kit prices china future of production scale modeling dn models masks for scale models

Kit Prices and the Future of Production


Prices of the kits that come from China to US are probably going to go up. That might be very soon the case for Europe as well, but that is not the point in the article. Just this morning /December 6th, 2019/, a well respected company for scale modeling re-selling announced that they will raise the prices due to the tariffs that are to be imposed on China. Nothing unexpected, nor nothing overly scary for the regular consumer. You buy kits only every once in a while, its not like one cannot live without them. Its not food or gas.

It deserves respect that the re-sellers are mentioning that in their news stream. That means they care for their clients and they care for what people think about their pricing policies. The issue comes with the fact that kits nowadays are coming mostly from China. Back in a day, kits were Revell, Heller, Airfix, Hasegawa, Tamiya and Italeri. They never offered way too much in terms of variety, but some of them produced decent kits that are still nice up to this day. Those who produced lower quality kits inspired scratch building, home-made alterations and all kinds of art-oriented improvements that showed the true colors of every modeler.

Nowadays we have tons of kits covering every subject and even some that are doubling or tripling on a specific model, just to make more money. They are almost perfect, however with that comes the slow but steady death of the artistic part in the building process, leaving more on the painting and weathering side. Good for some, very bad for others.

The main problem is, that China is not a market that can sustain that production by itself. Those Shermans, Tomcats or whatever are not made for Chinese modelers. Undoubtedly, there are many of them, but it is hard for one to imagine that they stimulate that production. The case is that Western World is the main consumer. To them are all those kits oriented and that is why their subjects are such and such.

Then why the kits are still being produced in China? Why not see high-quality kits from Italeri, Revell or whatever company being designed as well produced on their homeland? Price is the answer.

In that terms, news that re-sellers are about to raise their prices are not bad. Maybe raising prices for the Chinese production kit will stimulate production and improvement of the stuff old players on the market make. If you have similar quality, similar abundance and easy access to a kit, what's the point of paying the same price when you can get it from somewhere else? Because the main reason the production of new and modern kits is coming from China is that China offers the lowest prices for that. 

It is not the best thing to see Zoukei-Mura or Wingnut Wings being made in China. We don't go and buy ZM or WnW because we want to get Chinese quality. There is Trumpeter for that. We buy them because we want something better in all aspects. And it is true that those companies too depend on the market to survive, but the struggle for quality must never step aside just to give way to quantity. Never.

Especially in a hobby where people are all about accuracy, clean and clear production, and precision. A hobby that you need your brain more than anything else so to be successful. 

Before China we had scale modeling. And a good one too. After China we will have it still. But now we are all dependent on their production. We are trapped in an endless struggle between paying less and getting more, which at some point becomes impossible.

Maybe its time for a change. Maybe its time for old companies to take some notes from producers like MiniArt who are produced in ex-communist country, but somehow manage to be competitive even to China. Better in many respects too. Maybe its time to bring all the production where it belongs. Bring it home. Even if we have to pay more for that. And wherever home might be.

italeri mig-23mf/bn already obsolete dn models masks for scale models

Italeri’s 2019 MiG-23MF/BN Combo Set – Already Obsolete? Maybe.


Italery's MiG-23MF/BN in 48th scale is the latest announcement to come from the Italian model maker. Just recently, we discussed MiG-23BN from Eduard, which supposedly should've been very cool and neat Limited Edition set. But not exactly. The reasons for that are many and probably they all apply to this Italeri upcoming release of the MiG-23MF/BN combo. With this start, one might feel already somewhat disappointed on what is coming next in the article. And to some extent - yes, the news are not exactly news and overall what you're about to see is not good.

Italeri's MiG-23 is an old tooling. There was quite a few releases of it before and there is nothing surprising about this set. The price is OK, the plastic is not bad and mostly what you get is typical 90s Italeri feel, which even though not sophisticated, is still pretty good. However in 2019, a re-release of a not-so-decent kit in 48th scale and of such an iconic jet fighter is a sin.

MiG-23 is considered by the critics as a gap filler in between MiG-21 and MiG-29. That is very far from the truth. MiG-23 was a success in many aspects, latest variants of which were competitive to the first MiG-29 variants. The reason for the bad name that MiG-23 received was the fact that the Western World clashed with its third-world variants, which are downgraded and were flown by ill-prepared pilots.

Another reason for MiG-23 to be easily forgotten is the fact that many Eastern European Air Forces dumped it, to keep MiG-21 instead. The reasons for that were purely economical and are considered as a very wrong move made under the financial pressure of the transition period. No, MiG-23 was not less capable fighter or bomber than the MiG-21. But it was tough to be maintained in worthy condition. Expensive too.

Trumpeter made an attempt to start a new line of MiG-23, both in 32nd and 48th scale, but that was a miss. Their kits have major flaws and shape-wise they were almost a disaster. Compared to Italeri and this upcoming kit of MiG-23MF/BN they seemed superior at first glance, but in reality they weren't. What is important to know about MiG-23 that Italeri offers is the fact that it is more accurate in many aspects compared to Trumpeter's release.

italeri mig-23mf/bn already obsolete dn models masks for scale models

If you wonder why such a combo: MiG-23MF and BN, here's to clarify. MiG-23MF that comes from Italeri is almost perfect if you want to do a conversion to the BN variant. The reasons for that are many, but comparing some decent drawings it appears, that Italeri's tooling, is brilliant for such a purpose. It is true, that it lacks the rivets and some of the panel lines need to be altered, but for modelers who are not scared of those modifications, Italeri's MiG-23 is probably the best and the most accurate kit to become MiG-23BN in quarter scale.

What Italeri are about to release with this kit in terms of the nose section of the MiG-23BN is another thing and still uncertain. However we are about to find out soon enough. But the rest is pretty much OK, especially if you'd like to spend some time riveting and doing panel lines over the kit. Especially with the fact that there is no alternative. Or the alternative is not good enough.

Another thing to consider is the variety of options included in Italeri's set. You are getting two-in-one set and with various markings. Actually, the boxart was changed from its original look for whatever reason. First the announcement featured Polish MiG-23MF which is one of the most famous light-gray schemes because of the white stripe on the tail section. Then that was changed from the picture above, to what you can see in the title picture of the article. Was that done for some political, copyright or artistic reasons is a mystery. The first option was better in any case.

italeri mig-23mf/bn already obsolete dn models masks for scale models

Whatever might've caused the change, the kit will feature plenty of options. Including the Polish one, as well as East German and Luftwaffe. And after all, whatever Air Force you might want to recreate, you can easily find decals or masks, but you can never substitute the accuracy of the plastic. Apparently, despite its age, with the Italeri's MiG-23 we have strong competitor to the Trumpeter kit. And for the accuracy maniacs it still presents the better option.

That is the saddest part though. So many decades have passed and we don't know if we're going to get a decent MiG-23 in any scale. More than 5000 were produced, very close the the mighty F-4 Phantom, but despite that the Flogger never came close in terms of fame. Pity, because it is a really beautiful bird. It looks aggressive and with its sweep wing technology it was an icon for its time. Some consider it the best MiG ever made. And maybe they are right.  
f-35c top gun: maverick dn models

F-35C in TOP GUN: Maverick? How about decent kits…

As a continuation of the article about the upcoming movie, here we’re going to point out few updates about TOP GUN sequel. “Maverick” as they say it will be called. I mention this because there is some changes in the production schedule of the movie. Interestingly, those changes are somehow connected with the article that I already wrote about TOP GUN: Maverick.

For whatever reason, they pushed back the release date. Not by a couple of weeks, nor few months, but a whole year. What the official information states is, that the producers wanted the perfect in-flight scenes and that will take time. On the other hand, I have a different theory.


There were rumors about F-35 being the star of the movie. There were speculations about VTOL B version, where Maverick struggles with his adaptation process, drone wars and what not. The latest info revealed F/A-18F Super Hornet as Maverick’s jet. “Captain Pete Mitchell” insignia is already documented on the sides of a specially painted Super Hornet. It has been seen on various locations, while production goes on. So obviously, the Super Hornet is in for good.

Now alongside with that, a bunch of young actors - some appropriate, others not so much – joined the cast. In addition, young female pilot will be featured. That rung my first bell. There were ideas for Goose’s son, probably Iceman’s son, but then the cast expanded. Why? Let me tell you down below what I think is really happening.


tries to limit their comments but the latest we got was tht F/A-18F will play huge part of the movie and F-35 will be involved. Version – not clarified.

So here’s my logic: since F-35C is about to become part of the active NAVY and be used in its full capacity, this should be it. Somehow I don’t see A or B versions involved. Young pilots, plus the female star will most likely fly it. Why? Well, because it is fancy nowadays, to have “Smartphone-Generation” kids being praised as the potential future. They are the new age. And they need a toy that fits accordingly. Plus, in the 80s, when the first Top Gun happened, female pilots were…not there. So many youngsters, a female and what? Put them all in Super Hornets? I doubt it.

Now since we are living in a modern, accepting-all innovations era, we should be seeing F-35 in the movie. What’s in for the US NAVY otherwise? How come they will promote their new Stealth fighter which has very dubious reputation? A lot of countries are somehow attempting to get away from the deals they made and what better option to brain-wash the new generation featuring it in the newest blockbuster movie? And by brain-wash I am not trying to be negative here. Well, at least not completely.


So why Super Hornet? Well, how else will get to see Maverick doing his tricky moves and being cocky pilot that he is? We have to have another crew member. No way around that. But what about the rest of the gang?

What I see is this:

Maverick will train Goose’s son in the Super Hornet, will see ghosts, hold something in his hand remembering his RIO. When things get serious, they will jump in a Growler and go into action. Alongside with the kids flying F-35C. There goes 2020s US NAVY into the spotlight.

A lot of potential candidates to join in the years to come, a lot of F-35 fame all around the world, perfect production, win-win situation for everybody.

So for me, the delay is pretty much self-explanatory. I might be wrong, but I don’t think so. What I trust is that we will see a lot of F-35C propaganda, featuring Super Hornet. Two of the most probable future jets in the US NAVY. Super Hornet is about to be upgraded by Boeing and serve for years to come. A decent movie will help shift public’s opinion for sure. On the other hand, F-35C…. well we all know about that two-decades-old story.

So that turns us back to the modeling side of things. As mentioned in the other article, we have a decent Super Hornets and Growlers available. What we have in terms of NAVY F-35 is limited though. As of September 2018, we have only

So if I am on the right path here, and TOP GUN: Maverick is being pushed to give a chance of F-35C to play a major role, then maybe model makers should monitor the production closely. There will be increased demand. Probably more than that. And it will be all about F-35C. True, the movie comes out in 2020. But planning and executing a model like F-35C with decent measurements and nice engineering won’t be an easy task. Maybe Kitty Hawk, MENG Model, Hasegawa even Tamiya should watch this closely.

F-14 is still being made because of Top Gun movie. Not only of course, it is a legendary jet, but still, the Hollywood fame helped.

One thing is certain: TOP GUN: Maverick will define the next decade in terms of modeling interest. Maybe even the decade after. But as I expect it to be a major success in terms of profits, we are about to see more of it. That’s why it is not called TOP GUN 2.

On the other hand the enemy is still undisclosed. Location- or weapons-wise. With what I see currently, it will be probably somewhere in Asia. Maybe fighting against carrier based Chinese jets? Shenyang J-15 maybe? Or else? Hopefully we’ll get more “bird showing” here and there. Just for the fun of it.

We’re about to see in little over a year from now.


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 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.

Why the Z-M 1-48 Phantom II is such a tempting kit to have

The newest model of F-4J Phantom II in any scale is now for sale and thanks to Zoukei-Mura, we can enjoy now what is called the new approach in the hobby. It comes to newly casted parts with so sharp, crisp and thin details that some of them look like resin details. Other details are so complex and overwhelmed in surface ornaments like rivets and panel lines, that you can easily tell the quality of the kit from just taking a look at the first few parts. There are plenty of other new design approaches that make this kit such an irresistible kit to have. For instance, the cockpit tub and the nose landing gear are assembled together, because they share the same pieces for the walls, while the cockpit floor has numerous details on the other side, which are for the top of the landing bay. Previously, the most typical assembly was to glue the nose landing gear bay to a separately assembled cockpit tub, or the bay itself may be molded to the fuselage parts. Nevertheless, this new F-4J kit has plenty of new features in it! The corrected dimensions of this F-4J are also top notch and they can be found just about everywhere, compared to other F-4 kits. From the width of the windshield to the shape of the intake lips and the volume of the engine cowls – the SWS F-4J boasts a lot of improvements too. So, if you really want to have the most exact and accurate miniature of the real machine – then this kit really is irresistible to have. Next, the amount of details even for a kit in 1/48 scale is overwhelming. The exuberant separate parts for the landing gear bays, the underwing pylons with options for fuel tanks and/or missiles, the meticulously detailed hot section on the tail, the slatted stabilators, the cockpit details – all of these and many other components make the SWS F-4J a very beautifully detailed kit. Then, the real quality of this kit is noticeable from the impeccable fit of the details. This is due to the technologies used for the making of the kit, which ensure the best fit of parts with very complex shapes. Some parts fit in such a way, that the seamlines look smaller than the rest of the normal panel lines. Or else, some parts fit seamlessly and with no need for filling/sanding at all. Overall, the SWS F-4J is just another step closer to the real Phantom II, simply because we are talking about a 1/48 scale copy of the real plane. Otherwise, this kit has a full set of engines, complemented by lots of details and a special attention is turned at the visible parts such as the compressor fans, the afterburners and the piping above the APU doors. This plane has leading edge slats as separate pieces and the flaps are separate pieces too. The canopies can be glued open or closed, the airbrakes too. They are these airbrakes, which are so thin that they almost look fragile, yet in the meantime, they are dotted by frames and rivets. And of course, we are talking about a 1/48 scale F-4J.

Limited Edition Harrier GR.7/GR.9 from Eduard

Unboxing the Harrier The Eduard kit of the Harrier in 1/48 scale is packed in a very small box. Indeed, this was the smallest box of a Eduard 1/48 scale kit that I know, but maybe I`m not aware of something similar. However, when you open the box, it turns out that this Eduard 1/48 Harrier is nothing less than the giant, iconic, the one and only, world`s first VTOL plane, as expected. It features the latest versions of the Harrier – GR7 and GR9. The obviously small box is filled with plastic in such a way that it is one of the major cons of this kit. Check out the further info about it in this unboxing review. The plastic sprues themselves are basically the typical Hasegawa ones, which date back to the beginning of the century. Happily, nowadays Eduard repacked the old sprues to propose a spectacular new miniature of this iconic Harrier, by adding unsurpassed advantages and privileges for the modeler`s ego. This kit is the newest Harrier in 1/48 scale and promises to stay on top of the list with the high quality Harrier kits for quite some time. The new resin and PE upgrades help achieve that, but let`s begin with some vistas inside the box.   In-box review of the plastic materials There are literally more than a dozen different plastic sprues and they are numbered very good with most of the letters from A to Z. The organization of the details is good, but they are not well protected, which causes a potential danger of scratches, friction indentations or even broken parts. There is one sprue only with tiny little details, which are extremely vulnerable. Unexpectedly, some of the biggest parts of the fuselage are also scratched and there is further info about it in the cons section of this unboxing review. The plastic itself is a light grey plastic and is relatively soft, which personally to me is something that I like, because it can be easily carved and manipulated. The texture of the plastic parts is basically missing, because most of the parts are big, glossy, shiny and the lack of rivets and panel lines can be noticed at first glance. Yet there are few exceptions such as the airbrakes, which are beautifully riveted, and a few others. The Harrier may not have too many visible rivets and panel lines, but they are there. The good thing is that the plastic is soft and easy for… Yeah, this model desperately needs rescribing and riveting improvements. I will add some texturising as well, which is something like my favorite technique for weathering before assembling the model. Check out the DN Models blog for the complete“Assembling the Harrier” article, for more insight into my endeavors to optimize the texture of this 1/48 scale Harrier. The plastic materials grab the attention with basically nothing, but that`s only at first glance. An in-depth stroll through the plastic sprues shows some really nice and beautiful hints that Eduard or Hasegawa (I don`t know) bring to us. I call them “special parts or special areas” and are something like optional parts, very detailed parts, details with irregular shapes, strange-looking details…  The small vertical stabilizer was one of these parts. The sprue with the intake parts too, because the compressor`s first stage is actually part of the intake. The sprue with the ordnance and the weapon pylons are also remarkable, because this Harrier can be made with all the pylons, which are not a few. Then, the sprue with the clear parts – except for the canopy, there is a myriad of tiny little transparent gizmos and gadgets, which I don`t exactly know where to mount. Of course – a small bag with 4 black rings, which are rubberlike parts dedicated to the ends of the two links inside the fuselage in order to make the four nozzles to rotate snugly. In brief, the plastic is good from a historical point of view, but it`s not bad also. Needs a lot of improvements, but the greatest of them are provided by Eduard. Unboxing of the Eduard surprises
  • The photo etched parts are spread over two medium-sized sheets, featuring parts for both the interior and exterior of the Harrier. Just beautiful. The seat will be decorated with seatbelts and even with cable imitations out of photo etch. Perfect. The instrument panel and the side consoles are blessed with dozens of small photo etch upgrades, and some of them are very interesting to make by stacking two PE pieces on top of each other. The screens have three layers for an even more immersive effect. The Harrier will become a real masterpiece with so many sharp and pre-colored details, especially if you choose to display the canopy open. I think about making it movable. Will see. The exterior PE parts provide a lot of improvements too, ranging from the stabilators` plates, to tiny hooks, antennas, pods and other small things.
  • Resin. The Eduard`s “Brassin” resin upgrades are the second indispensable advantage of this 1/48 scale Harrier kit. There are resin parts only for the seat and for the wheels, but that`s enough if you plan to display the Harrier with the landing gears down, because they are quite visible. The Harrier is famous for its large, spacious and light cockpit, and if you leave the canopy open – the resin seat will become a spectacular sight to witness, along with the…
  • Masks. Eduard also reduces the time for assembling this kit by providing some pre-cut masks. They are very handy and useful, and guarantee long straight shapes of the canopy frame, as well as sharp circular shapes with the exact size of the peripheries of the wheels/the tires. If the masks are carefully applied and detached, they can easily be stored and reused for further Harrier projects without pre-cut masks.
Into the decals The high quality of the Cartograf decals is another major highlight in this 1/48 scale Harrier. Then, you may notice that most of the instrument panels and the screens in the cockpit have PE upgrades, as well as optional decal upgrades. Or else, you could apply PE parts on top of decals… who knows. These decals provide that freedom of choices, which are unsurpassed if you want to put lights in your 1/48 scale Harrier model and the light should penetrate through all the knobs, buttons, screens, etc. The big decals are bright and colorful, the small decals are almost invisible. There is only one sheet of decals, which looks not so huge, but the decals should be sufficient for the Harrier. The only better thing than high quality decals, are decals for 6 different Harrier airframes:
  • Harrier GR.9, ZD406
  • Harrier GR.7, ZG479/69A
  • Harrier GR.7, ZD464/54
  • Harrier GR.7, ZD379/27
  • Harrier GR.7, ZG501
  • Harrier GR.9A, ZG478/68
  Pros and cons of this Eduard Harrier in 1/48 The imperfections are a lot, but let`s face it – the numerous great advantages are not an exception too! Let`s start with the CONS however:
  • Rough ailerons and flaps. Nothing short of imperfections. That doesn`t even covers it. The real plane has “coverings” on top of the control surfaces that provide a smooth transition to the wings, while in the model – there are gaps or huge seamlines, which will stay that way after the weathering. These control surfaces are also molded together with the wings, so if you want to display the Harrier in a VTOL mode – it`s recommended to cut the flaps and glue them in a lowered configuration. It`s easily doable, thanks to the thin almost transparent seamlines, but some concealing challenges of the joints will be required. Also, when lowered, the flaps are extended quite significantly, so you will have to add a good amount of surface to the flaps.
  • Lack of rivets and panel lines. If you think that the GR.7 and the GR.9 Harriers are new planes and so they should be smooth and clean, without visible rivets – hmm? I doubt about it. Of course it is a matter of personal taste and preferences, but every plane has rivets and panels. Perhaps the long legacy of this kit is the reason for the simplicity of the plastic surfaces, but some major riveting/rescribing is highly recommended.
  • The main wheel bay doors are closed. They are molded together with the fuselage, which is good if you make a flying Harrier with the landing gears inside. However, the Harriers on the ground or in a VTOL mode are with lowered gears. The interesting thing is that I came across photos where the bay doors are closed, as well as photos where the doors are open, both in a situation with lowered landing gears. In all cases, the beautiful wheel bays of the Harrier with their labyrinths of cables and tubes are not presented in this kit.
  • Not the perfect packing. It is understandable for a kit in the lower price class, but the packing looks kinda neglected, maybe because of the enormous amount of plastic stuffed in such a smaller box. There is no individual plastic wrapping for the sprues, which caused some scratches and friction indentations onto the surface of some details. It`s nothing major and it even looks like texturizing or some kind of weathering, but this is a matter of luck. There is a great chance that some parts can easily be bent, broken or detached from the sprue gates. The tight packing doesn`t deny the free movement of the parts. And there are clear parts along with delicate photo etch sheets in this overfilled box. The boxart is very simple, but it`s beautiful.
  • Lack of pilot. The Harrier in a VTOL or flying mode with a ghost pilot? Luckily, I have an extra pilot from my Eduard`s 1/48 F-15C model, which is suitable for the Harrier seat. But an aftermarket pilot figure is required if you really want to display the Harrier in the air.
  • Thick trailing edges of all control surfaces. They are just too thick, while they have to be almost sharp as a knife when reduced to 1/48 scale. So, a lot of scratching and sanding are required if you are a perfectionist.
  • Bad fit between the nose and the air intake. After a few dozens of test fits, you will notice that the shaft that goes through the intake fan and passes through the bulky part of the cockpit, fits not perfectly with the center of the fan. It is slightly offset, which causes the entire nose of the plane to pitch up, which slightly rises the nose gear according to the rear gear and thus changes the way the Harrier sits on the ground. Not to mention that it compromises the true silhouette of the Harrier. So, a little modifications between the nose section and the air intake are required.
  The PROS of this kit are mostly in the PE/Resin surprises from Eduard, which replace a good amount of the plastic details – something that this kit desperately needs. It`s not quite a big amount of PE and Resin parts, but they are from Eduard and are the best, and include parts from the interior and from the exterior of the Harrier, which are essential for its overall final look. The other Pros of this Eduard 1/48 Harrier kit are:
  • The flaps and the ailerons can easily be lowered/moved. They are one with the two halves of the wings, but the joints between the flaps/ailerons and the wings are so thin that they look transparent. Note that the joints are not small – they are quite big gaps, which is far away from the reality, however – they are quite thinner than the surrounding thickness of the plastic. This means easier cutting, sanding, reshaping, adjustments and other improvements in order to lower them.
  • The white coil on top of the canopy is a decal. It is just one small decal that beautifully imitates the cord on top of the canopy. Ideally, just water is required to apply it for avoiding plausible discoloration due to the chemicals in the decal set solutions.
  • 100% LERX and 65% LERX provided in this 1/48 scale Harrier kit. There are airframes in the kit that are fitted with the bigger part, as well as Harriers that have the smaller LERX. Honestly, if you are not familiar with the Harrier – it would be impossible to notice the difference, but if you know what we talk about when we talk about Harriers – then the big LERX is quite a big difference.
  • 4 individually moveable nozzles. This is another great point that brings this Harrier kit closer to the realm. Each nozzle is fitted in a small rubber-like ring, which allows smooth rotation inside the nozzle nacelles. A little bit of “interior” modifications and you can make the nozzles to rotate 2 by 2, or to synchronize them to rotate all together.
  • Slightly offset vortex generators. These are the numerous little pieces near the top of the leading edges of the wings and are slightly angled– just as they should be. The difference can barely be seen in the bare plastic, but after painting and weathering – these vortex generators will become “one” of the most visible parts of the wings.
  • Acetate films for behind the screens of the instrument panels. The cockpit of this Eduard 1/48 Harrier is spectacular with all the PE and Resin upgrades, but this little acetate films are just another awesome hint in the overall cockpit enhancement. The screens will acquire a much more realistic shine after sandwiching the acetate films in two PE pieces.
How I envision that this Harrier will look like The airframe will probably be ZG478/68, so – a GR.9A Harrier. The double-cross of Lorraine first looked to me quite religious and not appealing for a plane, but after examining it in Wikipedia, I found out that it symbolizes liberty and victory. Add the amazing red contrast on a white tail, and you will get a picture perfect appearance for a scale model. Mitko also suggested me a few striking reference photos of this exact plane, so at this moment – there is no doubt, the airframe will be the F option: Harrier GR.9A, ZG 478/68. My vision for the final display of the model is again for 2 models in 1, like my KittyHawk 1/48 F-35B model. I will make the landing gears to move up and down, the canopy will slide back and forth too. There will be a pilot inside the cockpit, so the imaginary display of the model will be as a plane in VTOL mode with lowered nozzles, flaps and landing gears. The plane will be displayed on a stand and on top of a long pylon, so when everything is retracted – it will look like a flying Harrier. Perhaps with the ailerons slightly in opposite directions and… I don`t know yet. The nozzles will be moving too and I plan to make a special reduction gear mechanism with a flywheel, which will be connected to the first couple of stages of the compressor rotor. A hidden cord inside the airbrake bay will spin the flywheel and respectively the visible part of the compressor will rotate, but I`m still not sure if it will work. Because the engine of this exact plane is basically in the middle of the airframe and maybe the Harrier is the plane with the clearest visible compressor, and thus it should look gorgeous on a macro photo when one can see deep into the compressor, instead only the first compressor stage. Just a tip – follow the DN-Model`s Blog! We discussed with Mitko that I should separate the Assembly Article in several parts, but I don`t know if he will publish it partially or at once. Maybe the first update will come soon… and maybe the rotating compressor “thing” will be one of the first things to make. Another highlight that I plan to do is to make the Harrier with attachable-detachable loadouts. It has so many pylons and they are great for variations. Implementing magnets and a lot of scratchbuilt hinges and other mechanisms for the moving parts will be required. Beside from sticking to the instructions, I will texturise the entire plane, will add a lot of wiring, tubing, extra detailing, and will apply my favorite pre-metalizing method during the painting. Stay tuned to the DN-Models blog to follow the latest updates about this Harrier, and happy modelling! You can get this amazing kit here: Limited Edition Eduard Gr.7/Gr.9 And DN Models mask sets for it here: Arctic Camo + Canopy and Wheels Canopy and Wheels Only  

MiG-21PFM vs. A-4E The Sound of … Vietnam

Eduard constantly surprises us with wonderful repacked kits. They are not only in new boxes, but sometimes elevated to another level, with metal or resin parts, great decals options or dual combos. Recently, they re-packed into super-kits several F-4 Phantoms, utilizing the Academy new tooling, alongside with their fine Brassin and Photo-etch lines. That was great, and then they did even more for the Vietnam Air War fans - they released Vietnam Scooters - repacked Hasegawa A-4 with new and amazing decals and a lot more goodies. I almost bought the last one, because I wanted an A-4 to be converted into a Top Gun Aggressor but decided to wait a bit, hoping that they will hit us with Aggressors set - again repacked A-4 from Hasegawa. Instead, Eduard did better. They announced a limited edition kit called "The Sound of Silence". Inside - two aircraft /so Dual Combo/ - a MiG-21PFM and an A-4E. First being Eduard's nearly perfect -21 tooling and the latter: Hasegawa so-far-unsuppressed in quality A-4 tooling. So far a hit, you might say. Things don't stop here though. This is a VERY Limited Edition kit, and as far as my attempts go, it was unobtainable from regular Eduard dealers. Only Eduard themselves. Even cooler than that is the fact that there are to be only 1000 of these on the market. 999, considering the one we are reviewing here. But yes, the good news doesn't stop here. So, let's take a look inside of the box, to see what we are dealing with actually: The box comes in a sky blue colors, without the typical Eduard screeming colors. Eduard is not spelled properly but EduArt instead. This is no coincidence, and a few rows below you will see why. Opening the box shows up several plastic bags, separated properly to show two different kits. First we have light gray plastic in two bags /clear parts inside of them too/, which represents the A-4E. A little white paper states that this is Made in Japan, and it is IMPORTED by Eduard. Or EduArt. The other three plastic bags inside holds dark grey plastic of Eduard's MiG-21 sprues /2 bags/ and the clear sprue for the transparent parts. This is the well known MiG-21PFM from the -21 Eduard /Edu8237/ series, which is second to none in the business. It is absolutely the same thing which they sell as a single Profi-Pack MiG-21PFM. On the bottom of the box, there are a cardboard leaflet, photo-etch parts, a bag of resin materials, decal sheet and masks. Masks are for both aircraft, common for Eduard high-end kits. Photo-etch parts for the MiG-21PFM include the cockpit deck and sides in colored etch material and brass colored PE parts for additional add-ons on the plane. A-4E photo-etch sheet is only one, mostly cockpit details, again colored. On it, there is engraved lettering: "Vietnam Scooters". Most likely it was taken from Edu1197, limited edition set that I mentioned above. Nevertheless, the quality of all the PE materials is superb, typical for Eduard. I consider them the best in that business. There is a bag with two resin parts. Those are for the A-4E Skyhawk seat. It is very nice to have that, since the OOTB seat is not exactly up to today's standards and that way Eduard makes this a truly Superkit, with PE, Resin, Masks and beautiful decals in one box. As for the decals: The are printed in Cartograf - Made in Italy - and are very high quality. Again - this is the best decal company in the World. /If you are following me here, you will see that Eduard packed mostly "the Best" in the business into this box/. They feature 60% technical markings, mostly for the MiG-21PFM fuselage, wings, pylons and rockets. Duh! The rest are markings for the Vietnamese Air Force /which are not that much/ and the colorful decals on the A-4E, which are typical for the era and are truly inspiring. Overall the decal sheet is large but with very thin decals, so with the quality we are getting from Cartograf its all a matter of time and nothing more. The cardboard leaflet is with short description of the idea of the boxart and the Vietnam air war. Basically, we have fully loaded A-4E on a typical bombing run over Vietnam, chased by an intercepting MiG-21PFM. That was common during the late 60s, where this supposedly happened.  The leaflet represents smaller version of the boxart, which is created by Koike Shigeo. He is well known for his work on Hasegawa boxarts, famous mostly with almost photographic accuracy. Made in Japan again. Enough said. Here we come to the most important thing of the kit.
the leaflet
It came packed in a huge box, the size of a 3rd of a laundry machine packing. That is because the bonus with this 1000 pcs Limited Edition EduArt beauty is not the dual combo set, nor the PE or the Brassin. It is an A2 sized Art from Koike Shigeo, same as seen on the box. It is carefully packed in a cardboard envelope a little over A2 size. This is for you to frame and hang on the wall. It is big, beautiful and accurate. All characteristics, which implies price. Such aviation art is often quite expensive, like $500 or more, and here we get it as a bonus. Oh my! Eduard...or EduArt! That poster alone worth the money I spent for the kit, which actually is pretty affordable. I got the PFM as a stand-alone kit recently, and if I oughta bought the Vietnam Scooters set, I would've payed more than buying "The Sound Of Silence" dual combo + aviation art. Tricky! In the same time the best scale model investment for me for the last 5 years. Just perfect! I won't spend much time explaining the qualities of each kit here, they are widely discussed. Also, on my YouTube channel, you will be able to find review of the PFM, PF and many others from the MiG-21 line quite soon. I am pretty sure if it comes down to buying this kit, you are well aware of what you will be getting. I must conclude though, that this set is a great deal. Investment wise as well. With only 1000 pieces on the market, it will very soon worth 2 or 3 times the price and if Eduard does not re-release that in the near future, in a decade...who knows!? Thanx to Eduard for this wonderful present to the modeling society, A-4E & MiG-21PFM and Vietnam Air War fans. It is great to have such company in the modeling world. Czechs must be very proud! Visit Eduard store, and hurry up! There will be no kits left soon...

Saab Draken – Eduard vision for Hasegawa kit

Saab Draken is a very special aircraft for me. It was one of the first built model kits that I've seen in my childhood. The version I saw was 1/100 and I cannot tell who was the manufacturer of it. What I remember was poorly painted airplane, with extremely attractive design /that was mid 1980s/ and fogged canopy. Whatever the case was, I was fascinated by the model, by the plane and even by the assembly. Looking back now, I understand that it was less than mediocre built, but it was my first view of such a thing. In 2008 Hasegawa announced their new-tooling Draken and I was very fast buying one, but just before I started building it, one fellow fighter pilot begged me for it, and I parted with it. I made a good choice, because after a while Hasegawa started flooding the market with numerous versions of it, each one better that the previous one. They featured nice schemes, bright colors and everything that you might think of in terms of "fashion". Well, I haven't bought any of them since, but this summer Eduard was pleased to announce their own view of what a perfect Saab Draken should look like. They got the Draken from Hasegawa and repacked the thing, adding their own spices. Masks are the first thing to notice of course. Then photo-etched cockpit and engine parts comes around. After that, the necessary cockpit details and wheels from resin, which are the best add-on to the kit in my opinion. And lastly are the decals from Cartograf. This is one of the add-ons which will be among the most welcomed. The Saab Draken kit is going to be a Limited Edition of course, but we cannot be certain is it going to be the last Draken on the line. However, it's not worth risking and missing this kit, so knowing what we have in the Hasegawa box, and knowing the usual high quality of Eduard's stuff, I can highly recommend it even before I got my own piece!

Airfix Ju-87 B-1 – new tooling Stuka

Airfix recently announced a new tooling of the famous Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber. It is B-1 version and on the render picture it looks stunning. Airfix have recently changed their approach to model kits, and they seem to have started to work with China. All their new tooling resemble newest Chinese kits, plastic too, and it is not a secret that probably that was their only option for survival. Their 1/24 Typhoon was a hit, but many modelers experienced some troubles while building that. However, we can hope that this is not the case with their Ju-87 B-1. On the other hand, this is very tricky subject, because of the many enthusiasts around and the fair amount of available kits which have been already evaluated in every possible way. They were compared with drawings, pictures, one to another and so on, which was with the sole purpose to give us the ultimate kit. This is almost impossible, because it is some sort of an unicorn, but some companies come really close these days. So new tooling Stuka from Airfix is on the way. And the question is not how detailed it is, because it will be good. Not how crisp the parts will be, because this is guaranteed. The question is - how it compares to the Stukas that are already out there. They have been exploited in every possible way showing their highs and downs, and we know what are they correct in, or where they are not satisfactory. So, if Airfix managed to somehow fix their flaws, and keep up with their bright sides...well, then we will have it. We gotta wait and see!