meng model ls-012 super hornet f/a-18e dn models masks for scale models

Quarter Scale Super Hornet from MENG – Incoming!

 

F/A-18E from MENG Model was announced just in time for the holiday season. That was very clever decision on their behalf. The best Super Hornet in 48th currently is Hasegawa release which is quite old to be frank. But now, with the known popularity and quality that MENG Model offers, it is about to be dethroned and rather quickly. The day is getting close too.

TOP GUN: Maverick is coming. It was expected on X-mas 2020, with Tom Cruise breaking the sound /and many other sane/ barriers again, 34 years later. The star of the spectacle this time is F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet. And despite featuring the one and only F-14 Tomcat, the movie will revolve around the Super Hornet. Unfortunately – postponed again for summer 2021. Just in time for MENG kit to be on the shelves.

meng model ls-012 super hornet f/a-18e dn models masks for scale models

Another clever step in MENG’s strategy is the transition happening in Blue Angels team. They are getting F/A-18E and Fs and this is starting with 2021 season. As a matter of fact, the first Blue Angels’ Super Hornet was already flying this summer. And it is here to stay, as their current leader said that the plane will be in the team for the next quarter century.

So what can we expect? A good competitor and for some – a substitute – for Revell’s 32nd scale release, that appeared just recently. A killer for Hasegawa kit most likely… and some fun and joy for modelers of the US NAVY and TOP GUN movie fans. We can also expects folding wings, highly detailed cockpit, many weapons and typical MENG quality.

Knowing MENG’s history, it is highly likely that we will soon see two seater and then an EA-18G Growler variants, hopefully with great quality and in different variations. If that isn’t a great gift for the Holiday Season, we don’t know what is!

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F-35A Meng Model LS-011 RAM Panels DN Models Masks for Scale Models

F-35A RNLAF Anniversary Edition – MENG Model

F-35A in 48th scale from MENG Model is the best plastic representation of the newest 5th generation stealth fighter. It has been such for a while, and despite some efforts and even competitors from the larger 32nd scale, MENG Model kit remains dominant on the market. Lately MENG Model announced the release of a special anniversary version of the F-35A with the insignia of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. What is special about this kit is the vertical stabilizer art, representing the Goddess of the Hunt, which is the symbol for 323 Squadron of RNLAF.

Specific for the F-35 are the RAM panels of the plane. They were part of the main appearance of the stealth jet for some time, being painted in contrast lighter grey color. That changed slowly to a more subtle and barely visible tonality of the grey, which altered the general appearance of the aircraft. However, kit representation of the RAM Panels is slightly exaggerated, since on the real thing they are barely noticeable. On the picture below it is clearly visible how smooth is the finish of the aircraft and that you can hardly distinct the color variations. True fighter jet camo.

F-35A Meng Model LS-011 RAM Panels DN Models Masks for Scale Models

What stayed from the first days of the high-contrasting tonality of the painting is the fact, that the kit was moulded with very thick RAM Panels that are not exactly real. However, since no company can afford to alter their tooling to that extent, we are stuck with those panels, and the best way to approach them is by painting them with different variation. If you cannot win against them, you better join them – the old saying says.

DN Models has a set that covers that MENG Model release, and it is one of the most popular items on our site. What is interesting here is the fact, that with that stabilizer art, closely appearing color on the RAM Panels will turn this new MENG Model F-35A release into a real show stopper. While on some standard F-35s the RAM Panels sometimes poke you in the eye, here, you have something that you can actually attach to the different colors.

F-35A MENG LS011 DN Models Masks For Scale Models

MENG Model LS-011 is the third of the F-35A series from the company, but it is the first that can offer such a nice option that will cover the RAM Panels and make the most out of them. Compared to the real thing /seen in the picture above/, the panels might look a bit unreal. If you do not paint them, the kit will look even worse though, that is why combining the tail art with the RAM Panels color would be a great choice to deal with that issue.

Still, F-35A from MENG Model in any of its variations is by far the best scaled version of the stealth jet. Even though MENG decide to go with RAM Panels with their /hopefully/ future releases of F-35B and F-35C, there is still a way around those bulged plastic bumps that cover the surface of the kit.

After all it cannot be that big of a deal if you paint it properly and make it look attractive, right?

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IDF Armor top three kits today dn models masks for scale models

IDF Armor – The Best Three

IDF armor and aircraft are one of the most popular modeling objects nowadays. It has been a while since that became a fact too and the reasons are many. Mostly, because IDF are always at some point where tensions are high and quite often we see that in the news. Then, IDF vehicles are heavily modified and differ from the originals, making them distinctive and attractive. Many are into IDF modeling simply because they support Israel and that is their way to express their feelings and beliefs. Others – just want to deviate from the usual and take a road that is less traveled.

IDF armor

kits are many, but what I want to focus on is the top three that I came around in my modeling experience. I like IDF armor and airplanes for many reasons, although they are not my absolute favorites and by far. However, to be perfectly honest, the best armor kits that I’ve seen are IDF ones and I want to focus on those here.

From this article I will exclude the Doobi D9R, which I love and have built several from, simply because as a kit it is not that good. The fit has issues which are not many but at important stages, and the kit survived because of its specific charm, not because of its specific quality. It is a good kit but it won’t make my top 3.

All the kits in my top three I’ve tested and built, some in different variants, some exactly as described. What I found to be important is, that those kits comes as a very satisfactory sets and even though one of them requires a lot to be perfectly competitive with the other two, at the end it represents very fine replica in scale of the original thing. So, let’s start:

Number 3 – AFV Club Rochev / Doher:

My experience with this kit is by using the standard M109 and adding resin parts and aftermarket tracks in order to get the IDF version. Nowadays, both Rochev and Doher are available as standalone kits depicting the specific IDF Armor vehicles. Both of the options are great, but most likely both will require aftermarket tracks /at least/, so to be called “perfect”. AFV Club 35272 is the first one that became available and it is 1982 Rochev. Then, one year later, to the light came AFV Club 35293 – Doher version of the M109. Both of them are demanding and both can become real jewels in every collection.They feature nice goodies especially in the gun barrel section and with a minor additions they can be brilliant in any aspect. What I like about those is the fact that they are unusually looking, complex and aggressive vehicles, which,compared to any Zelda, Nagmachon or Doobi will grab your attention immediately. Besides as kits from modeling stand point solely they are very well engineered.

idf armor rochev doher afv club m109

Number 2 – MiniArt Tiran 4 Series:

This kit is my number 2 for several reasons, none of them that important. However for me, its complexity is a bit too much. I wouldn’t call it over-engineered, although many consider it being such. But the kit comes with and without interior and it is hard to resist the temptation. Then,you realize that you bought yourself a real challenge and not a joyride.

idf armor tiran 4 miniart tiran 4 sh 37029

MiniArt offer several versions and probably will continue releasing many more. I love their late options with the heaviest modifications, however any of the kits the Ukrainians offer are all - really beautiful. They have everything that you might want straight out of the box and they are not expensive either. Compared to the Doher / Rochev, Tirans are better in so many ways that I cannot begin to describe. Most importantly, they do not require tracks and in fact, their tracks out of the box are the best tracks I have ever seen molded on any kit out there. Abundance of options, 21st century kits and with upcoming versions which will satisfy many.

Number 1 – MENG Model Merkava III.D LIC:

This is it. The kit that nobody complained about, that nobody felt the need to buy aftermarket or alter. The set that represents very aggressive vehicle, which is contemporary and feature brilliant engineering, perfect boxing and it can be built by all kinds of modelers, no matter the experience.

idf armor meng model merkava III.D LIC 1/35

The packing is better than the other two by the fact that it is complex, but not as much as Tiran or Rochev / Doher, and in the same time does not feature intricate parts, which makes it good even for newcomers. While with MiniArt any newbie will be out of the game after a week of building, and with Rochev the interest might be lost due to some unusual complications in some specific areas, here such thing won’t happen.

From whatever angle you look at it, Merkava III.D is an IDF armor that is more attractive because it is a “mainstream” object. You can never gather that much attention on a Soviet Tank /even though modified/, nor howitzer, or at least not as much as you can get on a modern, specific and futuristic looking tank such as the Merkava III.D.

idf armor merkava IV.M meng model merkava 4

Why I chose that over Merkava IV from the same company? Well, because I like the III.D better. I haven’t tried the IV.M, but I am pretty sure that it is as good as this one I mention here. Want to add that I am not a devoted MENG fan either. I have built several of their kits and they have their flaws. Not like many that say that MENG are the best and this and that. They are not. And by far. But they are really good. And Merkava III.D is their highest achievement so far. Again, I trust that IV.M is as good as the III.D.

Why else? Well, I think of all those, Merkava feature the best packing, the best plastic and the cleverest engineering. Not by much, but still slightly better. Price-wise is good and what you need to do in order to achieve perfectly good results is just to follow the instructions. With MiniArt you can get that same result, but you need the experience. With AFV Club you can do it, but you need aftermarket.

With any of the three, you will have and IDF armor kit that is better than the rest on the market. Compared to some they are close, to others – they are miles ahead. But if you are IDF armor fan, you must have at least one of those in your stash or on your bench. They are all great and very highly recommended!

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f-35c top gun: maverick dn models

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

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

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

F-35C

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

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

US NAVY

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

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

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

F/A-18F

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

What I see is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MENG Model 9K37M1 Buk Air Defense System

Many kits are considered controversial, especially due to their history. Most of them are from the First and the Second World Wars. Not so many of the modern armor models, especially currently in use will spark such a debate as this one though. And as far as the information goes, besides MENG Model mentioned in that article, there are couple more options on the way from different manufacturers concerning the same subject. The latest that MENG Model announced was the 9K37M1 Air Defense Missile System, more popular as “Buk”. Buk is a self-propelled, medium-range, surface-to-air system, that entered service in the late 70s in the former Soviet Union. It is most famous as the system that shot down Malaysia 777 over Ukraine couple of years ago. Despite the fact that the Russians refused to take blame for the accident, investigators found proof that this was used by pro-russian separatists at the time of the unfortunate event and was part of a Russian regiment before that. That will bring a lot of sad memories for the thousands of people involved in one way or another with that tragic event, and now having it in 35th scale will cause the controversy mentioned above. It is nice to have a kit that can bring so much more than just being a beautifully painted and weathered scaled down model. Kits that brings memories about something are more than just a plastic with paint. They are quite often works of art, just like paintings. They can make you smile or ignite a dose of anger within you. They can even bring tears. Creating feelings means also that they are powerful tools and they are more than a lifeless toy. Something that builder managed to bring to life. Just like a beautiful song and its author. The Buk system that MENG Model is about to release is such a kit. What I think though is, that it is a bit too early to put this on the market. It is of course, nice to have a great addition to their beautiful and well detailed 35th sale line. However for many, Buk will always be a reminder of what happened to the people flying in that Boeing 777 over Ukraine. MH17 as many remembers it. Great loss of life and completely useless too. I am guessing that not many will reproduce the exact system that caused the tragedy of course, but still, the name Buk will always ring that wrong bell in many. Interestingly, as mentioned above, more of those are about to appear on the market in 35th scale. Again, surprisingly – closely released one to another. But that is not yet completely confirmed. On the other hand, one might hope that builders will make such kits, that will remind us properly about what happened and will make us think more often about MH17. Because thinking through the history is one of the ways to learn it. And once you know it, it is a great way to avoid it repeating itself. www.dnmodels.com
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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!
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Tiger I – Trumpeter New Tooling 35th Scale

Tiger I is arguably the most famous tank of the World War II and for some - the most famous tank ever. Tiger I is a powerful machine, worked from the deserts of Africa to the colds of Eastern Front and proven to be a formidable weapon. That is the reason why many companies release this kit and compete with each other which one will be more accurate, more detailed and featuring more parts. Last couple of years we witnessed Tiger Is with full interior, complex builds, with and without Zimmerit and so on. For the stuff that is missing from the kits there is a ton of aftermarket available and even with that companies are still interested in that beast. Trumpeter are not famous for their accuracy per se. So Tiger I is a challenge for them on almost every level. However, Trumpeter are a company that works and evolves constantly and for the last 15 years of me following their production, they sometimes left me amazed of what they are capable of. Just couple of days before Telford Scale Model event, Trumpeter announced two Tiger I's both based on a new tooling. We know that Panther is in the works and not only from them but Meng and Takom too, so that came as a surprise. A clever move too. Trumpeter gave us the boxart and the item numbers too: Trumpeter 09539 and 09540. Both of them feature Zimmerit coating on the boxart but it is still unclear what exactly will be included in the box. Considering their last releases, like MT-LBs, BTMs and large ballistic missiles, I can expect a lot from those sets here. Trumpeter are improving by the minute and let us not forget that those two Tiger I's come at a very difficult and competitive times. However, knowing their overall level I have my doubts that aftermarket will be absolutely necessary to complete the Tiger in acceptable fashion. Which is not bad actually. Even perfect kits are being upgraded more often than not, simply because some aftermarket is slightly better or even because it looks more attractive before priming. So if Trumpeter gives us decent in accuracy and detailing Tiger, I believe we will have a winner. Let's not forget too, that World of Tanks fans are playing this beast and most of them want one in their collection, on the shelf right next to the WOT Gameplay DVDs. So Trumpeter did a great thing releasing that. It might not be the perfect example of Tiger I in 35th scale, but it will be simpler than Dragon and after all, the hope that the new tooling will be better is still here. www.dnmodels.com
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Meng Model F-35A Lightning II in 48th scale.

Introduction: F-35 has been made into plastic model several times already. None of them accurate. It isn’t something surprising, having in mind the fact that most of the planes are being carefully guarded at the airshows and nobody is allowed close, let alone to take pictures. With that said, anyone in decent mind would imagine how little has any company have to work with, designing a scale model kit of this airplane. The first serious kit was Kitty Hawk, but with its ridiculously thick RAM lines it went straight to the bin for many. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not rivet counter but in the same time I was happy enough to see F-35 back in 2005 for the first time and it had nothing to do with the kit and its bulges that Kitty Hawk offers. Despite this it can be turned into a great model, but that is avoiding the accuracy. Since many complain mostly about that, let’s see what Meng has to offer. Instructions: Typically from Meng we get glossy and shiny looking instruction booklets. Not here. Maybe due to economical reasons, I don’t know. But we don’t have the shiny glossy booklet and instead we have a black and white one with a quality far behind what we used to get. One of my pages even had drawings from the next one, which speaks about very poor design and production. This isn’t what I am use to see with Meng Model and I would allow this one trouble without saying anything more. It happens. Even to the best. The booklet features clear explanations as before with their other models. Fewer parts in total, but that is normal knowing the subject. Also options. We have such with weaponary, with gear, stabilizers and canopy. For the outboard weapons, there is a nice explanation on what is supposed to be placed where, probably with the idea that many might try and overload the plane, looking for more extravagant look, forgetting the accuracy. Overall, if we forget about the look of the book itself, it is very decent as contents. Plastic parts: We have dark gray plastic from the well-known Meng model material, being famous with its quality. Their dark-ish plastic that I’ve worked with before /primarily on T-90/ is to be praised and there is no two opinions about it – here it is a big plus. Surfaces are thin and delicately molded, with the material allowing for easy sanding and being stiff enough to assure confidence in the modeler. Thin surfaces as leading and trailing edges are the new benchmark for quality modeling and Meng Model provides here. Nozzle inclusive. This is a bit of a trouble with Kitty Hawk, mostly due to its thickness. With F-35A from Meng, we have a clear winner and in my opinion no need for aftermarket. Wing surfaces are clean and crisp and whatever small details we might have on the F-35 are molded with typical for Meng perfection. As far as the colored plastic material goes, I see no low points, despite maybe a note. And that is, that there could’ve been more part in general for this kit. I think it is a bit over-simplified. That is not a necessary minus though. In my mind I compare that with their T-90 which for a tank features enormously large amount of sub-assemblies which if you compare to F-35A Lightning II it will look far more complex kit. Clear Parts: Those are great! They are not many, but with very good looks and from what I’ve seen and tested with the number of D9s that I’ve built – Meng know what they are doing when it comes to clears. The canopy isn’t tinted, which for many will be a letdown, but that isn’t necessary. Even if it was, it would’ve been far from the reality, since the tint of the real deal is something that hardly anybody can replicate in scale. For sure not from the production point of view. With that said, I gotta add that the transparency is very good and there are no distortions. The job is well done here, although I know that many will ask for more. Photo-etch and Decals: We have a small PE sheet with exactly three parts. Not typical for Meng Model – again. I don’t know what provoked such decision, but when I got to that point of the kit and everything else that I mentioned, I am pretty sure it was the economical view of the model itself. Decals are very nicely and tidy arranged sheet, with 2 US versions featured. As we all know, Meng model announced Japanese F-35 version already, so that should answer it. Maybe we will see few more, packed differently. Lowering the decal options and spreading everything into different boxes with lower production run will give more kit numbers for Meng’s portfolio and keep the price lower. For the decals there is one small sheet /smaller than A4/ with color schemes. Now this is the worst part of the kit. Absolutely horrible in terms of colors, look and quality too. It looks like it was printed in some Chinese garage by a teenagers, not like something that a major modeling company would make. The plane is depicted almost black, which is as far as possible from the reality, RAM lines are barely visible and overall contrast is awful. This is by far the worst Meng color instruction that I’ve seen. Conclusion: The box is rather small for that airplane but it looks great. With its satin boxart it looks very futuristic, combined with slightly purple-ish look of the painting. The quality of the plastic and the molding is typical Meng. No troubles with that. RAM lines are the best ones I’ve seen on any F-35 Lightning II model although they are still far from the reality. The two options available may seem limiting, but they aren’t and I’ve mentioned why above. The canopy isn’t tinted but everything else about it is splendid. So despite being full of controversial facts, this kit is probably the best F-35 on the market today. Italeri could’ve done better if they managed to fix the RAM lines. But they never did. And what makes their kit comparable with this one here is the scale, since they are in more favorable position with that. Comparing this with Kitty Hawk, well, MENG wins. No doubt about it. The details are thinner and more realistic and even though everything looks a bit dull it is due to the fact that the subject is designed to be dull looking – both for radars and people. Having said all that, I would recommend this kit. Not highly, but still. Only a fool would believe that there will be a decent and accurate kit of F-35 in any scale soon. Not for the next 15 or 20 years at least. It is a product of a game that plays with billions at stake and again, this is with a “B”. So don’t expect miracles. As far as normal expectations go, this kit is a good investment though. Check out DN Models website for Masks for this F-35A Lightning II kit.
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2017 – looks like the biggest year for Zvezda

Last couple of days Zvezda announced several new kits, all new toolings, all interesting vehicles and planes. They are scheduled for 2017 release and if you follow Zvezda you might know that they work in time lately, so that will most likely happen! Latest thing from them is the T-14 Armata platform, which is pretty nice kit. It lacks colorful instructions, it lacks photo-etch parts, but it is cheap. And being cheap nowadays is important. Especially when we talk about the most accurate Armata on the market. Zvezda did their Armata alongside with UVZ - Ural Vagon Zavod, the producer of the real T-14 MBT. But back to 2017 upcoming releases - What we start here is a Boeing's 737-800 in 144th scale, a gap /not a small one/ in the civil aviation models, which requires attention for some years now. Current kits are way below the standards with thick parts and doubtful accuracy. Many will look forward to Zvezda to fix that. With their Boeing 777-300ER and 787 Dreamliner releases out now, we can have some expectations for it. Next they announced Yak-130. An advanced jet trainer, slowly making a name for itself in the real world. Zvezda promised 72nd scale new tooling, which might not be a big model, but might be quite big deal if Zvezda manage to pull out an accurate and easy to assembly model. Also in 72nd scale a new MiG-29 is brewing. Yes, it is true that MiG-29 is a song that we've already heard in many different covers, but this time we are talking about the SMT, and who else but the Russians can surprise you with an accurate model of that thing? It is new, it is made in relatively small numbers and they have it for evaluation there. What we've seen with the Armata and UVZ, might be the case with Zvezda and OKB Mikoyan. We'll see soon enough. 35th scale is recently the most wanted thing out there. So, for that fan base, Zvezda are releasing the most. First comes the Sd.Kfz.184 Ferdinand. This monster of a vehicle used by the Wehrmacht during WWII was available so far from Dragon and Tamiya. Both with great qualities and also flaws /of course.../. So Zvezda announced new tooling! Well, that will be pretty tough job for them, since Dragon and Tamiya offer PE, metal parts and so on and from what we've seen so far Zvezda are missing that point in their scale model kits. Hopefully though, we'll have a new tooling Ferdinand for less money! Then we have another TIger vehicle derivative, which already is available as a base from Meng Model, Xact Scale Models and Zvezda. I am not a fan of this vehicle, but whoever is, probably will be pleased to see a new version coming down the road. This time with ATGM on the top, which will make it a tiny bit more attractive once built. Or not. Last but not least is URAL 4320 Truck, which also is pretty popular lately. Hopefully, since it is Russian again, and it is Ural, it will be done alongside with the factory, which means accuracy. Adding to that Zvezda, we'll get low price and decent quality. So it is pretty obvious, that even if Zvezda are to be the only new toolings for 2017, it won't be a cheap year for modelers. Seeing the T-14 Armata just couple of days ago, I must add that I will get at least half of those above, starting with their 737. Zvezda are showing great potential and big ambitions, which is great. Hopefully we won't have to wait long to get first of these in the stores. Come back to check for some reviews of them!
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Tristar’s Brummbar – From HobbyBoss this time.

Tristar's kits are no longer out on the market. Although wonderful kits, some of them featuring interior, Tristar's vehicles didn't survive the harsh market environment. Nothing to wonder, having in mind that better and better kits are released every week from all the newcomers like Takom, Meng Model, Amusing Hobby and so on. However, HobbyBoss are out there for quite a while, and although not official, we wall assume that they are one with Trumpeter, and they are only second to Tamiya in size. Maybe not for long too. So Hobby Boss came to the rescue, and bought the moldings from Tristar, repacking their kits and releasing them under HB serial numbers, with the same qualities, and almost exact same boxes. For Tristar fans is not all gone! Their kits are famous to be very nice, and when they were active /Tristar I mean/, they were considered as one of the best options. Some of the engineering decisions are not embraced warmly but even fiddly, the vehicles were very attractive once finished. Same goes for every kit of their line, and the Brummbar which are we looking at today is no difference from the rule. What we have on the market as Sd.Kfz.166 are Tamiya's relatively old tooling, Dragon's two toolings /1994 and 2008/ the second one of which is probably the best kit out there and repacks of those /Cyber Hobby, CMK/. Of course Tristar/Hobby Boss too. Being a rather unpopular subject, Sd.Kfz.166 Sturmpanzer /or Stupa as popular among the soldiers/ is also not so much represented in plastic. The late version is almost impossible to be found, with early and mid production vehicles available from the manufacturers mentioned above. Tristar's kit is available in two options - early- and mid- production, with and without interior. Now, repacked by Hobby Boss, the price is in the lower end for 35th scale kit and with the same quality. For the faint hearted, the interior version is not an option. It has many tricky assemblies, which combined with the large PE sheets and the single track lengths will drain your energy. The standard kit /w/out interior/ is acceptable though, even for novice modelers. It is important to say that the alignment of the turret, which is from many parts /not like DML's one piece/ might present you a problem, as well as the tracks. And if with the tracks you can get aftermarket as Friuls or any others, turret is not interchangable. So have that in mind. The kit is molded in yellow plastic, rather stiff and old-school looking. It looks like Academy or some older Hobby Boss kits, rather than new HB or Trumpeter. The photo-etch sheets are the same as with Tristar, so I cannot speculate which company made those, but they are nice for sure. Tracks are from different plastic, dark in color but again - tricky to assemble. They are not that good compared to Magic Tracks but are far better than any vinyl substitute. More than 900 parts in total, around 50 of which are PE, this is a project that requires time. The accuracy of the Tristar Brummbar has been discussed a lot over the last years and in general the opinion is that it is good enough. The price was a major issue back in a day, but not anymore. My personal opinion of the kit is that Hobby boss eventually should've released it in better plastic material, more soft and eventually add a thing or two just so to spice it up a bit. After all, the design is from 2008 and it is guaranteed that the industry has gone a long way since then. The tracks are something that I would eventually change for metal substitute too. Although nice, with all the shurzen on the sides, mounting plastic /eventually un-modified and hard to move/ tracks might be risky, compared to metal parts which are workable and won't give you a lot of trouble. In the end, the time spent to build either one of those will be pretty much the same. Now the million dollar question is: "How this compares to Dragon?". Well, to be frank, if money are no option, I would get DML or both. Dragon kit is a bit more sophisticated in terms of engineering, and even though some of their kits have inaccuracies, the Tristar/Hobby Boss Stupa lacks the finesse of DML. The turret for example, some of the small assemblies - all those things are a bit overdone with Tristar. Brummbar is a rather brick-like looking vehicle, so overcomplicating it won't help per se. Also, the tracks of Tristar are inferior. Here I must add, that Dragon's latest kits as we all know does not include magic tracks, so that beats DML. But if you get an older issue, probably Dragon is the better Brummbar. Hobby Boss Sd.Kfz. 166 is a really good thing though. The price is halfway to Dragon's and for what you get in the box it is a deal! The thing that you will require additionally, if you don't get metal tracks or some other aftermarket stuff like metal gun barrel or anything else, is patience. With enough patience, tracks can be modified to be fully workable, designing them exactly as Friuls. The stiffness of the plastic is not a "real" issue, nor the complication of the assembly. The camouflages are not so many, since the Brummbar was produced in couple of hundred vehicles only, but with disc camo mask sets /check the DN Models Store link above/ and/or properly weathered vehicle, you will squeeze a lot from this kit. It is true, that I mentioned some let downs above, but overall the kit is great. Is not the best, but it is close. And the price get it even closer. So, if you are a fan, go on and hit it. There is a link just below: Tristar / Hobby Boss Brummbar Sd.Kfz. 166
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