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F-104 Starfighter in 48th scale from AMK

AMK or Avantgarde Model Kits is a company that initially became famous with their MiG-31 releases, which was praised by the modelers globally and considered the best MiG-31 representation in any scale. This was due to two reasons: there weren’t many releases of MiG-31 besides HobbyBoss/Trumpeter that was worth mentioning, and most importantly – the kit was very good and above the expectations for a start-up company such as AMK. That was at the time of the release of course.

The other thing that AMK became famous for is that they are doing a great job in terms of procrastination. Their long awaited F-14 Tomcat was announced couple of years ago and it was pending release every 4 months since. That annoyed a lot of modelers, especially those who did bite the bait of pre-order option. Now we are at the end of 2019 and the kit is just starting to appear in the stores and that is just in limited numbers. Besides the disappointment, AMK left little room for their bright future that was initially expected when the MiG-31 appeared.

Surprisingly, AMK announced another kit in late 2019. A new F-104 Starfighter release in 48th scale. Now this can be considered as one of many things by the modelers/potential buyers. Firstly, there are those – of course – that will clap and scream in joy due to the fact that a new Starfighter is coming out. It was flown all around the planet and many are in close ties to that bird in one way or another. Considering the AMK MiG-31, there is some decent amount of hope that one might want to spare for 48th scale Lockheed needle. It might be a nice release. 

It must be added that a large part of that first group will be collectors of kits too, not real builders.

But… Aside from that and in general, most of the modelers are smart people – the hobby demands it – and they won’t bite the bait for the second time. Here we get to the second group – those who will pass by the “news” on any new AMK upcoming release, simply because they don’t have a life to spare waiting. AMK Super Etendard never became a thing. Their Tomcat is beyond of any “new tooling” point, because it is already years after its announcement and it is still in its humble beginnings. That doesn’t leave much room for hope.

And there is that too:

F-104 Starfighter was announced earlier in the year from Kinetic. Not a bad idea for any quarter scale Starfighter fan. On top of that there is a Hasegawa version that has been around for quite a while and most importantly – it is a very decent representation /with some well known flaws like the rivets on the wings/ which are fixable. We can give it to Hasegawa, since their Starfighter is old. Really old. Kinetic though, they are coming up with something probably very nice, considering the Hornet that they released recently. Some things are approached very differently in their line of kits, for example the thickness of the surfaces. Latter one, a very very important aspect of F-104 Starfighter as a whole.

Now AMK seems to be either extremely bold or extremely stupid. If they do not manage to release this in the first half of 2020, they will probably fade forever. Nobody will stand another five year delay on a kit that already has two decent substitutes. And let’s now fool ourselves – AMK does not have a religion-like army of fans, like Tamiya, Dragon or MENG Model. On the contrary – they have hundreds of disappointed buyers, who waited half a decade for a release. So with all that, if they manage to deliver their Starfighter soon, they might stand a chance of surviving. And that is only if the kit features something innovative, something unseen in terms of quality and also – a great price. Those are all highly unlikely eventualities.

Knowing the history of AMK with their MiG-31 releases and the delays of their Tomcat, it seems more like a mirage or a desperate attempt to do something, just anything. Something like shooting in the dark with that F-104 release.  Why Starfighter and why now?!

Because their MiG-31 has its issues and actually HobbyBoss is very acceptable option. Same goes for the Tomcat. Tamiya cannot be messed with, no matter the detail that AMK thought they might come up with. So in conclusion, this F-104 Starfighter from AMK might be just another indefinitely-postponed release that might never see the light of day, while people all around are showing off their Kinetic Starfighters at the shows and group meetings. Not the mention thousands of stashed Hasegawa options that have plenty of resin to be played with.

So is this really news? Maybe. Or maybe it is the last song that AMK will even going to sing. It all depends on them. One thing is certain: time is running out for AMK and they have to be fast.