Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tomica Cars

The Tomica (トミカ) brand of diecast cars was introduced by Tomy in 1970 to produce small scale Japanese cars for their domestic market. Tomica only made its North American and European debut in 2010, but their red-and-white boxes are familiar to most diecast car collectors today.

Like their Matchbox and Hot Wheels counterparts, Tomica cars are box scale, with a few models here and there suitable for use with 1/72 miniatures.

My first Tomica model was a 1/72 Mitsubishi Canter Garbage Truck (Tomica Common No.47). This model was produced prior to the merger between Tomy and Takara (now Takara Tomy) in 2006. The tailgate door of the model can be opened, and the body of the truck can be tipped back.

Dump truck, wrecker, and gully truck versions of the Mitsubishi Canter were also made, but are either difficult to find in good condition or expensive.

The Mitsubishi Canter is possibly (I believe) the only 1/72 model in the Tomica line-up. It is now out of production, and should not be confused with the current Mitsubishi Fuso Canter, which is apparently of indeterminate scale.

The other Tomica cars that I have are not actually 1/72 scale, but that's okay, since it's doubtful that they will ever be produced by another company. I picked up the following three models on a recent trip to Osaka.

Yanmar Tractor YT5113 (Tomica Common No.83). Stated to be 1/76 scale, but the interior looks awfully roomy.

Toyota Land Cruiser (Tomica Common No.103). This 1/71 scale model is the double cab version of the truck, so it will require a bit more work for those who want to convert it into a technical.

Morita Fire Fighting Ambulance (Tomica Common No.119) in 1/74 scale. The passenger side rear door can open to reveal the interior of the truck.

If you are interested in getting Tomica cars, make sure that you don't confuse them with the similar Pocket Tomica (ポケット トミカ) brand. I thought I got a great deal on a fleet of garbage trucks, but ended up with these tiny guys... orz

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

You're gonna need a bigger boat...

Sharks belong to the superorder Selachimorpha, and have a fossil record that goes back to the Carboniferous Period. It is often said that they have gone unchanged in form for over 350 million years, but this statement couldn't be any further from the truth.

The fact is that sharks have evolved over time. One only needs to look at some of the early sharks represented in the Safari Ltd. Prehistoric Sharks Toob to see how different they are compared to modern sharks.

Of the 10 sharks in the set, four can be considered to be approximately 1/72 scale.





Cretoxyrhina, Edestus, and Sarcoprion are all thought to have been around 6.1m in length, while Helicoprion could be as long as 7.5m (although the typical specimen may have only been 3-4m long).

For Sarcoprion and Helicoprion (which I believe have been reclassified as Chimaeriformes), I used a knife to cut notches in the spiral tooth whorl of their lower jaws to make the individual teeth more pronounced.

The most famous of prehistoric sharks is Carcharocles megalodon [or Carcharodon megalodon]. Due to its presumed physical resemblance to the Great White Shark, any >8" Great White could probably be used to represent the Megalodon. Purists however may prefer the Safari Ltd. Megalodon (Wild Safari 303329).

Size estimates for this shark range from 15-30m, but I prefer the more conservative size estimate. While I would certainly be impressed by a 30m shark, I have doubts that every specimen of Megalodon was really that big. That being said, I'd say the model scales out very closely to 1/72 scale if we're talking about a 15m shark.

Luckily for us, Megalodon is now extinct... or is it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


The Surgeon's Photo - Fortean Pictures Library

The Plesiosauria are an order of prehistoric marine reptiles that include the Plesiosauridae and Elasmosauridae. Members of these two families are commonly thought of as having long necks, four flippers, and a short tail. A number of fresh water lake monsters are thought to be the last remnants of these extinct creatures.

Elasmosaurus also played a role in the infamous "Bone Wars" between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope – an episode that demonstrates how peer review can help prevent a load of public embarrassment, and save money to boot.

A New Jersey Elasmosaurus with short neck and long tail...

Representing the Elasmosauridae in 1/72 scale is the CollectA Hydrotherosaurus (88139) which scales out exactly to 13m in length.

It would be nice to have a real Elasmosaurus in 1/72 scale though, since the body of Hydrotherosaurus (or at least of this particular model) does not quite have the broad, flattened shape of a typical Elasmosaur.

For the Plesiosauridae, Kaiyodo makes a couple of Plesiosaurus that are roughly similar in size and appearance. The one that I own is the Capsule Q Museum Plesiosaurus. Presumably this model represents one of the larger species, since it is supplied with a 1/72 scale diver for size comparison.

There is also a secret version of the Capsule Q model with a more elaborate color scheme. The UHA Dinotales Plesiosaurus (which I don't have) is also very similar in size and appearance to the Capsule Q version, even though it represents a smaller 3.5m Plesiosaurus.

The last figure is the Horrorclix Nessie (Nightmares #043). The miniature has its neck bent in swan-like fashion, which (despite popular depiction) is an impossibility for plesiosaurs.

Nessie bears somewhat of a resemblance to the Plesiosaurus illustrated in The Book of the Great Sea-Dragons.

The Sea-Dragons as they lived.

The figure really embodies Hawkins' appellation of "Sea-Dragon" as applied to marine reptiles, and bears only a superficial resemblance to Plesiosaurus.

In closing, though many cryptozoology aficionados like to draw comparisons between the Loch Ness Monster and Plesiosaursus, there are many arguments supporting why the Loch Ness Monster isn't a plesiosaur.

A comparison between Hydrotherosaurus and Plesiosaurus.

Monday, November 23, 2015

4D Puzzle Models

There are a number of companies that are producing military vehicles under the category of "4D puzzle model". I believe that the first of these may have been the 1/90 scale 4D Master tanks produced by Fame Master out of Hong Kong. The kits were also repackaged by Academy, but sold at a much higher price.

These models are like typical 3D puzzle figures, consisting of blocky pieces that fit together to make the model. They seem to look okay on the box art, but they're obviously toy-like, and the wrong scale.

Another line of "1/72" scale tanks that claim to fall into the 4D puzzle category are reviewed over at Men In Boxes. These models appear in a number of different packages, with the most common bearing a logo imitating that of World of Tanks.

These tanks are very toy-like and not to scale, but I couldn't help but buy the M-42 Duster, because nobody seems to be interested in making a model of it in 1/72.

The packaging for the model I bought did not have the bland-name logo, but it has the same image of the 1/35 Tamiya M-42 on the box top, the same product number, and the exact same contents.

The pieces are all made out of different types of plastic. The turret and side panels are PVC, the upper hull is polystyrene, or maybe ABS, and the lower hull and wheels seem to be made of polyethylene or polypropylene.

The problems with the wheels and tracks are obvious. The lower hull, which is shared by all of the tanks in this series is too long for the M-42 (though not by much), making the tank scale out to perhaps 1/70 to 1/68 scale.

The model goes together easily without any need for glue, though some clean-up of flash is required to make all the parts sit flush.

4D Duster vs Altaya Duster

Overall, the 4D M-42 is not very good. I don't recommend bothering with any of the models in this series. Maybe one day Hobby Master will come out with a diecast M-42, since they already make an M-41.

One final manufacturer that uses the 4D puzzle model designation is a Chinese company which I believe is called 4 Paragraph. They have produced a series of vehicles with the MAZ-7910 chassis, that are part of the S-300PMU (SA-10 Grumble) missile system.

The series consists of two color variants of the 30N6E2 fire control/illumination and guidance radar vehicle – one in gray plastic with black and light gray camouflage markings, and one in olive plastic with apple green and tan camouflage markings.

There are also two different mobile TELs – a 5P85S in gray plastic with black and light gray camouflage markings, and a 5P85D in olive plastic with apple green and tan camouflage markings. Each mobile TEL has parts (and instructions) to assemble the S or D type, so both are actually available in each color.

These "puzzle models" are actually simplified quick-build models based off of the 1/72 scale PST S-300 models. I bought all four for less than what I paid for a single PST model. They are made of ABS, so you cannot use regular plastic cement for them, but I found that for the most part, glue is not necessary to build these models.

I used images from Air Power Australia as references for assembly, but the instructions included with the models were sufficient for the most part.

For the 5P85S/D models, when performing step 16, insert the pegs starting from the rear so that the sides are flush with the truck bed. For step 17, I installed the arm so that the irregularity at the sprue attachment point will be hidden from view when the launch tubes are raised.

Sprue attachment point.

Once the arm is installed, it will be difficult to remove, so double check before attaching the part if seeing the attachment point matters to you.

For step 33, I installed the piston so that the irregularity at the sprue attachment point will be hidden from view when the launch tubes are raised.

Piston and launch tube attachment points.

For steps 35 and 36, make sure the parts are connected so that the openings for attaching the launch tubes face up.

I didn't bother with putting the missiles into the launch tubes, and left them empty.

5P85D and 30N6E2 in travel mode

5P85S in launch position, 30N6E2 with raised antenna

The datalink antenna on the radar vehicle is not very accurate. I'm not sure what the PST version looks like, but it can't be worse.

4D 5P85S vs Russian Tank Collection 9A52

30N6E2, 5P85S, 5P85D, 9A52

The dimensions and wheelbase of the MAZ-7910 and MAZ-543M chassis match up fairly well between the 4D model and the diecast Russian Tank Collection model. There are some differences in the shape of the cab, and the Russian Tank Collection model has larger wheels, but I can't say which is more accurate.

I will probably get a couple more of these kits so that I can create a complete fire unit (although I'll repaint the new ones with more accurate PLA camouflage).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Viking Lander

Billions upon billions of stars...

The Viking lander was the first spacecraft to operate on the surface of Mars. The Viking 1 left Earth on August 20, 1975 and landed on Mars July 20, 1976. It was followed on September 9, 1975 by Viking 2, which landed on September 3, 1975.

The Viking Project provided a wealth of information on the geography and atmosphere of Mars, fulfilling the first two objectives of the mission.  As for the third objective, the landers were unable to find any evidence of life where they touched down. The lunatic fringe, however, would have you believe otherwise.

ArcLight's World Space Museum series includes a model of the Viking Lander (WSM-10008) that is said to be the Viking 1 lander, but it can just as easily be the virtually identical Viking 2 lander.

Based on the picture of Carl Sagan with a model of the lander, and dimensions found online, I'd say the model is pretty close to 1/72 scale. There are pictures of museum displays that seem much smaller, but I'm assuming that those are scaled down versions.

The model is painted a light gray, which seems a bit off compared to all the pictures of landers which appear to be white in color, but I've seen pictures of these models in lighter shades as well.

Overall, it's a nice little model for those who are collectors of real space models in 1/72 scale.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Caldecott Miniature Models

Caldecott Models appeared in the early years of the 2000s, and produced diecast models of Australian cars in 1/43 and 1/72 scale. Some of the models made their way to the U.S. around 2004, but the company seems to have disappeared in the following years.

They made two diecast cars in 1/72 scale – the Ford Falcon XC Coupe, and a Ford Falcon XY GTHO – both in a few different color schemes. I have been aware of the models for a number of years, but never ordered any, due to the cost of shipping from Down Under. However, that has changed, and I am now in possession of a Falcon XC (John Player Special) in black and gold, and a Falcon XY in "diamond white".

I actually ordered three of the XCs due to their similarity to the Falcon XB, and I will try to convert one of them into the post-apocalypse version of the Pursuit Special from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

Sent to the scrapyard after filming.

Rectangular headlights... Doesn't that mean the car is a Fairmont?

I don't have any plans to create the car from the first film at this point, but I'll keep the extra model around just in case.

The really nice thing about these cars (from the perspective of someone who wants to do modifications), is that the body is attached to the chassis by screws rather than the typical rivets used for diecast cars.

Anyway, the models are nicely detailed, and a nice change from the typical German, Japanese, and U.S. cars that dominate the 1/72 diecast world.