The Latest Blackhole Show 2005 ( January ) (2005-01-14)
We ring in the near year with a visit to Japan for the latest installment of the Blackhole Show. Designed for airsoft enthusiasts, the Blackhole show is a showcase for airsoft gun and accessory manufacturers alike, although recent years has seen the show change more into a military surplus and trading fair rather than a true expo. However, a few anchor tenants were thankfully on hand to offer some new information in the airsoft world!
As usual, we quickly walked over to the well-lit Marui booth to see what this airsoft giant had in store for this year. Marui had set up a huge netted area where several people were demonstrating the new G18C AEP - nailing consequetive metal targets in full-auto mode. But the most exciting part was the display cabinet that housed several molds of up-and-coming AEP models, which includes the 93R, 92F and USP! On display were also quite a few accessories that will soon be available for the G18C AEP, including a long magazine and also a flashlight system that ressembles that of an M3 lighting module.
Marui also displayed a silver colored SOCOM silencer which we're not sure will be produced - but is sure looked good. More excitingly, their gas blowback P226 seems almost complete! The last time we were at the show last August, we saw the mold for the planned M14 rifle. This time, Marui displayed a non-working model with all the right colors, which seems promising and shows that they are making progress. There was speculation earlier that Marui would not proceed with the M14 due to cost issues, but given the display at the show, it appears they are proceeding with the model.
Marui also show-cased a new RC tank following the successful launch of their improved TIGER tank during the Christmas season. Moving away from the Marui booth, we also came upon the TOP booth were a vast display of M60's and M249's caught our eye. But what was really causing a lot of commotion was a fully functional MP40 AEG. According to TOP, this MP40 is made from pressed-metal, which is exactly the same method used on the real MP40. While this increases costs, it gives the MP40 AEG intense realism. We were one of the privileged few allowed to test fire the MP40 and it feels heavy and rigid. The rate of fire is slightly slow than that of an M60 though the sound of the gearbox is very similar. The removeable magazine is heavy, and a metal hop-up dial inside the ejection chamber allows tuning of the BB's trajectory. The ejection port is revealed by pulling back on the cocking lever.
No date has been set for the release of the MP40, but based on how final the gun looks, we estimate it to be released in the next few months. TOP is also rumored to be working on several other large AEG models and we'll share more as the news is confirmed. Stepping away and onto Shoei's booth, we were greeted by the regular display of MG42's. This awesome gas blowback is powered by compressed air through a hose. The two models that were on display included one on a tripod stand with remote trigger mount, and also one that was mounted in an anti-aircraft configuration. Words cannot do justice to how good these guns feel as you pull on the trigger and feel the guns jolting back and forth. The MG42 can even take a belt of bullets, and a special mechanism rocks the belt back and forth to make it look like the belt is being fed as the gun is fired. Visually, it creates a very appealling effect!
We also stumbled upon a small custom shop called the Elfin Knights Project. This custom shop had a small display of some very niche guns, including a Japanese signal gun that fires an M203 grenade shell. They also had a plastic kit on display (for a Japanese sub-machine gun) that basically envelopes a KSC M11. Looking into the ejection port, you can see the entire M11 is basically wrapped by the outer kit. Very interesting concept indeed! There was also a slew of pocket M203 launchers in all sorts of colors and configurations that would appeal to the most die-hard collectors! Unfortunately, the creator of these custom pieces insisted that his creations were for the Japanese market only! It's also worth noting that these pieces are designed for collectors and enthusiasts since they are "more look than go". On close inspection, it did not appear as though the pieces would stand up to the abuse of actual skirmish use.
Overall, the show had some goodies here and there, but most of the booths have now turned into displaying and selling deactivated guns, old uniforms from WWII, and used collector pieces. The after-market manufacturers also put on a strong showing, with booths from ANGS, CAWS, Sheriff, PDI, and many others. We also inspected the new XM8 model kit from GWS, which seems decent but a little plasticky - but a good first effort indeed. What surprised us a bit was the lack of KSC's presence and a showing of their new HK33 AEG, which we have all been looking forward to. The best we can hope is that the big manufacturers are saving up their ammo for the next Blackhole show! Reporting to you from Tokyo, Japan, this is RedWolf!