Like many large Japanese companies, Kabushiki Gaisha Hasegawa – known simply these days as Hasegawa – didn't start out making what it makes today. While the Sharp Corporation made pencils and Nintendo originally produced simple playing cards, Hasegawa opened its factory in Shizuoka in 1941, to make wooden teaching aids such as demonstration carpentry joints for apprentices.
Its first injection-moulded plastic kit produced in 1961 was a simple glider but more ambitious designs quickly followed. In June 1962, after gambling a huge development budget on the project, Hasegawa released its first go at the mighty Japanese Imperial Navy battleship Yamato. The Yamato – the biggest destroyer every built – was sunk by the American Navy in 1944, but the 1/450 scale model was a huge hit at home in Japan and abroad selling 150,000 units within just six months.
With its next two offerings – a 1/90 scale FJ-104 Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Starfighter and a 1/70 scale P-51 Mustang – Hasegawa shunned the globally more popular 1/72 scale. But the phenomenal success of these plastic model kits over the next few months and years sealed the fate of the old wooden production line and the company fully adopted plastic as the material of choice.
Even so, since Seventies, Hasegawa has produced four kits in its Aircraft (Museum) series skeleton models of early vintage planes – the Fokker Dr.I, the Sopwith Camel, the S.E.5 (all in 1/8 Scale) and Curtiss Wright Flyer (1/16 scale) – using a variety of woods, metals, brass, plastic, rubber and other materials.
Since those early days Hasegawa has swung fully into line with the global 1in to 6ft standard and their main product line today is 1/72 scale planes, including an almost complete line-up of Imperial Japanese Air Force and Navy types from the Second World War, such as the Mitsubishi Zero.
But there are also some excellent crisp examples of modern military jets, including fighter and attack planes, as well as larger bombers – now sometimes seen as the definite example of their type – and variants of almost all modern Japanese military airplanes. Kits from Frog, Monogram and other lesser know brands have also appeared under the Hasegawa label.
Limited-edition runs feature special decal sets, such as the Navy One S-3 Viking, F-4 Phantom, F-15J Eagle and F-2A Viper Zero kits representing the winners of the JASDF's annual gunnery competitions. Some of these special releases are in fact reissues are of discontinued models aimed at the more experienced modeller with a price tag to match.Hasegawa also appeals to the OCD modeller in producing variants of subjects – like the "E" and "F" variants of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Alongside this, Hasegawa also markets Bikes, Cars and Trucks in 1/12 & 1/24 Scale, Aircraft in 1/32 & 1/48 Scale, Airliners in 1/200 scale, Armour in 1/72 scale, Ships in 1/350 Scale – as well as a range of "waterline" ships in 1/700 Scale – and even Trams and trolley buses in 1/150 scale.
The company also produces a range of Sci-Fi models including Gundam MACROSS and Cyber Troopers Virtual-On, and even a range of plastic model kits based on the Ace Combat 6 flight-sim video game
For the truly accuracy-obsessed modeller, Hasegawa – like Tamiya – produces Detail Kits with substitute parts made of etched brass which can more effectively replicate fine surface details better than injection-molded polystyrene. Prices reflect the intricacy of the parts.
Accessory packages including a range of pilots, ground crew figures, troops, pit crew, armaments and even furniture such as desks and chairs – in scales between 1/24 and 1/72 – can add the finishing touch to dioramas too, while a range of Sci-Fi and fantasy figures such as Gundam and Bandai have featured over the years.
In the early Seventies, Hasegawa introduced its novelty "Egg Planes" range. Listed as "grade-A jumbo scale", they depict an egg-shaped distorted interpretation of a classic military planes such as the P-51 mustang and SR-71 blackbird, in no particular scale.
First appearing on the shelves at Easter in 1972, original examples of these first model kits – which also included the Space Shuttle – are now hard to find but the range of Egg Planes has been expanded in every decade since. The most recent subjects include a wider selection of Second World War fighters, modern combat planes, military helicopters, and even MACROSS Valkyries.
In recent years, a number of modellers have complained of poor finish creeping in to some Hasegawa kits often because of the age of the moulds. Many of the kits we sell at KitKrazy are the original clean pressings which means they are much less likely to suffer from worn mould issues. We regularly buy whole collections of dozens of kits and offer them to you at bargain prices, including old models no longer available in the modern range. They're all available, for delivery throughout the UK or to almost anywhere in the world to our customers, online and in the store.
Why not compare our range with the retired model kits that Hasegawa lists on its website?