Well, folks, it's April, I'm healthy again….and I need your help. It's come to my attention, mainly as the result of numerous observations that I've become aware of through conversations with IM's staff, that SCALEWORLD readers don't want to see reviews of kits that also appear as inbox reviews or construction articles. Instead, indications are that y'all prefer to stick with kit subjects (both mainstream and lesser known) that aren't as likely to be covered in other areas of IM. You also seem to have a fondness for accessories, tools and info on such esoterica as casting resins.
The reason I keep using words like 'observations' and 'become aware of' is due to one particular problem…your observations are being directed toward the rest of the IM staff instead of me. Keep in mind that this is YOUR column. If you prefer it take a different direction, let me know and I'll see what I can do to change things.
Now that I've got that off my chest, here's what you can do to help. Instead of sitting there just reading this diatribe, crank up your email and let ME know what you'd like to see in SCALEWORLD. Do keep in mind that it's going to take a little while to get things redirected. Case in point is this month's column. Reviews are mostly car and truck kits, with maybe an aircraft or two and a CD-ROM E-book. Bear with me, send in those emails and we'll get SCALEWORLD pointed back the direction you appear to want.
Don't just sit there. Start tapping that keyboard!
REVELL-MONOGRAM has been repopping many of the early Monogram kits as MONOGRAM CLASSICS. Some will never get a first glance, never mind a second, from us serious modelers. But that's o.k., because they make excellent entry level projects for the beginning modeler...especially the younger ones. Others, however, will be welcomed with open arms. Case in point is the MONOGRAM Focke-Wulf Fw-190A.
First released in the late 60s (I think), this kit is older than many of you reading Scaleworld. It was, I believe, the first accurate Fw-190A in 1/48 scale. Granted, it had it's faults and can't hold a candle to all of the high quality 1/48 kits of the Butcher Bird that are available today. On the other hand, it had very nice (raised) surface detail, an excellent cockpit interior for it's day and was considered state of the art. Parts fit, it was easy to assemble and most important of all, the finished model looked like an Fw-190A.
Other than a higher price ($11.00), and the inclusion of an embroidered patch as a purchase incentive, nothing's changed. You even get the original box configuration combined with the kit's original boxart (including the side panels touting other Monogram kits). Incidentally, THE MODELER'S WEAPONS SHOP produced several resin conversions for the early prototypes (including the original ducted spinner design) that are still available. Those castings were designed specifically to fit the Monogram kit.
Can you find better kits of the Fw-190A today? Sure. However, if you're interested in developing a collection of 190s that traces external design changes (and they were many), give this Monogram Classic a look see. You'll wind up doing a lot of major surgery, a fact that means much of the $20 or so a pop for current state of the art efforts will be totally wasted. It's something to think about.
Airliner enthusiasts will perk up at this latest offering from REVELL, a Boeing 747-400 in 1/144 scale. With a fuselage length greater than the 230-foot wingspan of a B-36, this is not a small model.
The 747-400 is the ultimate (so far) development of the 747 design. While we're all used to the second deck hump the extends a short distance behind the cockpit, this version will have you doing a double-take. In order to boost passenger load to some 400 souls, the hump now extends all the way back to the wing's main spar. Boeing also increased the span, added upturned winglets and changed to G.E. CF6-80C2 engines. Combined with better than 57,000 gallons of fuel and a max takeoff weight of 875,000 pounds, this aircraft is a true monster that deserves a place in your airliner collection.
All parts are molded (made in Poland) in white styrene and feature surface detail that is engraved and nicely done. Everything is contained in a single bag, including the clear parts. Thankfully, a conventional top over bottom box is used. One curious aspect of this kit is that the box claims 155 parts. No matter how many times I counted, all I could come up with was 83…and the instruction sheet agrees.
Instructions are the predictable international style, but the kit's simple enough that you won't have any problems. They do give you a nice thumbnail history of the design's development. Also 4-view drawings on two pages that clearly illustrate the color scheme and decal location.
Despite the size of this beast, construction should move very quickly. You do need to be aware of one thing…there are no molded inserts for the window openings. Instead, REVELL recommends that you cement a strip of clear styrene behind the openings. Well and good, but considering that the contour of the fuselage interior might cause problems for the less experienced, I'd be more inclined to fill each window opening with Testors Clear Parts Cement. It has the added advantage of allowing you to do the job after everything's painted, thus avoiding the challenge of masking all those openings!
Decals are excellent and provide markings for the current United Airlines livery. Those of you who hate large areas of white and/or bare metal, and have been avoiding airliner models for that reason, need to give serious consideration to this kit. Virtually every square inch of the aircraft is painted in various colors. There's not so much as a speck of white on the aircraft (other than the decals) and precious little aluminum. Priced at $16.25.
Auto enthusiasts who are familiar with (and buy) automotive die cast collectibles such as those offered by Franklin Mint will want to check out a new line from TESTORS. Their LINCOLN MINT Ultra Metal Series gives you the best of both worlds…a model car kit that you can build, combined with a die cast, prefinished body. End result? A car model that is indistinguishable from a die cast collectible except for one thing. You built it..
The first offering in this line is a 1/24 scale 1969 Pontiac GTO "Judge". Selling for $30.00 and possessing over 100 parts, this little jewel will be a must for GTO lovers.
Packaging is a delight. Once you open the end flap box, a box within box design greets you. A semi-box insert containing fourteen (that's what I said, fourteen) bags of parts and the 8-page instruction booklet lying on top. Remove the insert and underneath you'll find a separtately bagged die cast body finished in an accurate GTO Fire Red color. Trapped under the body is another small bag with a couple of more parts. To say that everything is properly protected is an understatement.
Quality is excellent with good detail all around. Even some that you wouldn't expect. For example, a photo etch mesh cowl screen that fits at the rear of the hood just under the windshield wipers. And self adhesive dials and gauges for the instrument panel recesses. One thing that caught my eye was a separate chrome frame for the windshield and windows that's installed first, then followed by the clear windshield/window insert.
Doors, hood and trunk lid work, front suspension is poseable, seat cushions are made from soft black vinyl, the seat backs fold and you get flocked carpeting. There's even a spare tire cover and a jack in the trunk.
Instructions are quite clear, despite following the illustration only international style. It works, mainly because of a couple of pages of text that provide brief commentary on such things as detailing, cementing, washes, drybrushing and other tips. Incidentally, you're going to wind up using more than one type of cement on this kit, along with snap fitting and phillips head screws (you'll need to provide your own screwdriver). I know, you're already used to solvents and CA. TESTOR recommends CA, along with their Cement for Metal & Wood Models. I've never heard of this stuff, so I made a call and learned something rather interesting.
Those of you who have been around long enough to cut your modeling teeth on stick and tissue kits will be familiar with cements made by Testor, Ambroid and others for wood models. Along the same lines was old fashioned household cement that came in tubes. Well, Cement for Metal & Wood Models is nothing more than a slightly reformulated version of that cement! And of course you'll still need your liquid solvents such as Ambroid ProWeld, WeldOn #3 and similar for basic assembly of the engine and other parts.
If you've been reading Scaleworld on a regular basis, you know that it takes an awful lot to light my fire where cars are concerned, especially 'production' cars like the GTO. But this one's done it. Check this one out. I think you'll find it worth your time.
When it comes to wheeled vehicles, my preferences usually run in a slightly different direction….trucks. Big rigs. Ever since most of the AMT 1/25 truck kits disappeared, there hasn't been a lot of choice in that scale. What you did have tended to be European designs. But, as they say, things change.
ITALERI has a number of kits of American trucks, both tractors (cabs) and trailers. One of their more recent (I won't say new, because it's been around for awhile. But it's new if you haven't seen it.) efforts is a 1/25 scale kit of the Peterbilt 377 A/E. A conventional cab design (meaning a long hood in front) with sleeper and top mounted air dam, the finished model is a real beauty. By the way, this is one of Peterbilt's latest designs with all the requisite aerodynamic curves that have been incorporated.
The kit, which sells for $55.00, definitely gives you your money's worth. For starters, you get a large box crammed with 315 parts plus instructions, decals and a piece of nylon screen to replicate the screen behind the grille. And 10 of those parts are hollow vinyl tires.
Nothing is bagged, except for the clear parts. Frankly, due to the size of the parts, the clear is the only thing that really needs to be bagged anyway…other than the decals and chrome parts, which were tossed in loose.
If you've ever built a truck kit, or an ITALERI armor kit…or both…you pretty well know what to expect here. Except for the chrome and clear, all parts are molded in bright red , light tan or black styrene. For all practical purposes, if it was on the real truck, it's in the kit. Cab and sleeper interiors are fully detailed, even to the point of a matress and blanket in the sleeper. The hood is functionally hinged so that it can tilt forward and expose the complete 500-hp Caterpillar engine.
Instructions are exactly what you would expect from ITALERI…strictly illustrated international style. On a kit this complex, it's a disadvantage. At least paint codes are keyed to MODEL MASTER colors. All I can say is take your time. It also wouldn't hurt to chase down to your local Peterbilt dealer for a few of those full color brochures that you'll find in the sales rack. And if you get lucky, there might even be a 377 A/E sitting on the lot that you can get up close and personal with.
Decals appear to be excellent. Peterbilt logos, three license plates…Texas (of course), California and Iowa. Also instrument panel decals are provided if you prefer them instead of picking out the raised detail on the molded panel. Choose that option and you'll have to sand the molded panel smooth first. Me? I'd rather paint, but it's your choice. However, it's the exterior markings that make this kit so appealing to me, being a Southerner and Native Tennexican. There's a large, waving U.S. flag on the front of the air dam. On the left side of the cab is a three level banner on which is lettered ROAD REBEL, along with a Bald Eagle's head with crossed U.S. and Confederate flags behind it.
On the right side of the truck, you run into what is probably the worst problem with the instructions. Namely, you haven't got a clue as to what the markings look like. It's really not that hard to figure out, but ITALERI gives you no help at all and there are no photos of the truck's right side on the box. Anyhoo, the banner on the right side reads IRON WHEELS. You finally figure out where it goes when you realize that the oval cutout in the middle of the word WHEELS fits over the window in the bottom of the right hand door. That also explains why the first E is missing. Finally, there's a Grizzly Bear standing on all four feet with crossed U.S. and Confederate flags behind him that goes on the right side of the sleeper.
Considering some of the recent publicity lately involving the Confederate Battle Flag, this ain't exactly a model that'll qualify as politically correct. But given those markings on a bright red body with black frame, especially if you like nose art, it sure the heck makes for an imposing one!
Big rig tractors look lonely when they're not pulling a trailer, so.o..o….. let's take a look at a 1/25 scale kit of a 48-foot, double-axle reefer trailer that is also produced by ITALERI. Considering the obvious Southern heritage of that Peterbilt 377 A/E, this reefer is the ideal companion. Take a look at the legend "Registered Texas Longhorns" and I think you'll agree with my reasoning.
At any rate, this trailer is a lot easier project (and slightly cheaper at $50.00) than the tractor. For one thing, it only has a paltry 139 parts and 9 of those are hollow vinyl tires. Construction is also very straightforward. Matter of fact, if you're reluctant to tackle a tractor, try a trailer or two first and work your way up.
Molded in white, silver and black styrene, this kit appears to be a quick build. About the only trouble you're going to have is with the crankdown jacks (the support legs that are extended with a hand crank when the trailer's disconnected from the tractor). Unfortunately, ITALERI molded them in the extended position, failing to offer a retracted option. Not that big a problem for experienced modelers but real trouble for those just getting their feet wet.
Instructions are identical in style to the Peterbilt's, though easier to use due to the significantly fewer number of parts. And to their credit, they've added a side and rear view drawing that shows all decal locations. Whew!
Decals, though, are a whole different story. A small sheet gives you the control panel for the refrigeration unit, along with a Kansas license plate, but it's the large sheet that gets your attention. The sheet appears to be very well done, with the Longhorn head having a hornspan of nearly 11 inches. Longhorns ain't small, even in 1/25 scale! Along with a slogan touting "Best Of The Longhorn Bloodlines" and Longhorn meat as "The Lean Beef", the finished trailer will be very impressive, though not flashy. In combination with the Peterbilt, you'll have a rig that'll definitely get attention. Of course, considering the inevitable questions you'll get from the unitiated on Longhorns, it might behoove you to bone up on their history.
Mention POLAR LIGHTS and the first thing you think of is monster/figure kits. Well, it's about time for an attitude adjustment. If you like cars, you'd do well to take a look at their line of funny car kits.
To 1/25 scale and carrying an MSRP of $17.99 each, they deserve your attention. Let's wade thru their offering of Don Schumacher's Stardust Funny Car. Schumacher's car was based on a 1968 Dodge Barracuda and POLAR LIGHTS does an excellent job of replicating that specific vehicle.
The kit is packed in a conventional top over bottom box that, as we've come to expect, is jammed to the gills with parts. There are two bags, one for the clear parts and one for everything else. Instructions and decals are left loose, with decals being tucked inside the instruction fold for protection. You'll find two sprues of chrome parts, all other parts (except for the clear, of course) being molded in white. Tires are the familiar hollow soft vinyl but with a twist. The wide slicks that go on the rear wheels are made in two pieces, with the back sidewalls being separate pieces that are simply inserted into the main slick before mounting on the wheels.
Detail is excellent, with numerous optional parts. Everything is crisply molded, thus keeping cleanup of parting lines to a minimum. Also, there are no obvious knockout pin marks.
Instructions are well done and clear with a combination of exploded construction views and text. POLAR LIGHTS has also gone the extra mile and called out each part by their proper name as well as the part number. And they give you a list of recommended colors with numbers keyed to the TESTORS paint line. Truly a class act.
If there's anything in the instructions you could complain about, it would be that you're referred to a small b&w photo in the instructions or the photo on the boxtop for decal positioning. It's a minor point and the markings are symmetrical, meaning you'll have no problem determining proper locations, but some modelers simply find it easier to work from profile drawings.
Decals themselves appear to be of high quality with no registration problems. I haven't built this kit yet (my to do list is growing at a prodigous rate), but I wouldn't expect any problems with them. Incidentally, a note on the instructions indicate that the decals are compatible with decal setting solutions.
Cars run on gas and in order to get gas into cars, you have to have gas stations. Gas stations having been around for the best part of a century, it's reasonable that their design will change frequently, especially in a free market society. After all, why patronize a particular station when the one down the street is more colorful, has more pumps, shorter lines, is 3 cents a gallon cheaper or offers a full service island?
Considering the fact that kits of gas stations, in both resin and injection styrene, are becoming available, it follows that there will also be a need for decent references on the correct appearance of your chosen service station. Enter, then, The American Gas Station by Michael Karl Witzel. Published by MOTORBOOKS INTERNATIONAL and priced at $19.95, this book is a good starting point for information on the history of U.S. gas stations.
Published in a rather unusual 10" x 10" format, 160 pages are contained within semi-stiff covers. Heavily photo-illustrated, Michael Witzel covers the filling station of 1898 and then works his way thru six chapters to the modern behemoths of 1992. Photographic quality is superb, while the text is both informative and entertaining.
When you consider that the 1898-era filling station was essentially a bulk transfer operation, refueling the early cars would have to be considered exciting…and dangerous to boot. Gas was stored in raised gravity tanks, dispensed into five-gallon cans with spouts, then poured from those cans thru a chamois-covered funnel into the gas tank. The gas was unfiltered (and the reason for the chamois), drivers frequently helped out by holding the funnel and fumes were everywhere. Makes you wonder how anyone survived long enough to figure out a safer way!
But somehow they did. The book shows all this and eventually arrives in 1992. Refueling a car by that time was so ordinary and safe that about the only way you could touch anything off would be to stick a lighted match next to a flow of gas. BTW, the reason 1992 is the latest date mentioned is that the book was published in 1992. Yep, this book's been around for nearly a decade, but since models of gas stations weren't around in 1992, it may as well be brand new.
Finally, allow me to mention a new and unique publication that should be of interest to any aircraft modeler or student of aviation history. Since a full review will appear elsewhere in the May issue of Internet Modeler, I'm just going to hit the high points.
The publication in question is B-36: Saving The Last Peacemaker by Ed Calvert, Don Pyeatt and Richard Marmo (yes, your humble scribe had a part in it). It details the story of how the last B-36 ever built, and the last one to leave A.F. service, was saved from the slag heap.
What makes it unique is it's publication on a CD-ROM in HTML format. It's been designed to run on any computer that has a browser installed, with no need for a special reader. Primarily a photo-illustrated record of the effort that has, so far, consumed 29 years, it contains 219 photos (141 in color) and some 17,000 words of text. Most of the photos display in full-screen size.
We are honored to have obtained a foreword by Walter Boyne, along with endorsements from Dennis Jenkins and Paul Boyer.
Available from the publisher, ProWeb Fort Worth or Amazon.com.
See you in May. And remember, let me know what you want Scaleworld to be.