Good afternoon. This is Shigeta of Zoukei-mura.
The heat of summer continues day after day, and I wonder how all of you Ta152 fans are getting along?
Right now, before my very eyes, are sprues for the SWS Ta152 Test Shot #6, freshly delivered from the factory. Mwahahahaha~! My face automatically splits open with such a huge grin~~~.
|T-6 has finally been delivered! Furthermore, the first glimpse of the packaging! The wings of the Ta152 as they slice through the atmosphere are so unbelievably cool!
|Just look at it, this beaming smile. ♪ At this point, I'm still smiling, but … once the checks begin, a demonic visage appears….
We abbreviate the name of these prototype sprues to T-6. The meaning is “Test Shot #6,” and development has finally progressed to this stage.
In order to confirm that improvements on the aspects that concerned Zoukei-mura on the previous T-5 were carried out according to our instructions, members of the Zoukei-mura Scale Model Team went all the way to China to bring T-6 from our Chinese collaborating company to the Zoukei-mura headquarters.
We have enough T-6 sprues to build several planes, and most of these have already been taken apart and are in the midst of dry assembly by the Scale Model Team, in order to both confirm the proper manufacturing of the metal molds and test-assemble the actual kit itself.
|The final Test Shot, T-6, deserves nothing but the most thorough assembly check! Check! Che~~~eck! Both N and T are building single-mindedly!
|Having come this far, the fit and molding on the parts are as excellent as can be expected! But the true heart of SWS lies elsewhere!
The parts are lined up on top of the large table in the middle of the Planning Department, and we all go over them one by one. This constitutes quite a monumental task.
We love doing this work. In the end, that's really all that needs to be said, but really, once we get as far as Test Shot #6, on first glance the differences are miniscule. The differences that are actually present are so small and subtle that it's often difficult for a viewer to actually say whether they like or dislike those differences.
So once we reach this point, once we get as far as this particular task, it becomes something of a mental struggle that wears away at your nerves to the point of breakdown.
Of course, I only participate to the point where I'm not being an imposition; I want to be useful to everyone, so I persevere.
I do my best to the point where it's necessary to persevere. And while I'm at it, I take the opportunity to say a word (or two, or three…).
It's so much fun. It's so delightful. Because it's so worth doing.
|The Commander-in-Chief of Development, scrupulously carrying out the final checks while struggling to keep from grinning. Comparisons are made between the Ta152 in his hands and the one in his mind.
|Hm~m, it's nearly picture-perfect as a whole, but the propeller really could use a little more improvement … and so he continues to be very particular on this or that.
Even so, to tell the sad truth, when it comes to comments such as mine, which ignore the standard operating procedures of sculpting and metal mold-making, no matter what I say at this point, most of it cannot be used as anything other than simple criticism.
After all, having come this far, the subject is nearly on the level of a finished product, and to be honest, there's really nothing left for me to complain about. And that's because, well, I persevered to an unusual degree, with my comments becoming more and more complicated.
Forgive me! Brothers-in-arms! Saying that all the while, I would annoy everyone around me by suddenly bursting out with irrelevant things like, “Doesn't this part go like this?” However, it was really quite enjoyable. My bewildered comrades really have quite a difficult time of it, dealing with my comments which provoke them to show expressions of shyness, of condescension towards their senpai (senior), of being bothered yet again, of happiness, of anger and sadness and, “At any rate, having gotten to this point, there's nothing that can be done about that!”
Forgive me~e, brothers-in-arms! *grin*
And like that, I brought home those T-6 sprues. In my usual Gunroom, I'll enjoy myself while carefully looking them over~. The situation being what it is, am I not really in the ideal situation, Senpai? It really is just the best!!
By the by, this work known as SWS. The further and further we progress, the more I've really come to believe lately that where scale model reproduction is concerned, the size, the strength, and above all the sharpness of the “gut feelings” of the developers involved become the deciding factors.
The truth about SWS. It's often the case that right from the planning stages, both I and the team responsible already have clear images of both the completed, actual aircraft, and the final form of the kit, in mind.
I'm sure that all of the scattered photographs and diagrams that we have seen hold an influence. I'm also sure we all each have our own individual emotional attachments, likes and dislikes, which complicatedly intertwine to form each person's own image of the actual plane, to the point where the thing known as an aerial plastic model kit can already be fully formed within their mind.
Yes, the truth is, this is the real villain. And it's a very formidable one.
Thoughts inspired by pictures, blueprints, the actual aircraft, military histories, document records, and the many previously released scale models; personal convictions formed as a result of all of the above; and finally, the critical assessments of others; all of these come together, little by little, to create this image. Depending on the person, it can occur that this preconceived idea is envisioned truly strongly, practically on the level of a work of art. Furthermore, it can be even more difficult when this image has already been further idealized by passing through the long span of time described as several decades!!
In addition to the image itself, when there are strong experiences linked to that image, even if some few new facts emerge, it's normal that the image itself does not waver. Rather, that is something to take pride in!
Eh? Can it be that…? That's right, I myself am one such person. I am also rather stubborn.
Even during the current SWS developmental process, my own image of the Ta152 that I have doggedly envisioned ever since I was young continued to authoritatively present itself within my mind. And extremely stylishly, at that!
Therefore, where the development of the SWS Ta152 was concerned, it was necessary to begin by first taking those dogged images, mine and those of the individual developers, and all at once shatter them to pieces.
And truthfully, this was unexpectedly difficult, to the point where even now I feel freshly surprised, although of course at the very beginning we did not understand even this much. After all, my cry of, “I just want the Ta152!” became something like a driving force as to whether SWS would move forward or not.
This being the case, it began very simply with all of the Scale Model Team members gathering day after day in the planning office, endlessly telling random tales of the Ta152 over and over, and it was in this way that planning got off the ground.
Surrounded by the few existing pictures and military history books, the discussions covered the historical setting, strategy, the battlefields, the war situation, the front lines, battles, tactics, purpose, features, structure, the engine, fuel, requisition ability, manufacturing, production, transportation, deployment, training, licensing, military gains, losses, damages, supply, repair, competency, experience, pilots, ground service technicians, organization, hierarchy, cooperation, collaboration, deployment, environment, etc., etc.
|I can talk for an entire night with just illustrated reference books and photo books! Airplanes fly about the inside of my mind just from looking at the beautiful illustrations!
|Everyone, please look at this wonderful illustration! There's a whole bunch of these in this thick, illustrated reference book! There's no way to not get excited!
And then, soon we had held a number of these meetings and conferences, and slowly the image of the Ta152 as it would be through the SWS became linked in everyone's minds. From one person who imagined the Ta152 itself with the super-long main wings attached, to another who envisioned an almost bare Ta152 with only the engine and the framework, and yet another who even carried an image of a plastic model Ta152 almost the size of the real thing, complete with rivet marks and molding details.
And as for me, ever since then, the gallant figure of a Ta152 in a nosedive has repeatedly depicted itself over and over within my mind. And with the right hand from the top of the head, swoop forward! If you like, then please! Do the motions with me!
More than ever before, I now fully comprehend the following:
All of the above are each person's own image of the Ta152, which cannot be understood just from looking at illustrations, blueprints, or photographs of grounded planes.
Now, how do you take all of that and use plastic, that magical material, to reproduce the Ta152 in 1/32 scale?
The truth is, here is where there is a great significance and reason for the specialized sculpting group known as Zoukei-mura to take charge of the airplane models known as SWS.
The company known as ZOUKEI-MURA was originally established with the aim of specializing in developing and producing various artisanal hobby items in-house, to be sold as original merchandise for the company known as Volks, which has a nationwide chain of company stores.
Currently the company is located in Kyoto, employing 15 sculptors who work every day to improve their sense and technique, and produce various sculpted works.
And of course, within that group, many different types all come together, including people who love mecha, people who love airplanes, even some rather unique people such as rail maniacs or those whose lives are dedicated to AFVs. Even so, Volks, the parent company, mainly develops characters from anime/manga, movies, and video games, and lately there's been great emphasis on developing dolls known as Super Dollfies. Even for my dream, it was necessary for several decades to pass before I could speak of it.
However, contrary to what one might think, that turned out to be for the better, which is a very mysterious thing.
That's right. Sculpting the “mecha” and “robots” that appear in anime and manga is actually extremely difficult.
Of course, things like blueprints are missing from the very beginning. It's also rare for there to be full-body pictures included in the details. It's common knowledge in this field that it's often the case that the sculptor responsible, having only small three-quarter profile pictures to rely on, will need to come up with almost all the rest from scratch.
|When sculpting “mecha” and “robots,” just a single illustration, similar to this one, is used to realize things that were never actually drawn, such as the rear view and details.
|“Eh?! Really?!” Yes, really. It's for this reason that every day, the sculptors continue to hone their instincts, so as to continue tackling all different kinds of sculpts!
In such a state of affairs, with only the continued release of the source manga/anime to rely on, we proceed with production on the prototypes.
And so we often end up being scolded by the creator of the original work, with all of our desperate efforts in vain. With only the original illustration as our sole source of information, we must make it manifest in 3D in the coolest, best shape possible, down to the most complicated curves and every connection that's never seen or felt between surface and surface, line and line.
Compared to that, sculpting airplanes, which have clues such as pictures (whether blurry and unfocused or not) and blueprint diagrams, is so easy to understand, and so clean, that one can say that the sculpting perspective consists of a completely different type of work progression.
To put it into words, it consists of simply this: once we actually began the work, an entirely different kind of difficulty was lying in wait. Particularly when speaking of war planes, it's extremely difficult, as each was on the cutting edge of its respective time period and thus a national secret, a prime example of classified information and the very embodiment of “top secret,” so while the exterior is easy, please try and imagine how searching for information on the internal structure isn't even a matter of sculpting at all.
But back that train up! The sculptors here at Zoukei-mura were well-accustomed to encountering such difficulties in their sculpting work, and I had no inkling that this experience would come in handy at just the right moment.
They're completely fine, dealing with such trifling matters. At this point, there's nothing they're afraid of anymore. Function is a result of structure and shape, and something can always be sculpted once the shape formed by the structure has been clarified. All of the sculptors carry this as something like a conviction, or rather, like a gut feeling.
Occasionally, out of a single blurry photograph, a beautiful rough sketch is drawn, and by comparing that rough sketch to documents from similar planes, taking the advice of researchers, and using those conclusions as a trail to follow, we tease out the structure until we cannot think of anything further to include.
|In order to make manifest things which actually exist, such as airplanes, by looking into the surrounding worldview, one begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel, however faint.
|In order to draw a rough sketch with a high degree of accuracy, even illustrations must be looked over carefully. Really, everything contributes to improving your instincts!
The truth is, the way that we installed Shinden's 4 30mm cannons was also a result of similar efforts in research and development; we finally clarified the shape in a moment of, “This is it! This is what the real airplane used!” and were successful in reproducing it for the kit.
Seeing the unseen. Normally, this is impossible. Or at least, it's easy to draw that conclusion, but please don't worry, as airplanes are things that were created by people. The combination of the original demand to fulfill a particular function, the structures that make that function possible, and the state-of-the-art technology of the time; as well as information on similar airplanes and what few pictures there may be of the actual aircraft, can actually provide considerable elucidation as to the actual truth.
It can be said that SWS itself is a “work” which sculptors, tempered by several decades of similar work, utilize all of the following to create: their instincts as prototype creators, research that pulls them infinitely close to the actual aircraft, and highly sharpened nerves.
I ask of all of you, when you have the SWS “Ta152” in your hands, please carefully confirm with your own eyes the proof of their gut feelings, or perhaps I should call it the result of their whole-hearted endeavors.
Whether it be in parts, dry-assembled, or fully painted with all the decals applied, I'm sure that the Ta152 will burst into being for you in a way that you've never seen before.
Believing from the bottom of my heart that the SWS Ta152 H-1 is the most beautiful, most magnificent Ta152 model ever, I gave the OK for the final seal of approval.
The ultimate form of a reciprocating-engine fighter plane, the “Ta152 H-1.”
By some chance, it's possible that this may become an heirloom piece within your airplane collection.
Please join me, to all our hearts' content.
|9500 JPY (+fee)
|Injection Plastic Model Kit, molded parts in 4 colors including clear (estimated).
|182 parts (estimated)
|Length 338mm, Height 133mm, Width 452mm
|Glue is required for assembly.
Order via Volks Japan is sold out.
Order via Volks USA is sold out.