Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Custom Masks – the New Trend in Scale Modeling

Custom made masks are one of the items on very high demand last couple of years. Modelers prefer to bet on the closest-to-reality approach, substituting decals and avoiding all of the problems related to them. In the same time, masks gives unmatched possibility for weathering, since painted areas can be chipped and worn exactly like on a real vehicle. No matter is it a plane or a tank. Most of the models built nowadays are replicas of the Second World War objects. On many videos around the web, stencil application can be found, proving the grounds for using masks. With some exceptions, like invasion stripes for example, most of the colored items you see painted on the vehicles were made by using masks. Especially on the mass used items like roundels, crosses, numbers and such. That goes for modern vehicles too. Practically, this is the best way to transfer equally looking objects made from paint, to the surface that wears them for recognition. 

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

On the pictures you can see a Custom Made masks for one of the best modelers we work with, a guy from Belgium, who loves building large scale aircraft and made this Spitfire for another fan of the legendary plane. The appearance replicates a newly painted, freshly restored Spitfire in 32nd scale, which demanded a brand new roundels and markings to go along with it. The set was made especially for that project, which demanded the use of specific numbers and roundels size.

Even not the strongest part of masking usage to be replicating new insignia, it is still far better compared to decals. There is no silvering, no color mismatch, no need of additional varnish layers. It is true, that the best way to chip and wear the insignia is to use masks, paint and then abuse the results with various methods. However, using this approach, even on a newly painted insignia as in this case, you can grasp the advantages easily.

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Another interesting thing with the particular project here is the approach that the master modeler took in marking the masks with pencil, just to keep the alignment proper. In roundels’ case that is not exactly necessary, nevertheless is great practice and an insurance policy that no unwanted results will appear in the end. In real life, many aircraft roundels are painted exactly that way, some even bearing the alignment mark even after being painted on the real aircraft.

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

DN Models gets to job done for most of the Custom Masks requests, especially for large scale applications easily. We have made several different masks for scales unusually large as well. Varying from 1/18th to even 1/6th. However, the best known and most widely used Custom Orders we get from airplane modelers working in 1/24th and 1/32nd scales and armor modelers that work in 1/16th.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we refuse to take custom orders for smaller applications. If the Custom Order can be done by re-scaling or modifying the original product, that is an option for DN Models as well. Too complex and some smaller projects are not doable, often due to the limitations of the machines used for cutting the masks. However, normal insignia, numbers and letters are usually easy job and are used by many to recreate something specific that is not included in the set of decals that comes with the kit.

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models

So in conclusion, Custom Masks are the new wave in scale modeling. Not only Custom projects, but masks in general. They work just like the metal tracks for armor - recreate the perfect reality in scale. In other words – there is nothing closer to the original, thus there is no better way to recreate the specific insignia that you need using anything other than masks and paint. Just like in real life. So if you are in doubt, send us an email. We might be able to help with your Custom Mask project! 

Custom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale ModelsCustom Masks New Trend Scale Modeling DN Models Masks for Scale Models www.dnmodels.com
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Unboxing and Review: 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk Hobby Boss #81764 box

Unboxing and Review: 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk Hobby Boss #81764

Intro:

This plane does not need an introduction. Every fan knows about it, simply because it fulfilled the task it was designed for perfectly. This is something between a first and second generation jet, designed in the early 50s. Surprisingly still in use to this day.

For years we had beautiful Hasegawa options in 48th and 32nd scale. They are still very good, and in my opinion, their quarter scale is unbeatable. But Hobby Boss did a very good attempt with releasing their own A-4 line, including A-4M, A-4E and A-4F. The kit is designed as a direct competitor to Hasegawa’s releases, but actually it can satisfy slightly different types of modelers.

Box and Contents:

Box is the standard Hobby Boss cardboard thing, nothing special nor too shiny. The colors are a bit pale and the explanations on the sides are not very sophisticated. Inside, everything is packed separately for protection. Nice execution which can be seen on every Trumpeter/HobbyBoss model.

Unboxing and Review: 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk Hobby Boss #81764 ins

Instruction sheet, alongside with marketing leaflet can be found on the bottom. Instructions are aligned in landscape mode, pretty much like every Trumpeter kit that I’ve built. They are simple, easy to follow and clear of any unnecessary complications. Quality-wise they are far from the current standard, however price of the kit is too - far from today’s tags.

Unboxing and Review: 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk Hobby Boss #81764 sheet

Sprues:

Again, typical Hobby Boss/Trumpeter stuff. Light gray plastic, flexible enough, with detail that is chunky more often than not. Lack of excessive riveting is visible on that kit, which I believe is not bad. After all, it is better to spend some time riveting by yourself, rather than deal with wrong lines done from the mad-riveter.

Detail is not consistent all over, but few Hobby Boss kits show such thing.  That doesn’t mean the kit is bad. Not at all. This A-4 is very decent piece of plastic and even though it has some flaws and questionable accuracy, I believe it is well worth the money.

Unboxing and Review: 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk Hobby Boss #81764 plastic

Some of the kit’s surfaces like flaps for example are molded. With Hasegawa you get more movable and positionable parts. That is exactly what I meant in the beginning – this kit being aimed toward different kind of modeler. A modeler, that doesn’t want everything open, but prefer simplicity and in-flight or ready-to-fly modes.

For the latter ones, I trust that this kit is superior compared to Hasegawa’s.

Pictures show clearly the level of sophistication of this plastic piece and in my opinion they do not disappoint. The details might be insufficient for many, but they are not bad at all. One thing is certain – in order to achieve accuracy and stunning appearance, additional work will be needed.

Clear parts:

Clear parts are also mixed bag of things. They can show more detail, but they are not that bad. The level of transparency is good, which is the most important thing for me. Bending of the objects /seeing throught them/ is good /means minimal/, which is very important for that scale.

Another thing to mention is that they are not thick as you might expect them to be. Quite a pleasant surprise from Hobby Boss. After all, you get the clear parts separately covered and packed like a very delicate and precious item in this kit. It is because they actually are such. Good job!

Decals and Options:

Decals are represented by a sheet, which includes two marking options. Nothing much to say about those, other than they are standard quality for Hobby Boss. Many question their accuracy, including me, so I would stick to aftermarket deals or masks.

Unboxing and Review: 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk Hobby Boss #81764 decals

The two options are interesting, one is unusual camouflage and the other one is with high-visibility markings. However, based on what Skyhawk was used for and how widely, I trust that this is only a touch of the surface. If you dig deeper, you will find endless options for various wonderful paint options.

Especially Top Gun A-4Es, which are interestingly painted and worn altogether. Sky is the limit for the Skyhawk. Truly.

Conclusion:

Very tricky here. How exactly do I start the conclusion? I have one of two choices: Mixed bag or I like it. It is indeed a mixed bag and inferior to Hasegawa in more than one ways. However, I like it because it is just about enough and will satisfy many. Especially those who would like to make it in an in-flight mode.

The price is acceptable. Low for today’s standards. However, the quality is not up to those either. But after all, you can get it and try to make most of it, or just complain about the quality and wait for another decade or two for a new and improved tooling.

I would say, go for it. It’s not a bad kit and with a little effort you can improve it and beat the competition. After all it is a Skyhawk. Attention is deserved.

www.dnmodels.com
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TF-104G from Italeri in 32nd scale

TF-104G is the dual-seater version of the Starfighter. This was an aircraft essential for the survival of the pilots who flew it. Due to its complexity, the single seat Starfighter was dangerous to operate and TF-104 was a logical variant. Italeri already released a beautifully tooled F-104. Considering the Italians are the people who created the most sophisticated version of the Starfighter - the S-variant - it is good to have a kit that is made in Italy. Following that idea, TF-104G was an expected continuation of the line. Italeri #ITA2509 is the first of the two dual-seater kits we are about to get from the Italian Model maker. It is not yet clear what will be featured in the second option, but most likely there will be different camouflage schemes. So far only renders of the canopies area are available, but as far as the rumor goes, the TF-104G will be up for sale sometime during August 2018. The price is expected the be exactly the same as the one of the single seater from Italeri, which is pretty decent for 32nd scale kit. TF-104G will feature more clear parts of course, photo-etch details, several decal options and probably quite soon - many aftermarket add-ons will be available. The decals are the strong side of Italeri's kits. They are made by Cartograf and that is the top decal brand in the World. We should expect large sheets, especially with the old big insignia that was typical for the era when TF-104G and F-104G/S flew. Of course, Starfighters were used up to 2004 in Italy, so new low-visibility grey options will be featured most likely. Whatever the case is, the kit will give you several paint schemes, including pretty much endless possibilities for weathering. TF-104G and F-104G/S were small planes in reality, but in 32nd scale they are pretty big plastic chunks which allow for super-detailing on many areas. They were used for quite some time and were decently worn. The other option for modeling the bird is the fact that it is a main star in many aviation museums around the World. As we all know, the maintenance of the plane museum artefacts is not that sophisticated everywhere, so you can find very interesting weather-damaged Starfighters that you can use as an inspiration. TF-104G is another kit in the Large Scale Planes realm that we lived to see. Maybe soon there will be a new tooling for the smaller scale, dethroning Hasegawa's tooling and something that will compete with this big bird that we're about to get from Italeri. Not that 32nd scale is a bad thing. Just the contrary. But the more we have, the better! Especially when it comes down to Starfighters. www.dnmodels.com    
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Kitty Hawk Next Helo Line

Kitty Hawk continue their series of surprises announcing new helicopter models every once in a while. Next we are about to expect the famous Black Hawk and its derivatives. Luckily - in 35th scale. That is a logical step, considering the theme of the boxart of their Little Bird in that same scale. It is almost like a piece of the movie Black Hawk Down. Now, the protagonist of that cinematic masterpiece will come to live in plastic. From what Kitty Hawk hints, we should expect more of the line of the famous bird. Sea version, which is one of the most popular Academy releases now gets a substitute and a rather promising one. Academy kits lacks sophistication and even though with a decent price are far from satisfactory for the most modelers. Kitty Hawk are the exact opposite of that. Even though not perfect, they feature great detail and superb design, plus many of them have additions from Werner's Wings in the form of decals. The first release - MH-60L Black Hawk - will be exactly like that. With a completely new tooling, hopefully up to the current standards and with Werner's Wings spice in the box. Werner is a pro in the area, so if anyone knows what to add, that is the man for the job.  I am fan of the Black Hawk, but I am bigger fan of other versions, most importantly the Coast Guard helo. For that last one there is no info yet, but since HH-60G Pave Hawk and SH-60F Sea Hawk are on the way, probably we will see one specifically designed to be released as a MH-60T JayHawk - the Coast Guard bird.  The release, as far as I know is set for the mid summer 2018. That is for MH-60L Black Hawk. Soon after, the SH-60F and HH-60G will be available. So stay tuned for those upcoming helos. The market begs for that and we are close to very interesting times and wonderful looking Hawks at the modeling shows! www.dnmodels.com
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F-4S – the Newest Phantom II from Zoukei-Mura

F-4S is one of the most advanced versions of the Phantom II aircraft. Also, it is unfortunately the last modification too. Little introduction:  The S variant first flew in 1977. It is an aircraft with improved stronger airframe and undercarriage elements, new electrical wiring, highly improved radar system, smokeless engines, slats and digital weapons control system. All this combined, gave very high percentage of improvement over the J variant, which is considered by many for the ultimate Phantom. Smokeless engines, alongside with the slats and stiffer airframe were the most important features though. Even though already outdated by F-14 and F-15, in the late 70s and early 80s Phantom was still quite a menace in the skies. With those features included, the service life was extended and a decent dose of steroids was injected into the smokey Joe. Well, with it - not being so smokey anymore. The boxart: Zoukei-Mura announced their plans to do the F-4S model in the beginning of 2017, just weeks after their J Phantom hit the shelves. The boxart of the SWS No.5 is a bit different from the F-4J - more aggressive and more modern looking. We have a afterburning monster taking-off of a carrier deck, with nose gear strut extended for high angle of attack. The aircraft wears the high-visibility insignia of the US NAVY's VF-161, number 100 from USS Midway. On the boxart we have little logo from Boeing company stating that this is an Official Licensed Product. This is something that I am used to see on Italeri boxes, but it is wonderful, that Zoukei-Mura got an acknowledgement from Boeing Company and made their /formerly Mcdonell Douglas/ F-4 an official product even though with a new brand name. There is also the dark blue around the box as well as the U.S. Flag  accompanying the pictures of the build plane. Unfortunately, we have everything written in Japanese only, but the pictures tells the story pretty well. Storming through the clouds of steam with the afterburners on is also pretty self-explanatory. The Sprues: This is a re-tooling of Zoukei Mura's SWS No.4 F-4J Phantom II. It is not a completely new kit, and there is a reason why - differences mentioned above, (although substantial) were made on the existing J frames and it is practically the same thing that the real company and Zoukei-Mura did. The latter one did it in 48th scale though. We have the same plastic material - dark grey plastic, with very good flexibility, wonderful sanding qualities and more than superb detailing. Everything is sharp, accurate and phantastic! New ones: The new sprues that Zoukei-Mura added for the F-4S are very similar to the old one and feature little differences. The sprue with the two halves of the fuselage features new parts, but if you are not careful, you won't be able to tell the difference at first glance. Same goes for the sprue with the upper part of the wings and the lower part, being the belly of the phantom, incorporating the fuselage and the lower wings. Missile sprue features improved and finer details. Usually the missiles of 48th scale planes are criticized due to the thickness of the tiny stabilizers. Also, the way that things are assembled or are being engineered displeases modelers. Zoukei-Mura improved some details, in order to avoid that and give better experience overall. The good old ones: The sprues well known from the J kit are the rest in the box actually. They are surprisingly well done, beating Academy on almost every level. And Academy Phantom was considered the best until recently. With the appearance of the Zoukei-Mura's J, that was the end of the reign. The only let down are still the nozzles, which I think is not a coincidence. There are Eduard Brassin Nozzles for the J variant, so we might be pretty sure that soon we will get the S-type too! There are also Eduard nozzles for Academy, for those who intend to complain! The clear parts are superb. The transparency is not 100%, which IMHO makes them better than the usual. Absolutely clear sprues cause an effect of exaggeration which teases the eye and can easily be spotted on shows. With Zoukei-Mura's style, everything looks quite realistic, even in 48th scale. We have moulded just enough rivets, beautiful panel lines and every bit of detail needed for the perfect phantom. Zoukei-Mura did their job pretty well, but that is not news. We know that since the J-type release which we witnessed 4 months ago. You cannot expect any troubles with this kit, nor unusual complications. Everything is done wonderfully! Differences that Zoukei-Mura described in their newsletter are: ●Main wings 1. Front slat (4 points) 2. Slender fence added to the folding part of the main wings 3. Different shape of the external wing tip ●Cockpit 4. Half-moon part over the back seat of the central canopy 5. Back mirror added on the upper surface of the rear canopy 6. Cockpit optical sight and cockpit panels (front and rear) 7. Control stick ●Fuselage 8. EL light panels (formation lights) of nose, fuselage, wing edges, vertical tail 9. Fuselage top antenna changed from 3 places to 1 10. Side antenna added upon the air intake 11. Different shape of the ram air intake on the left side of the nose ●Fuselage underside 12. No antenna behind the front gear storage box (installed on the J-type) 13. Different shape of the antenna under the right air intake 14. Reinforcing panels and underside of the central fuselage reproduced 15. Different shape and position of the louver under the nose 16. Different shape of the antenna beside the airbrake, below the main wings Markings: Unfortunately, there is only one option included in this kit, just like we had it with the F-4J. Here, the Phantom represented is number 100 from VF-161, based on USS Midway. It features high-vis insignia and markings, black tail with red lightning crossing through it. Quite typical for the era and pretty attractive for modeling. Zoukei-Mura offers aftermarket decals for their J variant, and quite soon I am betting on S-type decals too. As you can guess, F-4S, even being the last mod is abundant in color variations and probably, you will be able to find something interesting and different than the one inside the box. Companies usually give us many painting variations, varying from 2-3 to 7-8, even more sometimes. The decision of being so specific is something that will raise some eyebrows but it is what it is. Extra Parts and Add-ons: Once the J-type went for sale, Zoukei-Mura announced several aftermarket sets on their website. Those featured weighted wheels, which are quite nice and I believe - a must  for a proper phantom. They are suitable for J and S, as well as for C and D. The other two upcoming F-4s from Zoukei. Same goes for the struts. A metal substitute is available, also suitable for the four phantom modifications. Both of these are indispensable in terms of usefulness. The wheels are specialty for the juries at the shows and the struts, well, you should see the size of the F-4 in 48th scale and you will get my drift. Then we have a PE set for J/S cockpit, which I am not a fan of, since the parts in the kit looks good enough for me and besides, PE sets for cockpits often gives 2D appearance with odd appearance in color. This is only me here, many will enjoy this set a lot. Besides it looks awfully lot like Eduard PE set, who are known to be the best in business so many will find that attractive. Alongside with that there is a color set from Vallejo paints, with bonus airbrush cleaner. The paints are chosen for the J/S variants and this is good option here, if you know how to deal with Vallejo acrylics. The colors are something which a lot of modelers struggle when it comes down to F-4, especially for the belly area. So if you know your way around Vallejo/MIG/AK paints, I would say go for it. The last thing I want to mention is not an add-on or accessory set. It is a book from Zoukei-Mura, featuring three builds of F-4s, built from three modelers chosen by Zoukei-Mura. There are reference images, building processes and many more, overall being a guide on how-to complete your Phantom in the best way possible. It is called a Concept Note, for those who haven't dealt with Zoukei-Mura kits. It is important especially for those who does not have contact with the real F-4 nearby them. It will give you great ideas and additional knowledge for the airplane, as well as tips and tricks from master modelers who already built Zoukei-Mura Phantastic F-4. DN Model's modest contribution: f-4s zoukei mura dn models canopy wheels mask set 1/48 phantom II sws no.5 Canopy and wheels masking set is available at DN Model's website, designed for this kit. It might not be much, at least not like the aftermarket Resin and PE parts we are about to witness in the near future, but masks are what we do at DN Models, and we decided to give our best to accompany this kit with one very useful product for the modelers Worldwide. Zoukei-Mura kits in 32nd scale that I own and reviewed here featured masks but for whatever reason ZM left the phantom without them. This isn't a coincidence in my opinion, and as with the nozzles there is an idea behind all that. Thankfully, that gave us the option to design a set of our own and be a part of the Zoukei-Mura's Phantom Project. Conclusion: I want to start with Cons of this kit. They are two. First one are the nozzles. They are far from what Zoukei-Mura showed as quality in this kit. As I mentioned before I believe this is on purpose. After all, aftermarket companies deserve little room for work, which eventually was the case with the masks /thank you for that, ZM!/. I believe that Zoukei-Mura could've added perfect ones but they left it out due to the reason stated above. Second con in my opinion is the single painting option. I know that there will be many aftermarket decals and Zoukei-Mura will probably add something from their own into that. But still. Comparing the kit with Eduard's super kits /repacked Academy/, where there are 5-6 or more options, it seems kinda sparse here. But since the overall look is good, I think I can live with it. Now onto the Pros of the kit. There are so many, that I don't even know where to begin with. I gotta admit - I am a fan of 1/32 planes. But this is a brilliant kit, far better than Tamiya's 32nd scale Phantom. The detail is superb, every surface is thin and the edges are even sharp. There are no doubt about it, this is the Ultimate Phantom in every scale for the moment. Probably for quite some time in the future too. It is basically the same quality as the J version, with refined missiles, which makes it slightly advanced. But overall, far better than Hasegawa and slamming the door for the recent Academy kit too. There is no doubt - if you are a fan of the Phantom, this is the kit for you. Its not too big, nor too small in that scale. I believe Zoukei realized that when started contemplating their Phantom kit. There is competition on the market, but they made an attempt to beat it and succeeded on every level. There is only one kit I've seen that is comparable with that and it is AMK's MiG-31. On the 48th scale scene there isn't anything else that is with such high level and such accuracy. Nor quality of the materials. Phantastic Slatted beast!
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miniart 37012 t-54-2 unboxing and review dn models

T-54-2 Mod.1949 from MiniArt without Interior

T-54-2 was a huge hit when MiniArt released its interiored version not long ago. Now, we get mod.1949 again, but repacked for those who do not want to get into the insides of the tank but rather play it safe and keep it simple. T-54-2 is the second variant of the prototype, being upgraded from the T-54-1 variant. Although some sort of a pre-production vehicle, it was delivered to the army and more than 1200 were produced in total. In this case, the word "prototype" does not describe the vehicle exactly. As you know, MiniArt did them all, so I won't bother you with details and differences. We are focusing on #37012 and its qualities: The Box We have pretty much the same tank depicted on the boxart but lacking the background. More precisely - the background, since the soil is still here. The box colors are red and white with little orange on the sides so you can easily mistake 37004 for 37012 and the other way around. The nice logo saying "Interior KIT" is missing here but everything else feels quite similar and it is for a reason. The Instruction sheet The instruction sheet is made in typical MiniArt way - big and colorful. The color depictions are mostly on front and back showing several different versions of the vehicle. They are Soviet Green versions, pretty much equal one to another, with the numbers being the sole difference. I am sorry if you expected something else, but the appearance of the Soviet vehicles was always dull and boring.Then, there is a description of the sprues and of course - the building process begins. This time we are lacking the interior parts, so you can expect that the sheet will be substantially smaller than what we had in 37004. T-54-2 was a medium tank, so it is a rather mid-sized vehicle, but still the thing becomes crowded with details once build. Depiction of everything is clear and not overly crowded on each step, so to avoid confusion and complication. In that regard, the kit is suitable for beginners. However, the workable suspension, tracks and minor details lead to a different conclusion. The Plastic parts The plastic parts of this kit are - of course - the same like on the interiored T-54-2. They are made from the new plastic material and troubles with those should not be expected. Noticeable feature of the kit is the thickness of the parts - for example the turret or the fenders. They are thin enough, which avoids the need for sanding them down or replacing them with Photo-etch material. Nothing is perfect, but MiniArt got pretty close in that matter. Single piece gun barrel, tiny castings, texture on the wood - everything is precise and delicate. Smaller detail might give you some headache with their attachment points, so rotary tool for polishing might come handy. Same goes for the wheels in case you want to damage them. They, alongside the The Tracks are one of the highest points of this kit. On all the T-series from MiniArt they are superbly molded down to the smallest details. Even the castings with the numbers on the track links are there, which are so small, that are hard to be seen. Too bad that they will be hidden beneath the weathering. I have heard some controversial opinions about the tracks. Many people struggle to make them workable. This is mostly due to the over-glueing factor which many modelers suffer from. Myself included. In order to make it tough and sturdy, we apply more glue, which usually is useless. In this particular case - prevents the tracks from working. So be careful when you work with those. Test a few link at first, to see how much glue exactly will you need to keep everything moving. The Decals and Photo-Etch Decal sheet is small, featuring mostly three digit numbers. There is one two-digit and three marking for Fuel, Oil and D-10T - the gun of the T-54-2. They are most likely Begemot decals, but I cannot be certain for that. Just guessing by the looks. I do prefer using masks and in the DN Models store there is a set for Modern Russian vehicles. Although this isn't exactly modern vehicle, you can find that they are pretty similar and can be used. What can be used too, is the set for MiniArt's T-44 made by DN Models for that kit specifically. T-54-2 appeared just couple of years later, so they do correspond to the time and the style too. Photo-etch sheet of the T-54-2 is not big, but it features nice parts. There are the meshes, which are superb as always and the rest is small parts. Many of the PE stuff is so small that only tweezers and magnifying glass will help. On the other hand, the sheet is small because the detail made from plastic is delicate enough and that saved the day. Some people tend to sand their PE parts or their whole sheets before glueing. I do not recommend that with MiniArt. Or, if you do, try to be very delicate. I happen to ruin more than one detail, just because it is too "in scale" or too precise. It is a good thing for detail maniacs, but for work it causes some hassle and attention must be applied. Be careful is all I am suggesting. Conclusion: With total of over 700 parts, 625 plastic, 73 photo-etched and 16 clear ones, this kit is superb. With its workable torsion bars, complex tracks and many sub-assemblies, this kit is not for the beginner. Although, MiniArt tried to make it easier, removing the interior. It is a nice touch, since it is a waste to buy the interior kit and dump all that plastic just because you don't want it inside. Now, we have an option. And what is better than to have an option!? The kit is still one of the best tanks in 35th scale on the market and probably the best from the T-series. We have it with and without interior as well. Pretty much you get what you want, depending solely on your mood and goal. It is true that it becomes a crowded market with many kit variations and options, plus the fact that last couple of years we have similar subjects from different companies, and that makes it even more confusing. But hey, that was the same 30-40 years ago with the TV. From 15 channels, you jumped to 50 or 150 and many didn't knew what to do with so many. But is great to have abundance in that area, especially knowing that 15 years ago this hobby was considered obsolete and dying. MiniArt 37012 definitely worth your attention and it is a must for every T-series collector. I can only highly recommend this T-54-2, with the note that this is for a rather experienced modeler, no matter the lack of interior.
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MiniArt T-54-2 DN Models Review 37004 tank

T-54-2 – MiniArt #37004 Full Interior, New Version.

T-54-2 tank is the first improved variant of the vehicle /T-54 tank/, featuring new wider tracks, different turret, improved armor in the front parts and it lacks the fender’s machine gun. The production started in 1949 and the T-54-2 was produced until 1951, when T-54-3, further improvement of the concept, replaced it on the production line. More than 1200 were built and were used with the Soviet forces, with no records about combat use. There is some information about its usage in some Middle-Eastern conflicts, but nothing that is confirmed. Just rumors. The Box: MiniArt T-54-2 is the second kit that the Ukrainian Company releases in 35th scale from T-54 line. The first one was the initial version – T-54-1. Soon it will be followed by more, but in this article we will focus on kit #37004. It is a full interior kit, packed in a nice big box, with orange sides. This was the first difference that I noted – before with T-44 and the T-54-1, the boxes were red on the sides, and now we have a new color, which probably might be used from now on with MiniArt’s kits. Opening the box, the neat arrangement is the first thing that catches the eye of the modeler. It is a deep one, with barely enough space for everything. That is the reason why MiniArt chose to pre-pack the sprues in separate bags. We have two transparent packages – one for the track sprues, which also holds one engine sprue, and one bigger – holding the larger sprues, the clear parts, photo-etch and decals. The instruction sheet: Instruction sheet in the form of a nice booklet is on the bottom and it is quite thick too. The quality here Is very high and can be compared only to Eduard and Meng booklets. We have color inside, as well as quality tank profiles for the marking options. Also clear depiction of the sprues and the paints to be used. As with the other T- series, the booklet of MiniArt’s T-54-2 features the build of the tank with all of its interior. That includes driver’s compartment, fighting compartment, complete engine and nice goodies like all the ammo and small details, plus active suspension. Sprues in General: We have a nice detailing on the underside of the fenders, featuring photo-etch parts and many other things around the whole build, which makes that T-54-2 one of the best kits available on the market. The texture on the turret and hatches is realistically represented, with welding lines nicely replicated all over the vehicle. Everything is thin and delicate, and requires attention. Another example we have with the track links. On the underside of those we have molded the production markings, which are so small, that you will need a magnifier to see them clearly and up-close. They will remain hidden behind the weathering probably, but in case you want to make a museum piece or not-so-weathered tank, MiniArt kept an option open for you. Fuel lines are great, thin and flexible enough. Made from the new plastic material that MiniArt is using for year and a half now. All small details too. In general, everything looks very promising! The Engine Parts: T-54-2, as T-44, T-44M and other nice MiniArt kits comes with an engine. Very cool one, with little- to no-room for improvement with scratch build. The V-54 engine here is something that you can easily take out of the box /and the context of the kit/ and build it as a stand-alone separate kit by itself. Not surprisingly, MiniArt sells similar engines as a separate item numbers. It is well detailed, all-round plastic piece of art, with all details needed to make a perfect replica of the real V-54 in scale. As suggested, you might complete the engine and install it into the built T-54-2 here, but in my personal opinion, that is the secured way to lose some of the details that comes with the kit out of the box. For me, hiding this inside of the engine bay, with that little visible space left is just a waste of one perfectly looking engine. I would better leave that aside, and close the empty engine compartment, just to show off that V-54 outside.   The DShK sprue: Here aftermarket companies lost the battle. Or almost. A very nice try with the gun made by MiniArt with #37004. Hopefully, not only with it. The gun has some geometry in real life and everything is spread onto one sprue with fine details and little to clean. Properly explained in the instruction sheet and how it should look from the front. That is very nice touch and the only thing I would’ve added is metal gun barrel for the tank and for the DShK. Even though the tank barrel is one-piece part. The Photo-Etch parts: Two thin sheets with almost 100 details on them. Especially nice are the engine meshes. They are very thin and you have to be extra cautious when sanding them if you ever decide to take that risk. Some other small parts like brackets or under fender details are there too. Maybe there could’ve been more, but for me that is plenty! Not many love PE details but nowadays this is a must and MiniArt’s T-54-2 has just enough for the perfect job! Decals and Clear Parts: Clear parts are not the most important thing when it comes down to tanks. Especially older models like T-54-2. Here we have a sprue though, crisp and nice, with periscopes and small details all over it and it is clear enough to use its transparency to brag about. However, we all know that in the real life those parts quickly become dirty and hardly visible on the vehicle, so in case you want to go down the realistic road, you won’t pay much attention to that. The decals of the T-54-2 are another not-so-interesting part of the kit. We have small blue-ish sheet with some small writings like “Fuel” and “Oil” in Russian, as well as some numeric combinations. Decals that comes from MiniArt usually are nothing exceptional and this sheet is like that as well. It isn’t Cartograf, so you cannot expect much from it. It will work fine probably, but I bet that a tank without any markings will do pretty much the same job for you. Marking options: We have 6 in total. They are all from the 50s. All – Soviet/Russian Green painted T-54-2, all with three-number combos on the turret. Some feature additional small decals, but nothing special. The problem with the marking options is that there isn’t much information about this T-54-2 in general. It was quickly replaced by the latter versions of T-54 and T-55 and soon after, T-62. So with such small produced numbers /for a tank of course/, it is no wonder that the marking options are almost equal in appearance and kinda boring. This isn’t anything else but a poor history keeping. Soviets, with their secrecy mania often neglected technological advances of the era, throwing the period into oblivion, not allowing proper documentation to be made. Especially for military stuff. Tanks for example… No pictures, no videos, or if any – the less the better! Conclusion: So we have 1007 parts. 899 from grey plastic and 16 from clear. The rest 92 are photo-etch details. We have active suspension, V-54 engine, one piece gun-barrel, wonderful DShK gun, full stack of ammo /for more than one thank if you ask me!/, full interior and wonderful tracks. Very nice stowage bag, better compared to the previous kits, beneath fenders details, even a shell that is to be placed in the loading mechanism of the gun! Positionable hatches, fuel lines etc. Not so high points are the decals and the marking options, but hey, you don’t get almost perfect kits every day! So I must only recommend this kit. With 1200+ T-54-2 built, this is not so rare tank and has its place in the history. With this kit, which is definitely the best in line of T-54, this is a must for every Soviet armour fan. The price is right and it is suitable for mid- and up-level modelers. Beginners will struggle, but that does not mean that some of the interior cannot be left aside. My verdict – 9 out of  10. Great job! You can get this kit here: MiniArt #37004
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Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 Review DN Models sd.ah.32

Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 with Sd.Ah.32/1 Trailer 1/35

Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 is a German Halftrack based on Sd.Kfz.250 and used as an ammunition carrier. It was built by Demag AG and Wegmann during 1940 and then by Deutsche Werke in 1941. A little over 400 vehicles were built and they saw action at the first stages of the war. The ammo carrier was used to support StuG III carrying 75mm shells, as for that purpose a trailer was designed. It was Sonder-Anhänger (Sd. Ah.) für Munition (7,5 cm) (Sd. Ah. 32/1), and the combination between it and Sd.Kfz.252 is now easily recognized by every StuG III fan, especially those who love the initial versions of the Sturmgeschutz. This kit was missing from the modeling scene for many years, with only 1/72 and resin /1:35/ options available. Dragon released early versions of STUG III recently andquickly realized the need of such an add on to their line. So, several months after their STUG III ausf.E , DML came up with the long awaited new tooling of the small ammo carrier. What we have is a good looking box, not very small, probably because of the Full Interior featured in the Sd.Kfz.252. In 1/35, the vehicle is quite small though. The boxart is very neat, featuring a Sd.Kfz.252 with Sd.Ah 32/1 trailer, re-supplying a Stug III on the background. The fields behind it imply that this is Ukraine, but I am not sure that the vehicles of that kind were sent there. For European theater I am certain though. The back of the box also shows some renders of the model kit, showing some of its highlights. Among those are some PE parts, magic tracks, 7.5cm shells. Full interior is also mentioned, although with the overall size of the Sd.Kfz.252 in 35th scale this is close to a nightmare. It is interesting, because in order to show the interior, the openings of the vehicle are quite limiting. So you either have to do some cutaways, or make a lot of pictures and close it forever. The instruction sheet: At first glance we have typical Dragon Smart Kit sheet. Once opened, the pictures seen show the well known arrangements of the build, which is completed in 26 steps. Once thing I notice is that there are simplified here and there. Usually, we have most of the details of the kit represented and on the mid- and final steps here we have that too. In the beginning though, for whatever reason, Dragon made the vehicle quite simple, track lengths without texture, just two outlines from each side. One can only guess the reason for that.
Check out how simple is everything to the left, compared to the right
One step of the instruction sheet took my attention immediately: this is Step 9, the engine build. There we have different colors and even a short one, it is depicted clearly and differs a lot from the initial ones. Not yet certain are there any mistakes, but I guess there will be. If you continue to read you will find out why I think that. The sprues: We don't have an overcrowded box with the Dragon Sd.Kfz.252, like we are used to with other DML kits. Everything is sealed in separate envelopes and luckily, since the box of my half-track arrived severely damaged. Now, the fact that everything was sealed and that the box contents are rather sparse saved the day! In this particular case it was a good thing. It will ring a bell though, with 410+ parts, full interior and a DML kit, to have such small sprue number. Not necessarily a bad thing though. It might turn out really good once built. What I note is that the quality if the plastic is somehow doubtful. Yes, there are sprues with the well known Dragon plastic. But some of them appears to be different to my eye. Some of the details are perfect, some - a bit chunky. I have no idea is it my immagination here or Dragon changed something with this Sd.Kfz.252. The seats are beautiful, with the springs on the back, the gauges on the dashboard, texture on the seats. But still something is strange. I won't comment anymore here, I will leave you with the pictures so you be the one to judge. The additional parts: In an envelope we have the decals and three add-ons. Those are two photo-etch sheets and a metal tow cable. The smaller PE is 2 x 1cm /!!!/  and represents the bottom of the cartridges which goes in the Sd.Ah 32/1 trailer of the Dragon Sd.Kfz.252. They are optionable, since the trailer doors might be closed when you build the kit. The other PE sheet is bigger: 2,3 x 5cm and holds the grills on the engine hood, some belts and other tiny parts. Both photo-etch sheets very thin and delicate, some of the best that came out from Dragon so far. One of the high points of the Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 set for sure! In the envelope we also find a metal tow cable, described to be 270mm, however mine is 170mm. I am no saying fraud! here, I assume instructions were messed up. Like always with Dragon kits. Sd.Kfz.252 is a rather small vehicle as I mentioned numerous times here and 170mm cable is more than enough. The tracks: Magic tracks with Dragon Sd.Kfz.252!!! Wonderful news, besides the size. As you can see on the pictures shown, we are talking few millimeters here and two parts per track link. Many many track links too. They appears to be workable, although with that size it might be a challenge to keep the pins unglued. I have a certain experience with the Sd.Kfz.251 and Sd.Kfz. 7/2. Tracks are time consuming! Is one thing I can promise you. They are not for the faint hearted or nervous modelers. Nor for a novice. So keep that in mind when scouting for Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 or any other German half-track from Dragon. The decals: We have 4,5 x 6cm sheet here, which as everything else resembles a different scale, not 1/35. On it, we have WH- license plate letters, followed by 1-9 and 0 numbers, total in three sizes. Pretty much every vehicle number you can think of is available, just if you have that information. I doubt that many will find it though, since the vehicle is rare for its time, not to mention the lack of nice pictures with the license plates visible. We have also white outlines for the fenders and the from plate. They are where the mentioned license numbers sits on. The German cross of course, and few emblems, on of which is visible on the boxart. Those decals are NOT replaceable by whatever mask set, so DN Models won't be able to help here. If you wonder why...Way too tiny. Besides, if you don't trust Dragon decals, an aftermarket sets are available for Sd.Kfz.252, if, for whatever reason you want to use some. In my personal opinion, everything is good enough to go just with the crosses and eventually add an emblem or two. The other insignia or numbers can be covered in mud or winter wash. Overall - a good small sheet of decals here. Paint & Markings: We have 4 options. For what I know about the Sd.Kfz.252, it was used in Europe and I am not sure about Eastern front. However, the first glimpse that I had on the boxart reminded me of Ukraine, with that wheat field in the background. For those of you who haven't heard about it, Ukraine is famous for wheat fields and that was one of the reasons Hitler wanted that area and probably it has something to do with the nowadays troubles there. Anyway - proving my point of the boxart, Dragon added options for one unidentified unit in 1943 and three for the Eastern Front. Maybe my boxart impression was correct after all! We have three dark grey vehicles, typical for the era of course. 2/StuG.Abt.243, Eastern Front 1942 Infantry Division Großdeutschland - Eastern Front 1942 StuG.Abt.226, Eastern Front 1942 and an unidentified Unit from 1943 mentioned above, which differ from the rest with its two tone camouflage. I haven't seen any picture of two tone camouflaged Sd.Kfz.252 but I have seen several with Winter Wash, so I assume you can go ahead and proceed with your imagination for all four of those. Not a bad choice for camouflages here and hopefully they are correct ones! Conclusion: DML6718 is one very anticipated add-on to every collection, especially for STUG fans. Among half-track lovers this is also a precious kit, especially the full interior considered. Even small, the vehicle have its own identity, which is without substitute. The plastic quality here is with some unanswered questions, as will be the plastic tires for some modelers. This is mostly because it is a mixed bag of Sd.Kfz.250, Sd.Kfz.251 and new Dragon Sd.Kfz.252. However, the overall appearance and the fact that we have Magic Tracks in the set makes this kit an interesting one. With over 410 parts in the set, the only probable let-down of that Sd.Kfz.252 might be the price. I got mine for $65 delivered, but you can expect that to go around $55 very soon. I might add that the kit is not suitable for a start-up modelers, since it is very little overall. The tracks might cause a lot of fuss - again due to the size. Also painting the ammo. But if you add this Sd.Kfz.252 with its Sd.Ah.32/1 trailer next to Dragon early STUGs, you will have a beautiful set comparable with a painting! If you are a fan of the early days of the WWII, you probably gonna love it!  
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Unboxing Zoukei-Mura F-4J – Phantom II in 48th scale.

F-4 Phantom II is more than a legend. In aviation area it is a major milestone in terms of aerodynamic concepts, operational experience /pilot-rio co-existence/, production standards, export goals and many more. It was designed in the 50s and it is still used today. In a matter of fact, USAF retired its last operational Phantoms just around New Year in December 2016. Greeks and Turks still use it very widely, with Turkish Air Force F-4 2020 version exercising combat missions in Syria against PKK and ISIS. In modeling, F-4 Phantom is pretty much the same titan of existence. There are many of them, in every possible scale popular among the companies, with new toolings being issued every year or so. Latest one - Airfix British Air Force Phantom in 72nd scale was just announced at the Telford Scale Model World 2016. There are several tables dedicated only to F-4 Phantom Builders, with SIGs /Special Interest Groups/ in almost every club possible present at the big shows. Especially in US. There are couple hundred F-4 Phantoms at each show. And if you wonder why, well the jet is a pure legend. That is why. Here, we are going to take a closer look at the most recent 48th scale tooling - Zoukei-Mura F-4J Phantom II. It came couple of years after the Academy Phantom, which is now considered the best in the business. It has better dimensions compared to Hasegawa, which is second-best and probably the most popular 48th scale Phantom on the market today. There are others, but mentioning those two above we pretty much kill instantaneously all the competition in 48th scale. Up until Zoukei-Mura entered the scene. The box: Unlike most of the companies out there who put 14+ to the age deck for their models, Zoukei-Mura added 15+ to theirs. Maybe that was done for several reasons, like sharper parts compared to others for example. Besides the more serious appearance, we have a thick and very nicely executed box. The boxart represents a falling MiG-17, shot down by an F-4J Phantom, a nice SWS /Super Wing Series/ logo and clearly visible 1/48 scale marking. Maybe 1/32 is brewing. Who knows? The box itself compares only to Meng Model boxes nowadays. Rest are left behind. On the sides we have clear pictures on how the Phantom looks built. But make no mistake: this is not Revell's lame looking completed models which scream : "Plastic toy!" from every photo, seen on every Revell box. On Zoukei-Mura's box everything is up to the latest standards. Maybe even setting new ones. There are fragments of the American flag, which completes the picture, giving you the feel of "Made in USA" which is what Phantom stands for. The quality of the top is superb and for the bottom, one must add only it is sturdy and thick. Serious business. I am mentioning that, since Rockin' Rhino from Eduard /a comparable kit for those who hasn't seen it/ has somewhat flimsy bottom and thin top, which for such a set hidden inside is a bit of a let down. Here we have no such thing. Zoukei-Mura's F-4 box is a gem! The clear plastic parts: First plastic that I checked out was the clear parts. Of course, DN Models mask set is a must for such a kit. The clear parts here are very good. We have two sets of canopies. One piece and separated one. The closed one is cool idea, since sometimes the alignment of the separate parts does not show perfect streamline. Zoukei-Mura thought of that obviously. The other one - with the separate parts - looks thinner than Eduard/Academy one, more glass-like looking, but for some reason I felt it to be not so clear. Maybe that was done on purpose and if I haven't mentioned that probably nobody would've noted when checking out a build Zoukei F-4. But I think this should be mentioned. Other than that, everything with the clear material is up to the highest standards. Rivets, lines, thickness - great stuff here! The gray plastic parts: I am gonna go chaotic here and share what I saw in the order I first saw it. But before that I gotta say few words about the plastic. I have no idea where they got it but Zoukei-Mura gave us a wonderful material. It is Softer than Tamiya and Hasegawa, but it is thicker and more sturdy compared to MiniArt. It flexes just enough, keeping its shape right afterwords. Everything on it has deep /enough/ engravings, clearly visible and perfectly molded. First impression that I got from the Zoukei-Mura's new F-4J were the engines. Although they are to remain hidden inside, we have clear depictions on most of the cables, with little left for aftermarket or scratch add-ons. The parts are attached to the sprues in a way that prevents you from damaging them while removing and for very easy sanding. On the same sprue we have clean and smooth air ducts, flexible /I checked since I have my doubts about fitting of course!/, gear struts and nozzles. The struts are also left with some margin for superdetailing but nothing major. Have in mind that Zoukei-Mura will offer metal substitute for that. Even with that, they made them with superb quality from plastic. Nozzles are something that needs improvement. Sorry Zoukei, but I must add here that they are somewhat thick-ish on the feathers, which Eduard eliminated as a flaw with Academy kit, providing resin ones in Rockin' Rhino set. Maybe Zoukei-Mura are about to make an aftermarket set for it but I am only speculating here. They are not bad per se, only thicker. Next thing I checked was the nose. As far as I learned from some fellow rivet-counters /from which I try to stay aside!/ this is the best nose in the business. Nothing beats it in 48th scale. Again - cleverly attached to the sprue, it represents the nice shape and hopefully size of the F-4J distinctive feature. Alongside with it we have slats that are quite nice, which were also checked for flexibility /and passed the test/. Intake plates, which are, in my opinion, one of the highest points of this kit. They have the smallest holes on them, molded with amazing precision. When I first set my eye on them, I thought that Academy and Hasegawa were wonderful, but the "WOW!" factor here blew me away. Delicate, executed with finesse and seems like they are pretty darn close to the original. Wow! Nothing more to say. Then we have pylons with great riveting as well, clear panels lines and so on. Weapons, which probably are good enough OOB, but I am sure that resin companies are already out there, scanning for victims of their own. Although, if you want to go and compete in OOTB category, probably these here will do just fine. The fuselage is two halves - as usual - and the top is a separate piece of plastic, covering the seam on the back of the Phantom. This is not a new engineering decision when it comes down to F-4 and I doubt that is Zoukei-Mura's idea, but it is implemented well and I must give them that. There is superb lines and rivets of several kinds, which breaks the monotone look we know from many other kits. Different size rivets is a must nowadays. The thing I consider a flaw here is the heavy duty plates just behind the nozzles. Zoukei-Mura made them from two parts - actually continuation of the fuselage halves. In Academy, we have the smartest decision possible - made from one piece of plastic, attached to the fuselage. If you wonder why, I'll tell ya: painting those with metalizers, especially Alclad2 paints is a breeze, if we have one piece of plastic. If, on the other hand we have two, then we have seams eventually and they are hard to cover and hide. There are ways of course, but why? Why waste a day just filling the gap in between those with super glue, sand like a psychopath and then and only then spray the metallic paint? I found that useless complication. The cockpit: My oh My! What a cockpit tub we have here! Very close to a resin one, I must tell ya! I would never change that with an aftermarket set. It has everything one might want from a Phantom command center. The deck is very neat, with almost everything visible and almost no room for superdetailing. The gauges are 3D and as good as you can get in 48th scale. Very very impressed by that. Seats are also superb. You can think of getting a resin ones, but with a few hours extra work on those and some scratch building skills, you can easily forget about whatever resin or photo-etch substitute. Honestly - there is no need what so ever. Back to the other parts: Stabilizers are the other think that hit me when I first saw it: they are riveted perfectly, thin and delicate. The slats that are on the real thing are replicated almost flawlessly here. So thin! Trust me when I say so: so darn thin! I still cannot tell about alignment but I trust in Japanese precision. Then the wings which are engineered pretty much as we have them on Academy kit, with similar qualities, maybe a bit thinner and the curves a bit subtle. At first one must thing - they are the same. But most likely not. They have a certain level of finesse that we are lacking when we check out other brands. Truth is, that even with slightest ideas, these parts are better in general. Somewhere with a lot, somewhere with little, but they are superior to any F-4 issued so far. And not in that scale. In any scale. That wraps my comments about the plastic. Now let's move on to The instructions: We have thick-ish book. Black and white, with thorough description. The overall look is inferior compared to Meng Model and Eduard booklets, however it is better than Tamiya and depending on one's opinion, lack of colors and complications might make it better even than those two mentioned above. The overall look of the assembly steps is some mix between Tamiya and Revell. I love Tamiya instructions, but I don't really like Revell. Good thing here is that probably the picture sizes and arrangements remind me of Revell. They do not look bad at all though. What I like here is the color advisory, the way that all things are shown and the lack of useless languages that we see on Meng and some others. English is perfectly fine to be the sole language, and what the heck - let's have Japanese too. But that is all I think we should have. And there we have it here. Pretty simple and effective. In the effort to make their product better are more competitive, a lot of companies overcrowd their instructions and in the end we get a mess in which is easy to miss something. So, good job here too Zoukei-Mura! The Color scheme: Yep, you saw that right. One scheme. Single. With a large sheet A3 in size, color depictions from both sides of it. But only one Scheme. The one seen on the box. Why Zoukei, why? This is torture. But hey, on the Eduard repacks we have many schemes and only one kit to apply on. Why Eduard, why?? You get my point. The decals are Cartograf, same as on Rockin' Rhino. A huge sheet, A4 in size. Pretty neat. Mostly black colors, so the colorful Phantoms which were usual for the era are not present. Otherwise everything is great. But again. Only one option...eh. In conclusion: Super Wing Series are not the most famous amongst modelers but they are one of the best. SWS are for those who have overcome the urge of buying new kits constantly and exchanged the quantity for quality. And this kit is absolute king in the scale and absolute emperor in F-4 theme. So far, F-16 and P-47 in 48th scale were the best kits in 48th scale. I can tell you from first hand. Maybe new MiG-31 from AMK is also in Top 3. But not anymore. We have new leader in that scale. From what I've seen in my modeling life, this 48th scale kit is the best in business. There is nothing that compares to that in 48th scale. Nothing. Nada. Zip. As for F-4 Phantom lovers, such as myself - hey guys, I've built F-4s in 72nd, 48th and 32nd scales and in different options. No better Phantom that this. Yes, not even in 32nd scale. If you go for size, yes. But size is not everything fellas! Quality provided by Zoukei-Mura is high end. One of a kind. Of course, they left a margin for improvement. Providing additional sets. Like decals /only one option OOB??! Come one ZM!/,like metal landing gear struts or weighted tires /that is something useful for sure/, PE cockpit parts /not really an upgrade but a downgrade if you ask me/ and paint sets. The latter one is with Vallejo paints, so honestly - No, thank you! But still, Zoukei-Mura though about it. We have let downs too. We don't have perfect nozzles here. We don't have one piece part of the Alclad2s behind the nozzles. We have decent but not perfect instructions, only one color scheme, no masks for the canopy. But OOTB this is still the best choice. Even compared with Rockin' Rhino /if you wonder why I compare it with that constantly, well it is pretty much the same jet with same decal manufacturer going for the same era/, this is still better. And we have two companies combining efforts: Eduard and Academy, with two types of add-ons: photo-etch and resin there, while on the other hand we have a single company with a pure OOTB kit. So yeah, this beats the Eduard repack as well. Compared just to Academy without the resin nozzles, seats and wheels, no way - Zoukei is far far far better. 338 parts, one sale from Christmas 2016, available from Zoukei-Mura's website. The newest F-4 Phantom tooling. By far the best. And probably for years to come. Hands down to Zoukei-Mura. Dethroned my favorite brand Tamiya with a single swing. Thank you Zoukei-Mura, Thank you Japan! Check out the DN Models mask set designed for this wonderful kit.
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BTR-80A in 35th scale from Trumpeter

BTR-80A is a Soviet wheeled APC designed and developed during the late 70s and early 80s, and entered into service in 1986. It immediately entered the Soviet War in Afghanistan and little by little was accepted by the armies of many countries where it prove to be successful design. The new turret and diesel engine are the main differences compared to the previous models, but not only. All the small improvements like smoke grenade launchers, new intercom system, infra-red sight and many more, made the BTR-80 a lot different than BTR-70 on which it is mainly based. Nowadays it is used all around the World in almost every possible weather condition and war scenario, including UN missions. Therefore, having a model of this vehicle is essential for Soviet/Russian model fans, and Trumpeter gave us a decent one. There is an options from Dragon/Italeri/Zvezda, but they lack the qualities of Trumpeter in almost any way. Trumpeter's BTR series are so far unmatched in design and quality. They released standard BTR-80 in 2013 and an year later, BTR-80A - with a turret and different camo. The kit features interior - although not complete one - with very decent qualities. There is no engine, but the seats for the soldiers are there, as the detailed drivers deck, turret firing system and ammo boxes. The doors and hatches of the vehicle are positionable, which obviously will give you the option to show off the insides once built. There is a lot of room for minor improvements, which are limited only by modeler's fantasy and personal goals. There are over 500 parts, with quality at a very high level in terms of detailing. I must say that this BTR-80 is one of the stars of the Trumpeter's collection. Especially the rims and the upper hull - most of the small moldings there are superb! The vinyl tires are decent but there are already tons of aftermarket wheels for off- on- road options with slightly different shapes and sizes and most importantly - superior quality. The photo-etch is separated in two sheets, not very big but enough to satisfy the basic need. Something that many other companies till omit to include in their new releases. Trumpeter's PE parts are a bit thick-ish but this isn't a problem especially when it comes down to APCs and tanks. Clear parts and decals are very nice, and although limited painting options included /considering the widespread use of the model only, not as a stand-alone kit/ I believe most of the BTR-80 fans will be happy with what's in the box. Here it is important to add the fact, that aftermarket decal companies have flooded the market with several different and unusual options lately, including some from the Syria and Ukraine wars with rather interesting camo schemes. There are also mask sets, including DN Models options /Check the store for Modern Russian Masks/, which are suitable for this vehicle and gives you a wider range of BTRs to recreate in scale. Overall, for the price, this kit is a pretty nice investment. The Trumpeter engineers managed to highlight the most important parts of this kit, the ones that are mostly visible and very attractive. This not only allows for weathering but also for a stunning results in a relatively un-weathered model, just because all the detail needed is already there. BTR-80A, with its turret is the one that I prefer because of the turret and it's overall "combat vision" compared to BTR-80. However both kits are equally nice and it is a matter of preference or, a matter of particular subject. As mentioned above, this vehicle is used Worldwide and almost everywhere, so who knows what one can find once the research starts. With no doubts, I can only highly recommend this kit to any Soviet/Russian model fan. As with all the other BTR series from Trumpeter, this is a spot-on! You can get this kit here: BTR-80A Trumpeter www.dnmodels.com
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