In-Box Review
Tamiya Side Cutters for Plastic

by: Mark Pieters [ BEAGLE_LICIOUS ]

Aw come on! It can't be that good?

First of all (show of hands please - Ed. Gunnie) who suffers from the following problem: You snip a part off the sprue, only to find that the attachment point you were cutting "pulled" away from the part itself and left either a little pockmark or a small chunk of plastic from the nice expensive model kit part? This is most evident on large hull parts. In the past I have used a heated xacto blade to melt through the attachment part, or snipped it far away enough from the part that it does no damage, but leaving me with several minutes of sanding in order to cleanup. How bout this scenario: You snip a small part off, like a grab handle and its twists and contorts the part out of shape, or worse, breaks it in two? Well if you are tired of suffering like I have, then do what I did. Invest in a pair of Tamiya Side Cutters. Read on to see the results of side by side tests between Tamiya's Cutters and "Brand X".
Test 1:Cutting with wild abandon..

The first of two tests involves cutting a sprue in half with each cutter. I simply removed a section of sprue, made one cut with each tool, and chose the worst looking ends to put side by side for a picture so that you could judge for yourself. Each cut is representative of the usual quality of any given cut that I have made in the past. I didn't keep cutting to get the "best cut" in order to skew the results. I think this was fair to each brand. Brand X's Cutter was purchased by me about two years ago. They were more expensive than the Tamiya brand, and are chromed. The springs broke early on so I had to bend them into shape so that the Cutters would spring open after each cut. I don't recall the brand (and they are not marked) so that is why I am calling them "Brand X". They have been good to me thus far, but one day last month I read a post at M.L. (Missing Links - for those not in the know - Ed. Gunnie) that said the Tamiya Cutters were the best, and I wanted to find out for myself. I ordered my Tamiya Cutters from Hobby Link Japan, and they came in around $14 US dollars with the exchange rate. Retail in the US is unknown to me but I would guess no more than $20. Ok, now back to the first test. I cut the sprues in half, looked at each end of each cut (remember, one length cuts into two pieces), chose the ugliest end of each tools cut, and put them in a paper binder for a photo. I used the Tamiya Cutters first. They sliced through the sprue almost cleanly and with little effort, leaving only a small ridge of plastic where the jaws of the cutters were not lined up 100% before the cut began. The plastic turned white from the stress of the cut, but its obvious that it did more cutting than pinching. Which is what the Brand X Cutter does to the sprue. The sprue end is contorted into a wedge shape and is much more jagged than the Tamiya cut. It "pinches" the plastic until it falls in half more than it cuts it in half. This may be due to the age, and wear and tear, but I do recall being only "satisfied" at their performance when I purchased them a few years ago. I must say, when I first used the Tamiya cutters the other night, the difference in performance was noticable, and the results were such that I ordered another pair...Just in case the first pair wears out or breaks in a few years and it turns out they are discontinued by Tamiya. In the next section I cut an actual part off with the Tamiya tool. Read on (with the thought in mind of how YOU snip teeny tiny grab handles, and with what tool), so you can judge if the Cutters are better or worse than your current methods.
No more tiny flying parts

Ok, so you go to snip a 1/35 th grab handle (yeah yeah, I am not a pro, only a wannabe, and I use brass rod only if the plastic part looks too thick, or breaks in half when I go to cut it off..) and it decides to fly off into the shag carpet (yeah yeah, I got shag..) to be lost forever. Or worse, you snip some thin part and it leaves a chunk missing off the edge. Also of concern is when the part detaches and there is a nasty "pock" mark to fill in with putty. For this test I elected to find a small part, with a thick attachment point to demonstrate the quality of the Tamiya cutters. I recently reviewed the AFV Club M3A3 and its still on my workbench awaiting the tiny/fiddly bits. (Great Test Subject - Ed. Gunnie) I found a medium sized grab handle that is rather firmly attached to the sprue. Note in the picture that the sprue shrinks down to a flat, but ultra wide, attachment point on the top of the handle (part no 8, just in front of the nose of the cutters). In the past, I would get out the chisel blade and try and line up the blade with the handle in parallel and slice off the handle. Most of the time it works. If not, then the ole brass rod and the evil CA gets used (note to self: itch my eyes and/or gentials BEFORE opening the bottle of CA glue as the nurse at the hospital must think very lowly of me by now...) . So how well did the Cutter perform when removing the ubiquitous grab handle all armor modelers face? Read on to the next section to see if it twisted, contorted, broke or was just plain effortlessly removed in an almost perfect slice...
You don't really think it broke?

Ok, it wouldn't be a review here at Armorama.com if the Cutters were bad right? (Well - yes, it could be - call 'em like you see 'em - Ed. Gunnie) I think the picture speaks for itself. Mind you, in this test, I lined up the semi-closed jaws of the Cutters parallel with the handle, and made the snip as close as I could without flatening off the top of the handle. I did this rather quickly, without taking as much time to eyeballmy cut as I would with the other brand of cutters. One quick and rather worry-free cut and I was done. You can see in the photo that there is a tiny ridge of plastic where the attachment point met the top of the handle. It should clean up with one scrape of the #11 blade, or maybe a swipe or two of Tamiya Sandpaper (soon to be reviewed with any luck..). So now you have photographic evidence. But how about some subjective thoughts? Something more emotional rather than factual? Here goes: In my view, these Cutters are much, much better than the (now) clumsy feeling chrome Cutters. You will have to imagine in your minds eye your technique for removing grab handles or cutting sprues in half to melt for antennas (yeah yeah, I stretch sprue for antennas and for simulating weld beads...) and compare to the pictures in order to truly judge whether a pair of Tamiya Cutters are in your future. Personally, I am very pleased. I have built most of the AFV Club M3A3 using these Cutters and I can say that following is true for me: Less effort to make the actual cuts (granted my old Cutters were no doubt dull, but there is still a noticible difference in the effort). Less emotional stress worrying about damage to the part (or flying off into never-never-shag carpet land). Better cuts that require less cleanup time/effort (at one point, when removing the turret hatches, I used the cutters to completely remove the remaining sprue material, I did not have to use the xacto blade, my file, or sandpaper before gluing them on!). And, if anything, the rubberized handles make gripping the cutters much easier to control when making small and precise cuts. Also noteworthy are the internal springs. They should be less susceptible to damage. Whether the superior results are real or imagined, the effect is the same: I am extremely pleased with these Cutters. The money spent will more than pay for itself in the long run by providing me with the feeling that I am doing a better job on my model kits. Again, try and judge in your minds eye if you can get better results if you buy a pair, you may not get the expected gain in performance if you are already happy with your methods, but in my case the old adage rings true: The right tool, for the right job. And that makes me feel much better about my work. Even though I am not a show winning modeler, I find this hobby just as relaxing and rewarding as you probably do, and I desire the more effortless effects of this Tamiya Cutter.
Save yourself the hassle of tedious cleanup with this wonderful tool.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 74001*1800
  Suggested Retail: $15 USD
  PUBLISHED: Apr 30, 2003
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Mark Pieters (Beagle_licious)

Currently restoring a 1944 GPW and two WWII Trailers, one Bantam, the other Willys. That's real 1:1 scale modeling folks!

Copyright 2021 text by Mark Pieters [ BEAGLE_LICIOUS ]. All rights reserved.


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