Wingnut Wings – The (Styrene) Shot Heard ‘Round The World

site_screenshotWhen new kit manufacturers make their entrance into the market it’s usually a side-note in modeling sites and publications, and then a wait-and-see time afterwards to find out how promising they will turn out to be. Sort of a slow burn that may or may not turn into a big explosion.

Wingnut Wings must’ve taken note, and decided to take a different approach.

Something more like a nuclear weapon.

If a manufacturer has ever hit the market with this much force, I’d be surprised to hear it.

Steve Budd decided to find out all he could about this phenomenal new company, if only to pass the time until his parcel from his recent Wingnut Wings order hits his doorstep. He shares with us his findings, including some Q& A with Wingnuts’ own coordinator, Richard Alexander.

Dry mouth…sweaty palms…heart racing…you can think of nothing else…it can only mean one thing – Wingnut Wings have taken to the modelling skies!

32004-wingnut-wings-1-32-bristol-f2b-fighter
Bristol F.2b Fighter
32003-wingnut-wings-1-32-se5a-hisso
SE.51 “Hisso”
32002-wingnut-wings-1-32-lvg-cvi
LVG C.VI
32001-wingnut-wings-1-32-junkers-j1
Junkers J.1

World War I aviation has long been the mainstay of Eduard, initially a limited run kit producer, who has steadily evolved its products into the slick, beautifully presented ‘all in the box’ packages we see today. I have long hoped they’d pantograph up their 1:48 kits to 1:32 – in this kit basher’s view, the ideal scale for WWI but to date, there’s no hint from them that this is even a possibility.

Happily however, those wishing to build in this larger scale have been served up a selection of types in recent years from Roden; all of them attractive, detailed models, that also require a little more fettling with good old fashioned building skills to extract the best from them. Their Archilles Heel however, has routinely been the box decals, usable at best and willing to shatter and tear at worst.

So, there I was, hoping against hope for Eduard quality kits in 1:32, that included that Profi-pack ‘all in the box’ approach, marrying top quality plastic to sublime decals and just the right inclusion of etched metal and tied to colour coded, explicitly clear instructions that left me in no doubt about what goes where. I wrote to kit manufacturers pleading the case. I wrote again. I received…silence.

The week before last, I wandered into Hannants. Garry clocked me coming in and left the counter heading for the magazine rack wearing a smile that said ‘I’m about to hurt your wallet’. He returned with the latest edition of ‘Windsock’ and flicked through the pages to an advert bearing the banner ‘Wingnut Wings’. My jaw dropped to the floor with a dull thud – here was a new WWI kit manufacturer launching with four 1:32 scale kits! When I saw it included a Bristol Fighter (the other three are an SE5a, an LVG C.VI and a Junkers J.1) I was beside myself. It just didn’t seem possible but there it was. Garry said the kits were beauties from what he’d heard and that there was a web site ready to go but not accessible yet. Somewhere in New Zealand a box containing a Bristol Fighter called to me from the other side of the world. I was ready to walk there and collect it personally if necessary…

The web site went live in early April and is a treasure trove of information. I’ll leave you to discover what’s on show for yourselves – it’s worth every minute.

So what does this mean for the WWI aviation nut at large? It means ‘all in the box’ presentations of exquisite quality – plastic, decals, etch, instructions – all are simply dripping in quality. Think of Accurate Miniatures when they launched; lovely kits alright but there was a period of evolution in the overall package before they reached the pinnacle loved by kit bashers around the world. Wingnut have launched in a very advanced state of refinement and short of the odd etched MG jacket here and there and Bob’s Buckles in the package it’s difficult to see much that might be improved. Amazing.

If you thought Eduard instructions were industry leaders, wait ‘till you see the Wingnut offerings! They’re effectively mini-datafiles with photos of various interior and exterior details to assist the builder in ‘what goes where’ while also acting as a resource for adding extra detailing. They even include rigging diagrams for the interior. Add to that pre-formed holes for the rigging and a later release schedule that includes a Sopwith Pup, Pfalz DIIIa, Albatros DV, Fokker DVII, RE8 (‘Harry Tate’) and a Gotha G.IV (!) and the dream just goes on gathering momentum.

The force behind this gift to the WWI modelling community is film director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings and many others), a well known aircraft enthusiast with a particular interest in this evocative period of flight. I have no doubt that there was/is a very sizable sum from Peter backing this venture, tied to a very apparent desire to ensure accuracy and quality is top of the shop.

Seems evident to me that the Computer Aided Design (CAD) produced kits have made good use of material held in Peter Jackson’s private WWI collection of memorabilia, as well as design plans and whatnot from the Vintage Aviator Ltd. (also connected to Peter Jackson) that make full size WWI replica aircraft via original manufacturers data.

I took the opportunity to contact Wingnut by e-mail and Project Co-ordinator Richard Alexander was kind enough to reply. I posed a few questions:

wingnut-wings-flyer1How long have Wingnut been preparing for for the launch date of the first four kits?
It has taken quite a while to get where we are now. And it’s just the beginning!

How’s everyone feeling, in the wake of the waves of praise being expressed in the modelling community?
Everyone is feeling really pleased. And tired! It’s been a busy week.

Your site says all kits are limited edition – what kind of production runs are scheduled for each kit?
We have made enough to cover what we considered the demand would be.

Following the inevitable sell out of each run, will you re-batch them if suitable demand continues?
There is currently no plan to do this but I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Does Wingnut see itself as a long term player in the market? I ask as modellers harbour well founded fears that their favourite kits and materials will suddenly become unavailable.
Yes. We hope to be around for a long time.

I wholeheartedly recommend you give Wingnut a spin. My Brisfit’s now in the post and I’ll return with a review, initially in-box, followed by a full build. Buy with confidence now while the dream lives…

Steve also submitted this press release from Wingnut Wings:

Wingnut Wings Press Release 6 April 2009

Dear Sir,

Please find enclosed information about Wingnut Wings’ first 4 releases.

These are available now;

32001 1/32 Junkers J.1
32002 1/32 LVG C.VI
32003 1/32 SE.5a ‘Hisso’
32004 1/32 Bristol F.2b Fighter

Our models feature…
-High quality injection moulded plastic parts.
-High quality Cartograf decals for at least 5 different aircraft.
-Many optional parts for different versions.
-Highly detailed engines.
-Restrained use of photo-etched detail parts.
-Fine in scale rib tape details (when applicable).
-Full colour instructions containing many reference photographs.
-Full rigging diagrams (when applicable).

Wingnut Wings’ passion is to provide accurate, highly detailed, large scale WW1 models that are as enjoyable to build for both the experienced and novice modeller alike. By designing these models to be a pleasure to build we hope to attract people unaccustomed to the satisfaction of modelling aviation’s epic and tragic pioneer years. We believe we have achieved this.  We feel that younger modellers are intimidated by WW1 aircraft models and have designed our tooling and instructions to assist them in every way possible. But you can judge that for yourselves.

These first four releases will be followed up very quickly by 6 more, and we are well underway with our first two years of scheduled production. We are well underway with modelling and tooling for many more kits during this period. We are not a market-driven company, but a group of passionate individuals. This has freed us up from the “safe and popular” WW1 subjects and allowed us to focus on two-seaters and bombers, as well as many yet-to-be-modelled fighters. If we see enough to cover costs, we will keep going!

In the short time that these aircraft patrolled the war torn skies over the trenches they represented the cutting edge of technology. In keeping with that tradition we use the latest in 3D CAD/CAM modelling software and tool making techniques available to us to ensure that modellers receive only the highest quality product.

Our models are designed and researched by passionate professionals utilising original factory drawings whenever possible, historic and contemporary photos and information supplied by some of the worlds leading experts in their fields. We also work closely with The Vintage Aviator Ltd, which gives us access to full size airworthy examples of many of our subject aircraft. We have also had great support from various museums who have given us access to aircraft and engines within their collections.

We are making models the way we have always wanted models to be made. We hope you will get as much enjoyment from them as we do.

Orders can be placed through our website now.

Regards,

Richard Alexander
Coordinator

Wingnut Wings Ltd, PO Box 15-319, Miramar, Wellington 6022, New Zealand.