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

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

Jagdpanther Sd.Kfz.173 by MENG Model

The market is eagerly awaiting for a new Jagdpanther for years. DML kits are good, but they stand at the same level while times goes by, which at some point will make those kits obsolete and that is inevitable. For some time I was wondering who will be the first to hit the Jagdpanther theme and obviously, that will be MENG Model. Most likely, TAKOM will follow, considering their large amount of Panthers recently released and some – pending release. This is good news in general. I say in general, simply because MENG Model are a good company overall, but are still struggling with some issues. As such many consider the flaws of their Merkava III and D9R fit problems, some engineering decisions and the common delays for their promised releases. Hopefully, those won’t be present with that new Jagdpanther kit. From the renders that are available on the web already, it is visible that there are some transparent parts, as well as photo-etch grills and metal gun barrel. The towing cable also seems to be planned as a non-plastic option. That is all – great! However, it is far from enough for a kit to be complete and of course – to be competitive to DML Sd.Kfz.173s. Accuracy is what is desperately needed for MENG to give us a serious model and with the information nowadays it will be a sin if they do not provide us with a decent Jagdpanther. Another thing is the options available: it is useless to have one option per kit as we see in many companies’ catalogues recently. There should be at least several options included, considering the production run for armored vehicles during the Second World War. With all that said and the beautifully looking renders of the Jagdpanther that we have here, I would dare to speculate that we are about to see a very good Sd.Kfz.173 very soon and at a good price too. There is no doubt in my mind that TAKOM will respond very quickly to the challenge and probably full interior and similar goodies will follow. Let’s hope that MENG Model will act fast and will not disappoint. With the Jagdpanther that is the least we want to happen!

F-4D Phantom II – 1/48 Zoukei-Mura SWS No.7

Introduction: Phantom is one of the most wanted models ever. That includes all scales. Of course, due to its size, the most popular one is 48th scale. And the market is full with options. However, only one of these can be considered the best possible tooling of the legendary plane. Not so long ago, that was Hasegawa, with their huge line of Phantoms that is still re-released to this day. Then came Academy, with their multi-colored plastic and slightly refined perspective of the F-4. But the true king of Phantoms came with Zoukei-Mura’s F-4J release, which happened a little over a year ago. Since then, Zoukei-Mura expanded their line, adding the slatted F-4S and then the F-4C, the USAF version of the Phantom. They are all considered to be the most accurate and best engineered Phantoms on the market, comparable only with Eduard’s re-packs of Academy F-4s. However Eduard’s kits are somewhat Academy on steroids, featuring resin and photo-etch, amazing decals and are Limited Editions. And even without those goodies, ZM is still the best on the market. D-variant: F-4D is an upgraded F-4C, and a logical follow-up of the Zoukei-Mura’s line of Phantoms. It was an updated F-4C and meant to be used more like an interceptor, keeping the C-variant for air-to-ground work. The D-variant was equipped with updated avionics, making it the first aircraft to use laser-guided munitions and most importantly – as an interceptor – the capability to use AIM-4 Falcon missile. More than 800 were built and some of those were converted into Wild Weasel variants. Besides being used by the US, F-4D was sold to Iran and South Korea. Although it is not clear due to the complex political environment of the region, it is highly probable that Iran still uses updated F-4D variants to this day. Boxing: Zoukei-Mura’s boxes are designed in a way that brings the essence of the subject and the whole thing looks like a present that you already know the content of. The F-4D box is – as with the previous Phantoms – made like it is partially wrapped in an American flag. On the top, we have Super Wing Series SWS N.7 and F-4D Phantom written, where the D is in yellow, pointing out the specific version of the bird. There is a Boeing logo, stating that this is a licensed product, something that major companies insist on. On the sides, we have description in Japanese, plus few pictures of the built Zoukei-Mura F-4D, this time an aircraft with specific black belly, quite differently looking from the rest of the Phantom line from ZM. The camouflage is similar to the F-4C, but the bottom makes it look like a completely new plane. The box is thick, made from high-quality materials. Inside we have all the sprues packed in separate plastic bag and on the bottom there is an envelope with the instructions, color-schemes, small catalogue and the decals. Instructions: Unlike their 32nd scale kits, the 48th Phantom line instructions are purely black and white. The colors though, are Zoukei-Mura’s only miss here. The instructions are perfectly executed, with thorough description of everything, plus hints and options, written all around the schematics. The sheet itself is sophisticated and requires devotion and understanding while a modeler uses it. It is far from simplistic and rather childish instructions provided by companies like Kinetic for example. Once you get to work through it, you will quickly start learning a lot about the F-4, which will elevate your level of knowledge and make your model look better in the end. Especially important is to mention that every tiny bit of color required is pointed out and clearly too. The booklet features all the proper geometry of the bird and that is something that I mentioned in all my other Zoukei-Mura Phantom reviews. It deserves a praise, since Phantom geometry is rather complex and if you don’t follow it, your model will deviate from the reality with a lot. Specifics here are superb, down to a degree of every angle that you will need to keep. That includes all the surfaces and the engines too. Sprues: The kit was initially rumored to be a completely new tooling. That is highly unlikely in today’s competitive World and it comes as no surprise, that only parts of the kit are new. This is the mix of the sprues that we have seen in the previous version of the Phantoms released from Zoukei-Mura. Since the kit is fresh on the market, this is normal and far from disappointing. The initial tooling was as close to perfection as anybody has got before, so what we get with the D-variant is more than satisfactory. The standard dark gray plastic, full with details, panel lines and rivets and most importantly – very pleasant to be worked with. We have engines, sophisticated cockpit and wheel wells, movable surfaces and very good looking missiles. Actually, not much to be said here, just enjoy the pictures. You will instantly understand what I am talking about. Clear parts: The clear parts are similar to the ones that we got with the other versions. The canopy is clear, with minimal bending of the light when looked through. The sprue features one piece canopy and separate sections, depending on your preference. Single piece canopy is wonderful solution in case you want to make your airplane in flight. Quite often, due to miss-alignment, separate sections does not fit, and that can ruin the final appearance. With a little effort and great deal of finesse, Zoukei-Mura solved that potential issue. Separate parts allow for a Phantom in a parked mode, where all the canopy and the seats can be displayed with their full potential. Here, the transparency won’t matter that much, but still we have one very good clear sprue, that hardly has any competition in the modeling world. Decals: A sheet printed by Cartograf is included. It lacks all the colorful and screaming-like insignia typical for the era. That allowed for Zoukei-Mura to add two options for this airplane. Unfortunately, the previous three came with only one per piece, which was disappointing for many modelers. However, Phantom Aftermarket decals are available everywhere so that wasn’t such a big issue. Here, we have two this time, which is a step forward. I personally hope, that Zoukei-Mura will expand in the future on that matter. Both of those versions look similar, with the most distinctive feature – the color of the belly. One is standard light gull gray, while the other is back-ish, giving the Phantom very mean look. Both are from the early 70s, but this kit allows for much more. The D-variant was introduced in late 60s, and it was in use for decades. So with proper research, you can expand your line of options enormously. Again - for the first time here, we have two options for different Phantoms and both are provided by Cartograf’s decals, which guarantees flawlessness. Wise decision from Zoukei-Mura and one that will put a smile on many of their fans’ faces. Conclusion: That was an expected release from Zoukei-Mura. It is a logical step in the direction of Phantom-line expansion and it will cover some interesting areas, like Iranian and South Korean air forces. The only down-side of the kit are the marking options and the lack of abundance in that area. But there is an improvement over the previous versions, since here we have 2 options instead of one like before. On the other side, there is no other let downs with this kit. It is still the best possible option in 48th scale and actually, the best Phantom in any scale to this date. Zoukei-Mura are working on F-4E and that is confirmed already, so we should expect to see that too and hopefully, the reconnaissance versions which are longed by many. With those, Zoukei-Mura will eliminate once and for all any possible competition from Academy or Hasegawa, providing us with a superb kit that well deserves the price tag it bears. It is a mandatory purchase for all Phantom lovers and for those who want to enjoy the true 21st century tooling with all its bells and whistles. This kit is nothing less than a benchmark for the scale, and for the subject itself. Once again, Zoukei-Mura prove that they are among the top 3 heavy-hitters on the market of scale models and a company that we should watch closely and with deep respect. Domo Arigato Zoukei-Mura! Full Video Review is available on DN Models' YouTube Channel 

T-Harrier from Kinetic – 1/48 Two Seat Trainer

Intro: Twin seater Harrier is something that many modelers dreamed about. Especially in 48th scale. Even more – the old-school British bird. With its tiny wings and huge and ugly front, this intimidating airplane is fascinating. The combination of long sting-like tail boom and extremely ugly double canopy makes this jet a thing to remember. Add to that VTOL capabilities and shiny looks and you have yourself a winner. I can only wonder, why Tamiya, Hasegawa or any other major player never came up with that in the past decade or so. But yeah. We have Kinetic for that nowadays. Sorry guys, whatever you missed to produce, now the newcomers steal and bake instead waiting and wondering is this going to sell well. This one will. Modelers begged for the Harrier. In all scales and variants. From Kestrel to whatever US variation you might think of – everything is popular. There are SIG’s, clubs, even communities dedicated to that engineering miracle of aviation. Even though not my favorite bird, Harrier always got my respect and I am more than happy to have the chance to review this kit for you. So let us begin. Boxart: Clean and nice looking box makes this Kinetic kit very tempting for the collectors. Standard blue for the Chinese company is the general layout. A T-Harrier is represented in flight, in a high-altitude exercise, wearing the glossy black paint scheme. 721 from Royal Navy. Intake is clearly visible and the fan of the jet is represented in motion, quite noticeable, probably due to the dynamics that author captured in the drawing. The top of the box features description of the options included /which we will discuss a bit further/ and the Cartograf logo that guarantees the decal quality. It is also stated that 280+ parts are inside and the built bird should measure 372mm in length with 162mm of wingspan. On one of the sides there are ten profiles of the different T-Harriers included, as well as description of the plane itself /very basic/, plus general description of each version included from T2 to T8. Overall – very neat boxing. Instructions: Kinetic’s instruction sheets were never good. They are black and white sheets, made from what I believe was A3 format black and white print, folded in the middle. Might be slightly off that size, but more or less – B&W is what you get. Information is presented in a simplistic way, with some sparse guidelines about colors here and there, but again far from enough. You cannot compare that to any serious company and that is a major letdown with all the Kinetic kits I own or have reviewed. Biggest flaw of all are the color schemes. They are too, black and white. Only. And printed in the most unprofessional way possible. It is horrible. What I believe Kinetic should’ve done is provide a link for download a high-quality hi-res instruction sheet on your PC/MAC/Tablet and spare you the hassle. That would’ve made the model greener, instructions acceptable, and would’ve provided more than decent quality of the whole package overall. Long story short – without supplemental information, painting the T-Harrier /and probably most of Kinetic’s kits/ would be with arguable accuracy and no self-respecting modeler should rely on what is in that info-leaflet. It is a joke. Sprues: With nearly 300 parts, the kit is abundant in detail. For 48th scale aircraft that is more than enough, although I know tank modelers will smirk reading that. Sprues are packed into plastic bags, standard for Kinetic models, with a lot of space left inside, which is a bit of a waste of material IMHO. The box is crowded, but is not done in the style of – once open, forever open. You can put everything back in easily. Plastic is light gray, again standard for all the kits from Kinetic line that I have. It is good material overall, allowing for easy sanding, modification and whatever you can think of. Generally positive comments come from all around the World regarding Kinetic’s plastic and I believe that is one of their strong sides. Detail is decent. It is far from perfect, but is not bad at all. The rivets and the panel lines are acceptable in depth and everything follows a logic. Texture might eventually create some fuss and comments, but nothing that you won’t heal with a good primer. What I didn’t like is the fact that the harrier has a lot more rivets to offer than there are on the kit. Those that are there a good and it is too bad that Kinetic didn’t added the rest. It is OK, but it could’ve been better. Antennas and small details are thin and delicate, cockpit details are good, seats are very decent too. Wheels could’ve been better, but there should be some space for the aftermarket companies after all. There are two sprues with weapons and fuel tanks, but as a trainer, the T flew mostly with tanks only, so this should be welcomed as a source of spares, rather than something that you should use up on the model. In general, 21st century tooling, with good amount of detailing and nice representation of everything + decent engineering. It is better than old Tamiya harrier, which was already discussed with the appearance of FA.2 and FRS.1 from Kinetic, but it is far from the quality of Zoukei-Mura Phantom. Even from Academy’s Phantom. And the fit is yet to be tested. Clear Parts: Clears are represented on two sprues. One is for the small parts like HUDs and smaller clears, while the other is canopy elements. Latter one is most interesting due to the number of separate canopy parts. There is no option for single piece canopy, but one can live with that. In general, there are errors in the engraving. They are not something general, but will irritate a true Harrier experts. The plastic is not very clear and tends to bend the image, which speaks for rather low quality. It is not like Revell, but it is far from Zoukei-Mura too. The moldings allow for clear cuts, however T-harrier has internal sealing that is quite visible /even on the boxart/ which is not moulded into the inner sides. Thus proper masking is needed and a lot of patience too. The explosive cord is replicated nicely, it has white-ish appearance and in my opinion it is good enough as it comes. The front windshield wiper is placed a bit to the side, while it should sit either over the frame or right next to it. The space in between will prevent from either – proper masking or proper painting. Probably a lot of brush painting will be involved. Too bad that this is at the front of the T-Harrier. Decals & Photo-Etch: Small Photo-etch sheet is included, rather for buyer’s attraction, than a photo-etch fans satisfaction. It is thin and with good overall quality, but we are yet to see what aftermarket companies has to say and their final word will count in this case. I believe Eduard are going to provide us with a decent set in the very near future. Maybe others too. Decal sheet on the other hands is one of the highest points in this set. It is about size of an A4 sheet and includes a lot of interesting stuff. The decals are produced by Cartograf /the best possible choice/ and the design is made by Crossdelta. Serious players in the business. Wise decision from Kinetic’s team. Half of the sheet is taken from small and various technical stencils as well as specific aircraft numbers. Stencils feature red, white and yellow in them and look very realistic and with spot-on colors. There is no pale or too bright markings, everything seems to be perfect. The other half is filled with roundels, bigger numbers and specific insignia, most interesting of which is the Thai lettering. That is the first of that kind that I come to see and it looks odd but fascinating. Some of the roundels are cut for the proper openings of the intakes, but instead of using those I would prefer to mask them and use paint. That last one goes mostly for the black options, sine gloss black harrier with decals is very hard to be reproduced. Actually anything black is tough in scale. But as far as the decals go – ten out of ten for this kit.   Variants:
  1. Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm, ZD990/721, RNAS Yeovilton, 2004-2005, Harrier T.8
  2. Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm, ZD605/720, RNAS Yeovilton, 1996, Harrier T.8
  3. Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm, ZD604/722, RNAS Yeovilton, 1996, Harrier T.8
  4. Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm, ZD605/718, RNAS Yeovilton, 1985, Harrier T.8
  5. Royal Air Force, XW265/W 233OCU, RAF Wittering, 1992, Harrier T.4A
  6. Royal Air Force, XW266/51 233OCU, RAF Wittering, 1975, Harrier T.4A
  7. Royal Air Force, XW272/Z IV(AC) SQN, RAF Gutersloh, 1980, Harrier T.4
  8. USMC Marine Corps, VMAT-203, MCAS Cherry Point, Late, 1970 TAV-8A
  9. Armada Espanola (Spanish Navy), 8a Escuadrilla (8th Sqn), 1988 TAV-8S
  10. Royal Thai Navy, 301 Squadron, Late 1990s, TAV-8S
First three are glossy black, than the fourth is Satin Dark Sea grey. All with that specific Royal Navy shiny look. RAF versions are two tone camouflages with Dark Sea Grey and Dark Green and the USMC version is Light Grey/Dark Green camo scheme typical for US Harriers. On those more weathering is present. Then we have Spanish White-belly/Gull gray-back scheme famous for Harriers from Spain’s Armada and lastly, same camouflage for Thai T-Harrier, which I believe is the least famous of them all. What is common is that they all require additional research for proper replication. What you can get from the sheet is mediocre as information and representation. As far as possible from the eye candies we are used to nowadays, featuring weathering depicted, color shades and everything in that matter. None of that is here. Conclusion: This was a long awaited kit and even though it is not at the highest-level that we’ve seen – it is very good. As I’ve mentioned above it is far from Zoukei-Mura’s F-4 which is a benchmark for 48th scale jet. It is also at the typical Kinetic level with all the pro’s and the cons of each of their kits. That means - despite the poor instruction sheet – that the kit is a winner. There are mistakes, missing details and what not, but Kinetic are far from being the company that would satisfy the most pretentious modelers. I think that everything will come into place in a short time. With some resin add-ons like wheels, cockpit, engine and such, the kit will shine. Even more if you are into riveting business. All in all – I liked it a lot. 8 out of 10 in my book. www.dnmodels.com Check out the Mask Set for this kit from DN Models: T-Harrier Canopy, Wheels and Insignia (RAF & Royal Navy)

Zoukei-Mura F-4C – SWS No.06 – USAF Phantom

F-4C: Phantom saw many variations during its development and Zoukei-Mura provided us with J and S so far, one of the most loved ones for sure. This time though, we have a non-carrier version of the Phantom, the C-model, an all-weather ground-attack and tactical fighter, used by the USAF. We all love and admire aircraft carriers, arrester hooks and deck landings, but that doesn’t mean that this was all when it comes down to the Phantom. Actually, the C-version was a revolutionary fighter for its time and it service proved it to be one very sophisticated and dangerous plane, featuring state-of-the-art technology for its time and providing safe and pleasant workspace for its crews. It was able to carry very wide range of weapons and was a nuclear capable airplane too. The main differences that it had, compared with the ones we have looked already, are the engines, the wheels, parts of the wings and the nose. Camouflage too of course. Box and its Boxart: The box of the F-4C comes slightly thicker in appearance compared to the J, the initial tooling of the F-4 from Zoukei-Mura. Again, we have the US flag over the sides, bringing the feeling of patriotism and the respect towards that bird from St. Louis. On the sides, we have pictures of a build USAF F-4C, noting the features available with the kit. Unfortunately, not in English. On the top, the boxart reveals a pair of F-4C’s the following one of which is breaking right, showing off its ordnance, set for a CAP mission. The plane on the foreground seems to be pulling some G’s too, visible from the vapor trails coming from the wing and stabilizer tips, showing a specific moment with certain dynamics in it. A scene, easily perceptible from those who live and breathe aviation and fast jets. A Boeing logo, showing that this is a licensed product sits slightly beneath the nozzles of the F-4C, showing that this is done according to Boeing’s rights, even though F-4 is a McDonnell Douglas’ creation. Nevertheless, very professionally looking. The plane seen has a checkered tail fin and high-vis insignia, inefficient, but attractive feature, typical for the era in which F-4C was flown. Logos on the left intake and the left underwing fuel tank are visible, specific for the Phantom included in that set. Sprues: The box is big and there are many sprues inside, but it isn’t overcrowded by any means. Light gray plastic is the theme as with other Zoukei-Mura Phantoms and again – with a superb quality. Once you get to sand any parts, you will understand my point about “superb quality”. There is nothing unexpected with Zoukei-Mura kits. Just the contrary. The level demonstrated is what one goes for, purchasing a ZM kit. The company is established among the leaders of the market and as far as the F-4 goes, ZM managed to get ahead of Hasegawa and Academy with their very first release – F-4J. Here, the sprues are almost identical, however we have some new features included. Of course, C-type with its different wheels, nose and nozzles, as well as some other minor differences, cannot be exactly the same as the J. Parts on the sprues are arranged in almost the same manner though, so nothing completely new for those who already own a Zoukei-Mura F-4. Just an expansion of the line towards USAF direction. Instructions: Instruction sheet is a booklet in something like A4 format. Black and white, not exactly what we get in the 32nd scale kits from Zoukei-Mura, nevertheless – full with useful information. One might learn a lot while building this kit, solely from following the steps and reading through them. Each steps with specific parts or features have additional description, which is the ZM way of doing things. Minor differences between the J/S and C are pointed out, to grab your attention and explain precisely - why something needs to be changed or altered. 45 steps is what you need to get through for completion, but have in mind that there is a bit more to that at the end. Options for presenting the kit are also available and that adds even more to the booklet. Positionable flaps, landing gear, canopy - you name it! Clear parts and Decals: Clear parts sprue features two canopy sets. One made from a single piece of plastic, suitable for in-flight representation of the kit and of course, several pieces if you want to display your kit with open cockpit. The clear plastic that Zoukei-Mura gives is very forgiving and easy to work with. The only thing that is needed here is a masking set, which you can find in DN Models store. We have masks available for J, S and now – C-type. Decals are placed on one big sheet and as you might expect, most of it is taken from the technical markings and stencils which are to be placed all over the Phantom. Checkered tails are decals, which cover most of the fin. That might require some skills and it is guaranteed, that it will require decal solutions so to give yourself a bigger time-window to work with that large piece of decal. That can be painted as well, but the quality of those decals is very high, so it shouldn’t be a problem using them. They are made by Cartograf and that speaks for itself. Other than those checkered ones, there are no overly big decals, but there are colorful ones, which will make the Phantom very attractive. Color sheet: The painting guide is one big folding sheet, presenting the F-4C from left, right, top and bottom. It is double sided sheet and we have two views of the plane per side. Paints are described too, as well as decal positioning. The F-4C presented, is one that was based in Iceland during 1976. Probably a bird used in Vietham war, ending its career at this Nordic Island-country. Of course, there are many options for F-4C from the various decal manufacturers, however, this is the version that comes with the kit. Zoukei-Mura will undoubtedly add more to that in the form of aftermarket decals, next to many already out there for sale. The new nozzles: Almost immediately after its release, Eduard offered nozzle set for the J, which showed a weak point there. Here they won’t be that lucky. One of the most distinctive features of the C-version are the nozzles for the different engine. They are shorter and with more aggressive and rougher looks. Plastic here shows no compromises, while with J and S versions, we had slightly thicker appearance of the feathers than needed. I criticized Zoukei-Mura’s release for that and I would like to think that they heard me. Of course, it wasn’t just me per se, but they showed an improvement with those nozzles here and that is a fact. Their appearance is more realistic, more refined and shows devotion and serious approach towards their brand and products. That is the Japanese way. Hands down. They are still not perfect of course and one true Phantom-phanatic might want to get even thinner nozzles, but I am sure we will witness release of such resin kit quite soon. Conclusion: As with their other Phantoms this kit does not disappoints. Just the contrary. There are some good and some very good F-4 kits. Like Hasegawa and Academy. Zoukei-Mura F-4 line is exceptional. It is better than the rest, beating even 32nd scale Tamiya in everything but size. It is great to have USAF version as an option. With the J and S available, D upcoming and E in the research stage, Zoukei-Mura promises very bright days for Phantom lovers in quarter scale. Or maybe even more for the large scale fanatics? Who knows… Zoukei-Mura F-4C is very good investment and with the aftermarket stuff available from that same company, it completes the circle in terms of everything. The only thing missing in 48th scale so far is the reconnaissance version of the Smokey Joe, but in my heart I am sure that the Japanese maker saw that before even it came to my mind and it is only a matter of time. I am looking forward for their D release, which I believe will continue with the standard, set by the J, S and now C-type Phantoms. As mentioned above: they are all exceptional! www.dnmodels.com Don't forget to check out our masks designed for the SWS F-4C.
rookiat trumpeter dn models new tool 2017 1/35 apc 1:35 south africa

Trumpeter’s Red Cat – Rookiat 1/35 set for release 2017

Trumpeter's Red Cat - Rookiat was announced in 2016, but last couple of days was officially set for release in 2017. Being right in the middle of the year, this leaves us with only couple of months waiting for this unusual subject. Alongside B1 Centauro, BTR-80A and M1130 Stryker, Rookiat will be very wanted add-on for any APC collection. The pictures that Trumpeter showed does not disappoint. Detail looks great and the price will be decent hopefully.
picture courtesy of Trumpeter
Rookiat is a South African design, of which 240 were produced since the late 80s. It is an anti-tank and fire-support vehicle with beautiful 76mm gun on its top, making it look very mean. Despite not being so popular, Rookiat has some combat history, like South African intervention in Lesotho, as well as various combat patrol missions. The vehicle usual environment in Africa leads toward different weathering approach too, mostly based on the red soil in the area, which makes it very interesting from that stand-point too. Such weathering is seen rarely and combined with the overall look of this rhino, will gather a lot of interest once the kit is out for sale.
picture courtesy of Wikipedia
Hopefully the part count and the approach towards the model will be the same as Trumpeter demonstrated so far with their various APCs available. They do need some aftermarket to be great, but even OOTB they are quite good. We're about to find out what exactly Rookiat will be like. www.dnmodels.com  
miniart 37019 dn models unboxing review t-54b

MiniArt T-54B Soviet Medium Tank Review

Introduction: MiniArt T-54 line does not need introduction. The models released so far are with unmatched quality and very affordable price. So far, we've seen so-called pre-production vehicles, which were actually produced in quite some numbers. However, releases of popular and more widely used outside USSR mods are just getting started. T-54B is one of those, available on the market from this month and with two options. One of those is T-54B with interior, another - without. In this article we're going to take a quick look at the latter one: MiniArt 37019. Box and the boxart: One thing I spotted with MiniArt is that the kits with interior feature slightly polished in look boxarts. Interior versions have some landscape and look more like a picture. The ones without have pretty much the same looking tank on top, but the area behind it is separated into two, white and red, simplifying the overall appearance. The difference is easily spotted and this is probably helpful for the buyer, but unfortunately, the box lacks attractiveness compared to the other kit. For those with bigger stashes this can be a bit disappointing, but for the devoted builders this won't be any trouble. The box /in both versions/ is crowded. Typical for MiniArt we have the sprues separated into big envelopes, combining them for better arrangement. Cardboard is not roomy enough for everything and once out, sprues require attention to be put back in if you want to close the lid. This is mostly due to the track sprues which are many, but as you will see in a bit, the space was not wasted. Instructions: We have standard MiniArt instruction sheet, abundant in information and not overcrowded with explanations. It is mostly black and white and in the well-know booklet format. Color sheets with the camo schemes are on the front and back, inside being the assembly process. Many photo-etch parts are included in the set, so be sure to follow the instructions thoroughly and not miss anything. Despite the overall pleasant appearance of everything, the kit is not a simple one, nor suitable for the novices in the hobby. It will demand your full attention and devotion. Sprues: Light gray plastic, being standard for MiniArt newest kits. For already two years, Ukrainian company is using better plastic material, which is flexible and very pleasant to be worked on. The detail on the sprues is second to none too. We have absolutely fantastic welding lines, as well as many molded details, which are way ahead of the competition. In case you want to achieve the similar appearance, you will have to work a lot with scratch and still the results might not be as good as the ones we have in 37019 OOTB. We have single piece gun barrel and very thin fenders. All in all, the parts are thinner than on most of the kits on the market today, with good texture, fine detailing and flexible material. Turret details are the best of the tank. The mantled and the turret show specific texturing/also being different one from another/, which once being painted and weathered, will make the tank very distinctive from any other scale model. This will be quite helpful at any modeling show I believe. Tracks: Tracks are superb. There is no manufacturer on the market today, that offers a better option. They have castings with numbers, scaled down with absolute precision and devotion to detail. Compared to competitive kits, these are years ahead and although tricky for assembly, they do deserve the praise. I am mentioning that they are tricky for assembly, since making them workable requires a lot of time and careful work. Many modelers encountered problems with MiniArt tracks in terms of movement once they were installed on the kit. This is due to their relatively delicate appearance and assembly process. It takes time and effort but more than anything - attention is required. Photo-Etch parts: As usual, they are quite thin. I believe that Eduard and MiniArt compete in which one to be named The Best photo-etch producer in the World today. Eduard offer superb quality of their PE, especially dashboards and colored parts, but MiniArt as the thinnest one I've seen. They are more than delicate and sometimes I think that even scaled up, they will look thinner than the real thing. Especially the meshes. We have a set which is pretty much standard here, including the meshes mentioned. This time, MiniArt made a special envelope for the PE parts, which before I've seen wrapped in cardboard taped to protect them. With this kit, everything is elevated on a whole new level, looking way more professional and nice. Markings: We have four markings included in this set. It isn't much, but it is normal, having in mind that 99% of the Soviet tanks were dark green. We have three green ones and one winter camo, which I find to be especially attractive. This one can be seen on the box of the T-54B with interior. Pictures of those tanks in Soviet service are rare finds, but in museums items can be found for reference. Soviet green vehicles are quite similar in appearance, with minor differences, one of them featuring white lines on the wheels, idlers, sprockets and the fenders, and another - with logo next to the number of the tank. All things considered, I believe that these tanks will be most interesting if done in partially ruined and abandoned vehicles, without using those numbers at all, since the look of worn T-series is very familiar around the web. This can be easily done with DN Models masks, chipping out one or two numbers one over another, simulation long service life before abandoning the vehicle at some tank graveyard. Whatever option you might decide to use, you should know, that the set is not lacking variants, just the contrary. In reality, the possibilities with T-54B are endless and it is all up to your imagination. Conclusion The kit features: 674 plastic parts 19 clear parts 108 photo-etch elements Totalling: 801 parts with 4 marking options. This is pretty neat for a 35th scale kit without interior and very promising, knowing MiniArt's latest releases and their quality. T-54 is a milestone in armor history, with its variants making it the most-produced tank in the history. I hope that MiniArt will turn their T-54 line into pretty much the same production run, but scaled-down. There are many variations of T-54 and T-55, especially interesting being the Israeli and African variants. Takom has already set the bar pretty high in that matter, but I believe with MiniArt we have a superior kit. With all things considered, this is very tempting kit and whichever of the two options you decide to get - with or without interior - you won't be disappointed. You might be challenged by the build and the small details but in the end, pleasure and satisfaction is all that will come out of building MiniArt's T-54B. Highly recommended! www.dnmodels.com
nato fighter bundesfighter unboxing review dn models

Unboxing Eduard`s 1/48 Limited Edition kit – F-104 NATO+ Bundesfighter

The amazing legacy kit of the F-104 NATO-fighter and F-104 Bundes-fighter from Eduard is unexpectedly something rather unique. It is something that I saw for the first time and it was very exciting. It comes to something like two kits in one box: the NATO+Bundesfighter. The box looks double sided, but it`s not exactly. It is a blank box wrapped in a thin cardboard wrapping with two gorgeous colorful boxarts, respectively of the NATOfighter from the one side and of the Bundesfighter on the other side. Inside the box, there is one big bag with plastic parts and a lot of “other materials”. Let`s continue the unboxing review with the content of the kit.   What`s in the box
  • Plastic parts: they are packed at once and fortunately they are not a lot. This keeps them safe although the tight packing. The plastic parts are indeed for only one F-104 model and contain less than 100 pieces, which is not that much for a 1/48 scale kit. Yet the Starfighter is a rather small plane from the middle of the last century and its construction is rather simplified – one engine, one-seat cockpit, a vertical T-tail and definitely its most iconic feature are the small wings. The quality of the plastic parts is very good because the extensive riveting is clearly noticeable. The fuselage is assembled by two long side pieces, which creates the bulk of the model. The plastic parts of this kit are also spread out within around 10 small sprues, which ensures quick and easy orientation. And there is also one small black part with 4 small rubber tubes/caps for smoother movement of some parts.
  • Paper parts: they are a lot. Since this is just about literally 2 kits in 1 – almost everything else (except the model itself) is doubled. There are two big typical Eduard-style instructions – one for the NATOfighter and one for the Bundesfighter. The main differences in these instructions are in the colorful markings opts. The big decal sheets are the next important “part” that is doubled – respectively for 5 NATOfighters and for 5 Bundesfighters. The choice of 10 different airframes out of this single kit is something very exciting. Next, a small yellow sheet with pre-cut masks for the canopy and the tires is another great accessory in that box, just like the small piece with transparent films for the HUD.
  • Surprises from Eduard: it wouldn`t be a proper Eduard Limited Edition kit without the magnificent Eduard surprises in the form of photo etched and resin upgrades. Most of all – it comes to 2 almost identical PE sheets and 2 bags with almost identical Resin parts. The PE sheets include parts mostly for the cockpit of this F-104 kit. The resin parts include two different seats and a few small upgrades like nodes for the fuselage of the NATOfighter version of this kit.
  Pros of the kit Without a doubt, this F-104 Eduard kit offers much more advantages than you have expected, so the pros are much more than the cons. For instance, let`s take the fact that you will have a lot of left parts to upgrade your further models. Furthermore:
  • PE and Resin upgrades. They are proposed for two different airframes so when you build one of the 10 different airframes – you will have a complete set of PE for another F-104. And one resin ejector seat as well, which could fit in other planes that used a seat from the same type;
  • Extensive riveting. The F-104 is a rather old plane and is literally dotted by rivets that are clearly visible. The plastic parts have a good amount of rivets to represent a very good replica of the real plane in terms of rivets and other panel details;
  • Very well detailed nozzle. Usually, the OOB nozzle is not exactly the best choice, but not in this case. The plastic nozzle for this F-104 has beautiful highlights of the turkey feathers, as well as plenty of small inner and outer details, and the best part is that the outer edges are not too thick;
  • A lot of optional markings. There are decals for 10 different markings in this kit, ranging from shiny silver Starfighters, through Starfighters with green camouflages, to planes from a very wide period of time, planes from different Air Forces, and more. The big sheets with decals offer enormous options of airframes;
  • Positionable parts. Although small, this kit offers you to choose between landing gears up and down, canopy open or closed, airbrakes open or closed, and many else. All the control surfaces are separate parts so they can be glued in many different settings;
  • Easiness of assembly. This kit contains only a few dozens of plastic parts and most of them are rather large and flat pieces. This makes it suitable for not so advanced modelers who prefer the quick and easy assembly, and yet the gluing of the PE and Resin parts will require your pro skills to make this F-104 model better;
Cons of the kit Actually, I couldn`t find any major disadvantage or con of this kit even just by looking at the plastic parts through their big bag. Perhaps, only the lack of ordnance should be listed as the only con of this kit, but let`s face it – the F-104 is a rather small plane with so small wings, so to see its clean silhouette is a privilege. Why this kit is so unique The NATO+Bundesfighter kit from Eduard can not be compared to any other kit, because it actually has parts for two models, except the plastic parts. They are for just one model. This leaves an enormous variety of options to choose from when building your model. From a different ejector seat, to different markings and different cockpit configurations – the opts are numerous. You can get this kit here: NATO+Bundesfighter And the two separate versions: NATO Only and Bundesfighter Only
All pictures are courtesy of Eduard

F-16I Sufa unboxing – 1/48 Israeli Storm from Kinetic

There is something unique in the Israeli version of the iconic F-16 – maybe it is the unique three-color camouflage, which looks like a desert type camo and yet features fresh green nuances. Maybe they are the gorgeous animalistic tail markings that make the F-16I Sufa unique, or maybe both. In all cases – you get the awesome 1/48 scale rendering of the real deal out of this huge Kinetic box. The boxart depicts a Sufa with an eagle or a falcon on the tail, as well as decorated with quite a good amount of loadouts. The second thing that impressed me even before opening the box was the bottom right edge of the box, which shows the basic information about the content of this F-16I kit. The finished model will measure only some 30cm by 20cm, which is expected for a small plane such as the F-16I. However, the box of this small model contains more than 450 parts! Pretty interesting. So let`s get started with the unboxing review. The F-16I Sufa is famous as one of the widest exploited Israeli jet fighters, which along with the F-15I`s – are symbolic displays of the 3-colored Israeli camouflage scheme. The history of the model can be traced back to the last decade, when Kinetic offered a series of F-16 scale models. And the amazing Sufa camouflage still makes this F-16I model an irresistible subject for modeling. Even a quick first look at the kit is enough to understand that it is recommended mostly for advanced modelers or for the real pros. 450+ parts for such a small model is not an easy take. When you open the box, you might be stunned of the packing of the sprues. I came across just about three main bags full with sprues. Indeed, the bags are overwhelmingly stuffed with plastic, which leads to the biggest con/imperfection of this kit. Some bags hold 5-6 and even more sprues at once. The quality of the plastic is fabulous though – the parts have beautifully engraved panel lines, rivets, doors, tubes, wires and many other details, while the plastic sprues themselves are two-colored. This is not exactly advantageous, buts it`s interesting. Another thing that surprised me was one of the inner edges of the box, which holds a small triangular sheet with tiny little metal parts. While continuing with the unboxing of this Sufa kit, I quickly came across the instructions manual and the color markings that stay on the bottom of the box. The instruction manual looks rather like a small booklet, but it is a very good explanatory guide for the assembly of this 1/48 Sufa kit. Because of the small size of the manual – everything in it is quite small, including the lettering and the numbers, and it will require a little bit more attention to read. Here is an overview of the plastic parts in this 1/48 scale Kinetic kit: And an overview of the “soft” parts in this F-16I Sufa kit: I found these highlights of the kit as its greatest Pros: - Awesome riveting, panel lines and detailing of the surfaces. The rivets are everywhere and are very fine. The panel lines are not too deep, nor too fine. A lot of access doors and panels are engraved to put this Sufa kit even closer to the realm. - Replacement metal parts, respectively for the Pitot tube on the tip of the nose, and two small photo etch mesh screens which are to be fitted on the CFTs. - Decals for 4 airframes, respectively 2 from the Negev Squadron and 2 from the Bat Squadron. The differences are visible mostly on the tails of the Sufa, but in all cases – it comes to huge beautiful decals with falcons and bats. - A wide range of armament – from targeting to navigation pods, and from underwing fuel tanks to small rockets and bombs – there is everything in this Kinetic kit to overwhelm your model. This is especially essential for the Sufa, because the CFTs permit longer range without underwing fuel tanks, which on the other hand, means more space for loadouts. - Extreme attention to the smallest details – this is the first time I see so small details in a 1/48 scale kit, and I mean no photo etched or resin parts. Just regular OOB plastic parts. The Sufa is a rather small plane, but the attention to the smallest details is second to none – from antennas, to nodes, panels, probes, lights and many more. I also don`t mean replication of these parts via panel lines and engraving. This kit has a multitude of tiny little details as separate plastic parts. And as with every kit, this Kinetic F-16I kit has some Cons as well: - Unreliable packing. The inadequate packing is a big issue, because the kit is quite big and it`s not packed well. It`s only enough to imagine 450+ parts stuffed in just about three plastic bags to get a better idea on what we talk about. Some parts are broken, others are ripped off of their sprue gates, others are dramatically bent such as the airbrake. - Seamline along the entire canopy. Thankfully, the canopy and the other clear parts are stored in a small separate bag, and the canopy has no major scratches or indentations. However, it is not the perfect canopy – it has some great distortions and a molding line along its entire length, which will definitely require sanding and polishing.   Conclusion: The Kinetic`s Sufa is without a doubt one of the most detailed if not the most detailed F-16I in 1/48 scale. I have not seen that much F-16 models by myself, but I strolled through a few inbox reviews and videos, and the number of the parts  in this kit is something that you don`t want to underestimate. More than 450 parts let you to choose the best way to assemble your favorite Sufa airframe. Although F-16I is a small plane and the CFTs make it look a little bigger, this model features a lot of details - small and bigger, to combine into an overwhelmingly detailed and complex model. You can get this kit here: Kinetic F-16I Sufa 1/48