The headline in the "What's New" Section of Gold Medal Models screams, "IMPROVED GMM 1/350 WW2 MISSOURI SETS NOW IN STOCK! - WILL ALLOW SKILLED MODELERS TO BUILD A WORLD-CLASS, EXCEPTIONALLY DETAILED REPLICA!" Ha, we'll see about that. What about truth in advertising? Legions of eager investigative reporters issued forth from the hallowed halls of SteelNavy and flooded the American northwest. Each one was trembling with excitement over the prospect of debunking the GMM claims for the new twin Gold Medal Models frets for the 1:350 scale Tamiya kits of the Iowa Class battleships. After all, the New Jersey was the flagship of Bull Halsey and the final surrender of the Japanese Empire, which ended World War Two, was signed on a table aboard the Missouri. These ships are near and dear to the hearts of all true USN fans. We couldn't allow GMM to make these outrageous claims about these two icons of the United States Navy! Truth must be served!
Gold Medal Models has issued two frets, not one for the 1:350 scale models by Tamiya of the World War Two fit of the Iowa Class battleships and the first one GMM-4 basic set is a replacement for an older existing product from GMM. Why redo an existing product? Why issue a completely new fret to supplement it? Jimmy Olson, cub reporter, and company would discover the real reason behind Loren Perryís dark scheme. After the SN reporters set up their perimeter watch around the industrial plant of Gold Medal Models and launched their remotely piloted unmanned reconnaissance craft, the first feed-back started to come back in. What? What do you mean it lives up to the claims? Youíre not doing your job, start digging! Another report comes in, No! You canít come home! I donít care if your hopes are dashed! You must find something wrong with those frets! However, the flood gates had just opened, reporter after reporter called in with the same dispiriting news, the two Iowa Class brass 1:350 scale brass photo-etch frets by Gold Medal Models were exceptional products. Then the photographs started to arrive.
GMM 350-4 Standard Fret
The fret looked like a one-stop radar emporium with every type of radar for home or office. There they were in their golden splendor. The two piece, criss-crossing SK radar, the elegant SK-2 parabolic radar was comprised of nine pieces, four Mk 12 and four Mk 22 radars for the Mk 37 5-inch directors with their support frames with four pieces for each radar, two small Mk 27s and the big Mk 8s with supports for the main guns. How depressing, Gold Medal Models hasnít missed a trick. Oh, Oh, GMM has included minute antennas on this fret, TDY, TBS, Mk 12 IFF, BK, and TDY-1 are all represented. The 20mm guns get decked out with 60 gun shields, 60 gun sites, 60 elevating wheels and 60 shoulder rests. Other small parts are boat propellers, boat pulleys, cable reels, stack grills, bulkhead mounted davits, bridge windows, yardarms, life buoys and water tight doors.
The railing also catches your attention with its design. GMM provides cut-outs where the railing runs over deck edge fittings, such as bollards and chocks. No more will the modeler have to do this, resulting in dangling rails or too large of openings. There is a special piece of stern railing that wraps around the fantail, so that it abuts the normal rail on the straight hull sides, rather than on the curving centerline of the stern. Of course, being Gold Medal Models, the bow runs of the railing are curved in order to flow upward with the bow sheer. With twelve inclined ladders and 15 runs of vertical ladder, there are plenty of the garden-variety common fittings as well, but with GMM they are uncommon in quality.
Of course with recent 1:350 and other large-scale frets from Gold Medal Models, a signature in brass from Loren Perry is the addition of a personality figure or two in the fret. Indeed with GMM that is one of the first things for which I look. It is like finding an Easter egg. Well Loren provides two such visual treats with his new GMM 350-04. There he is, Admiral William "Bull" Halsey himself, hands in pockets. Just right for the bridge of his flagship, USS New Jersey. Also included is a 1:350 scale ceremonial table and chairs for the ceremony aboard USS Missouri. That gives me an angle. I am outraged that GMM did not include a 1:350 scale replica of General of the Army Douglas Mac Arthur, with corncob pipe. GMM provides the table but not Doug, the Army has been slighted. Of course these are parts for a ship model but there is no need in letting facts stand in the way of a good exposť.
GMM 350-04A Gold Plus Fret
The "Big Ticket" items on this fret are the elaborate 40mm Bofors fittings. The standard fret had items for the Oerlikons, but not the Bofors. Here they all are as if attending a mad Swedish AA convention, a huge selection of exquisite detail for the quad 40mm mounts. First of all GMM provides 21 sets of splinter shielding for the front and sides, railing for the back and sights for the guns for the Bofors mounts. Gold Medal Models went a step further in providing a template or jig for folding the gun shields. No more will you have incorrectly folded shielding protecting your AA crews. However, the items that really grab your eye on this fret are the rows of ammunition racks for the inside surface of the Bofors gun tubs. GMM provides 40 of these perforated structures, each one of which is custom designed to ring the interior of the Bofors gun tubs. These ammunition racks would be mounted at different levels, with more than one ring per Boforís tub. If you had 1:350 scale Boforís ammunition clips, I believe that you could fit them into these racks. The five-inch/38 DP guns received added detail with gun sights for the turret roofs and relief-etched doors for the turretsí rear faces. Why did GMM provide even more 20mm shields? Did Loren goof with the design on GMM 350-4? No, no goof, it was more incredible detail. These shields were of an earlier design that was only fitted to the Oerlikons of USS Iowa. The icing on the cake was 70 ready ammo locker covers for the 20mm guns.
Although dominated by items for the anti-aircraft fittings, the fret continued to spring surprises. There are superb stack walkways with handrails, extremely intricate deck hatch covers, flag bag panels and perforated platforms, leadsmenís platforms for each side of the bow, perforated searchlight platforms, and turret #2 (B turret) training railing and GMM even through in a drilling jig to ensure totally accurate placement of that part. I knew enough already, to know that I had seen too much. GMM had defeated me again. But the detail on the fret kept popping out. There is a multitude of different styled doors and an army of bottles, not Coca-Cola but oxygen bottles in five styles and acetylene bottles in three styles. Four accommodation ladders with bridles and H frames, boat braces and boat cradles. Windshield Wipers for the Bridge! Give me a Break! The level of detail is mind-numbing. After regaining my composure from my convulsions induced by GMM detail overload, I was able to salvage a tiny scrap of criticism. Although a meager morsel, it was still something. Gold Medal Models had not included all of the Iowa Class radars on the standard fret GMM 350-04, for the GMM 35-04A fret had the SR, SC-2 and SP radars. GMM does provide some more vertical ladder and another twelve inclined ladders. Instead of providing these items, already included on the standard fret, Iím surprised that GMM missed the opportunity to use this vacant space for items such as the Coca-Cola bottles for the canteen, Lucky Strike Cigarette Packages, Red Man Chewing Tobacco pouches for the ratings and fountain ink pens for the officers, complete with ink stain for front pocket.
Gold Medal Models has done it again. The parts on both frets do live up to their bold headlines. The minions of SteelNavy had to again return to home office, defeated and deflated. For Lorenís claims of using GMM 350-04 Iowa Class fret and the GMM 350-04A Gold Plus Iowa Class fret to build a "WORLD-CLASS, EXCEPTIONALLY DETAILED REPLICA" were not over-statement but are fact.