Over the years, scale models have -with the occasional step back- gotten progressively better. It's now reached the point that we expect all components in a kit to be absolutely to scale....and we complain loud and long when they're not. On the face of it, you'd think it shouldn't be any other way. But what if we're wrong? At least sometime.
Consider last month's review in this column of the TESTOR/ITALERI Bell OH-13S. This is an aircraft incorporating an open frame built in real life from steel tubing. The diameter is such that to produce it in 1/48 scale, the resulting frame ...if built to absolute scale fidelity... would be so thin that simply blowing on it would risk breakage. So what did TESTOR/ITALERI do? Molded the frame tubes twice as thick as they should be, an act that did absolutely nothing to detract from the appearance of the finished model.
Put another way, it still looked right.
And that, people, is the ultimate point. Granted, we all want everything to exact scale, but there are times...usually the result of production limitations.....when it simply can't be done. Bottom line is -despite sounding like heresy- that it's more important for the finished model to look right than to be accurate to the last thousandth of an inch. Or tenth of an inch, for that matter.
The CRAFTWORKS MACCHI C.202/C.205 is primarily a Macchi C.202 Folgore with all necessary alternate parts included to allow you to produce a Macchi C.205 Veltro if you prefer. All parts are securely packed in a sturdy, conventional (top over bottom) box that features color artwork of a C.202 over Tunisia. Price? $125 plus $5 shipping.
So what do you get for your C-note and a quarter? Quite a lot, actually. For starters, you get a box full of resin and white metal parts, all of them bagged except for the fuselage and wing, along with two georgous sheets of Microscale decals and two large frets of photoetch parts. Surface detail on the resin parts is a combination of raised panels and lightly engraved lines. There's also an 8-page 8 1/2 x 11 instruction booklet, 2 pages of parts lists and a 2-sided sheet that provides a color 4-view of a C.205 in ANR markings and splinter camouflage. Finally, you'll find a survey sheet on which you can check your preferences for future offerings.
Compared to what you normally see from resin manufacturers, CRAFTWORKS' approach is a little on the unusual side. Certainly nothing wrong with it, just different. For example, the fuselage is one piece except for the lower half from the rear edge of the cockpit to the front of the fuselage. This allows for that portion of the upper fuselage to be hollow cast, enabling you to install a full cockpit interior. And since most of the visible differences between the C.202 and C.205 involve the lower cowling, it simplifies installation of those alternate parts. The wing is a 1-piece, full span casting as well, minus the ailerons and including nicely done gear wells. Before you ask, yes, CRAFTWORKS did properly represent the asymmetric wingspan that was used to counteract engine torque. If they hadn't, it would've been particularly noticeable given the 1/32 scale.
All remaining parts are logically organized in separate bags, even to the point of bags within bags. Alternate parts for the undercowling differences have their own bag, including the correct spinner for each. Cockpit parts give you everything you need for a fully detailed interior. This includes sidewalls, a gorgeous bucket seat that's complete with cushions and cast-in seatbelts and all the other little bits and pieces that you need for proper representation. They even included the chains that were part of Italian seat belts. You didn't know the Italians used chains between the belts and the floor anchors? Neither did I, but I've seen photos to prove it and CRAFTWORKS got it right.
The cockpit is finished out with the usual film/photoetch instrument panel. You'll need your OptiVisor and best tweezers here. And while we're in the photoetch bag, you also have PE parts for the oil cooler screens, radiator core, gear well liners and the gear doors themselves. This is one time that gear door scale thickness will not be a concern.
You'll find that the canopy is a virtual model in itself, being comprised of both inner and outer frames that are designed to sandwich the clear parts. It looks intimidating at first, but patience, care and the very clear instructions will keep you out of trouble. In fact, the instructions approach those found in better injection kits, a situation that is quite rare in the resin/garage kit industry.
Ailerons and rudder are separate, tires are unweighted and landing gear struts are made from a very sturdy white metal. There's all kinds of white metal bits and pieces, including hydraulic lines for the gear wells. Prop blades are individually cast in white metal, designed to fit the recesses in the one piece resin spinner. And as is common with just about all resin kits, some cleanup of parts will be necessary but no more than you would expect on any high quality resin production.
The decal sheets (it takes two to handle everything) will swamp you with a slew of choices. There's far too many group and squadron markings to list here, but suffice to say that one of your biggest problems will be deciding which markings to use.
While this is not a kit for the rank beginner, neither is it one to run scared from. Granted, you need model building experience, but there's no reason why you can't successfully tackle this Macchi C.202 as your first resin effort. If you've gotten 6 or 8 injection kits under your belt, enjoy a little bit of a challenge and like Italian aircraft, this kit would be a great way to gain experience with resin/multimedia. Personally, I can't wait for their next release.
As for the kit itself, it's your standard AMT/Ertl effort. All parts are molded in light gray, except for the chrome and clear parts. Chrome parts are bagged separately and all other parts...except for the body, clear parts and tires....are contained in another bag. Since the kit includes positionable steering and hood, a complete engine that can easily be super detailed and a full interior, the potential is there for a true show stopper. All in all, a very nice model and reasonably priced at $11.00.
Same company, different subject. One of the latest aircraft releases from AMT/Ertl is Adversaries: Apache vs. Hind in 1/72 scale. A double kit containing both an AH-64 Apache and a Mi-24 Hind, this is a repop of the ESCI kits.
Both kits are molded in light gray styrene and all parts, except for the clear, are bagged. Instructions are thorough but are strictly the international pictorial style. The ESCI decal sheets provide U.S. Army markings for the AH-64 and a choice of Soviet or Nicaraguan markings for the Mi-24. The parts have very little flash and most surface detail is recessed. And they look right.
If you're developing a collection of helicopter models, these would be a dandy addition. Besides, unless I'm mistaken, these are the only 1/72 kits of the Apache and Hind that are available. Priced at $21.25.
Yet another repop from AMT/Ertl is a 1/72 kit of the Lockheed F-117A with Ground Crew. It was originally produced by AMT/Ertl about six years or so ago...and that's where the rub is. Six years ago, there wasn't a lot of accurate information available on the F-117 and believe me, it shows in this kit. The intakes are wrong, panel angles are wrong or non-existent, there are no platypus exhausts, the whole aircraft just doesn't look....well, you get the idea. 'Nuff said.
On the other hand, the base, tarmac insert, five crew figures and the ground handling equipment -which includes a tow tractor, bomb loader, trailer and an aircraft tow bar- are an entirely different story. They are very nice and can be utilized as a vignette or part of a larger diorama involving another aircraft kit.
And as far as the F-117 itself is concerned, all is not lost. It'd be an excellent practice kit for anyone who's just beginning to get their feet wet in model building. Or use it for your guinea pig when developing new techniques. Carries a price tag of $20.25.
Proponents of 1/144 scale ought to welcome the following six releases from MINICRAFT MODELS with open arms. And four of 'em are airliners, which should bring yelps of delight from that contingent. Now that I've got you lathered up, let's take a look at the latest offerings.
First up is a Boeing 737-300 in American Airlines markings. The markings alone are enough to get your attention since kits with AA markings are about as common as snow in Hawaii!!
At any rate, the kit is a delight. Molded in mid-gray styrene, all parts are contained in two bags...including the clear part. When I say part, I mean it. You get exactly one clear part, that being the windscreen. That, however, is no detriment.
In this scale, there's no interior....and the windscreen is molded as an integral part of the surrounding fuselage. Put the fuselage together, paint the cockpit area black and add the windscreen section. There are no window cutouts or inserts to worry about because the fuselage is molded solid, leaving the windows to be represented by decals. In larger scales it would be a problem, but here it works very well indeed. Mask off the windscreen, putty and sand the seams where needed and you end up with a flawless fuselage ready for painting.
Experienced modelers should be able to build one of these beauties is relatively short order, maybe three, four or five hours depending on the particular subject. Then you can spend the rest of your time on one of those knockout paint schemes that airlines tend to use. The Southwest Airlines 737 that looks like it's been wrapped completely in the Texas Flag comes rather quickly to mind. That'll certainly challenge your paint skills! And there's the one that looks like Namu the Killer Whale....or......
One 737 deserves another and that's exactly what MINICRAFT MODELS has given you. Only this time it's the stretch version...the 737-400. Other than the longer fuselage and decals that provide markings for US Airways, everything I said about the 737-300 holds true for the 737-400. Incidentally, all decals for these six kits are by Scale-Master. What more could you want?
Some airliners simply wind up being forgotten by all but aviation historians. In some cases, it's because they weren't that good a design to begin with. Then there are those who have a legitimate claim to the spotlight of history and are still forgotten. Often that occurs because they become better known in another guise. The B-377 is one of those.
The Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser was a double-deck airliner whose design was based on the B-29/B-50 design. It was capable of carrying up to 100 passengers non-stop between New York-London or New York-Paris. Not bad at all for the late '40s.
Third of the four airliners from MINICRAFT MODELS being reviewed this month is a dandy little kit of the B-377 in Pan American World Airways markings. Because of it's size and configuration, this kit contains 50 parts. Other than that, the approach is identical to the 737s.
Remember when I said that the B-377 was better known in another guise? Well, that guise is well represented is this kit, the Boeing KC-97G. Instead of passengers, it hauled avgas for air-to-air refueling of thirsty fighters and bombers.
MINICRAFT MODELS has produced an excellent representation of a sorely neglected subject. Once again, she's identical to her civilian sister except for the addition of a flying refueling boom, radome and underwing tanks. And, of course, an excellent set of decals that includes an absolutely gorgeous one-piece wraparound SAC band that fits diagonally around the aft fuselage.
MINICRAFT MODELS has already given us a 1/144 scale Lockheed Constellation Super G. Now we've been blessed with one of many military versions, the EC-121 Warning Star in U.S. Navy markings.
Even in this scale, the aircraft is not all that small. As evidence of that, consider that it took nearly 70 parts to do justice to it. Decals from Scale-Master add the final touch.
Following the pattern already established by the previous four reviews, construction will be relatively rapid. The paint job is something else again, since it's that masker's nightmare scheme of Sea Gray/White/International Orange, along with a few areas of Black and Bare Metal with all separations being dead straight and razor sharp to boot.
The final kit of the bunch is another airliner, one that has gotten short shrift in many ways. Like the earlier B-377, this one is better known in it's military configuration, the P3V Orion. I speak, of course, of the Lockheed Electra.
With 54 parts to the kit, it follows the pattern already established with the other five...with two slight differences. First, the windscreen follows the exact configuration instead of incorporating the surrounding fuselage section. Second, the decal sheet offers an alternate marking. The boxtop depicts the aircraft in Eastern Airlines markings, and that's probably the one most of you will choose. But those of you looking for something different may prefer the second set of markings....KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
Each of the six kits carries a price tag of $12.00, most reasonable in this day and age.
Mention Unidentified Flying Objects to any group of people and you will immediately wind up with two groups that hold to diametrically opposed opinions. One group will tell you that there's nothing to it, just a figment of your imagination. The other will be a collection of true believers. Considering the popularity of the alien conspiracy story arc that ran for five years on The X-Files, there's a lot of true belivers.
Regardless of which group you fall into...and there are no fence straddlers on this subject...you have to admit that UFOs make for fascinating models. Most fascinating of all are models of UFOs that cannot be explained away. And if you can't explain away (or debunk) the sighting, then there's a strong probability that they actually exist.
As far as the kit is concerned, it's an absolute knockout. Quality is as good as it gets with resin, with some of the parts being pressure cast and others injected. Heck, I've seen injected styrene kits that aren't up to the level of this kit! There are a total of 28 parts to the ship itself, including 12 window inserts. You also get a black resin base and a piece of music wire for the base upright. And two Venusians, one of whom is obviously female! A one page set of very well done instructions and another page of background on the real ship completes the package. Finally, all the parts are contained within a sturdy top flap box.
While I haven't built the kit yet, dryfitting indicates no problems at all. Beyond the usual gate point cleanup and some very minor scraping or sanding to assure a perfect fit, the parts literally fall together. You won't have any problem getting it built and primed in less than a couple of hours. Even faster, depending on how much time you spend on detailing the interior.
The kit does have one 'gimmick', for lack of a better word. You'll find that the three balls on the underside of the ship (described as emergency landing gear and condensers) and the flanged cap on top of the dome (identified as a searchlight) are cast in a greenish/white resin. This allows them to glow in the dark. I'd suggest you leave them off til after the ship is completely painted. You can, however, spray the glow parts with a gloss clear coat without affecting their ability to glow.
Carrying a price tag of $159.00 plus $12.00 shipping, this kit is anything but cheap. But once you see the workmanship and exquisite quality of the parts, you'll see why it's priced the way that it is. It's also an ideal companion piece to the TESTOR Area S4 UFO, which is also 1/48 scale. If you have more than a passing interest in UFOs or Science Fiction, this one's for you.
Interested in U.S. Army uniforms? Then you'll find a new 1/10 resin figure kit from YANKEE DOG to be of particular interest. Available through for $44.95.
The specific subject is a U.S. Army Saddler Sergeant of 1899 wearing the Khaki Uniform as seen during the Spanish-American War. He's posed at attention and is standing on a rough textured base that incorporates a beveled front designed to accept the kit provided photoetched nameplate. There's a total of seven resin parts, including the base, and a photoetch fret of uniform insignias. Instructions take the form of a two sided single sheet. Everything is securely packed in a top flap box that features a color photo of the finished figure.
Compared to most figure kits, this one stands out in several ways. For starters, every part is individually shrink wrapped and the photoetch is contained in a small ziplock bag. So far, so good, but then you spot all that flash. But look closer and you'll see that there's method to their madness. It's true that there's a lot of flash, but the large flat pieces that are actually attached to the parts are very thin. In fact, they're translucent if you hold them up to the light. As a result, you'll have no problem snapping them off, leaving no more cleanup of parting lines than on any other figure.
All parts are excellent quality with few, if any, surface flaws. Parts utilize butt joints throughout, so pinning everything is definitely recommended. Instructions go into considerable detail on the construction of multi-media kits, including how to apply photoetch insignia over uniform contours. That's particularly valuable in this case, since the Sergeant's chevrons have to be worked down over the sleeve folds. You'll also find a few other interesting tips, including how to use a microwave oven to heat and straighten warped parts. And that's all on one side of the instruction sheet.
The other side of the instructions have an exploded view of the kit with point by point color information. You're even give a list of the colors used on shoulder straps, chevron stripes and hat cords for seven different branches.
All in all, an excellent addition to your collection of military uniforms.
In passing: John Andrews died on April 2, 1999. While you will find a full obituary elsewhere in this month's Internet Modeler, it's impossible to end this column without offering a few comments. I never met John in person, just on the phone, but that really didn't matter. Friendly, kind, generous, willing to help with whatever you needed, that was John. The hobby industry, indeed all modelers, have suffered a grievous loss. I'll miss you John.
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1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
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Reference Guide $15.00
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