The following is the first guest article from Marc Kuin, an avid die cast collector from the Netherlands. Marc has kindly shared photos of his collection and described the range of die cast models produced by Tsukuda prior to the release of the Return of the Jedi. The Tsukuda metal model kits are a fantastic range of toys, and the only way for a vintage collector to add a die cast AT AT and Scout Walker to their collection (although Kenner's Micro Collection did have a plastic AT ST).
Tsukuda was the third Japanese licensee to release Star Wars merchandise; Takara (Star Wars) and Popy (Empire Strikes Back) had held the licence previously. In 1982 Tsukuda released a range of six die cast metal kits (metal models). Five of these model kits were packaged in boxes with beautiful artwork:
AT-AT vs Snowspeeder Metal Model<p
Falcon vs Slave 1 Metal Model
Snowspeeder vs Scout Walker Metal Model
Star Destroyer Metal Model
X-Wing vs TIE Fighter Metal Model
Within the boxes the metal parts are shrink-wrapped to a blue backing card, with part numbers printed on the card. The part numbers correspond to the numbers in the included assembly instructions. The models are very small and delicate, and unfortunately some parts are missing or broken from some of the loose models that I have, but it is cool to have them loose as well as sealed in their boxes.
In my experience, the AT-AT vs Snowspeeder is the easiest kit to find. The Star Destroyer is quite difficult to find sealed and also the most expensive of these five sets. Due to the weight of the Star Destroyer parts, the shrink-wrapping often breaks.
It is notable that the last set in this series, the X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, has the Star Wars logo on the box, whilst the other four have the The Empire Strikes Back logo. It would appear that Tsukuda used the film logo to reflect the scene represented by the kit rather than the era of release. The X-Wing vs TIE Fighter features the Death Star run on its box art, whilst the other kits are scenes from the Empire Strikes Back.
Also of interest is that the Darth Vader's TIE Fighter vs Y-Wing Metal Model kit, the sixth and final model kit from this series, was never released in a box but only as a baggie.
Darth Vader's TIE Fighter vs Y-Wing Metal Model
The three baggies I have only include the instructions for the Y-Wing, and not the Darth Vader TIE Fighter. I do not know whether the Darth Vader TIE Fighter instructions should be included, but if anyone can confirm either way please let me know.
It is great to have these sets complete and they are a nice addition to the more common Kenner die cast series and to my Star Wars die cast collection.