MPM's 1/72 Ki-21 Sally
Since I just got this kit in my hands literally the day before this issue went up, I didn't have time to track down my references on the Ki-21. Here's the short story of the plane. It was built by Mitsubishi to a directive from the mid-1930s. It's a twin-engined medium bomber that saw heavy use in China as well as Southeast Asia, and remained in service pretty much throughout the war. Since I'm sure that this is going to be a popular subject amongst IJAAF modelers, I'll turn you towards the best place for information on Japanese planes, J-Aircraft.com, where you're likely to have all your Ki-21 questions answered by knowledgable people around the world.
I was hoping to get a Revell Ki-21 kit to compare this kit to, but the only ones I could find were on eBay and since they were going for way more than I ever wanted to spend, you'll just have to take a leap of faith with me when I say this kit is better than that earlier offering.
So what do you get in the box? A nice-looking Sally, that's what! There are four trees of dark gray plastic, one tree of clear, a bag of resin parts, and a nice decal sheet. The plastic parts are very crisply molded, with finely recessed panel lines and no flash present. The clear parts are very good for the most part, although the large round pieces (like the turret and nose piece) seem a bit thick. Nowhere in the kit does it say what version of Ki-21 this is, but I believe that it is the later Ki-21 IIa version. The large greenhouse over the rear fuselage can be replaced with a fairing and a turret, although this particular boxing has those parts grayed out as "do not use" parts.
Speaking of that greenhouse, there's a lot of clear parts on this kit, showing off a fair bit of the interior. Luckily MPM has chosen to represent this with resin, providing a front cockpit tub and a rear tub to fit underneath the greenhouse. There is lots of detail in both pieces and once you add in the bulkheads, seats and other details you'll have a very nice-looking interior. There are Humbrol color callouts throughout the instructions, but you'd better have your cross-reference book handy, as there's no other explanation of the colors, just the Humbrol numbers.
The rest of the resin bits make up such details as the engines and wheel well inserts, as well as the exhaust pipes. These, coupled with the plastic nacelles, will result in a very nice pair of power units. These will fit onto the wings, with the lower part of the wing making up the rest of the wheel well. There are a couple of dimples for the main gear legs and you'll probably want to drill those out for a more sturdy joint. The landing gear is nicely detailed, with two main pieces for the strut, a two-piece main wheel, and separate wheel doors. The tail wheel is molded as one piece.
The last bits and pieces to go on will be all those clear parts. Have fun masking these! Hopefully someone like Eduard will come out with some pre-cut vinyl masks for this kit. Otherwise, using Bare Metal Foil is probably the best choice here. There are several nicely cast resin machine guns to fit into all the appropriate places, and there is also a nicely done DF loop for over the cockpit.
The decal sheet is printed by Propagteam and is to their usual level of quality. You get two choices out of the box, neither of which have any information in the instructions other than marking placement. The first choice is that of the boxtop, being dark green over light gray green. The second option is a bit more interesting, being natural metal overall with dark green blotches randomly applied on the upper surfaces. I'm sure there's plenty of other interesting examples out there and hopefully we'll see some neat decal sheets for this kit in the near future.
Modelers of Japanese aircraft are going to be very happy with this release. Kit collectors probably won't like it, as it means the demand for the old Revell kit will likely drop, but I'd rather see a bunch of Ki-21s built than collectors get rich anyway. In looking at the way the kit is engineered it's very likely that we'll see a Ki-21 Ia sometime down the road as well. Kudos to MPM and I hope the rest of their upcoming releases are just as good as this one!