposite ends of the spectrum; the box on the Alf is very old, and the kit inside shows it. That this is still sold today is kind of shameful, actually. The Rex, which evolved into the N1K2 Shiden-Kai (eventually) is slightly better known, but still obscure. It’s a nicer kit in a newer box, but note how the box lacks the soul, grit and just awesome energy of the Alf’s.

The last two, though, have some serious art pedigree. These are both Fujimis, and the one is the familiar F1M2 “Pete”, a do-it-all biplane that saw action as spotter/recon, bomber and even fighter! This unlikely hero of a little plane deserves such a nice box and the equally nice kit inside. More obscure (and thus immediately of even more interest to me) was the E11A1 “Laura”. I’d never heard of this plane, but being a biplane flying boat that had a very aggressive style, it appealed to me. Turns out it was a fairly rare night recon machine… talk about specific! These two kits are from the late ‘90s and look absolutely astoundingly awesome. They are NOT the same kind of iffy old kit I’m used to. See, I can buy nice things if they’re cool enough.

The box sides aren’t all that interesting; some show markings, some show the box art again. Not that lovely, lovely Pete can be built as a waterline kit! I’ve never seen that on a model plane before!

Japanese Land Lubbers:

It’s not all just floaty goodness over here at the Lagoon. I like planes with wheels, too. Hasegawa has a long history of making models, and some are great and some are… not. There’s a lot of the “less-than-great” in this collection, which isn’t a surprise.

More Japanese kits, but this time they all have wheels, and there are even some jets in there! You can’t float ALL the time, right?

The F-20 is one of the only 1/72 versions of this plane around, and I got it specifically to create a 1/72 F-20B two-seater. I have the nice Italeri F-5B, so bashing the two together should give me what I want. I don’t need it as a one-holer; I have the LS 1/144 and the 1/100 from Area 88. Speaking of two-holers, the old TA-4J Skyhawk is another “meh” kit. Raised pane lines and good, but basic, detail is what is on tap here. I do love TA-4s, though, and there’s always lots of cool aggressor schemes for them!

The Skyraider is, again, one of the only 1/72 single-seaters. There’s a beautiful Hasegawa, but there wasn’t one of those in the store, so I went with this one. The box art is super gritty, and it’s so heavy that I almost think I should be able to pick paint chips off of it. The kit’s instructions mention something about the Skyraider is still serving in action… Scalemates says it’s from 1970, and it’s pretty good for a kit that old!

The two bottom planes are two different levels of Hasegawa skill. The N1K2 Shiden-Kai (George) is a beautiful kit with recessed lines and a fineness like the Jack from my last score. This is the plane that the Rex from above matured into. Its moulds date from 1977 and the kit is a feather in Hasegawa’s cap.  The Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Frank) is from a decade later, and represents the Imperial Japanese Army’s best fighter of the war. However, as a kit, it’s a lot worse than the George, with fine, but soft, raised panel lines and less refinement than the other kit.  

Interesting alternate paint for the Skyraider, eh? I love the bubbletop in Far East paint, too. Hey, what with the Tiger I got last time and this TA-4J, that’s two Blue Angels I have now!

Last, but not least, is that beautifully illustrated Spitfire F.R. Mk. 14E in the top corner. This is a newer Fujimi kit, and I bought it because I love Spitfire Bubbletops and I wanted one in far-east markings. It’s a lovely kit too, although its modularity seems like it might be overreaching things a bit. Still, it’s a far cry better than any of the other kits it’s pictured with, save the George.

Those “Other” Guys:

While I was clearly intent on filling out my IJA and IJN collection, I also picked up some other interesting oddities. The largest box of all was the Antares Curtis SC-1 Seahawk. This is a plane I have very little information on, but of course, it was a floater, so I immediately took to it. It’s an interesting piece of history, since I believe that’s the last front-line Curtis aircraft that was produced. It’s also a neat comparison with the various float fighters and scouts of the Japanese forces. The box seems unnecessarily large, but it does have a full-colour paint plan on the back!

The Seahawk and He-112 are nice kits of nice planes. The Mureaux… that’s a travesty only France could love. However, at least the kit is somewhat decent, unlike that block of almost-resin that is the Albacore!

The He-112 below it is a neat little kit. Heinkel’s competitor to the Bf-109, the He-112 was used by the Spanish, Romanian and Hungarian forces, as well as factory defense squadrons at Heinkel. This kit is typical Heller; a sturdy box with nice art on the top, and a finely detailed kit inside. Sadly, it’s all raised panel lines and the decals are likely roached, but one thing it has going for it: it can build both major types! The box side shows the German paint with the single “collector-type” exhaust stack, while the Romanian has the individual ejectors! Nice!

The other two, though… man. The one, the Heller Mureaux 117, was a plane I’d never heard of. It displayed the traditional French interwar disdain for streamlining and aerodynamics that the Amiot 143 displays so well, that I couldn’t turn it down. It was some kind of observation/light bomber thing. That it’s shown in that old-school French style, sharing the sky with Bf-109s is frightening. It’s a rough-looking kit of a brutally antiquated plane. That’s love, in my books! The one in the little baggie doesn’t have a lot going in the box art department, or, really, in any department. It’s the Pegasus Fairey Albacore! I was so excited to get a kit of the plane that failed to replace the Swordfish that I failed to notice how rough it is. It’s so rough you have to make your own interior and struts for the wings. It’s like a resin kit but plastic; neat, but savage…


It has been great to not only get out and go to stores in person again, but also to find such a rich treasure trove of bizarre old kits. Sure, there are some nice ones in there, but by and large, they’re old, interesting and rough. Most of the boxes are pristine, though, and I can’t help but admit that I was sold on subject and box art, rarely on the soundness of the model. I have to think some of these older boxes might even be a bit collectible on their own?

While my tastes may not be everyone’s, you do have to admit that the guy who sold these to the hobby shop definitely shared some similar passions with me. How else do you explain all these float planes and other weird subjects?

While I have more kits than I can build in a lifetime (as did the seller of these, apparently!), I do get great joy in finding, buying and inspecting these neat little artifacts. With so much history just in the box art and the plastic alone, they’re discussion pieces themselves, even if they’re not built.  As most of you reading this know, half the fun isn’t in the building anyway, but in the planning the build, the research and the inspecting of the sprues and instructions. In that case, I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth already!

Like all my hauls, I have my favourite, but I’m curious to know what you guys think:  Vote below to tell me which one you’d like to seen an OOB on first! There’s a lot of choice, so choose two!

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