So, What was Tamiya's first Armor kit? Here's a trip down Hobby Memory Lane all the way back to the 1960s.

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So, What was Tamiya's first Armor kit? Here's a trip down Hobby Memory Lane all the way back to the 1960s.

Joined: May 21st, 2013, 12:45 pm

July 12th, 2018, 2:23 pm #1

Odds are, according to one version of the story, was that it was a box scale T-92 Tank Destroyer issued in 1962.  Their first tank kit was supposed to be a Panther in 1961, but the higher price established for that kit, pushed its release back, and the T-92 snuck out first as part of its World Series Pocket Size armor kits.
 
Japanese armor kits from that era followed the motorizing mania prevalent back then, and the T-92 was no exception.  I bought my first example of this kit in the 60s at Scale Model Imports (aka Unique Hobby Imports), which was located in the upper floor of a brownstone apartment building in the Italian North Ward of Newark, NJ. The store was basically a converted apartment, with kits and magazines jammed everywhere. It was run by a weird guy named Joe "The Animal" Pezzino, who was among the first hobby shops to import kits and books from all over the world. I bought my first AFV-G2 magazines there, Koku-Fan Japanese armor and aviation magazines (which I still have), and a host of other exotic hobby products from Nichimo, Heller, Aoshima, etc.  Those of us old enough to remember this weird hobby shop, which advertised in the USA Scale Modeler magazine and the Boy Scout Magazine, "Boy's Life", as a mail order hobby shop, can attest to its quirks. Joe had his mutant family help run it. I used to peddle my Stingray bike from my home in the Ironbound section in the East Ward of Newark most Saturdays to shop at the store. It used to take about 45 minutess to bike there. According to a 1961 UPI article, Joe apparently engaged in some other illegal extracurricular activities, which got him arrested for kiddie porn, S&M activities and selling barbiturates. According to the article, at the time of his arrest he was wearing women's clothing (you just can't make this stuff up).  Of course, I knew none of this at the time I was going there in the late 1960s-early 1970s.
 
I remember being very impressed with the box art and immediately purchased this wicked-looking tank destroyer.  It somewhat resembles a French AMX-13 tank destroyer.  I was more than a bit disappointed in the kit when I got it home.  Nevertheless, I built it, played with it and, most likely, sacrificed it in the usual summer time firecracker/Viking Funeral purge of models - nothing more fun than blowing up models, and everything else, when I was a kid. 
 
Fast forward to 2018, and I'm at the IPMS USA Region 1 Show held at the Armor Museum on Long Island, and vendors were selling all kinds of rare kits for cheap prices. And then I saw it - a version of this T-92 kit in a Hawk Models box. I immediately paid my $5 for a trip down memory lane.  Truth be told, it was not as bad as I remembered it was.    The Hawk release did away with the motorization parts.  The hull bottom plate of the Hawk release still carried the huge "Tamiya Mokei Plastic Model Kit" and “Made in Japan” logo.  The Hawk kit's instruction sheet was better than that supplied in the initial versions released by Tamiya, and the Hawk kit even included photos of the real T-92. The T-92 was  never accepted into production by the U.S.Army. The Hawk kit I bought was complete, including dried-out, gnarled, rubber band tracks and a decal sheet, yellowed with time. Looking over the kit, I have to admire how Mr.Tamiya's mold designers handled the under-hang below the auxiliary .50 caliber (right side) and 30 cal.(left side) cupolas, which roughly resemble those used on the M-48 Patton tank.  The kit is approximately 1/55th - 1/56th scale, so, it's a true box-scale armor kit, if there ever was one. ITC apparently made a 1/24th scale version of the T-92, but those are even rarer than the Tamiya/Hawk 1/55th scale kit. There's a walk-around of the T-92 on the internet, but references are limited to Wiki and Hunnicutt's, "Sheridan: A History of the American Light Tank, Volume 2."
 
Maybe I'm nuts, but I'm considering building this thing in the future when I retire - just need to replace the 76mm, .50 cals, and, of course, the tracks, and that's just for starters. 
 
Hope you enjoyed this trip down hobby nostalgia lane. Comments and corrections are welcome.

Photos:
Size Comparison T-92 and M-41 Walker Bulldog
T-92
T-92 Hull bottom plate with early Tamiya logo
Hawk Kit Box Art 
2nd Tamiya Box Art with new Tamiya logo
Final Tamiya Box Art in the style that Tamiya has used for decades 
T-92 - Hull Top
T-92 = Turret Top
T-92 - Hull Sides and Rubber Band Tracks 
T-92 - Kit Sprues and Decal Sheet
T-92 and M-41.jpg
T92.jpg
T-92 smaller IMG_6342.jpg
IMG_6332.JPG
T-92 Tamiya Early box 2.jpg
T-92 Tamiya final box.jpg
IMG_6335.JPG
IMG_6336.JPG
IMG_6339.JPG
IMG_6333.JPG
T-92 and M-41.jpg T92.jpg T-92 smaller IMG_6342.jpg IMG_6332.JPG T-92 Tamiya Early box 2.jpg T-92 Tamiya final box.jpg IMG_6335.JPG IMG_6336.JPG IMG_6339.JPG IMG_6333.JPG
Last edited by Mike Dobrzelecki on July 12th, 2018, 5:31 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Joined: May 21st, 2013, 12:45 pm

July 12th, 2018, 2:25 pm #2

Sorry about the photo captions - here's the 1st Tamiya Box Art for the T-92 and the Otaki release, as well.  These molds really got around - didn't they?
T-92 Tamiya Early box.jpg
OotakiT92a.jpg
Last edited by Mike Dobrzelecki on July 12th, 2018, 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: April 14th, 2006, 7:29 pm

July 12th, 2018, 4:09 pm #3

Hi All;

We need more of this type of article to give the younger generation the WHEN and HOW this armour kit era evolved. It was a long tedious road, and we are almost "spoiled" these days, with little to complain about or request. However, a Canadian Ram II would be welcome before I leave for good!

GB 
George Bradford
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
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Joined: October 18th, 2004, 6:49 pm

July 12th, 2018, 4:42 pm #4

PolMikeD,

Please use the tutorial to change your user name to your real name.

Thanks,

Tom
Tom Cockle
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Joined: March 9th, 2012, 4:57 pm

July 12th, 2018, 5:09 pm #5

What a great stroll down memory lane, thank you Mike - I might have to look into scratching a T92 sometime in the future.

Does anybody know if Otaki actually changed the molds to reflect the change from cal .50s to missiles shown on the boxtop? The hull side looks different on the boxtop as well, did Otaki maybe actually have their very own kit?
Information not shared is information lost.
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Joined: May 21st, 2013, 12:45 pm

July 12th, 2018, 5:12 pm #6

I have no idea what the Otaki kit looked, like, but I bet they didn't change the molds.
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Joined: May 21st, 2013, 12:45 pm

July 12th, 2018, 5:34 pm #7

Here's the UPI article and a copy of one Pezzino's flyers - the latter a classic cut and paste - pre-internet practice. 
Joe Pezzino UPI article.jpg
ScaleModel Imports.jpg
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Joined: April 14th, 2006, 7:29 pm

July 12th, 2018, 7:25 pm #8

Just to enrich the flavour of this thread ...

A look at TAMIYA MOKIE prices in the March 1966 AFV News issue.
1:21 scale Pz.III/M with long barrel 50mm = $8.95 USD
1:21 scale German StuG. assault gun = $8.95
1:25 scale Panther Ausf. A tank = $9.50
————
1:35 scale British Chieftain MBT (motorized) = $4.25
1:35 scale Russian T-10 Heavy Tank (motorized) = $3.50
1:35 scale British Coventry II a/car (motorized) = $2.25
1:35 scale British Saladin a/car (motorized) = $2.50
————
As advertised by Hollywood’s Hanger, Anaheim, Calif.

GB

Strangely I find this T-92 kit listed as 1:30, 1:50 or 1:56 scale. My guess is the latter.
I still recall buying it in the 60’s and assembling it while I was supervising a night-shift rush job at Merchant’s Printing where I worked back then.
Spent the whole night on it between checking over press proof sheets.

T92kit.png
George Bradford
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
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Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 8:23 am

July 12th, 2018, 9:43 pm #9

Loved this post, thanks for taking the time Mike.
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Joined: March 9th, 2012, 4:57 pm

July 12th, 2018, 9:55 pm #10

Aaah,

torture-for-thrills, you just have to love those vintage terms.

Thanks for the Scalemates reminder George, according to them the two are separate kits in different scales, makes me want to see the Otaki kit.

Somehow I still have not managed to see the Tamiya Coventry II armoured car, it must have been pretty obscure and whenever I google it, I either get a Lotus racer or the 1/48 Humber Mk IV.
Information not shared is information lost.
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