Avro Lancaster B Mk.I 1/32 kit Review – HK Models #01E010DN Models
Only couple of years ago nobody dared to ask for such a huge kit. Not in their wildest dreams. Even in 48th scale Lancaster is big and it needs room, which is rare commodity even in the largest scale modeling collections. But things changed and slowly, large scale planes came into the spotlight, quite often jumping from 72nd scale directly into 32nd or 24th. Apparently there was a hidden demand for those. Now, Airfix offer Typhoon in 24th scale and are about to hit us with a Hellcat in that scale too. Hobby Boss released the Liberator, which is to be available in J and D options. Trumpeter up-scaled their STUKA in 24th too. Large scale planes market is flourishing.
With that strong demand for 32nd and larger scale kits, it was obvious that Lancaster will appear at some point, despite its size. And the news appeared swiftly and took us by storm. Both HK Models and Wingnut Wings announced their perspective of the Lancaster bomber, both in 32nd scale and both very detailed and promising.
While Wingnut Wings Lancaster is about to appear in late 2019, HK Models were rather quick and their Lancaster is already on the shelves and in many fans’ hands too. It is expensive, but it is surprisingly good and gives a wonderful basis for further improvement. It will probably be inferior to Wingnut Wings option, but aside from the comparison it look really nice. So while waiting to judge both of the kits one next to another with their highs and lows, let’s take a peak inside HK Models’ box.
The box is as huge as one might expect. Interestingly, compared to Liberator’s box from Hobby Boss, both are nearly identical in size. Comparison is inevitable in this case, since Hobby Boss B-24 was released about the same time as HK Models’ Lanc. Hobby Boss features thicker materials, however, Lancaster’s box weights more. Another advantage is the fact that the box of the Lancaster features light lid, which is easily removable. HB Liberator’s box has a thick lid which takes some time to be removed and after couple of such procedures damages and wear are inevitable.
HK Models box is glossy in appearance, with beautiful boxart, depicting a night bombing run with somewhat intense background. The kit reviewed here was part of the initial series, featuring bonus parts and there is a sticker on the bottom left stating that additional clear parts are included. Inside you can find another sticker about it. You get one or the other. Some boxes features both stickers.
The bonus parts are transparent sections allowing for displaying the interior features of the kit. It is a good idea since there is a lot to be shown in this scale and with this particular plane. Besides, tons of improvements can be added, mostly scratch built parts, which will really make the kit shine. Especially with those bonus clears. If you get the standard release, you should cut through the plastic in order to display the interior. So you might want to hurry. Again, comparing this to the Liberator, probably this is the major advantage of the Lancaster over HB kit.
The instruction sheet is big. One of the biggest out there actually. The thing is – it is black and white only.
There is a short history of the aircraft, but again, if one wants basic info only, a historical booklet of such size won’t be enough to cover the basics. Let alone combined with instructions. Let’s not forget, this is was a very important airplane for the Allies during the Second World War. It is strange why HK Models didn’t include such info-book. Especially with that price tag.
Everything inside is clearly depicted and it looks like the build should be straight forward. Nothing too confusing, no steps over-crowded with info areas, nor puzzling info. Very user friendly at first look.
That was very good idea from HK Models, however, if one want to learn while building, this is definitely not a Zoukei-Mura kit and none of their sophistication can be found here. So the builder should be already familiar with the subject. And thoroughly. Wingnut Wings will have the final word on that, but most likely they will provide better instructions anyhow.
After the sprue description which is placed after the build completion /beats any logic why/, there is a section for the color schemes. This is where HK Models dropped the ball and with a loud bang. Everything is black and white and the quality is not very nice either. Puzzling, since the instruction sheet is made from very high-quality material. Leaving that part un-colored is a really bad decision, especially asking for so much money from the modelers. No additional colored leaflets, nothing.
Large Scale Modeller website/forum as well as AK Interactive were involved with this kit, which is stated on the front page of the instructions. Why they agreed to that decision about lacking colors is again beating any logic. Especially AK Interactive, which are a company based on paint colors. In the instruction sheet, there is no colors at all.
It is true that versions depicted are mostly with black undersides, but still this is a demonstration of poor judgement and is neglecting the fans and experienced modelers which are the main target with that release. With this monster of a kit, the company should give a bit more. But we all know that the last few percent of effort are what usually makes one project shine or die.
Wingnut will most definitely offer a different approach and as far as their kits and devotion goes, it is pretty certain, that they will shine very brightly compared to HK Models Lancaster.
First thing that one will notice with this kit are the wings. There are two reasons for that. One is their size. They take a lot of the box top appearance and look massive. That is because – they are. They were massive on the real bird, they are such here too. The second reason is the engineering decision that HK Models came up with. The lower and upper side are molded together. It is strange for an experienced airplane modeler to see this, especially with this size. But maybe the main reason for that decision was the size itself. There is a seam line that has to be cleared on the leading edge of the wing and depending on some occasions, troubles with the plastic bending might appear in the future. But that latter one is mostly speculation and pessimism than a fact.
They are very light though. Considering the size of course. As everything else with the kit. Plastic didn’t suffer any quality drop from that, none what so ever. Everything is engraved very well, shows distinctive features and elements and represents the Lancaster accurately. Well, some devoted experts found some issues but they also claim they can be fixed. Probably something that many Lancaster fans won’t notice or can live with. But there are always people like that – looking for every kit’s flaws and shortcomings.
Luckily, this Avro Lancaster doesn’t have many.
The engines are brilliantly done. They could use some scratch building, but they do not need any resin substitute. Important, considering the number of engines embedded in this plane. Building process of those is not simple, especially of the frames supporting them, but nothing that one cannot cope with.
Actually, engines and cockpit plus interior are the most sophisticated sections of this build. Some fun on the empennage, but on the outside, pretty much that’s it. It is logical – Avro Lancaster’s most specific features were not his externals. And a lot was done by HK Models to focus the modeler’s attention to the areas, that aren’t typical for an airplane modeler. But that is the beauty of this kit: part of it allows you to look at it from a crew’s perspective. Especially in that scale.
Overall, everything is very good on the plastic end of things. Maybe the wheels can be substituted, probably some PE elements can be added here and there, but from this point on, it is too late for HK Models. Everything now lies in the hands of aftermarket makers. And judging from the basis that we have on our hands, this will turn into a brilliant scale model plane.
Clear canopy and windows parts are arranged onto two sprues. They are featuring thin framework, which is flexible – maybe too much too – and some reports about damaged sprues already appeared. They look good though, and the transparency seems to be decent. However there is a lot more to ask from those. The bending of the light is significant and this is not solely based on the curvature of the glass parts of the Lancaster. Even the flat clears show some magnifying effects, which should be taken into account while building. Showing the interior through a clear part that distorts the view is sometimes annoying. Again, considering the price asked which is 2 /and more/ times the price of the Liberator, a tiny bit more would’ve been nice to have in terms of quality. One should consider the scale too.
They are not bad by any means, but in order to get the perfect representation maybe aftermarket companies will have their last word on the Lancaster subject. That is quite interesting decision from HK Models. The aircraft’s construction and engineering itself does not require anything overly difficult besides some devotion to the clear parts. Avro Lancaster by itself has one very distinctive feature and this is the abundance of clear parts – turrets, canopy and windows. Somehow HK Models missed that part. Which by the way is typical for most large WWII bombers and that is not HK Models release on that subject. Yet, the quality here is not the greatest possible. Good enough – for sure, but far from what we could require from this set.
Wingnut Wings might be able to show some advantage here. It all depends on what they are about to release, considering the fact that so far their line consisted from airplanes without windows. Now stepping into another era – WWII – they will have the opportunity to prove themselves on another grounds.
On the other hand, the bonus clear parts are really good and really really cool! However, since some of the readers might not get the kit featuring those, I won’t describe anything about them here. The reason for that is that it is not yet clear what exactly the standard kit will feature. And spoiling it and teasing those who won’t get them isn’t gonna do any good to anybody.
Why this is here is not exactly clear. It is small and it features mostly seatbelts and some panels, which are mediocre in appearance. Eduard will probably explode with something very sophisticated, thin and maybe with colors too. Most definitely, the last choice for RAF seatbelts will be the one featured with this HK Models Lancaster PE. I assume that photo-etch producers will hit this HK Models release very hard and quite quickly.
The kit is so big and allows for so much on the PE arena, that a whole book can be written about that. Not only, but many things can be altered and improved. Maybe some stenciling can be done with PE parts instead of decals too. Whatever the case is, this PE sheet here is one very weak link in the kit’s parts, second only to the black and white “color” schemes featured.
It will disappoint photo-etch lovers for sure and for the rest – probably only few will use it as it is. It doesn’t stand up to the overall kit’s quality by no means. But in the end it is there probably just to state in the advertising that this Lancaster kit comes with plastic and PE parts too. Something that many consider mandatory nowadays.
There are two sheets of decals and one small additional patch. The sheets are big mostly because of the roundels. Dealing with RAF WWII aircraft makes this encounter inescapable. There is not much more than the letters and the roundels, but this is understandable, considering the camouflage schemes and the way those birds were presented to the world. As much stealth as the time offered. Well, at least for the British. Germans had different approach which proved to be the proper one.
Decaling this airplane will be another walk in the park for decal experts, however for those who experience issues with silvering decals or air bubbles – this will be a ride to hell and back. Particularly due to the size of the roundels. There is aftermarket substitute for those decals, although there is hardly anything that can beat Cartograf’s quality. However, some sizes are improved on the aftermarket version. Another option is masking the areas and paint them out. For such purpose, DN Models released an Insignia mask set, slightly improved /in size/ copy of the option included in the kit, in order to spare yourself the trouble and provide you with better weathering option. You can always wear and weather the paint far better than any decal what so ever. Plus the overall look keeps its smoothness and everything seems more homogenic to the eye.
Three options are included. They are:
- R5868/OL-Q, No.83 Sqn, Wyton, UK, June 1943
- W4783/AR-G, No.460 Sqn, Binbrook, UK, May 1944
- R5868/PO-S, No.467 Sqn, Waddington, UK, May 1944
The colors to be used on all three are the same and the camouflages are almost identical. One of those feature minor differences, but probably proper research will be needed /and reference pictures too/ in order to be 100% sure about the camo pattern. I wouldn’t trust HK Models that much for accuracy.
Paints suggested are from AK Interactive, who were obviously involved with this project from the get to, Mr.Hobby/Gunze and Tamiya, latter one being mandatory as a good reference for proper colors. Fellow modelers from UK, which will be probably the best part of the gang who will build this beast will have plenty of references at hand. Many paint manufacturers offer sets and pretty soon we should expect Lancaster paint set to appear as well, having in mind that the box of this kit features a badge saying: Avro Lancaster Series and the fact that Wingnut Wings are prepping for their own show. In other words – high demand for specific sets and aftermarket is certain.
Lancaster in 32nd scale…
That was a dream only couple of years ago. A friend of mine who I was trying to convince to get back in the hobby, after building his first model after over a decade aside from the bench told me – things have improved, but for me the real modeling will start with Lancaster in 32nd scale. Only a smirk came out of me.
Now, his time has come. And many others’ too. My smirk is gone, because Lancaster in 32nd scale is…reality! This release is a very good representation of the Avro beast and in that scale it will be inevitable show stopper wherever you might want to go. The execution is very good on almost every level and despite some let downs mentioned above, the kit is going to be a magnificent replica once completed. Even though Wingnut Wings will probably do better and more than one level with their Lancaster release, every true Lancaster fan will not pick any one of those over the other, but will get them both.
HK Models are proving to be a very serious player from their beginnings, with kits that are nothing less than spectacular. Humble is not in their vocabulary – obviously. Size won’t matter much too. And for any true Lancaster fan, this is a gift from heaven.
The price is a bit on the bitter side. But once you open the box, you quickly forget the gap in your wallet that this weapon of mass destruction opened on the day you ordered it. Even though this killing machine was fierce and brought a lot of death and destruction, history must be respected and there is no better way than to build one miniature of it to pay your respect and admiration. Although “mini” from miniature is not in the right place with this kit.