Trumpeter Visit Report
By Dave Mason
MD-11 Capt World Airways / IPMS Philippines - Bert Anido / IPMS USA #18765
This past week (Aug 2009) I spent three days at Trumpeter Headquarters (aka Hobby Boss) working with their aircraft kit design engineers. We had frequent visits from Jackson Xiao the Manager of their Public Relations Department and from Mr. Ho the President and CEO of Trumpeter. I also had numerous opportunities to interview Mr. Ho and get a feel for where Trumpeter is heading.
Let me say that Mr. Ho (his first name) is a visionary in the modeling industry. He started Trumpeter in 1999 and hit a home run with his very first kit the 1/32nd scale A-10A Thunderbolt II. To date that kit has sold 25,000 copies and it is still selling well. The two main areas Trumpeter will concentrate on during the next three years will be modern jets and WW II subjects. They will also be doing many new armor kits and warships but this report will cover mostly aircraft subjects.
His business model is based on four concepts:
- Manufacture the kits modelers want
- Make them as high quality as possible
- Follow up kit sales with additional customizing accessories
- Improve customer service support (meaning replacing broken or missing parts)
This plan directly depends on modelers to get involved with new kit requests and provide positive and negative feedback.
Mr. Ho is in the model kit business for the long haul. He is taking his profits and re-investing them into his business. He just had a brand new custom made state of the art factory built next to the old factory complete with new milling and injection machines. This new factory will double the manufacturing capacity of Trumpeter/Hobby Boss. They have also streamlined their R & D process, enhanced their computer imaging capability, and added staff members to speed up the kit processing time. Essentially they can produce a new kit in about 10 months.
I toured the new factory and it is really something. In the front lobby there are many display cases for completed models. Just above the front lobby are the executive offices and conference rooms. The work areas are clean, spacious, well lighted, and environmentally controlled. All of the tooling machines are fully computerized. They now have the newest 3-axis CNC milling machines capable of milling parts down to an accuracy of 1/100th of an inch or .025mm. Workers will live in a new compound next to the factory and it will be a 24 hour operation. I have included some photos of it. It is very impressive.
Mr. Ho is the guiding father of the Trumpeter family but their design engineers Mr. Gao and Mr. Song are the real aircraft experts behind the operation. They have a tremendous knowledge base and a very good feel for what the modelers want. They are very open minded and greatly appreciate our help and our kit suggestions.
At the start of my visit we carefully went over the IPMS Philippines list of requested kits and the justifications for them. This list was compiled by our Philippine modelers who perusing the many blogs and web site forums on the Internet. Essentially when someone posts a message desiring a new kit it will be observed by one of our eagle eyed volunteers and added to the list. Many of the new kits over the next three years will be from this list.
Specifically during my visit we reviewed the 1/32nd scale test shots for the Bf 109G series, the Bf 109E and F series, the IL-2 Shturmovik series, the Su-25K and SU-25UB, the MiG-23 series, the MiG-27 series, the Ju 87 Stuka series (including a Ju 87A version), the AV-8B+ and GR.7 Harriers, and the 1/48th Su-24M and Me 262 series. Overall they looked pretty good - particularly the new Bf 109E and Bf 109F kits. They are definitely superior to the Hasegawa or Eduard offerings.
We also went over the 3D CAD drawings for the new A-1 Skyraider series and the A-4 Skyhawk series. They will be doing a complete series on the Skyraider including an A-1E, A-1D, A-1H, A-1J and a four seat ASW version. Although Panther Productions offers a resin 1/32nd scale A-1H no one has ever done an injection molded Skyraider in 1/32nd scale before. The Skyhawk series will include an A-4E, A-4F, and A-4M version. Hasegawa did the OA-4M two seater but the single seat A-4M has never been done before in 1/32nd scale. Both series should be a big hit.
Here are the new aircraft kits that are on the way in 2010 and 2011:
First in 1/32nd scale and in no particular release order:
- Su-25K and Su-25UB
- Complete Bf 109 series: Bf 109E-3, Bf 109E-4/Trop, Bf 109E-7/Trop, Bf 109F-4/Trop, Bf 109G-2,G-6,G-10, Bf 109K-4
- Complete Ju 87 Stuka series: Ju 87A, B-2, D-2, D-5, G-7, Ju 87R
- MiG-23MF, ML, MLD
- MiG-27D, MiG-27M, MiG-27K
- IL-2 Sturmovik single seat, IL-2M straight wing, IL-2M3 with the swept wing
- F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler two seaters
- A-4 Skyhawk series A-4E, A-4F, A-4M
- Hi Tech Weapons kits: American series, Russian series, European series
- Spitfire series: Mk.Vb, Mk.IX, Mk.24
- Skyraider series including A-1E, A-1D, A-1H, A-1J, and an ASW version
- A-6A Intruder, A-6E TRAM Intruder, and EA-6B Prowler
Future 1/32nd kits still include the Jaguar, Hurricane, F-35 Lightning II, and the F-22A Raptor. But these are still in the research and development stage. There are also some secret "black" projects they are working on but I can't talk about them.
Many modelers have wondered about the 1/32nd scale A-6 Intruder series and I can assure everyone that it is still on the way. It was pushed to the back burner for a while to make way for the F-18E Super Hornet, F-14D Super Tomcat, and the AV-8B Harrier series. But it's back on track now. Trumpeter plans to have an A-6A Vietnam War version, an A-6E TRAM Desert Storm version, and an EA-6B Prowler version.
In 1/48th scale the new 2010 releases are:
- Tornado series IDS, ECR, ADV, GR.4
- Me 262 series with 12 versions total
- F-111 series with F-111D, F-111E, F-111C, FB-111A, EF-111A
- Yak-38A, Yak-38M, and Yak-38UB
- A-7 Corsair series with A-7A, A-7B, A-7D, A-7E, TA-7C, A-7K
- F3H-2 Demon
- F-14A, F-14B, F-14D Tomcats
- Su-24M, Su-24MR, Su-24MP
- F8F Bearcat
- Hellcat Mk.I, Hellcat Mk.II, F6F-3N, F6F-5N
- F4U-4 Corsair, AU-1 Corsair
- F-100D, F-100F
- HU-16A Albatross
- J-8 Finback series with J-8B, J-8D, J-8F
In 1/72nd scale the new releases are:
- F-14A, F-14B, F-14D Tomcat
- Ka-29 Helix B
- Mi-2T, Mi-2US, Mi-2URN, Mi-2URP
- Rafale B, Rafale M
- F9F-2 Panther
- Sea Hawk FGA.6
- Fw 200 Condor series with a C-3, C-4, and C-8 version
- Chinese J-10S
- Su-27 Flanker C
- Be-6 Madge
- MiG-19PM Farmer E
- F-100D, F-100F Super Sabres
The last thing I have to mention is that Mr. Ho is not afraid to go head to head against any other kit manufacturer. He feels his product can match or exceed any other product out there. He is not going to shy away from a subject because some other manufacturer has already made a nice kit. With each kit he wants to keep setting the standard higher and higher. He also likes to do a complete series on a subject not just one or two variants.
Next month Mr. Ho will lead a team of Trumpeter staff members to the Nuremburg, Germany Toy and Hobby Exposition that runs from February 4-9, 2010. If you are in the area you might stop by and say hi to them.
Mr. Ho and all the Trumpeter staff members would like to wish us modelers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Exciting things lie ahead for us modelers and Trumpeter will play a big part in making that happen.
Happy Holidays to everyone!