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Revell Rafale in 48th scale – an honest Review



Let’s start with an odd fact. It is nearly the end of 2020 and there is still no new tooling of the Rafale and Eurofighter in 48th scale. The only decent ones that we have are Revell’s which are rather outdated. And that goes for both. Here we’re gonna focus our attention on the Dassault Rafale. Being the less popular of the two, Rafale’s representation is also the better one of them.

It might be surprising, but despite both being the last 4th generation fighters and somewhat symbolic to the end of an era, European modern fighter planes were left aside from the modeling scene. That comes even with the fact that both are still produced/sold and amazingly - last couple of years even better than before. But let’s not rush it. Maybe Revell releases aren’t bad, but actually the opposite.

The Box

When it comes down to boxes, Revell is defenitely on the weaker side. They never actually made a really imrpessing box and on top of that, even with good kits, the finished model pictured on their boxes are ridiculous. Very good example is the MiG-21SMT which was released lately. That is Eduard’s re-box and the kit as we all know is superb. But the pictures show rather mediocre completion and paint job that might be mistaken for 12 year old’s. That is exactly the opposite of what you are getting with Eduard’s Fishbeds.

Luckily, the Rafale that we are unboxing today does not feature pictures of the built kit on its sides. And thank God for that! Other than that – the box is the typical Revell, with side opening and rather thin materials. Both unpractical and also easily damageable. Not a lot of information on it too, but we are living in an age that this comes easy.

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But wait. Oh no! There are built model pictures on the back of the box... But this time, it is not that bad. Actually this gives some justification of the real contents of this box. A rare sight and a pleasant one too. However, even with that said, if anyone from Revell is reading this – get rid of the pictures of completed models guys. This ruins the idea to some extent.

The boxart is decent, featuring a special scheme Rafale, making the overall look more impressive and tempting. Previous boxings of the same kit – which are several and date back from the end of the 90s – are also good, but probably this one is the best so far. This is something Revell did long ago with their F-16s and with others too. Germans are good with representing anniversary or special schemes airplanes. It is a clever marketting strategy as well.

When speaking about Rafale specifically, it is also worth mentioning that there were reboxings from other companies and all in all, M, B and C versions of the Rafale were all covered. We are looking at the latter version in this review. Among them all – this one is still the best in terms of packing appearance. In terms of contents – pretty much they are all close to another.

revell rafale honest review dn models masks for scale models


The instruction sheet is NOT the good old Revell that we are used to. This one is very improved. First thing to notice is that it features color. And it seems that this will make things a bit easier and definitely more pleasant for the eyes. Still it lacks the sophistications both in looks and information when compared to the best out there /ZM for example/, but it’s good. Quality of the paper is pretty decent and in general, for the price you pay for this release, it is over-delivery from Revell’s part. The color representation makes things a lot easier. German model maker made a good effort with it. Everything they picked – from the nuances through the icons and arrangement looks like a success story. Even if this is your first kit ever, the instructions are designed in a way to make your journey a breeze. Way to go Revell!

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Special emphasis on the paint sequence can be found in the end. The special scheme is splitted in two sections, the paint job you have to apply and the follow-up with decals. Again, clearly explained and in perfect coloring. No means were spared with this sheet. Nice touch, indeed.


Here is probably the strongest side of Revell’s Rafale. After all, boxing and instructions are just means to an end of a sort. And the end result is made by platic. So it is time to get serious here:

Light gray platic, all packed together in an transparent envelope, with surprisingly good detail. Actually quite great. Here is a good place to mention, that this is probably one of the reasons why there are new and improved Rafale toolings out there. The first glance here is an absolute eye candy. The quality of the material is typical Revell, so no complaints about that either.

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Now, when it comes down to details, things probably get a step back. A small one though. When you dig deeper in your research, you might find that Hobby Boss released their representation of the Rafale. It is very very /actually suspiciously/ close to this one, but features more rivets here and there. Lacks some details too. But the step back that was mentioned above, is the fact that a good Rafale in 48th, would’ve featured both from those two kits’ strong sides in one boxing. There is a feeling that Revell could’ve added a touch or two more here and there.

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For some, it is acceptable, because some old-school riveting and re-scribing might do the job and transfer this Revell’s Rafale into a quarter scale perfection. But for many – and especially in 2020 – this shoud’ve been included in the release. Just a hint about Hobby Boss – you will need some aftermarket to make that one good enough.

There are some accuracy issues with Revell’s Rafale wich will be mentioned in a link below, but the overall feeling is pleasant and again, for the price tag of this kit is over-delivery from German model maker’s part.

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Clear Parts

This is one thing that can be imrpoved significantly, but unfortunately aftermarket companies are not interested in Revell’s Rafale that much. The main reason is that it seems accurate in shape and size, but the thickness and quality are looking exactly like they are 20 years old. When compare it to anything relased in the last 2-3 years, you can note the difference.

We are not saying it is not acceptable. On the contrary. But this is a small sign that Rafale needs a re-tooling from another company. Or the same company. Whatever. Maybe a re-scaling too, but that is antoher subject. After all, after 20+ years on the market, somethings gotta change. It is inevitable.

revell rafale honest review dn models masks for scale models


Decals are one of the best features of this kit. They are printed in Italy and with the large parts that they represent, we must give it to the Revell’s and their choice of decal maker – this was a good call.

The transparent films are visible, but they look like troubleless fraction of the elements. If this was created by Cartograf, that would’ve been definitely the case. We’ve read that they are probably the design work of Syh@rt, which also is a promising information. Whichever it is, not a lot of complaints out there, especially when compared to Tamiya’s decals of the same period and scale. Once again – decal sheet is great with this release. Probably only masks could make this kit better in the end.

revell rafale honest review dn models masks for scale models


If you think that the special scheme is the only one you get with this kit because of the specific boxart, you are wrong. There are two. And they are as follows:

  • Tigermeet 2012 – EC 5/330, BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan - Arctic Tiger
  • Normandie-Niemen 2017 - 30-GF EC 2/30, BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan

One is the standard low-visibility grey scheme, the other one is the Tigermeet variant, one of the many Tiger variables that Rafales comes with in real life.

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Revell’s Rafale is actually a great kit. Being an old timer from 1999, this was pretty much top of the line release back then. As of today, this is the best Rafale representation in any scale. The really nice feature of this kit is the price tag. That, added to the fact that it is modeler-friendly to some extent, make this purchase a reasonable one.

The more detailed review of Revell’s and Hobby Boss’ Rafales can be found here. A great modeler and a friend of ours built those two and noted the most significant issues found with them. Besides, this is one of the best modelers we know and we strongly urge you to take a look at his Rafales. They are both very inspirational.

But being an honest review, this lead to the conclusion that this kit is not perfect, even though very good. A combination of the price, good decals and minor flaws, makes this Rafale a very tempting option for experienced and novice modelers. The other way to go is to wait for a new release. Which will be unlikely to happen having Revell’s acceptable quality and price already present.
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.

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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.

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

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


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


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.


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.
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?
Tools Talk - Best Scale Modeling Nippers

Tools Talk – Best Scale Modeling Nippers


There is a saying that the craftsman is only as good as his tools. That is 100% true for scale modeling too. Especially when it comes down to nippers. They can be a destroyer of dreams, especially when the curvy plastic is soft and attached to the sprues just where it shouldn't be. Nippers can be of a lot of help, as well as cause a lot of trouble. They can be a deal breaker /and especially/ with delicate parts or round elements.


the delicacy of MiniArt small and intricate details. Rods, hoses, cables - made from plastic and what not. Now imagine there is just a tiny bit of more tension there. In between the two or more of their attachment points. If you use sharp and precise nippers, you will be fine. Most likely. But if you use something of low quality, with damaged cutting edges and with thick cutters - you will see the element break. Or, just like mentioned above. A beautiful, round fuselage parts that you see on some first or second generation jet fighters. Let's say Eduard MiG-21 in 72nd scale. You can easily cut some of it, or, damage it beyond the point of decent repair. And there goes your perfect round shape. All that is a work for your nippers. When picking a pair, you should not be cheap, but you should know exactly what you are looking for. Because they can be expensive too. And for no obvious reason. On the market there are several options, some of which fantastic. Others - not so much. Here's the top 5 nippers you can get nowadays, according to what I've learned in my modeling journey. Believe it or not, either of those should do just fine, but a pair of them /preferably combined but different/ will be the perfect combo.

Number 5:

Tamiya Craft Tools #74035

Tamiya are a leading brand when it comes down to modeling. Scale Plastic or RC. They produce tools and some of them are the best. This set of nippers are called Sharp pointed Side cutters. Side means that they are meant to cut flat on one of their sides, which is the end towards the plastic part. They guarantee clean cut, and of course can be combined with something cheaper, just in case you want to save them from the extra tension.

Number 4:

Trumpeter Sprue Cutter Tool

Your eyes do not lie to you. Yes, Trumpeter comes at number 4 here. A step closer to number 1 and ahead of Tamiya. They are not better, but they seem to be a bit tougher. And the reason why they are at number 4 is their availability. Trumpeter are available almost everywhere around the Globe now, while Tamiya are a brand that is hard to be found at some places. Trumpeter took the same road tools-wise as Tamiya, however they still keep their prices a bit lower. That is not exactly accurate for their cutters though. Still, they worth it!

Number 3:

GSI Creos Mr. Nipper Side Cutter

These are cheaper, yet very nice side nippers. GSI Creos are a solid brand from Japan, arguably second only to Tamiya. In my opinion they are pretty competitive. The price of those is right, they are comfy and can last you long. There are other, not-so-precise options from the same brand, but the set here is the one that I would recommend if you are serious about your hobby.

Number 2:

GSI Creos Mr. Nipper A - MT103

In my opinion - the wisest option you can get on the market today. They are number two fro two reasons. First is because of the flawlessness of Number 1 in this list. Second reason is the price. Compared to the best listed further down there is a significant difference on the tag. Number one are not that better, so to cost twice as these nippers here. MT103 is an improved model, stainless steel and they come from Japan. Guarantee for quality. GSI Creos is mentioned twice in this list here, so that must mean something too.

Number 1:

God Hand Ultimate Nipper 5.0 SPN-120

Hands down, God Hand Ultimate Nippers /SPN-120 5.0/ is the best set of nippers available. Expensive, but perfect. They are more precise than any of the sets mentioned above, thus the price. Made in Japan, they are very popular with modelers that are interested in various subjects. From Gundam to small 48th and 72nd armor. And those nippers deliver best performance that you can ever get. If you are not sure what to get, but you have the money, this is the set for you. Preferably combined with one of the not-so-precise options available. Before we conclude, the runner up. A set that probably deserves to be in Top 5. MENG Model Tool set

I cannot comment much on the set, because I haven't used the nippers from it and it would be inappropriate if I label it in this list. However, people that used this swear by it. On the other side they are fans of MENG Models and that might be slightly misleading. The truth is, that the set is very affordable and probably comparable with Trumpeter's nippers mentioned above. MENG are releasing airbrushes, thin glues and what not nowadays, so one can tell they are aiming high. Probably they won't embarrass themselves with lousy product, so I am inclined to trust this set. Nippers seems precise enough and with that price, it won't hurt to give them a chance.


All things considered, I must admit that you can hardly live with only one set of nippers. Many modelers have several. What I would suggest is to get at least a couple. Which ones is up to you. But if you ask me, go with something very nice, like Number 2 or Number 1 and combine it with one or two of the cheapest options. Number 5 is way up there just because some people could not get it that easily. Other than that it is in TOP 3.

Please remember:

these are not just nippers. Tools mentioned above are not only one of the best available, but they are also a way to keep the plastic of the parts you cut intact. They are the way to a better and easier modeling. They are also reliable products and well worth the money. Either one of those won't hurt a modeler's budget, especially with recent kit's prices. But at some point the investment will return. Sometimes, just one little defect can ruin the whole model. And all the modeling starts with cutting the plastic from the sprue.

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!

Kitty Hawk Next Helo Line

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

Turning plastic surface into a more visually pleasing metal surface

There are several common ways to paint realistic metal surface on a scale model and the widely known one is using metaliziers. The shine from the metalizer is so similar to that of the real plane, that the plastic model really looks like the real plane. At least as an overall appearance. Yet the use of metalizers has a number of specific details that you should know very well before getting started with using metalizers. There are several interesting highlights on how to make the simple plastic surface really look like metal.
  • The methods of spraying a metalizer. Usually, the most realistic metal surface is achievable only if the metalizer is sprayed with an airbrush. There are many buff-able metalizers, which also deliver a great metal finish. Choose your most preferred method or choose the easiest one – spraying with an airbrush.
  • The metalizer itself. There are numerous metalizers like the Alclad II series or other acrylic series.
  • The type and texture of the surfaces. The more the details, the greater the overall texture of the model. However, there is nothing more visually pleasing than a big, wide, flat, glossy, metal surface perhaps with rivets and panel lines only.
  • The base coat a.k.a. the primer. Spraying dark primer is usually the most used technique that ensures a better metal finish. In all cases, make sure to use a primer to make a really strong coat with the metalizer, because there are always further treatments.
  • The polishing methods. A simple polish with a cotton cloth or with dry paper towel will bring out the true shine of the metalizer. Leave the freshly sprayed coat to dry for a couple of hours and make sure that it is sufficiently dry for polishing. The polish will make the wide flat surfaces even more silvery and shiny.
  A great method to make the surfaces like real is to use at least a thin coat of metalizer underneath the real paint of the model. Always use very thin, almost transparent, coats of paint, and eventually you will end up with a beautifully build up paint color, as well as with a subtle metal shine underneath. Another great approach is to use pre-cut masks for painting different camo patterns or different panels with a subtle variation of the metal shine. A little bit of darker or lighter colors in the metalizer will give that difference in the nuance, while the pre-cut masks will provide nice right contours. Use pre-cut masks for painting camouflages over metal surfaces. Yet if you are not happy with the end result, you can always apply more weathering techniques or just another few paint coats to cancel the shine from the metalizer. Use only gloss coats of lacquer, which will keep the metal shine throughout the main painting of the model. The gloss coats should be very light, just enough to protect the surfaces during the application of the thin paint coats. Overall, the real world planes are made out of metal surfaces and although painted – they wear and the metal shine appears much or less under the paint. Not to mention the bare metal surface planes, which have no paint coats at all.

How to avoid typical issues with decals like silvering

How to avoid typical issues with decals? In a word: masks! From silvering and misaligned decals, to very thick and fragile old decals – you can really get rid of these issues just by using masks. Of course, not every decal can be replaced with a mask and it is not always possible. So, how about reducing the time for cutting, soaking and gluing the decals? With the pre-cut masks, you have more time to take good care of the choice of paint type, color and brand. The pre-cut masks can be used a number of times if handled properly and if stored justly, so even if you make two exactly the same models – you can use just one set of masks instead of buying more decals. To choose when to use masks instead of decals is usually easy and it is mostly related to the desire of avoiding the usual issues that can appear when using decals. For instance, let`s take a look at a couple common mistakes or issues that may appear when using decals:
  • Problems with very old decals. They are usually very thin or very thick, but not normal. Some very old decals might be yellowish or some kind of discoloration might be clearly noticeable. The decals in the very old kits are much more vulnerable to cracks and even they can easily break apart if not handled carefully.
  • Applying the wrong decal setting solution or applying it in a wrong way. Some decals require a minute or two for soaking in a softening solution, but other decals require more time. So, you may want to use a stronger setting solution and thus risk to damage the decal. Other decal setting solutions can cause an unwanted effect to the base coat of paint or lacquer.
  • Silvering is a common problem with just about all the decals, except for the best decals from the highest quality. If you don`t use any kind of setting solution – then, the unwanted silvering effect may appear easier.
  • Very difficult or impossible alignment. This could happen with the very long and spacious decals, which require to apply water or decal setting solution onto quite a larger surface of the model. In this case, the big decal could easily touch a dry painted surface and stick to it quite persistently. Aligning such a decal to its exact place could be quite a time-consuming exercise.
These are only the main issues with the decals, which could easily be avoided just by using masks. There are numerous options to replace a huge big decal with a mask, for example – you could make your own template with masking tape. Some kits have sheets with pre-cut masks included in them, such as the Eduard`s Limited Edition kits. Some online stores sell only masks as optional upgrades for a variety of models. Or else, try the DN-models masks, which offer a wide choice of applications – from typical canopy masks to paint only the frames, to masks for big and difficult camouflage patterns. Cover 2s19 splinter camo (site)2
The application of the masks is easy and sometimes quite trickier, than using a simple decal, but the final effect will be much more realistic. It`s just how the vehicles are painted in the real world – by applying coats of paint over templates or masks. Also, the choice of paint could be trickier, but if you do it properly – you could get an even better effect than with the normal decals.

Unboxing Zoukei-Mura F-4J – Phantom II in 48th scale.

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