The news that Nichimo - or Nichimoco as they branded themselves recently - is leaving the plastic model kit business after 62 years is rather sad. There must be the possibility that some of their moulds, unique despite their age, will be bought and released by another manufacturer. Let's hope so. Nichimo's classic 1/48th scale Ki-43-I Hayabusa 'Oscar' is arguably a better model if not a better kit than the more recent Hasegawa version and has graced many a competition table since it first appeared in the 1970s with that strange brown Shoki-like scheme on the box art.
Their Mitsubishi Ki-51 'Sonia' remains unique in 1/48th scale and is another ever popular kit in its much debated blue colour scheme. The box art (as with most other Nichimo aircraft kits) was by Mr. R Nakanishi (b.1934). There is a fine advanced build article of the Ki-51 by Tetsuya Inoue here, honouring his grandfather who was a test pilot on the type for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The floatplane Aichi E13A1-B 'Jake' is another unique 1/48th kit and it was recently the subject of an improved aftermarket resin interior set from Lone Star Models (sadly no longer available).
Then there is the Tachikawa Ki-9 'Spruce' (Army Type 95-1 Medium Grade Trainer), another so far unduplicated model of the Army training biplane in 1/48th scale not to be confused with Otaki's 'Willow'. The Ki-9 is a lovely, delicately moulded kit, definitely worth re-issue, which includes an impressive interior, brass wire for rigging, nicely moulded standing and seated crewmen and decals for four flying schools - Kumagaya, Army Air Academy, Tachiarai and the seldom represented Mito. Let's hope we can see this one available again.
The Nichimo Nakajima B5N2 'Kate' and Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu 'Nick' although also long standing as unique and popular show table entries have now both been eclipsed by more modern Hasegawa reproductions.
Seldom seen these days is Nichimo's 1/48th Mitsubishi A6M5, long rendered obsolete by better and more modern versions.
Nichimo's 1/70th scale Ki-61-II Hien from the 1960s has been covered previously here and here and deservedly praised in the context of its time and technology. Their A6M2 Zero and A6M5 to the same scale were available until quite recently in attractive boxes to lure the unwary. The A6M2 is probably better in many respects than some other Zero kits of the same era, certainly besting the very strange looking Aoshima and rather poor Fujimi examples. Although the evocative A6M2 box art depicts a Hiryu carrier fighter cruising with the canopy open and the pilot watching contrails the decal sheet curiously offers markings only for the well-known Saburo Sakai machine V-103 of the Tainan Ku.
The 1/70th scale Mitsubishi JM2 Raiden with classic K Hashimoto box art was a similarly workmanlike but unappreciated kit, perhaps overshadowed by the 1964 Tamiya example and later by the greatly improved Hasegawa issue. The two unusual markings options in this kit (the other being Yo-J2-34) remain, as far as I know, unique.
For many years until Fujimi embarked on a new family series of 'Claude' the Nichimo A5M4 was the only game in town for this nimble IJN fighter and has appeared over the years in various boxes, deservedly earning the title of 'classic'. It is last but not least here.
Farewell Nichimo and thank you for your valuable contributions to the genre of Japanese aviation models, maybe gone now but certainly not to be forgotten.
Image credits: All box art from author's collection © Nichimo Co. Ltd., various dates.