arctic splinter aggressor hornet kinetic dn models masks for scale models

Arctic Splinter Aggressor from Kinetic in early 2020

 

Arctic Splinter Camo scheme in 48th scale was released by DN Models as a mask set quite a while ago. Our line of Aggressor camouflages covering most interesting camo schemes on the market was somewhat incomplete without a proper Hornet among them. That was a mask set that was accompanying our ATARS Tiger camouflage, which was surprisingly released from Kinetic as a part of their Gold Series not so long ago. We knew from the very first release of Kinetic's new Hornet that ATARS set will be included somewhere along the line, because the ATARS pod was on the sprues from the beginning. However we never imagined that part of the Kinetic line will feature kits that match exactly our mask releases.

arctic aggressor hornet dn models masks masks for scale modelsarctic aggressor hornet dn models masks masks for scale models

This was done a while ago with DN Models' Masks. Jarek was very kind to allow us to use those.

Kinetic's latest announcement is coming as another surprise with Arctic Splinter Aggressor scheme, about to be on the shelves in January 2020. It will be basically the same good Hornet that they offer, inspired by the demand by the modelers and probably the fact that the upcoming Top Gun Maverick movie will feature Hornets /although Super/. Kinetic are not stupid, they know that people will start paying more attention to all Hornet variations soon enough.

And what better option than a proper Aggressor Hornet, Top Gun-inspired camouflage combined with a contemporary tooling and good decals?

Camouflage Paint Masks for F/A-18 Hornet Aggressor/Adversary VFC-12 Fighting Omars 1/48

It is hard to miss the fact that Kinetic are releasing kits that match some of DN Models' mask sets, with some decent delay. It is something that may be a pure coincidence. It may be as well inspired by the demand, because modelers all around the World admire and love Aggressor paint schemes. Whatever the case is, we at DN Models are way ahead of their game. We released the Tiger ATARS before them /check for a full video below/ and we did the same with the Arctic Aggressor a while ago. And we are more than happy that Kinetic are getting up to speed with their own releases, because that will give modelers the best possible combo of kit and aftermarket mask sets so they can complete their kits more easily and straight-forward.

arctic aggressor hornet dn models masks masks for scale modelsarctic aggressor hornet dn models masks masks for scale models

Check Jarek's Facebook Page. He is an amazing modeler!

One thing you must be aware of though: most of the companies do not pay much attention on the accuracy of the camo schemes they publish. We, on the other hand are all about that. And if you want to be sure that your scheme will match the real deal, follow our mask set offerings' instructions. We made sure that we are as close to the real aircraft as possible. We try to always do our homework.

What Kinetic are about to offer with their new Aggressor release, is another subject. And we will soon find out. Is their camouflage will match the real thing is just an aspect of the whole thing. How many options will be included is another. And hopefully that won't be their last Aggressor along their F/A-18 line. Nor they won't limit themselves to the Legacy Hornet only and we will see the "Super" soon. From our end at DN Models, well, you can expect a lot more on the Hornet subject. Both - Legacy and Super. And most likely we will be again - the first to offer them. But nevertheless, the others, like Kinetic in this case - are more than welcome to follow!

www.dnmodels.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e26XItNYICc
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Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 1/35 by ICM

The Hanomag

Although manufactured by Hanomag, Skoda, Horch and others, the Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack became known simply as “The Hanomag”. This is probably the most recognizable infantry vehicle of the Second World War. It is like that because it is one of the most numerous – more than 15 000 were built and widely used by the Wehrmacht. There were four different modifications of Sd.Kfz.251 and each of them had sub-variants, totaling more than 20 options based on the original design.

The initial idea was quickly developed and expanded, and from simple troop carrier, the Hanomag turned into a platform for many various roles, such as reconnaissance, support, communication and fightning. With that said, it is pretty clear that such a vehicle has to have various options for scale modeling purposes as it did in real life, and in fact it does.

There are many boxings available as of today. From AFV Club, through Zvezda, Tamiya, Dragon and Revell. All in 35th scale. Dragon and AFV are considered the leaders when it comes down to 251, but is that going to last? Here, we’re going to take a look at a new offering, this time from ICM which is on the market for less than 12 months. It is fresh and it comes from an Ukrainian model maker with a good name and reputation. So without further ado, let’s take a peak in the box.

Boxing

ICM provided a very nice and freshly looking box, with bright sky and spring grass, over which a Sd.Kfz.251 just rolled on. It is a part of a fighting scene, but it looks vivid and pleasant, lacking the grim appearance that we are used to. The box itself is not big, and it looks smaller than some 72nd scale offerings. Compact and cozy when you peak inside.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

Once removing the lid, there is a box made of cardboard which is with closed top, something that few companies choose as an option. Inside, there is an envelope holding the sprues and all that provides pretty secure packing for this rather small vehicle. On the bottom there is an instruction sheet, with the small decal sheet inside of it.

Everything is packed so one can easily open everything and then put it back in and most importantly, close the box afterwards. Some of you might think this is a joke, but lately, many models are crammed in their boxes, which often times leads to unwanted damages and even without them – to unpleasant bulges of the original packings. Then, to more complex stashing.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

Instructions

The instruction sheet is in a form of /approx./ an A4 booklet that starts with basic info about the Hanomag and ends with the color schemes that you can choose from. The information is sparse, but considering that some makers lack such page completely, we have to give it to ICM.

Once the build starts, everything is clearly depicted and logically arranged. There is no unnecessary complications, nor too many explanations accompanying the steps. There is color here and there, but it is only a guidelines in red and nothing way too motley.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

From the instruction sheet one can quickly grasp that the kit is thought of inside and out. There is an engine, nice suspension, interior features and details even where you have to stuck a dental mirror to enjoy. ICM did leave some space for aftermarket producers to intervene, but OOTB is pretty satisfactory detailing with this Sd.Kfz.251. It is an open bed with this vehicle and that attention was mandatory for every company with self-respect. Great job from ICM if you ask me.

This detailing and attention is all over the whole build and it concerns every element. Something that if you don’t get from the pictures of the instructions, you will easily get looking at the plastic. And as far as the paint options go at the end of this sheet, we will get back to that later in the article.

Plastic

The plastic is light gray and looks pretty decent at first glance. It is flexible, but not soft to the point where it might cause troubles. On the sprues there are no elements that are moulded with embedded tension, but even if there were, the material allows for corrections. That is encouraging, especially when someone gets an ICM kit for the first time. The price of the kits from the Ukrainian manufacturer is rather low, so the good news here are that this is not based on the lack of quality.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

The details are all over and very intriguing. Nothing is overdone with this kit, nor too complicated. Just the contrary. For me it is inevitable to compare ICM with MiniArt, since they both origin from the same country. My conclusion is that ICM is more user-friendly, although MiniArt offer a lot more sophistication. With that said, I must add that MiniArt, especially their tanks are not suitable for beginner modelers, while this Hanomag here will be just fine in the hands of inexperienced modeler. And since we are talking sprues here, the quality is similar at first glance.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

The other parallel that has to be drawn is between companies that already offer Sd.Kfz.251. In my opinion, only Dragon offers better kit as a whole and if we talk solely about the plastic, AFV club are also very good in terms of material. Zvezda not so much and Tamiya does not have better detail compared to ICM. So all in all, everything comes down a personal preference, availability and likeness of any particular manufacturer. One thing is certain – ICM Hanomag hit very hard with this release.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models The tools and wheels are very nicely moulded, with thin details and nice engravings. There are many small parts too, which show a certain amount of devotion from the Ukrainian model maker and promises a straight-forward building when you add the instructions and the sprues in one equation. Especially interesting are the radios, the floor corrugation, wheel details and weapons. Overall conclusion about the plastic – fascinating!

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

Rubber parts/Tracks

The rubber parts are the front tires and the tracks. The tires are logically made from that material and look decent. Although not the best choice, the material is acceptable. The tire deformations will be a tricky thing to replicate, but that is not the worst thing with this kit.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

The real let down comes from the fact, that the tracks are made from this same material. Vinyl tracks are possibly the worst thing that can happen to an experienced modeler. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, ICM picked the vinyl as an option. Same thing happened with other Sd.Kfz. 251 makers, but this is the newest tooling of them all, so such a choice is not reasonable to me. Of course, substitutes for both the tires and the tracks are available, but that’s beyond the point here. The vinyl tracks would not be well accepted by experienced builders and they even might spoil the purchase for some. The thing is, that in order to really make this a great kit, you will need aftermarket tracks. And since ICM already started a line of Sd.Kfz. 251s, I wonder, how long it will take before they offer a set with plastic tracks as an optional add-on. Such thing will somewhat redeem the situation with their Hanomag line. And if they decide that they won’t offer such a set, most likely somebody else will.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

Decals

We have a small decal sheet. It is a blue base, with the ICM logo in the bottom corner. I cannot suggest who made the decals, but there are options from producers that come from Ukraine, so it is either of them probably. Nobody complained of the quality so far.

There are a couple of Wehrmacht license plates, few crosses and few other smaller items on that sheet. Nothing major. Nice quality, thin carrier film, barely visible. For the crosses it is certain, that masking out and painting the crosses will be the better option, but for the small items and the license plates, the decals are still the best possible option.  Probably the only one too. It is worth mentioning that there are plenty of aftermarket decal producers for the Hanomag vehicles, so even if you are not happy with those, there are plenty of other options too.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

Paint Options

All the four vehicles included in this set wear dark grey camouflage, typical for early Wehrmacht vehicles.

  • Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. A 1.Pz.D. France, May 1940
  • Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. A 2.Pz.D. Greece, May 1941
  • Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. A 1.Pz.D. Russia, July 1941
  • Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. A 1.Pz.D. Russia, November 1941

They look equal, although for me, the vehicle used in Greece is of particular interest. There are interesting fragments of history when it comes down to German invasion of Greece and there will be options for recreating an interesting vehicle or diorama based on that. Of course, France and Russia will offer plenty too, especially the last option, which might be done with winter camouflage as well.

Sd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale modelsSd.Kfz. 2511 Ausf.A Hanomag Halftrack 135 by ICM dn models masks for scale models

Conclusion

This is the first Sd.Kfz.251 that ICM released and that was less than a year ago. Since then, the Ukrainian model maker have expanded their line and it seems like this is just the beginning. With more than 20 variations of this vehicle and the fact that it was produced in huge numbers, the options are limitless. Hopefully ICM will exploit the subject deeply.

The kit is very good out of the box, with the tracks being its only serious let down. However, the amount of detail and the overall quality covers for that to some extent. There are interior elements, engine, nice tiny little details and great attention to the small and intricate pieces of the real vehicle, that make this kit truly shine.

The reasonable price is another major plus for this ICM release and I trust that it will be well accepted overall. There are plenty of aftermarket options for the tracks, tires and a lot of photo-etch, which can alter this kit to another level easily. ICM provided a superb basis suitable for very wide range of modelers, which make this a great choice for Hanomag fans. The beginners can enjoy it OOTB, while for the more experienced, there is a lot to be used to upgrade it. Great job from ICM!

Definitely one of the nicest options of Sd.Kfz. 251 on the market today.

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RUMPETER F-117A NIGHTHAWK 1/32 dn models masks for scale models

Trumpeter F-117A Nighthawk – 1/32

by Mr. Milan Mitev

The F-117A Nighthawk is one of the best stealth aircraft ever and this is primarily due to its unique faceted shapes. That’s exactly what makes it one of the most recognizable among the US aircrafts too. For modelers, it is available in different scales and it can be sourced by a number of kit manufacturers, however, the Trumpeter’s F-117A Nighthawk in 1/32 scale is the best kit among others and now I’ll explain you why.

tRUMPETER F-117A NIGHTHAWK 32 dn models masks for scale models

During the unboxing of the kit, it is easy to notice the magnificent packing regarding sturdiness, size, arrangement and safety. The thick cardboard illustrates a flying F-117 at dawn or dusk, and plenty of white spots are visible throughout the glossy box. At first glance I thought that these are scratches or some imperfections on the surface but actually they are tiny little stars everywhere. The box is very beautiful. Inside, we have an even more beautiful sight – the giant fuselage of the F-117 held in place by two huge cardboard pieces. The two huge plastic parts of the fuselage (top and bottom) can’t move at all so it’s safe to say that the packing is perfect.

tRUMPETER F-117A NIGHTHAWK 32 dn models masks for scale models

By carefully removing the fuselage parts, we have another beautiful sight reveled in the box – the bags with the plastic sprues and a long brown cardboard tray right in the middle. It is for the “special parts” like the metal landing gear and the crystal-clear canopy. At that moment I was still quite impressed by the boxing of the kit so it took me a couple of minutes to enjoy the gorgeous white drawings of the F-117’s contours on a black background. Then I started to unpack the plastic sprues and the other stuff. Let’s get started from the instructions manual first.

  • The Instruction manual: it is a rather large manual from thin matte paper, B&W, nothing special, yet it has all the info needed to build your F-117.
  • The Sheet with the color callouts: it is just one big page folded in two, fortunately it is glossy and contains detail on where to place the decals, as well as which paints to use. The F-117 has just white, black and some metalizer, so this is the easy part.
  • The Decals: again, just one small sheet with decals for 3 different airframes though. The decals look perfect in registry but there is one little mistake in the printing of the serial numbers – the year of manufacturing of the airframes is depicted with the upper case letter “B” instead of “8”. It’s a bummer but quite easy to correct because this is 1/32 scale and these rather large numbers are not so tricky to play with.tRUMPETER F-117A NIGHTHAWK 32 dn models masks for scale models
  • The Fuselage parts: the two halves of the fuselage are firmly attached to the black inner cardboard via wires and some cutouts in the cardboard. It’s a very clever design! The plastic itself is rather thin for this scale and thus the wings can bend easily. Especially the bottom fuselage which is almost one flat piece can be bent if held from the one corner. The quality of the plastic is very good though. It is white gray plastic with only a couple of raised pin marks here and there and plenty of gorgeous details. The bottom fuselage features fine grills and screens for the AUX engine exhausts, etc. There are also provisions for the antennas and some slightly raised RAM panels. There recessed panel lines are very fine and subtle. The fit of the two halves of the fuselage is just about perfect too, while the four pitot tubes at the nose are very well protected with an extra piece of sprue.
  • The Clear, Rubber and Metal parts. The canopy is crystal-clear and is wrapped in a soft sheet and then all is packed in a separate bag. The canopy has some longer plastic rods alongside the periphery and they will be very tricky to cut/sand properly. However, what’s most important is that the canopy offers perfect visibility with no distortion whatsoever. The rest of the clear parts are packed in another plastic bag and include all that’s needed like lights and the tips of the bombs. There are even covers for the FLIR and DLIR, which is not the best way to do it, but it’s better than nothing. Whilst for the rubber tires – it’s just about the same situation – nothing impressive in terms of quality but still, it’s better than most plastic tires. Well, the metal landing gear are nothing else but an absolute excitement! They are huge and heavy, and the NLG pylon also includes the entire main mechanism casted at once. They are pretty solid and certainly look legit! These metal landing gear will be a great replacement of their respective plastic parts. Moreover, Trumpeter included a small PE sheet as a replacement of the plastic intake screens. You can see in a close-up pic a comparison side by side of the original plastic intake screens and the PE parts. In a word: unparalleled improvement with these PE pieces! Trumpeter f-117a nighthawk review dn models masks for scale models
  • The Plastic parts: for its size in 1/32 scale, this F-117 contains not that many parts actually – only around 300, of which the plastic parts are a little over 250. They are spread over about a dozen sprues packed individually in plastic bags. The mirror-sprues and some other sprues are packed in single bags. The good thing is that there is plenty of free space inside the box and under the inner cardboard plate, so there is not a chance of bent sprues and of scratched or cut parts. In terms of key advantages of the plastic parts: well, the sharp and thin trailing edges of all the control surfaces (including the rudders) take the first place. Secondly, the availability of 4 different types of ordnance amazed me. It’s not possible for a bomber to carry air-to-air missiles, but we have two in the kit as well. Thirdly, I would put the canopy because it is one of the greatest signature sides of F-117 and here we have it in a perfect transparent piece with thin walls and perfect visibility. It has an additional framing from the inside made out of a huge plastic part, so it will add a nice depth effect. It is also important to mention that the plastic parts allow plenty of freedom in the displaying of the model. For instance, that’s what you can make differently:
  1. Landing gear – up or down;
  2. FLIR/DLIR sensors – exposed or hidden;
  3. Canopy – closed or open;
  4. Bomb bay doors – closed or open;
  5. Bomb launcher ramps – extended or retracted;
  6. Selection of 4 different loadouts;
  7. Moveable rudders;
  8. Moveable wing control surfaces;
  9. Optional external antennas, RCS augmenters, and lights.

Trumpeter f-117a nighthawk review dn models masks for scale models

Trumpeter f-117a nighthawk review dn models masks for scale models

Trumpeter f-117a nighthawk review dn models masks for scale models

Trumpeter f-117a nighthawk review dn models masks for scale models

Trumpeter f-117a nighthawk review dn models masks for scale models

Overall, the greatest highlight of this 1/32 Trumpeter kit is in the detailing and in the additional parts like the PE intake screens and the one-piece metal landing gear. As little disadvantages, I could mention the clear parts for the FLIR and DLIR because the real place does not have any. Also it would be awesome if the two halves of the fuselage were from a bit thicker and sturdier plastic, and if there was a pilot figure included in the kit. It might be designed for a parked display, but that does not excuse the lack of a pilot figure. Nevertheless, you need to get this kit and build it, because it’s the finest one of F-117 in any scale!

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HobbyBoss Liberator fuss

HobbyBoss Liberator fuss

The highly anticipated B-24J from HobbyBoss is finally here. It has been more than an year since its initial announcement, so HobbyBoss managed to deliver promptly. True, only the B-24J is out and most of the modelers expected B-24D to be released simultaneously. However, considering the size of the kit and the expected demand for such a monster, everything is withing logical limits.

The kit

is not pricey, especially considering HK Lancaster. The parallel is not proper considering the target of clients, but those, after all, are two four engine heavy bombers from the same period and should cover pretty much the same class of models. Now the greatest thing about the Liberator is that it comes at 1/2 of the price of the Lancaster and that is really something. Even though not as refined as HK Models' kit, the Liberator from HobbyBoss will offer great deal of options and probably tons of aftermarket as well.

With all that said, one would be surprised about the noise about the HobbyBoss kit. There are already tens of threads in the forums concerning its accuracy, its flaws, what could've been done better and how. There are even feuds about it. HobbyBoss Liberator fuss

But why?

Every new kit on the market is accepted with mixed feelings. Some are praised highly in the beginning, then when the excitement levels settle down, flaws begin to appear. The truth is, that there is no perfect kits. There are great kits, but there is hardly anything that isn't challenged by some competitor or alternative quickly. The great fuss about MiG-31s and Su-34s, both involving HobbyBoss and other makers is a great example. Other makers were praised as wonderful kits, which in the end appeared to be flawed as much as any Trumpeter or Hobby Boss kit and are coming from companies that are not proven on the market too. Another good example is the dedication in the Kinetic's Hornet kit. The guy who worked hard and wanted new F/A-18 kit so badly, passed away without seeing the new tooling come to light. That is sad. It is actually pathetic.

HobbyBoss Liberator fuss

So what about the Liberator?

Well, there are flaws with that one too. Incorrect propeller size, plastic struts, incorrect cowling size, not-so correct or limited version accuracy, wing root design flaws and such. Now there are modelers who are part of a group that spend all of their time analyzing each kit and its flaws. They never build anything, or if they do, it is quickly over by some ill-fated mishap that is always fate's fault. Never theirs. Accuracy-wise they are very knowledgeable. Skill wise - it is quite unclear. It is true, that Liberator from HobbyBoss is not a masterpiece. Nor is any Trumpeter or HobbyBoss kit. Their kits are good in the best case scenario, but mostly are mediocre. Design is poor, riveting and panel lines are either too many or flawed, or even both. Shape-wise there are problems, fit-wise too. The Liberator for example, feature texture details that are suitable for 72nd or 48th scale kit, but not for 32nd. If you look closely at Eduard's latest releases, you will understand that Liberator in 32nd scale looks like a toy compared to those. But this doesn't mean it can't be improved. HobbyBoss Liberator fuss

It requires work.

as everything valuable in life. It requires devotion and understanding of the subject. It requires additional money invested for aftermarket. And all of that, doesn't make it a poor kit. It makes it mediocre, but with potential. It makes it better suited for experienced modelers than novices. And most importantly it makes it a long-term project. With that price, it is very understandable. With the company coming from China and releasing new toolings of various and quite often not that popular kits every year, it is logical too. Quality suffers because of quantity. And quality from China is something that you can hardly find. You can, but definitely not from mass producers like Trumpeter/HobbyBoss. HobbyBoss Liberator fuss

So what is wrong with the kit?

Many things. And in the same time nothing that serious and most importantly - nothing that is unexpected. Only an inexperienced model builder and hobbyist would've expected HobbyBoss 32nd scale Liberator to be perfect. The people who dealt with the company know that there is always something. But actually knowing that eliminates the wrongs of this kit. Others are simply naive. There is nothing seriously wrong with it. And it can be turned into very good miniature. Although seeing its box, miniature is the last word left in your vocabulary. And the facts state that either you are going to complain about it in tens of useless comments in some or many forums, or you are going to get to work and build one. Flawed or not, once build this will be a behemoth of a kit and there is no substitute for it in that scale. So there you have it: either you will get it and build it, maybe improve it too, or you will complain. Probably for the next 10 or even 20 years until some other brave-enough company releases another Liberator in 32nd scale. Which might never happen too. In the end, there is nothing seriously wrong with that kit. It is under-detailed, over-simplified, rugged and have accuracy issues. Probably Trumpeter will release the same thing in 48th scale. Or it was planned to be in quarter scale from the get go but then Chinese decided to up- their game. Whatever the case is, the kit is here and this is all we have at our hands now. For Liberator fans is a blessing. For rivet-counters - just another reason to complain and waste their time creating an useless fuss about it. So it is very good time to decide which side you want to take: that of the never-ending complaining, waiting for that unicorn-kit that will never be released, or you will get yourself together and built whatever manufacturers offered you. For that second group of modelers, check www.dnmodels.com for Liberator mask sets. For the ones who will complain and wait, only "Good Luck!" is appropriate!
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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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Masks vs Decals - The Analysis by DN Models ah-1z viper marines

Masks Vs. Decals – The Analysis

Masks vs. Decals - the analysis, is a short article, about how decals alter the appearance of a scale model, while masks can improve it. With that said, we must clarify the idea of the scale model. It is all about realism. Scaled down, made in an art form, any miniature is after the realism. Well, some are not, but those are usually different form of art. In scale modeling, people are fighting over sizes, panel lines, measurements and what not. And it all comes down to this: how accurate the replica in scale is. However, even the best and most accurate dimension-wise models are useless without the proper colors and markings. And those are subjects basis for even nastier feuds. Of course, the goal is still the same. Perfection in all dimensions and appearance that will cheat the eye to believe, that this is the real thing. Now, much has been written about colors. Acrylics versus enamels, this brand over that one and so on. With that said, the markings are still under consideration. Tamiya for example, are ill-famous for their thick decals. They don't adhere to the surface nicely. Usually, they can ruin the whole project. And of course, weathering those can be a struggle. That goes for aftermarket decals as well. And this is where masking in scale modeling comes in.

Masks are not only for canopies, they can be used for everything.

Masks vs. Decals is not an actual challenge. It is a self explanatory subject. Why? Well, masks vs. decals would've been a discussion in case most of the application out there in the real world were made with decals. They aren't. Let me show you why: What you can see above is an AH-1Z helicopter. Real life bird. Painted with masks. Now see how neatly it looks on that picture. And let me share with you why you cannot get better than masks in modeling. What you see below is a close up of the markings. Is the question Masks vs. Decals here stands? I don't think so. You can clearly see the overspray spot and that it perfectly matches the color of the markings. How close can you get by doing this painting over decals? Pretty close some of you might say.

That may be the case. But if you use masks, you will be 100% accurate.

But again, that is not the sole reason. Now, on the picture below, you can see that there is a leveling in between the layers of paint: Decals are one unified surface. A film, that holds the transparent part and the markings - all in one. But what you see above and what you can achieve on a model are different things. Not that you will need that supreme form of accuracy in 48th scale. For example, with that AH-1Z that is a good point, since one of the best kits of the Viper is exactly in quarter scale. But even if those were vinyl stickers on the real thing, in order to be more accurate, in scale your only option is to go for the masks. What about paint layering? Well masks vs. decals gives masks advantage here again. It is true, that mostly, such things are visible on armor vehicles. Rarely on aircraft. But take a moment to inspect the picture below: Looking close enough, you can see that there is paint leveling from the previous markings. The best way to get there is not with decals. Well, it might be, if you cut out the transparent film. But where is the point in doing that, when you can do that solely by using a paint mask set for the markings? And be as thick as you might want to be.

Best advantage of the masks set is the weathering option that they provide.

Chipping is visible not only on armored vehicles. Weathering and missing paint flakes can be seen on every extensively used vehicle. No matter is it a helicopter, train, tank or plane. Let me clear that out for you: This can be done with decals. And with tons of risks following. Especially when it comes down to the clear film and the possible wash troubles that will follow with the final weathering. So, masks vs. decals here? Masks win. Why? Well, you can do this with hairspray, salt method, masking fluid and what not. In all those possible variants, you will get this exact effect. No clear film to worry about, no color discrepancy, no nothing. Pure and simple. Give it a try with masks, see where that will lead you. Be my guest.

Weathering over painted insignia is far easier. It always was, always will be.

Finally, the paint that goes under the masks. Yes, many complain about that. I even had to gear up with my airbrush and travel 50 miles once, just to prove a point. Thin layer of paint, drying with the airbrush and air only for a 2-3 seconds and another thin layer. And no underlying paint, no defects no nothing. But for those who cannot cope with that, here it goes: Well, it happens to the best of us. It happens to me more often that I want to admit. Obviously the sailor who painted this won't be awarded at the next IPMS at his local chapter. It happens. So what? Apparently, it happens in real life too. As you can see from the picture above. Overspray and underlying paint is unavoidable. And what if it happens? Well, you can get better realism, that's what. True, scaled down, those will be mostly invisible. The last picture especially. The edges on technical signs as NO STEP or NO PUSH too. But not the chipping, not the edges and paint layering and not the accuracy of the appearance and colors. All of those will be perfectly into scale. And only if you go for the masks. Scaled down, the thickness of the elements of the scale model are the bigger issue here. You don't believe that the trailing edge of an aircraft in 48th scale correspond to the real thing, do you? And on the flying toys, sharp edges are most common thing visible. The thickness of the clear parts too. Imagine the weight of a canopy that thick if you scale up your plastic part. Insignia? Yeah, but not that much. This might be slightly different compared to reality, but it is 10 or 15%. The elements mentioned above are awfully out of scale. With which of those you will be closer to reality? I trust the masks will suffice. So what was the question again? Masks vs. Decals? www.dnmodels.com
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Czech Splinter camouflage paint masks for Czech Air Force MiG-21MF #7701 1:72 1/72

Czech Splinter MiG-21MF – #7701. New Mask Set is Coming Soon!

Czech Splinter or Czech Zebra

like this camo scheme is known - is one of the best camouflage demo schemes applied on an aircraft ever. Not only that, but the aircraft it was applied on is nothing short of a legend - the MiG-21. The camo scheme was done way before the time of digital camouflages and around the time when Su-35 was first announced. Its blizzard camo scheme was close to the complexity of the Czech Splinter, but far simpler than it. Not only attractive, but very cleverly designed, Czech Zebra was often seen at various air shows. It was applied on MiG-21MF, bort number 7701. The MF version is a third generation MiG-21, featuring large intake, 4 pylons and additional tank in the spine, which makes it quite distinctive. Although not the ultimate version of MiG-21 is probably one of the most widely used.

With the recent release

of Eduard's new tooling in 72nd scale, MiG-21 is again the most discussed kit on the market. Not surprisingly. Eduard toolings are superb and their 48th scale MiG-21 is one of the best quarter scale kits on the market. With its accuracy and various options, it combines the popularity of the aircraft with a high quality product. That can result only in one word - success. 72nd scale was one of the most widely built scales decades ago. Not it is slowly gaining speed again, due to the number of huge aircraft that are released in it. The fact that there are tons of new releases adds to that and the need of more space too. However, Eduard proved, that this is done without any compromise of quality nor detail. Their MiG-21MF - which was the first one from the 72nd scale series - is simply astonishing. With that release and knowing the fact how beautiful Czech Splinter looks like, we, at DN Models took a step in that direction. Mask set for 48th scale version of the Czech Zebra was already available in our store. However, we decided to improve it. After couple of months research and improved measurement techniques, we managed to alter our 48th scale mask set. The main goal was to provide better accuracy. Alongside with that, we developed a 72nd scale option.

72nd scale

option will not be any less accurate than the 48th one. The reason for that is the fact that Eduard did exactly that with their MiG-21: they scaled it down, without sacrificing the beauty of the kit. So that left us with nothing but a choice to do exactly the same. Such great quality demands great supporting products and that is why DN Models decided to improve the set the match the level that Eduard provided with their latest release. So pretty soon on the market, there will be two new options for Czech Splinter - 48th scale V.2 and 72nd scale one. Both by DN Models. V.2 will be a polished set, featuring masks that will fit almost every MiG-21MF in 48th scale. 72nd will be newly designed set, based on Eduard tooling and will also fit most of 72nd scale third generation MiGs. However, both sets are designed for Eduard kits, simply because they are the best out there.

In 72nd scale,

Czech Zebra will be a demanding project. There is no doubt about that. The results though, will be fantastic. Many won't have the patience to complete such an intricacy, but those who do, will have a wonderful and very attractive piece of plastic there. Even though small, in 72nd scale MiG-21 is still pretty noticeable. That is due to its shape and aggressive appearance. The Czech Zebra demo scheme adds to that and challenges the eye of the spectators. So to aim for that result, DN Models worked on the Czech Splinter last couple of months. We thought that with the Eduard's release of a nearly perfect 72nd scale MiG-21, the Czech Zebra deserves its attention too. So check DN Models store or subscribe for our newsletter. MiG-21MF Czech Splinter release is imminent. Of course, covering the two scales that Eduard released their beauty - 48th and 72nd. And not only - you will be able to use it wit your older tooling, in case you have one. So hopefully, to each his own. www.dnmodels.com
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The Importance of having good airbrush.

This is very interesting and discussed subject. It’s been and probably will be – an object of much controversy, opinion impacts and sometimes even feuds. Latter one is predominantly brand related. But not only. The airbrush subject is reliant on many sub-options, like where one is located, perception of that particular stage of the modeling in general and of course – personal budget. Nowadays, money are most important. They are melting faster, compared to what we had back in a day. And that is not only because everything is more expensive. It is actually. But also because there are a lot of options and various add-ons to everything. Manufacturers explore the buyers mind to its limit and provide us with what-not, just to make more out of each and every one of us. It is enough to see how many equal models are available with the sole difference of decal options and different boxart. But that is still enough to tempt a modeler to get “just one more” and stash it. Airbrush-wise it is more or less the same. But this has its differences too. Firstly, because the airbrush is meant to last. This is the most important difference between a decal set, a model or a sandpaper piece. The airbrush is a tool that requires a long term engagement. Pretty much like buying a car. Thus, the investment should be considered wisely and one must know exactly how far he/she will go using that airbrush. Usage is the path to eventual airbrush exchange at a later point, but also brings experience. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that if you are not using it you will save it for later, but on the other hand it doesn’t mean either – go buy an expensive tool and use the hell out of it. There must be a clear and thought-through idea, on how often and for what applications one will use an airbrush. Airbrushes that are high-end tools with small nozzles /by small I mean .2mm and less/ are far from suitable for priming and clear coats. Maybe you can use them for clear coats if you are working in 72nd scale. But it is a maybe. Those airbrushes cost more, usually featuring delicate parts that are also – too expensive to exchange. On the other hand, using a general-usage airbrush /.4-.5mm nozzle/ might not suffice the needs for small scales and for fine work on larger scales, like hand-painted stripes on a Me-109 in 48th and even 32nd scale. Of course, many might think that .3mm or .35mm - which are in general most used airbrushes - will be just in the middle and will cover both of the situations described above. The only thing that you have to add to solve the equation is experience. And that is too, close to the truth, but it is not an absolute. The airbrush must first fit in your hand, to give you the right feel, to be of the right weight and to reacts to your body accordingly. By the latter one I mean the right amount of tension applied to the trigger, which is one of the reasons that I dumped the most expensive airbrush that I ever had. If the tool does not correspond to one of the factors mentioned above, at some point you will be either disappointed in it or you will consider upgrading. Which might be actually downgrading in terms of pure specifications, just like in my case. There are of course, modelers that can do miracles with simple, rugged and rather cheap airbrushes. Panzermeister36 – as he is famous in YouTube society – is one of the best modelers I know. He uses Badger, which you can find brand new for under $70. This is .5mm airbrush, which is - more or less -considered an obsolete design and it is not that marketed as Iwata, Sparmax or Harder & Steenbeck. It does offer comfortable feel and reliability and in the same time many use it on a regular basis or started airbrushing with it. But it is not an all-round tool per se. However, if you see Panzermeister videos, you will see that he managed to master the Badger airbrush to the point where he probably won’t need anything else for the rest of his modeling career. I trust that the reason for that is because the guy managed to get a decent airbrush and combined it with a talent and experience, which gave the perfect combination for success. Many others found that same formula using Sparmax. That company produces airbrushes for other brands as well, so you might not know that you are using one currently. It might have Tamiya on the side for example. However, they are better than Badgers in my opinion and quite reliable too. But are not the only option for decent airbrushes either. So in general, it is important to find the right one for your own goals and stick with it, to add “mastering” to the process. Because the tool is as good as its master’s hands and experience. High precision tools? Yes, they do help. Harder & Steenbeck and Iwata are leading brands when it comes down to quality tools. But as in my case, H&S might present more of a challenge than help. The trigger with those is somewhat flimsy and the prices of spare parts are insane. Interestingly, back when I bought mine, the prices in US were lower compared to Europe, and the H&S are /or were at that time/ a German brand. Prices not only for the spares, but for the whole airbrush. Ridiculous, isn’t it? The problem with high precision tools is often the fragility of their needles and nozzles. And the corresponding price tags. Besides, the smaller the nozzle – the higher the number on the tag. But the narrower the opening, the narrower the production range of the airbrush. Which is a tricky way to look at it. You may be able to produce fine lines, nice mottling and almost handwrite with such airbrushes, but you cannot paint general areas easily. Actually you can, but with a lot more time and it is generally annoying. With that though, comes the need to clean the airbrush more often, which brings the risk of damaging the needle or the nozzle if you disassemble it in full. So we are back at square one – the price of the parts. And let’s not forget the base price of the tool itself. And back to the beginning, the money that you pay. That is probably the most nasty bump that you can hit on the road. If it wasn’t for that, either one of us would’ve owned and used five or ten airbrushes. Maybe even more. But that is not the case. It is possible to have 2-3 Badgers, but that is comparable to a price of a decent Iwata. So in general, one must choose between a brand, a price, a needle/nozzle size and tool features. I won’t even start on grip options and flow controllers. So to choose the right one depends on your own perception. There are some points to be made and they are valid whatever your preference might be. Don’t go for the cheapest option. That will come at a price at a later stage. Don’t go for the exact opposite too. That will limit the usage and will limit the risks you would dare take while airbrushing. And without exploring the boundaries, you can never find the abilities of the tool. Neither your own. What is important is to have a reliable tool. One that will work even if you mess it up a bit. And one that you can supply with spares when the need comes. And it will happen, trust me. You can expect it sooner than later. What makes the real difference, is that having a good airbrush provides you with the sole option to turn that plastic into a decent copy of the reality. Because even the best and cleanest build, featuring metal, resin and improvements of any kind, will look simply as a plastic chunk if its not for the paint and the appropriate transfer of that over the model. And the medium used to do that is the airbrush. This is what turns a jar of paint into a camo scheme. Via your hand. Compressors are another subject, but this is a whole different matter. When it comes down to the airbrush, it is good to take a moment to think about the things written above. It might be confusing at first, but then when you sleep over it, you will see that sometimes less is more and not always getting the cheapest means that you made the best financial decision. Neither is paying for overpriced tools with features that you will never use. It is very individual. Because it is pretty much like buying a glove. So choose wisely!
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M1296 Stryker Dragoon from Panda Hobby

Infantry Fighting Vehicles are very interesting in their nature. They are not that mean and in the same time attractively ugly like tanks, nor powerful looking like howitzers. But they are important and vital part of the armored warfare. Without them, many things wouldn’t happen on the battlefield. I know many modelers that are focused mostly and some even exclusively on wheeled IFVs, just because of the reasons stated above. It is not a surprise too, that one of the most famous vehicles in the movie industry is one such beast – the Marine’s carrier from Alines /1986/, that Ripley used to squash few xenomorphs. In other words, IFVs are cool! There are some Trumpeter releases, that are not bad, but have some problems. There are some AFV Club releases too, but they are a bit pricey and not suitable for novice modelers. So now on the horizon is Panda Hobby M1296 Stryker Dragoon in 35th scale, that might bring us some improvement over the two options mentioned above. Panda Hobby kits are often considered complex. Pretty much as the AFV Club options. But while AFV Club present us with tons of invisible detailing /or barely visible/ mostly positioned on the suspension parts, Panda Hobby are complex in their overall engineering and very nature. What we will receive with this new M1296 Dragoon kit is a mystery at this point. It might be something very complex or something with upgraded ideas, something that Panda Hobby should’ve done quite some time ago. And hopefully it will be the latter. M1296 is relatively new vehicle, just couple years old /actually even less than couple/ and is yet to be examined by modelers via pictures and info. However, Panda Hobby gives a clear signal that a whole new Stryker family might be on its way and there is a pretty good chance that it will send those available on the market into oblivion. Of course, resin wheels, metal barrel and what not will appear pretty soon, and probably stowage sets, which are mandatory add-on for such an amazingly looking vehicle in 35th scale. As mentioned above, it might not be the meanest thing on the battlefield, but from modeler’s stand point this is a brilliant platform. For both - weathering and resin upgrades. For desert, the boxart is pretty amazing. A vehicles with couple of helicopters in the background. And a hint – such machines will appear pretty soon and in the same scale, plus 2018 tooling! If that isn’t tempting for armor lovers, I have no idea what is! The M1296 Stryker Dragoon will be a definite hit in my opinion. I bet that we will see a lot of these built in 2019 and they will be on the front rows in modeling shows! Just give it a couple of months. They will rock the modeling world pretty soon! www.dnmodels.com
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Decent EF-2000 Typhoon. When?

After more than 600 aircraft produced, exported to various countries and very successfully used, Eurofighter 2000 Typhoon still doesn’t have a decent kit in any scale. It is true, that there are kits from Revell in both 32nd and 48th scale, also a Chinese options for 32nd too, but all the releases currently available are far from what they should be. They are lacking accuracy, details, engineering and plastic quality to be considered up to date. Especially with the constantly increasing standards in the modeling world. One should just get a glimpse at the newest Zoukei-Mura F-4s to get an idea what a quarter scale kit should look like nowadays. Even Academy, with their latest Phantom are competitive to ZM kits, even though Academy are not famous for being overly good in making high-end plastic scale models. That should ring a bell. So why is the lack of the EF-2000 so neglected? It is highly doubtful that there is a lack of fans for the Typhoon. Revell might cover for the German market, no doubt about that, but still there are many demanding modelers all-around the world asking for a decent tooling of the modern jet. And not all of them are ready to sacrifice time and efforts to turn a mediocre kit into a fine piece of art, when it is about time some company to release one. I can understand why Zoukei-Mura does not release it. But Tamiya, Hasegawa, Academy and many other makers are waiting for something and what is it, is a mystery to me. EF-2000 is not that new to be inaccurate in 48th scale and 32nd is even less of a challenge in many aspects. The plane is not that big, nor that complex in shape, but still there is no new tooling to be seen in the foreseeable future. One can only hope that Eduard, AMK, TAN model or a company similar in their perception about scale modeling will come to the light and show up with at least a plan to make the Typhoon soon. What we need is a new tooling, with a beautiful plastic, good engineering and gaps left for the aftermarket companies to develop their improvements sets. And those gaps should be clever and not ruining the OOTB kit, but still be there so the aftermarket maniacs can justify their purchases. I don’t think that this is a lot to ask. And I believe that I am not the only one asking for such a tooling to appear on the market soon. EF-2000 is the backbone of modern Europe, it is exported in the Middle East and on top of that it is a regular star in the RED FLAG and many other joint exercises around the World. It is definitely a plane that deserves its share on the plastic scale market. Let’s hope we will see one soon! www.dnmodels.com
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