MiG-25RBF – ICM 1/48 – Unboxing & Reviewadmin
MiG-25 is one very important subject in Soviet aviation, which for many reasons, never had the fame of MiG-21 or -29. Although discussed a lot, especially with the defection of Victor Belenko in the mid 70s, MiG-25 kept its secrecy throughout the years and was never given a chance to shine for the truly amazing aircraft that it is. There are no numerous pictures, nor videos, only patches of information and stories from the pilots who flew it or encounter it in the skies.
There is a serious demand for a decent model of MiG-25 and especially in that scale that is existing for decades. Kitty Hawk tried to produce a contemporary model of it couple of years ago, but failed with that task, due to many unusual and needless complications in the engineering of their kit. Besides, accuracy of any model of MiG-25 is still an issue, considering the lack of enough information available.
Here we will take a look at ICM’s approach, which is far from what Kitty Hawk presented, and is considered by many, to be the best representation of MiG-25 in 48th scale so far.
Box and boxart
The first thing that catches your attention is one very nicely drawn camouflaged MiG-25RBF taxiing on what seems to be summer or spring airfield, considering the green grass around it. It resembles a picture that is very famous, and that fame comes mostly due to the fact that camouflaged MiG-25s are rare sight. In general, for high-altitude jet this is useless complication and there aren’t many paints that can survive the friction temperatures of those Mach 2.5+ speeds at which this plane flies. It seems almost like somebody copied the picture or used a software to make into a drawing, but whatever the case is, it looks beautiful and it is a good attention catcher.
The box of the ICM MiG-25RBF itself is unusually thin, especially considering the behemoth stored inside. It is not a small one of course, but at first glance it is hard to believe that inside there is a model with the size of MiG-25. Surprisingly, everything is arranged nicely, all plastic packed into one big envelope, plus an instruction sheet on the bottom accompanied by two decal sheets.
Of this MiG-25RBF are presented in a form of a white booklet, with colors all over. Comparison with MiniArt’s instruction is inevitable, knowing the fact that those are the two major model producing companies coming from Ukraine. The thing that I consider better with ICM is the fact that there is color inside of the sheet and building steps, which is something that is missing from MiniArt’s instructions. It is true that it is only one color, but still. On the other hand, the overall presentation of MiniArt is better designed and more attractive. Especially the color schemes.
Another high point of the instruction sheet is that it features few sentences of history and info about the plane. Something that some companies miss to provide nowadays. Unfortunately, it is two things: short and a bit of propaganda-like written. Just for example the aircraft is described as “the perfect reconnaissance plane”, which is a false conclusion by many means. Besides, 4 sentences about the history of MiG-25 is far from sufficient. Better than nothing though.
On the weak points, I would add the fact that the instructions give Russian as first language, which is odd IMHO. First, Russian was never a mainstream language, and second, there are more modelers from English speaking World that will buy this aircraft. I doubt that ICM used Ukraine and Russia as their main target for making great sales. Even Trumpeter does not give their models Chinese as first language, and they represent 1/5 of the World’s population. Not sure why ICM chose that approach, but again – it seems a bit odd.
Steps are clearly depicted, with no overcrowding and useless information, pleasant renders and clear focus of the areas that are to be worked on. We have 98 steps, which seems scary, but it actually isn’t. In a matter of fact, the large number of steps is because everything is clearly separated and if you follow thoroughly, you will have easy and straight-forward building process, suitable for beginners.
The sheet ends with stencils application guide and color schemes, which are three. For them, a bit later in the article.
Stencils are many and all over, so be prepared for a tedious process which will take couple days and a lot of patience. ICM did a great job providing the numerous stencils, which, even though not visible at first glance, are an inseparable part of MiG-25 family. They are very important, and the proper attention was given here.
The plastic parts presented with this kit are very good. The detail is crisp and one can tell, that this is contemporary kit by all means. Surfaces are thin and to such extent, that some of the flat parts, for example the halves of the vertical stabilizers are way too flexible. In theory, that might lead to some geometry issues, but not necessarily so. You can’t have it both ways anyhow – either the kit will be sturdy and with thick plastic, or it will be thin and flexible, which can cause some potential issues on a latter stage. As we all know, the reality shows very thin surfaces, so you should sacrifice something to get that in scale.
The fuselage parts /again, despite being thin/ are strong enough, and that is important, since they will support everything on this big model. Same goes for the landing gear of course, which with MiG-25 is pretty rough looking anyhow. This is due to the fact that there was over-protection embedded in the engineering, mostly because the rough airfields to be used. Tires speak about that too. Mains especially – are big and at first glance does not belong to the streamline of that plane. In plastic, they are surprisingly good. ICM did very well with the design, with just minor thinks to ask.
Intakes can show more detailing on them, but nothing that cannot be altered with minor modeling skills and effort. Same goes for the whole outer parts and landing gear wells. There is no such thing as “perfect”, but overall this kit comes close to that appearance.
Nozzles are thin too, but detail on those can be improved with a lot, for which I will speak a bit more, further in the review.
There is flash, which is minor, but can be found in many places. The good news is that it is thin and very easily removable. After couple of tests on a few parts still on the sprues, it appears that only an hour or two will be enough to get rid of every imperfection on the mouldings. Nothing specific as tools is required too. Simple hobby knife or scalpel will do the job perfectly.
The plastic material as it is, does not resembles anything that can be compared with any other manufacturer. However, the first /and the following/ impressions are pleasant and promise decent building process that one can enjoy. The kit is far from what we can get with Zoukei-Mura or AMK MiG-31 /which is a cousin of this bird/, but it is very nice. It definitely deserves its price tag and praises from the modelers that can be found all over the web.
Those are packed in a small envelope, which can be found stashed in between the plastic sprues. That shouldn’t scare you, because it is secured in between the other parts and scratches or damages can hardly happen. Also, the sprue is rather small, due to the lack of much clear parts in MiG-25, only the canopy, the front windshield and the dashboard, plus some lights. Thus, there is nothing major to be bent or damaged.
Everything is with very good transparency, it comes with good detailing and delicate attachment points too. There is no unusual bending of the light or objects through the clear parts of the canopy, although in general it is small with MiG-25 and it wouldn’t matter anyhow. However, good job from ICM on the clear parts.
As mentioned above: three paint options. The standard light gray scheme, typical for MiG-25 and MiG-31 fast jets, at first glance dull, but actually great basis for variations. By that I mean various weathering techniques and tricks, which can be applied to spice up this rather monotone scheme. But after applying some of those tricks, the single-tone camouflage can be turned into a weathering road map, depicting the long service life of the airplane and highlight many of the kit’s moulding high-points, while hiding the areas where more attention is needed to represent properly the real thing. For the experience modelers, this is actually the better scene of the two /and a half/ presented, because the weathering expert can really make this into a story.
The second one, and the one that makes the kit a bit more interesting than the standard MiG-25, is the camouflage. Not many MiG-25s were used in dark green and brown tones, simply because the jet doesn’t fly low. This is a stratosphere machine, which works best when at high altitudes. Anyhow, there are some examples of recce MiG-25 with camouflage patterns, one /and a half actually/ of which can be found in this kit.
The camouflage in reality is very interesting, but hard to replicate – a mixture of hard and soft edge lines, with a numerous spots hard to be distinguished one from another. On one hand, that is the purpose of the camouflages applied over military machines. On the other, for the modeler, that will require a lot of patience and attention. Nevertheless, MiG-25 in quarter scale with such appearance will be very spectacular and remembering sight. Proper research is needed too, since the depiction in the instructions is not accurate enough and somehow downgrades the qualities of the camouflage in the real World. So trust your reference pictures first, then use the info from the sheet to guide yourself to paint this RBF.
There is a third option, but it is not depicted in full. So in all my honesty, I cannot consider this as an option per se, but rather a hint, that ICM gave in attempt to add a tad more to the kit. It is a plane from Germany, 1991, but only left and right profiles are added, without any information what is to be the pattern over the wings and the massive back of the Foxbat. Again, as mentioned already, the lack of information is the enemy here. I have no idea why ICM decided to give such an incomplete information, but for sure it will disappoint many. On the other hand, the decals for this airplane are included, so if you are able to find the proper info about it, you can replicate it without much troubles. The thing is, that if ICM couldn’t find enough info, how can a regular modeler will?
My conclusion is that the kit comes with 2 options, not three. Two and a half at best. Not bad considering the subject too.
Decals look pretty nice. They are sharp, with vivid colors and barely noticeable clear carrier film. Two sheets of blue carrier paper holds them, one is dedicated solely to the numerous technical stencils. For these two, I can speculate that are produced by Begemot /not a confirmed fact/, but they could’ve been made from some other manufacturer in Ukraine. I say Ukraine, because all the Ukrainian decals that I’ve worked with look very similar to those one here. That is only an assumption of course, based on the mentioned above and the fact that ICM logo is on the decal sheet, which might’ve been the maker themselves.
In the end that doesn’t matter much, since they look very good. It is pretty congested on the technical’s sheet, but with patience and a plan, one can manage to get through those without a trouble. Many people experience issues with decals, but from my experience, once you master a /decal/ producer, you can apply everything easily. It might not be Cartograf /they need no mastering of anything, they are simply user-friendly/, but after all, a challenge or two in modelling is always welcomed. Overall, great looking set of decals, which hopefully will conform neatly to the surface.
Accuracy and aftermarket
Lots of threads about MiG-25 accuracy kits can be found on the web. Actually, a lot more than any actual information about the real aircraft. It is understandable, that any obscure airplane will have some accuracy issues, so there is no surprise that perfection cannot be demanded in this case. This is not an excuse of course, but consider this: how many F-4s and MiG-21s can be found in the museums all around the World? Compare this to MiG-25s. The conclusion will be obvious.
So yes, many consider this kit to be flawed in terms of accuracy: nose, canopy and what not. In the end, it doesn’t matter that much, at least not at that point. What is out there to compare it with? Kitty Hawk? It is not like 10 companies offer a dozen of MiG-25 toolings nowadays, is it?
The kit lacks photo-etch elements OOTB. And the nozzles have already an aftermarket substitute, as well as the nose. Those are things that can be discussed, but the overall accuracy discussion is pointless.
The nozzles, as with most of the airplanes nowadays on the quarter scale market, can be improved by metal or resin aftermarket. Even Zoukei-Mura, the best of the best with their F-4 require resin nozzles. So this is understandable. About the nose, it is a so-so situation, and it is matter of preference. We are discussing RBF version here though, the others have different nose issues.
Finally, the photo-etch is the thing that would be definitely recommended with this release. All contemporary kit features etched parts, why ICM failed to provide some here beats me. Good news is that there are aftermarket sets available and they are not pricey either. They won’t bring the mother of all improvements, but will definitely spice up things a little bit.
Is that a good kit of MiG-25? You bet!
This is – as rumored – the best representation of the Foxbat and not only in 48th, but in any scale to this date. The kit is not perfect, but nobody expects it to be. It requires some aftermarket and some work from the modeler’s part, but in general it is a great kit. There are definitely things that ICM can improve, but don’t take that as a criticism towards the Ukrainian company only. Every single company has such flaws, and in a matter of fact, ICM did nothing wrong with anything, or more appropriately said – did nothing that others haven’t done before.
There are several versions of the Foxbat available already, including the interceptor variant, but in my opinion, this MiG-25RBF is the most attractive one on the market currently. That is due to the spectacular camouflage and due to the fact that the twin-seater variant is not yet available, but is promised. Kitty Hawk will jump on that subject in 2019 /expected/, and if ICM are smart enough, they will be onto that plane next.
The fact that Hasegawa and Revell decided to repack different versions of ICM kit should speak enough. Both are big players on the market, especially Hasegawa, which means that this kit is good enough. The base is great, and despite the need for some aftermarket, ICM provides a perfect platform to build on.
Being a kit that many longed for and for so many years too, this is a must for every Foxbat and Cold War Soviet jet fan. It will be massive once built and will satisfy many, with the contents that this box provides. Now, Hobby Boss and Trumpeter might dare to enter the Foxbat scene, because they produce almost everything imaginable, but that might never happen too. Until a new and better tooling of the Foxbat is released, ICM can be easily considered as the masters of MiG-25 in the modeling World.