Our Shizuoka report covers eight parts: This page, and then individual reports on:
When one attends the Shizuoka Hobby Show as a member of the industry (and perhaps even as a private individual), the question that replaces the usual “How are you?” when bumping into an acquaintance is almost universally “See anything interesting?” For 2010, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes,” but with the caveat that no one item was explosively interesting. There were just a lot of mildly interesting items. Anybody who knows me at all knows I’m a big F1 fan, and in recent years, we’ve seen a very welcome resurgence in releases from Japan’s big makers, especially of classic releases. Fujimi’s FW14B and upcoming Lotus 97 are wonderful offerings, but one of the big stories of the show was the clash of the titans, as Tamiya and Hasegawa both release exactly the same car at exactly the same time in the form of the Lotus 79. Anybody who knows this industry will have no trouble predicting who will get the better of that struggle…
Another thing that stood out was Aoshima. Of course they’ve always been a powerhouse in car kits, and dibbled in the random science-fiction item, but this time, with the addition of Dragon to their booth, they had a lineup of armor to present, too. What’s more, they’re going out on a limb (a bit) with their upcoming real science kits, starting with the Hayabusa. No doubt that kit won’t end up being a cash cow for them, but it’s great to see an important part of the history of human scientific study being immortalized in styrene.
Fine Molds, a quirky little company that I love dearly (especially for their Star Wars goodies), went pure quirk at this show with new kits of an obscure Japanese WWII cargo truck, and a 1930s era German milling machine. Yep, another model of a machine tool (following on the heels of this). Granted, it’s a very good model of a machine tool, and yes, every German U-Boat carried one of these in WWII so it sure did play a big role in military history but…
Fujimi and Tamiya both had attractive new aircraft releases, and the Dragon section of Aoshima’s booth was filled with (mostly German) tanks, so this was a show where just about any modeler could find something to add to their build list.
Thursday and Friday at the show are always “industry days” with the general public not being allowed to visit (though anyone with a business card and an excuse is quickly allowed entrance). Most folks come on Thursday; Friday can be awfully quiet and with sales in the industry the way they are, it can actually get a little depressing.
The solution, of course, is to stay around until Saturday or Sunday, when all melancholy about the possible state of the hobby will be washed away by a crush of humanity. Between 20,000 and 40,000 folks — many with kids in tow — will descend upon Shizuoka’s Twin Messe conference center and fill most of the available space in the aisles clamoring for a good look at the latest goodies, attempting to snare some limited-offer kit at a manufacturer’s outlet sale, or just digging through boxes of loose sprues looking for something to kit bash with.
And then there’s the modeling clubs! It’s not all IPMS contest-level stuff (though some easily exceeds it), true. But the sight of thousands and thousands and thousands of models lined up neatly on tables with their creators beaming broadly nearby must be one of the most invigorating sights in the world for a modeler. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to rush home and just get something built.
Scott Hards, May 2010