Thursday, October 11, 2012
Thanks to my writing gig with RCN News Magazine, I got a chance to attend the iHobby Expo today in Cleveland. The event had been taking place in Chicago, but for some reason they decided to relocate it to the IX Center near CLE. Never having attended a trade show for the hobby, I had no idea what to expect, but I assumed the major U.S. hobby companies would be in attendance. From the modeling side, MRC, Stevens International, Pegasus Hobbies, Moebius Models, MMD/Squadron and Airfix had displays, while the tool companies were well represented with Vajello, Iwata, Grex, Alclad, Excell, Xuron, and Alpha Abrasives on hand. I was absolutely shocked that neither Revell-Monogram, Tamiya USA, Bager, nor Testors were in attendance, especially as Testor's parent is headquartered just down the road in Medina. However, plastic modeling was only a small segment of the show and much space was devoted to other hobby pursuits.
I spent an enjoyable half hour speaking to the Airfix rep, and while he could not disclose next year's new releases he did state that us 1/72 airplane guys will be happy. (He said the 2013 lineup will be announced on January 1, 2013 on the Airfix.com site.) Airfix are quite proud of their 1/48 Operation Herrick releases and had some built up examples of the Lynx helicopter and vehicles on display. They also had the test shots of their 1/48 Merlin and the new 1/72 P-51D. MRC had a completed example of the new Italeri Sunderland Mk. I. (I know the RCAF didn't fly this mark, but I want one.) Being a 007 fan, Italeri's Skyfall tie-in 1/72 Merlin will also find its way into the closet of no hope. I was also intrigued by the new devil scale Academy F-4 Phantom, not because I want the kit, but because it appears that the ghost of Matchbox is back, with the kit being molded in three colours. The photo below shows the kit built up out of the box with no paint. Stevens had some new Trumpeter and Kinentic kits on display and test shots of the Kinetic 1/32 CT-155 Hawk. I did have a short discussion with a Steven's rep who actually said that the Kinentic kits are at a more affordable price point than Trumpeter; coming in more in the $50 to $80 range rather than the $100 range. Wow, that sounds really out of touch, especially as the Kinetic kits can often be sourced at one-third to one-half of the US list price offshore.
Overall, I'm not sure how to judge the show or the state of the hobby. (Though it sure appears that the importers, besides Airfix, believe bigger and pricer is better and 1/72 isn't really a serious scale.) I wonder if having the event in Cleveland kept some of the companies from attending, because, well, it is Cleveland...