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

Kit Prices and the Future of Production

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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M3 Stuart Late Production – Tamiya New tooling

M3 Stuart is a America light tank used in Second World War. It was supplied via the lend-lease program and was used until the end of the war. It is one cute little armored vehicle, however not glorified in movies or stories like its bigger siblings. In modeling, such an object can gather attention though and quite often, those obscured war objects are more tempting for modelers than the popular tanks that almost everybody recognizes and builds. Tamiya's research team is obviously aware of that fact and there was no surprise that such vehicle is appearing as a new tooling in 2018. The tank will be released by the number 35360 and it will be from Tamiya's 35th scale line. What is interesting about this particular tank is, that the M3 Stuart was used by the Red Army and as we all know options there are endless.  Various camouflage schemes and slogans are potentially embedded in this kit, as well as weathering which includes all kinds of climates where M3 served. Price-wise the new M3 from Tamiya will probably be quite affordable, but from my experience, aftermarket will be needed. Tamiya's rubber tracks are most likely what we will get with the kit, but professional modelers won't be happy with those. So it is expected - and in a very short time - that after the kit appears in the stores, many photo-etch and resin companies to try to fill the gaps that Tamiya will leave with their new kit. Comments on the quality are useless, knowing Tamiya as a scale modeling conglomerate, but as far as detailing there might be some. It is too early to judge the kit though, but probably it will be suitable for a large group of modelers. The late production M3 is the one that Tamiya announced just recently, but there is a chance that early versions might appear soon. Hopefully, we will get to see and review this kit in the near future, because despite its size, it will be a winner on the 35th scale scene. 
Pictures used are courtesy of TamiyaBlog
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miniart 35226 soviet assault imfantry dn models review unboxing

Soviet Assault Infantry in Winter Cloaks from MiniArt

Introduction: A good diorama always includes unusual things in it, especially in terms of figure modeling. The most important thing is to catch the proper moment from a scene, where a surprise, an action and expectation are implemented into one. This being said, in terms of figure options, Miniart are one of the most popular companies on the market with various options for almost every interesting era and theme. One of their latest - Soviet Assault Infantry with Winter Cloaks - 35226 is what we're about to look at here. The Box: We have standard for Miniart's figure sets box, made from glossy cardboard, colored all around and all-around-interesting. On the top of course is the boxart of 35226 - 5 soldiers in winter cloaks, each in different position with individual expression and appearance. With short description of the number of parts and the fact that the kit is from WWII Military Miniature Series, the boxart is missing background which leaves the focus on the soldiers and their looks. On the sides there is some of the other MiniArt kits which are available, being some sort of hints for the modeler who bought this. Maybe, just maybe some people who get this by chance will be interested in other Miniart products and the Ukrainian company used the space quite thoughtfully. The back of the box features the instructions and paint tables, including various paint manufacturers, with both - most used all-around the World and also less popular brands all together. Instructions: There are five soldiers in this set and each one of them is in different position and in slightly different appearance. The back of the box gives suggestion on how to paint them, which is very straight forward. Each soldier is positioned on a different sprue and the paint guide follows that pattern too. The guns are also marked with different numbers, from 1 to 3, because we have three types included in the set. Respectively we have repeating weapons for some of the soldiers here. Everything is pretty much self explanatory, however figure painters know well, that painting is the trickiest part of this build and even simple to assemble, it is hard to be done realistic. Sprues: We have sprues for each soldier, which gives one unusual advantage. In case you decide not to use the whole set, this pretty much saves space and put neat order into your stash of spare parts, since everything you need for a specific figure with a pose of your preference is molded into single frame. That saves time when building and space when storing. The quality of the plastic is the typical MiniArt - softer plastic than the one they are using on the vehicles and tanks, with little bit of flash and superb texture. The face expressions, the small details - everything is here. Especially nice I discovered to be the weapons. Since I am not using that much figures in my builds, those are perfect as a stowage for some of my 35th sale tanks and trucks. The quality here is very good and it is tempting for every modeler to put some of these on the back of the vehicle that they are building, just to spice up things a little bit. Overall quality of the plastic is good and we have no less features than the usual MiniArt Military Miniatures set, which makes this a set with good enough quality. Conclusion: This set is one with very flexible use. For example, you can use this to make an ambush scene, featuring German vehicle, or maybe a captured one, being guarded. Also, you can use the Soviet crew here for a standard diorama featuring standard Soviet scene in winter atmosphere. The amount of detailing molded into those figures allows you to work a lot and create various additional interesting effects, plus the fact that the winter camouflages - no matter tanks or uniforms - are very attractive. MiniArt 35226 is the standard figure set from the Ukrainian company with good qualities and will be warmly welcomed by diorama builders.
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F-16I Sufa unboxing – 1/48 Israeli Storm from Kinetic

There is something unique in the Israeli version of the iconic F-16 – maybe it is the unique three-color camouflage, which looks like a desert type camo and yet features fresh green nuances. Maybe they are the gorgeous animalistic tail markings that make the F-16I Sufa unique, or maybe both. In all cases – you get the awesome 1/48 scale rendering of the real deal out of this huge Kinetic box. The boxart depicts a Sufa with an eagle or a falcon on the tail, as well as decorated with quite a good amount of loadouts. The second thing that impressed me even before opening the box was the bottom right edge of the box, which shows the basic information about the content of this F-16I kit. The finished model will measure only some 30cm by 20cm, which is expected for a small plane such as the F-16I. However, the box of this small model contains more than 450 parts! Pretty interesting. So let`s get started with the unboxing review. The F-16I Sufa is famous as one of the widest exploited Israeli jet fighters, which along with the F-15I`s – are symbolic displays of the 3-colored Israeli camouflage scheme. The history of the model can be traced back to the last decade, when Kinetic offered a series of F-16 scale models. And the amazing Sufa camouflage still makes this F-16I model an irresistible subject for modeling. Even a quick first look at the kit is enough to understand that it is recommended mostly for advanced modelers or for the real pros. 450+ parts for such a small model is not an easy take. When you open the box, you might be stunned of the packing of the sprues. I came across just about three main bags full with sprues. Indeed, the bags are overwhelmingly stuffed with plastic, which leads to the biggest con/imperfection of this kit. Some bags hold 5-6 and even more sprues at once. The quality of the plastic is fabulous though – the parts have beautifully engraved panel lines, rivets, doors, tubes, wires and many other details, while the plastic sprues themselves are two-colored. This is not exactly advantageous, buts it`s interesting. Another thing that surprised me was one of the inner edges of the box, which holds a small triangular sheet with tiny little metal parts. While continuing with the unboxing of this Sufa kit, I quickly came across the instructions manual and the color markings that stay on the bottom of the box. The instruction manual looks rather like a small booklet, but it is a very good explanatory guide for the assembly of this 1/48 Sufa kit. Because of the small size of the manual – everything in it is quite small, including the lettering and the numbers, and it will require a little bit more attention to read. Here is an overview of the plastic parts in this 1/48 scale Kinetic kit: And an overview of the “soft” parts in this F-16I Sufa kit: I found these highlights of the kit as its greatest Pros: - Awesome riveting, panel lines and detailing of the surfaces. The rivets are everywhere and are very fine. The panel lines are not too deep, nor too fine. A lot of access doors and panels are engraved to put this Sufa kit even closer to the realm. - Replacement metal parts, respectively for the Pitot tube on the tip of the nose, and two small photo etch mesh screens which are to be fitted on the CFTs. - Decals for 4 airframes, respectively 2 from the Negev Squadron and 2 from the Bat Squadron. The differences are visible mostly on the tails of the Sufa, but in all cases – it comes to huge beautiful decals with falcons and bats. - A wide range of armament – from targeting to navigation pods, and from underwing fuel tanks to small rockets and bombs – there is everything in this Kinetic kit to overwhelm your model. This is especially essential for the Sufa, because the CFTs permit longer range without underwing fuel tanks, which on the other hand, means more space for loadouts. - Extreme attention to the smallest details – this is the first time I see so small details in a 1/48 scale kit, and I mean no photo etched or resin parts. Just regular OOB plastic parts. The Sufa is a rather small plane, but the attention to the smallest details is second to none – from antennas, to nodes, panels, probes, lights and many more. I also don`t mean replication of these parts via panel lines and engraving. This kit has a multitude of tiny little details as separate plastic parts. And as with every kit, this Kinetic F-16I kit has some Cons as well: - Unreliable packing. The inadequate packing is a big issue, because the kit is quite big and it`s not packed well. It`s only enough to imagine 450+ parts stuffed in just about three plastic bags to get a better idea on what we talk about. Some parts are broken, others are ripped off of their sprue gates, others are dramatically bent such as the airbrake. - Seamline along the entire canopy. Thankfully, the canopy and the other clear parts are stored in a small separate bag, and the canopy has no major scratches or indentations. However, it is not the perfect canopy – it has some great distortions and a molding line along its entire length, which will definitely require sanding and polishing.   Conclusion: The Kinetic`s Sufa is without a doubt one of the most detailed if not the most detailed F-16I in 1/48 scale. I have not seen that much F-16 models by myself, but I strolled through a few inbox reviews and videos, and the number of the parts  in this kit is something that you don`t want to underestimate. More than 450 parts let you to choose the best way to assemble your favorite Sufa airframe. Although F-16I is a small plane and the CFTs make it look a little bigger, this model features a lot of details - small and bigger, to combine into an overwhelmingly detailed and complex model. You can get this kit here: Kinetic F-16I Sufa 1/48
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bmpt-72 Terminator II 4611 Tiger Model Unboxing Review DN Models mask set Camo 691 × 441

BMPT-72 Terminator II from Tiger Model. Unboxing and Review

BMPT-72 Terminator II: Some background: BMPT-72 Terminator II is a fire support vehicle, inspired by BMPT Terminator, based on a T-72 tank chassis. In general the main difference is that the BMPT-72 is a retrofit design, oriented toward T-72 operators who wants to modernize their army for less money, unlike standard BMPT which is supposed to be a new production. It is not certain what are the capabilities of the BMPT as a concept, but it is supposedly based on the experience of the Soviet/Russian army in Afghanistan and Checnen wars. It is noted in several articles that the -72 is oriented mostly towards urban warfare. In the last couple of RAEs /Russian Arms Expo's/ the BMPT is used as a show-off vehicle, but as with many Russian build machines, the show is the last stop probably for most of them. The name Terminator II is also an odd one, since it is not exactly clear what will be Terminated by it, let alone the suffix "II", which reminds to the masses of the famous Cameron/Schwarzenegger movie. But maybe that was another marketing trick used by UralVagonZavod. Maybe the future will tell, is this a formidable and sophisticated weapon system or it is just another modification of the obsolete T-72. The box: The kit from Tiger Model was succeeded by Trumpeter's announcement of their own version, which is not yet on the market. Tiger managed to pull out the rabbit of the hat first. Not only that, but they provided a very nice box, colorful and sturdy. The top is glossy, with bright and playful colors. The sides are with vehicle profiles and renders of the parts, decal and photo-etch show-offs. Nice logos, QR codes and hints about the contest of the box and its goodies. The boxart - a BMPT-72 Terminator II which looks a lot like a promo pictue from UVZ, at one of the RAE shows. Overall, very neat first impression! One of the best on the armor market, probably as good as Meng Model's boxes. The instructions: The instruction sheet is a booklet, black & white not overly thick. The instructions are only that, no colorful schemes, no useless explanations. Right to the point. Everything here resembles Tamiya: the step numbers, icons, tools drawings, the way that Tamiya engineers their instruction sheets/leaflets. The paper is not-so bright white as with the Japanese company, but it is very good. Very thorough description of every step, particularly nice on the suspension. Every arm is marked with number and you cannot go wrong with it. Simple, clear separation of the steps and their details. A little chance to miss something or confuse it like with Dragon for example. Also, an additional sheet with track assembly instructions is provided. Nothing too complex there, but there is a tool included, so just in case, Tiger Model added a little something there too. The Sprues: Before going to the plastic, I must add a very neat add-on from Tiger Model: a sticker sheet, with colorful sticker for every sprue. This will prevent the unusual roaming through the box every time you might need some part from another sprue. This, if I am not mistaken is also a Tamiya's idea dated back in time. Different colors for each sprue too. Small, but nice add-on, pleasant for the eye and useful during the build. The box is not overcrowded like Meng or some of the Trumpeter boxes, but has a decent number of plastic sprues inside. Again Tamiya resemblance with the plastic material. Something in between Tamiya and Takom is what we have here, with superb quality and exciting details. Not a lot of ejection pin marks, little to-none flash and flexible material.   Tracks are on separate black sprues. Clear parts too - separated. There are poly caps on a different material sprue too. Every sprue /besides the wheels which are combined/ packed in plastic soft envelope, exactly like Tamiya does their packing, with metal staples closing it. The top of the turret - enclosed in a separate soft plastic box with a clear cover. Very delicate! The add-ons: We have a nice decals set, but nothing too special. Small, compact, just enough for the vehicle. The photo-etch sheet though is a gem: engraved with Tiger Model logo and 28 types of PE parts in it. Packed over a black thin and soft cardboard-like material, it shines! The material is softer than Trumpeter but thicker than MiniArt, which is just about the gold standard! Nice touch here too! A flexible metal towing rope. Something, that some of you might be used to with the older DML kits, but rarely seen today. Even if present, for example with Trumpeter stuff, not even close to the quality of this one here. Even though the cable isn't particularly interested when you look at the BMPT-72 Terminator II, Tiger Model did that effort too. Then we have two metal gun barrels. Packed in a separate box, just like the turret top. This is the cream of the cake in my opinion. They are delicate, precise, nothing close to the mediocre plastic gun barrels. BMPT and BMPT-72 has delicate barrels, which aftermarket companies supply for the other BMPT makers. Here Tiger Model spared us the hassle of buying aftermarket, providing the metal parts OOTB. The muzzle breaks are with clean cuts, no flash, no troubles what so ever. Just beautiful! The engineering: It seems to me that we have a winner here too. Comparing the Meng BMPT with Tiger BMPT-72 Terminator II, I found to have twice as much parts with Meng, but not that nice of a detail and engraving. Unusually complicated builds are thrown away with Tiger, presenting the modeler with just the right amount of part count to give you pleasure and spare you the hassle. Even with the tracks. Which are workable as you might guess from the pictures. We have detailed caps and brackets, texture on the track pads, tire treads on the wheels, welding lines along the metal assembly. We also have poly caps holding the upper and the lower part together, as we've used to see in Academy and Tamiya. Another resemblance with the Japanese company here... Fenders are superb, with curves along the imitated rubber parts of them, fine rivets and even better L-shaped hooks. Sprockets are well defined, clearly molded. Stowage boxes as well. Even though most of them are molded onto the upper part, they are not a tiny bit lesser in quality compared to Meng or Trumpeter. Just the contrary. They look better. Definition of every part here is helpful especially with those who love to prime and seal after, witch several varnish layers. No detail will be hidden. We have workable suspension, movable turret and hatches which are positionable but can be made into movable quite easily. In addition to all that we have antitank missiles included. The camofulage options: BMPT-72 Terminator II is seen mostly at the military equipment shows. As you might guess, the camo schemes are primarily demonstration ones. They are quite similar to the splinter camo used with the BMPT Terminator. We have a nice colorful with four variants of BMPT-72 Terminator II camo. Three splinter camo versions, including the famous Gray one, - which is a lot of people's favorite - and a Modern Russian semi-soft edge scheme, with the new red stars design. They are all clearly depicted, but execution of those, considering the turret shape won't be an easy task. DN Models steps up here, providing several new sets for the popular BMPT-72 camouflages. The masks that are designed for the standard BMPT are very popular among modelers and DN Models would never miss a chance to introduce new products which will be handy for airbrushing odd and difficult camo schemes. Since BMPT series are one of our favorite subjects, you can check the store for Terminator II versions if you need help with the painting process! Conclusion: We have:
  • Brand new tooling
  • Photo-etch sheet
  • Metal gun barrels
  • Metal Tow Rope
  • Workable suspension
  • 4 independent anti-tank missiles
  • Workable tracks
  • 4 Camo schemes
This is one fine kit I must tell ya! If you don't know who the maker is, you can easily mistake it with Tamiya. Instructions, plastic bags, plastic quality - everything resembles Tamiya. There are differences of course. For example the nice PE sheet which is something that Tamiya rarely uses, and not in this brass color. Also the metal gun barrels as well as the workable tracks. I checked the dimensions, since the first impression that I got was that the hull is too small for T-72. However it matches it almost perfectly with slight differences here and there. The detail of the engravings is better here, although many will scream for Meng, I know. But the truth is that this kit looks better. It has just enough parts, not unusual and useless complications. At the same time we have workable suspension and tracks, movable turret and most importantly - several different mediums: PE, Metal, three kinds of plastic and a towing rope. Just enough to satisfy the needs of the most picky ones among the modelers. Not to mention the camo schemes. They are definitely better than the standard BMPTs, probably because this is a second generation /sort of/ of that vehicle. Alongside the nice touches in the kit: packing, sprue stickers, wonderful boxart, I consider this to be among the nicest choices for a modern AFV in 35th sale on the market. The price is not bad at all and it is almost perfect OOTB. Highly recommended all together with Tiger Model as a company! You can get the kit HERE Check out the DN Models Shop for Camo Paint masks for the BMPT-72.
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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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The Year of The Abrams. RFM with Interior.

Several times this year I mentioned that 2016 will be The Year of The Abrams in terms of kits and more or less - in history. 25 years after Desert Storm, Abrams is still one of the leading tanks in the World, alongside with Leopard 2, Merkava IV and T-90. It is the only one among those featuring turbine engine and probably the most used in real combat conditions alongside with the Merkava IV. However, Merkava is used only in the Middle East, while the mighty Abrams is currently deployed all around the Globe and probably took action in most parts of it. Rye Field Model surprised with their Tiger I with interior. It might not have been the best Tiger I out there, but full interior was something interesting. During 2016, Meng, Academy and RFM announced Abramses, with RFM even doing the 25 Year Anniversary one. Now, they will hit the market one more time, with M1A1 /M1A2 with full interior. This is not only cool, it is awesome! Mainly because of the turbine engine. But not solely. The M1A1 /M1A2 is a rather complex combat vehicle, and it is interesting to peek inside of it, even though scaled down and in plastic. The Full Interior tendency is very hot right now, as we constantly see new things with their guts out: MiniArt T-44, Su-85, Meng's Bradley & upcoming Tiger II, RFM Tiger I, Takom with their new Tiger IIs. Now, nobody thought of making M1A1 Abrams in that matter. But yeah, apparently Rye Field did. From what we know about the company so far, we pretty much can guarantee that this will be a winner. Even though new on the market Rye Field proven to be on the right path and with new and fascinating ideas. With the preliminary info about the model /pictures of which you can see here/ it is visible, that they will play no games. The whole M1A1 looks crowded and it should be. Also, we have a lot of competition on that field. Even with different versions, other brands offer us pretty much nearly-perfect Abramses, for which we shouldn't complain. Modelers though are a breed which always demand more, and it seems like the new M1A1 from Rye Field will give them exactly that. Recently, the most featured camo of the Abrams is the desert one. However, DML announced their re-pack with a green NATO camo scheme, and here with RFM M1A1 we have the same on the boxart. The camo schemes are again- desert prevailing, but we have a different option as well: For myself, this one shown above is the way to go. But RFM took care about other modelers with different taste as well: As you can see, the camo schemes are done in a collaboration with MIG/AMMO, which is starting to become a standard in the business. I've already seen couple of people buying kits from Meng alongside with AK paint sets released especially for them. Those paints are far from the best, but they do guarantee perfect color match and for some modelers that is enough. I think it is not a bad thing, since we do have more options. Whatever the case is, all camo schemes made alongside MIG /who is an expert in colors and camouflages/ are quite promising and it is nice to have em more in more in different manufacturers. Those schemes shown in RFM new Abrams are doable with masks, and if there is an interest about it DN Models will release Abrams set in the near future. There are many more options of course, it is a matter of deeper research. As for the interior kit we are about to get - well, those are exciting news. From what you can see in the pictures shown, you can guess that this will be an "A" model and with great quality. I am still not sure about the price, but knowing what they offer Tiger I at, I am pretty sure that it will be acceptable. It is a matter of a personal choice, either to get Meng, Academy, Tamiya or RFM. Or maybe another brand? The Year of The Abrams is not over yet...
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MiniArt’s Su-85 Mid Production with Interior

MiniArt's Interior kits seems like the new hit on the market. They did the Su-122 and the T-44 and promised new line of T-54s. But what we are going to look at today is not a tank, but another self-propelled howitzer: Su-85. Again, Ukrainian company did their "Interior KIT" line here. That features a full interior, but not only that - it represents a completely different approach to the interior as it is. Other companies /mainly aftermarket/ did offer interior sets for different vehicles from time to time. Those are engines, gunner's compartments, ammo racks and ammo sets and so on. Sometimes they are made from plastic, but more often - from resin. Meng Model made a hit on the market with their Bradely Fighting Vehicle, and even though it seemed a bit overdone /or overcrowded/, people liked it and some very nice works emerged from that kit. Not many other companies tried it, however, interior is something nice and presents you with a fair challenge, especially when it comes down to AFV. But back to MiniArt and their Su-85: Su-85 is self-propelled vehicle, based on the chassis of the famous T-34 tank. It is a rather gun destroyer instead of a self-propelled gun actually. It is a development of SU-122, but equipped with D-5T 85mm gun, which made it more powerful unit, with capabilities to destroy Tiger I tank from around 1000m. Su-85 entered service in 1943 and saw some battles  throughout the war, proving the concept but also proving to be slightly under-armed. That led to Su-100, but that's another story. Su-85 went on with service history within Soviet Union /until 50s/ and it's allies, which used it for many years after the end of WWII. It saw other battlefields as well, and it gained a fair amount of respect. In total, around 2000 were built. All in all - SU-85 is a subject worth modeling! So, what MiniArt did is: The kit is in a crowded box. And I mean - crowded! Once you break the plastic bags and the order that's inside of them, it is very hard to put everything back and close the box. That was very typical for Dragon kits, but now you can see it all over the place. Sometimes caused by poor judgement of the box size, sometimes - as in Su-85 case - from the large number of sprues. MiniArt did a great effort separating all the details onto different sprues and even though this is a waste of plastic of some sort, creates an useful way for the modeler to arrange the whole build. The instructions are very clear, organized well and put in a nice and luxurious leaflet. The leaflet itself is very nice, better than Tamiya, comparable with Meng and ages ahead compared to Kinetic or Academy. MiniArt do improve a lot small things with their releases and slowly but steadily crawl to the head places in the industry. The camo schemes are not many, but I must add, that there are two factors that eventually led to that decision. First is the lack of picture material about this particular vehicle. It wasn't the star that T-34 was, so Soviets didn't payed much attention in creating a decent archive about it. Second one is the fact, that most of the vehicles differ solely by the numbering. Rest is up to the modeler. Hence, the decals feature all of the numbers so to create whatever number combo you'd might think of. Of course, DN Masking set for Soviet vehicles might come handy in this case, but also painted by hand letters and numbers would do. The plastic is flexible, there is enough detail /maybe even too much for my taste!/ and many many small sub-assemblies. The casings of the suspension are there, just like in their Su-122, the engine and the driver's compartment, as well as the extremely abundant ammo set placed on many racks inside of the vehicle. The engineering of the assembly is done in such a way that there is a chance for you to leave a side or two open, so to show off with what you've managed to enclose in that small space inside. Tracks are very interesting, because they are separate links, placed on two types of sprues. The detail is so fine, that even the moulding markings of the real thing are represented in scale. Not only that, but they are clear enough and it is a pleasure to watch them up close. All the bottom parts - tracks, wheels, active suspension and so on, is very detailed and it is a state-of-the-art thing. Engine is pretty much the same. MiniArt sell kits only with engines, so you might imagine how many small parts and goodies have we got here in the Su-85 kit. Of course, many of these can be left aside and the vehicle will look perfectly balanced and attractive with only the exterior built. But it is the nicest thing to have more and more options, especially enclosed in one box or as it is popular to say - super kit OOTB. This is definitely one! MiniArt did kept their price low and simultaneously provided perfect tracks, engine, ammo set /a huge one/ and all the rest of the interior. Many other companies tried and failed. Even Tamiya, who kept their prices low, started selling improved tracks or gun barrels as separate kits which led to the huge increase in the price. I find that MiniArts ratio for details-per-dollar is probably the best on the market. Hand to hand to that goes the fact, that their kits are not for newbies, but they can be modified to be - leaving the interior aside. But hey, this isn't only cost effective. There are no let-downs with this kit, except for the complexity which is a bit high. But this isn't a let down per se. So I can only say that this kit is one of the best on the market, although challenging. Highly recommended as all of the Interior Kit series from MiniArt! You can get this kit here: MiniArt 35187 Su-85 Soviet SPG with Interior  
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