Trumpeter is a Chinese company that manufacturers plastic injection moulding military model kits. Their product line consists of model ships, aircraft, cars and military ground vehicles. The company is located in Zhongshan, China, just north of Macau. All of the design and development is done at this site and production facilities on site extend to full mold making engineering using spark erosion techniques.The factory has the facility to take production from design computer right through to packaging with some outsourcing done on things like photo etched parts. Not only are they making models for the Trumpeter label but, under license, also for a number of other brands like Hobby Boss, Mini Hobby and even Fujimi Mokei and Pit-Road.
Trumpeter's early armor kits were reviewed negatively in publications such as AMPS' Boresight. Their series of T-55 kits were criticized for lack of accuracy and buildability issues. However, in recent years, Trumpeter's armor and artillery kits have been the subject of increasingly favourable comparisons with those of other manufacturers. In particular, their 1/35th scale kits of the KV tank series, SA-2 Guideline missile, and Karl Morser have been well received. The KV, K-5 Leopold and Karl Morser kits have been reviewed and are considered far better than competing kits of these subjects from Tamiya, Eastern Express, and DML. Their kits of the Pz.Kpfw. IV-based Karl Morser ammunition carriers and the German 150 mm SFH 18 have been reviewed less favorably than competing kits from DML on the Perth Military Modeling web site. More recently their catalogue has increased with lots of variants of many military vehicles kits in 1/35 and 1/72 scale.
Trumpeter plastic models of ships are produced in 1:200, 1:350, 1:500 and 1:700 scale, although 1:350 and 1:700 are dominating. Trumpeter has a cooperation with Japanese ship model manufacturer Pit-Road for kits in 1:700 scale. These kits are usually available under the Pit-Road label in Japan and under the Trumpeter label in the rest of the world. Trumpeter's ship models have included a rising number of parts, but quality is still disputed due to insufficient research and some recent releases have been over-engineered. For example, the 1:350 scale kit of the American aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) (an early release) has been found to compromise in detail ("disappointment"), while the hull form shows major mistakes and the island is also not perfect. Fit, however, is said to be excellent, and surface detail "very credible". Also modern US carriers (for example the 1/700 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers) suffer from a wrong hull form. Hull form problems are also found in the Baltimore-class cruiser kits. Mistakes in the correct outfit (catapults, armament) have been pointed out regarding the details of some Essex-class carrier kits and the Bismarck-class battleships (wrong AA fit). Especially regarding the Essex class, the well known modeller Scott van Aken on the Modeling Madness website praises the kits of a competitor as preferable over Trumpeter: "The moldings on the kit (of the competitor) are top rate and without the myriad of ejector pin marks that have plagued Trumpeter ship kits since day one."
On the other hand, Trumpeter kits usually contain a lot of small parts, a feature which many modelers appreciate as impressive, and general comments are often positive in summary, especially for Russian navy ships. Trumpeter also put out scale models of popular items long-awaited by enthusiasts that other companies have not included in their range. One kit from Trumpeter that has been very popular is the 1:350 scale kit of HMS Hood; the 1:700 scale kits of the battlecruiser were rumored to have been developed with input from the HMS Hood Association.
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Trumpeter produces kits of airplanes in 1:144, 1:72, 1:48, 1:32 and 1:24 scale. The kits in the larger scales are generally highly detailed and include metal parts, while the smaller scale kits usually are rather simple. The aircraft kits from Trumpeter are, like the other kits, of a varying quality. While the 1:32 scale Me 262 received very good reviews, the F4F Wildcat kit in 1:32 scale was initially so poorly received that Steven's International, the distributor for Trumpeter kits in the USA, refused to market the kit until corrections were made to the kit's fuselage. Copies of the initial version of the kit were marketed in Japan and Europe, however. Subsequently, Trumpeter retooled the kit to more accurately reproduce the fuselage shape of the F4F, and the retooled kit received far better reviews. The 1:24 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109 G was ruled as "acceptable" and "quite accurate" with cockpit detail not up to the standard of the much smaller Hasegawa 1/32 kit (Brett Green, Modeling the Messerschmitt Bf 109 F and early G series, Oxford 2007, pp. 20–24) which together reads that it is not of outstanding quality, as one would expect of a similar kit of one of the competing leading Japanese manufacturers.
- K5 Leopold kit comparison
- Roger Chesneau, Yorktown Class Aircraft Carriers, London 2005, p.22
- Thorsten Dressel, critical online review at www.moduni.de for Trumpeter 1/700 USS Nimitz. It should be noted, however, that the reviews on www.moduni.de have been subject to a heated debate at former www.modellboard.de during 2007. Unacceptable moves of some Trumpeter "fans" resulted in pending legal action so the original page had to be closed.
- Werner Kaiser, "KIT-Report BALTIMORE and PITTSBURGH, Trumpeter M 1:700", review published as fold-out in "Schlagseite" 2006
- Werner Kaiser, "KIT-Report FRANKLIN", as cited
- Jürgen Barnbrock, online review at www.moduni.de for Trumpeter 1/700 Tirpitz. The reviewer gave the kit four stars out of five.
- Dragon 1/700 USS Antietam (CV-36), previewed by Scott Van Aken
- Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a Review by Brett Green (Trumpeter 1/32)
- F4F Wildcat Statement by Stevens International
- F4F-4 Wildcat Retooled Review by Brett Green (Trumpeter 1/32)