Category Archives: Reviews

1:72 Shock & Awe Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, or, Why You Can’t Trust Scale Drawings! Plus massive historical confusion about Revell-Monogram!

I’m an idiot; a nut for the combat ineffective F-104 ‘Missile with a Man in it’ Starfighter so I’ve collect too many, and then I went and spent what precious little money I have on a book of scale plans.  And now those scale plans might actually be wrong!

I checked my collection of 1:72 (1/72) scale F-104s against the Mushroom Modeling Publications (MMPBooks) Scale Plans:  Academy, ESCI (ERTL, Italeri), Hasegawa, Heller, Matchbox and Monogram (not Revell), with interesting results.

Click the pics in the gallery to see more:

Conclusion: I’ve compared only the canopy, fuselages and wings because there is a plethora of aftermarket detailing sets out there, so all you really need are decent canopy, fuselage and wings.

All kits had fuselages longer than the MMPBooks Scale Plans, but both Academy and Heller have the largest fuselages in length and circumference.  Academy is the worst offender due to the obviously oversized cockpit and canopy.

Despite being an old kit (almost as old as the Heller kits) the ESCI kit still looks good.  Matchbox looks toy like but seems to be shaped right.

Everybody likes Hasegawa, so much so that many kit builders find it heresy to even question the accuracy of their kits.  But I remember the days when their kits were junk!  This Hasegawa kit is definitely not from their junk days in the 1970s.  It’s the best two seater F-104 available in 1:72 scale.

The 1990s issue Monogram kit is the winner for straight out of the box appearances.   What’s interesting is that there are some reviews out there about the Monogram F-104C that complain of too many rivets, canopy defects and even that the Monogram kit is the same as the Revell F-104G kit with raised panel lines. My kit has fine recessed panel lines and neither too many rivets or a defective canopy and is hands down the best looking of the bunch.  I believe there is confusion because before Revell merged with Monogram (prior to the 1990s) they issued their own F-104 which was an old kit with raised panel lines and lots of rivets.  Since the merger many kit bashers think every Monogram kit was originally a Revell kit, or vice versa.  In 1996 Monogram issued a new tooled F-104C, it is not the older Revell kit.  Lets confuse you even more by talking about Revell Germany.  Currently it’s known as Revell Germany here in the U.S. and since 2000 they’ve issued a lot of Hasegawa kits under their label.  However, through the 1970s to early 1990s Revell Plastics, or Revell AG (what we now call Revell Germany) issued a lot of junky kits, old Revell kits with raised lines and masses of rivets, crappy old Frog kits, and even Matchbox kits when they bought all the Matchbox molds.  From 1980 to 83 Revell was owned by a French company called CEJI, sometimes kits were issued with the label Revell-CEJI.  In the 1990s Revell Germany (officially Revell KG, or Revell GmbH) was issuing almost anything under the sun regardless of how crappy the quality was (or is, as they are still issuing old Frog and Matchbox kits).  Clue, since the late 1990s Revell Germany has been using blue bordered end opening boxes.  And for even more confusion, in 2006 Revell Germany became officially independent of what we now call Revell USA (or Revell-Monogram), however, between 2007 and 2012 both Revell-Monogram and Revell Germany were taken over by Illinois based Hobbico.  And don’t forget there’s also ‘Revell-Japan’ sometimes Takara sometimes Gunze Sangyo, ‘Revell-Mexico’ Lodela and ‘Revell-Brazil’ Kikoler!  So, the only way to tell the quality of the kit is to open the box and look at the parts, something hard to do when many surviving brick-n-mortar shop owners would shoot you for doing so, and when most kit purchases are now made through the mail or internet.

Another indicator that the MMPBooks 1:72 Scale Plans might be wrong is that all the kits had main wings and elevators (horizontal tails) that were identical to each other dimensionally, and were slightly larger in span and cord than the Scale Plans.  For even more evidence that the Scale Plans are wrong; when you compare the kit fuselages to the overhead view they’re even longer than in the side view! This could put me off buying anymore MMP Scale Plans books.

For those who love math, to find out how long the F-104 fuselage should be in 1:72 scale do it yourself!

1:72 comparison F-86 Saber Fujimi vs Heller, or, Nobody is Perfect!

1:72 comparison F-86 Saber Fujimi vs Heller, or, Nobody is Perfect!

In 2011, I compared Heller, Hobby Craft (now issued by Academy) and Fujimi F-86F Sabers but did not have any scale drawings to check accuracy.   I’ve gotten my hands on some Japanese 1:72 scale drawings and checked the Fujimi, Heller and a High Planes conversion fuselage (I no longer have the Hobby Craft kit).

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Part One: Heller, Fujimi & Hobbycraft F-86 Sabre kits compared 

 

1/72 scale comparison A-7 Corsair 2: Fujimi, ESCI, Airfix & Hobby Boss. Mystery of annoying ‘parting’ lines on canopies solved?

I’ve collected a few LTV A-7 Corsair 2 kits in 1/72 scale, and noticed a lot of difference in shape.  I’ve also learned that the latest and greatest kit issue from Asia isn’t so great.

Click the pics to make bigger and read results

The Hobby Boss kit is disappointing dimensionally, even the Mark 82 bombs are incredibly anorexic!  The Hobby Boss main wing is almost right on. The elevators are accurate close to the fuselage, but start to slightly narrow at the tip (but nothing like the narrowness of the other kits).   Despite the fuselage being too narrow, the canopy is slightly too fat.

The 'mold parting' line on this Hobby Boss canopy is not in the right place to be the result of mold halves, but matches the center line used by drafters of scale drawings!

The ‘mold parting’ line on this Hobby Boss canopy is not in the right place to be the result of mold halves, but matches the center line used by drafters of scale drawings!

And I think I’ve discovered why many Chinese made kits have ‘mold parting’ lines down the center of their canopies: They’re not mold parting lines, they’re the lines from scale drawings!  However the Chinese companies are transcribing scale plans of aircraft to the mold making process, they’re including the line drafters use to indicate the centerline of the fuselage!

(Note: I didn’t check windshields, just canopies.)

The Airfix kit fuselage is the most accurate shape wise, but the main wings are short and the wing tip is cut straight instead of being curved.  The elevators are way too short and narrow.  The canopy looks the right width, but the rear portion of the frame is missing as it is part of the kit fuselage, so no way to pose it open.  (I got the kit with no box, instructions or decals. The trench deep panel lines on the wings made me think it was a Matchbox kit. Turns out it’s the old Airfix kit. Or maybe what I got is the Airfix fuselage with Matchbox wings?)

The ESCI main wing is too short in span, and the elevators are too narrow.  The canopy seems the right width, but the rear portion of the frame is not correct.  ESCI kits usually come with good decals.

The Fujimi main wing is barely short.  The elevators are way too narrow, and the canopy slightly fat with incorrect rear frame.  Nice decals came with my kit.

Out of the kit manufactures I compared none are accurate overall (and none got the main wing tip shape right).  I read from other kit builders that the only way to get an accurate 1/72 scale A-7 is to kitbash several kits from different makers.  If you’re planing on building a kit to enter into a highly competitive model contest then that is correct, but most of us don’t have the time (or money).

The A-7 has such a unique look and all the kits capture that look despite having shape issues, so, if you’re building one just for the heck of it then save some money and buy the cheapest one you can find, and go for it.

1/48 scale comparison A-7 Corsair 2: Aurora, Revell-Monogram, ESCI, Hasegawa & Hobby Boss 

Kit Bashing: PJ Production has new stuff for 2014!

16 February 2014 (00:40 UTC-07 Tango)/15 Rabi ‘ath-Thani 1435/27 Bahman 1392/17 Bing-Yin (1st month) 4712

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Kit Bashing: Revell’s Chevy COPO Nova

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Kit Bashing: Hobby Boss F-5E Tiger II, not an “Easy Assembly” kit, but well worth the little bit-o-money it costs!

Click on the pic to see more.

Trilateral Commission & Global Economic War: Italian & Greek austerity, slashing & burning the U.S. Postal Service, all part of Corporations taking over through Privatizing government services. House actor Hugh Laurie prophesied such a thing back in the 1980s!

The Italian and Greek prime ministers (both known members of the European branch of the Trilateral Commission, which is pushing for a one world government) forced their governments to pass austerity measures which include privatizing many government services.

Interestingly even though many government services will be privatized, the taxes Italians and Greeks pay will go way up.

Here in the United States, the scandal with the U.S. Postal Service might just be a move to fully privatize the service.  Why has the U.S. Congress stolen, I mean, forced the USPS to pay so much of their hard earned, non-taxpayer dollars, into government employee funds, and then refused to give it back when the USPS is in money trouble because of it?

There are many private delivery services that would love to get that business, and FedEx is already a contractor with the USPS (they’re the ones who actually handle those overnight and express mailings).

A few months ago I posted about protests in Australia.  What’s so important about Australia?  Well for one their economy is actually booming (being tied directly to the booming Chinese economy), and for second people are still losing their jobs!  It’s mainly government employees, and employees of companies that were getting government subsidies, who’re losing their jobs.

The Premier of New South Wales, Barry O’Farrell, actually said that privatization was a necessary step in preparing for the new world order, and that was why he was laying off 5,000 state government employees!  I wonder if he’s a member of the Trilateral Commission?

Now here’s a surprise, it turns out that Hugh Laurie, along with Stephen Fry,  actually predicted privatization back in the 1980/90s, in their comedy sketch called The Privatisation of the Police Force.

In the skit, a Brit has just returned from being away from England for awhile and his car is stolen.  He tries to report it only to learn that the police have been privatized.  He also learns that being a “citizen” is no longer enough, you must own “shares” in your local police service.  You must also be a “shareholder” of the streets you use in your everyday routine, if not “You can not pass!” (actually that quote is from the Fellowship of the Ring movie).  In the end the man is arrested for not having invested in any police service, or street, and is kicked in the nuts.  The skit ends with the man saying “I see some things haven’t changed.” (regarding Bobbie Brutality, and also prophetic of what’s happening now).

By the way you can watch it here.

The skit also makes reference to the United States, saying that America is to blame for the privatization trend, and remember this was in the 1980/90s!  But that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, many conspiracy theorists, who investigated the Trilateral Commission, warned of it, only back then it was made fun of by comedians like Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

More seriously, here’s a link to a report on U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s push to privatize the Brutal Bobbies. Who’s laughing now?

Kit Bashing: PJ Production has new pilot figures: 1/32 Soviet, 1/48 Modern U.S./NATO & 1/72 SAR

For the second time this year, PJ Production has released three new PUR (polyurethane resin) cast figure kits.  Philippe Jacques (PJ) has just recently issued a 1/32 scale Soviet or Modern Russian pilot, with optional helmets.

1/32 mig pilot1/32 mig pilot parts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new 1/48 scale modern U.S./NATO pilot joins the growing number of 1/48 PJ pilots.

1/48 u.s./nato1/48 u.s./nato parts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally a set of four 1/72 scale helicopter SAR (Search And Rescue) figures.  Two are seated pilot/co-pilot figures while the other two are crew figures (one standing, one kneeling).

1/72 sar1/72 sar parts

 

Kit Bashing: Heller, Fujimi & Hobbycraft F-86 Sabre kits compared

Don’t throw out that 40 year old Heller kit just because it has raised surface detail.  You can always use the wheels, landing gear doors and speed brake doors.

fuselages

The fuselage of the Heller kit has a better shape, but it doesn’t come with the fuel dump (fixed easily), and the area where the elevators attach is the wrong shape (it’s too straight).  The vertical tail/rudders on the Fujimi and Hobbycraft kits are bigger in area, and taller than the Heller kit.  Fujimi and Hobbycraft have subtle recessed surface details.

f-30 wings

The F-30 wings are about the same size in all three kits.  With Hobbycraft (now issued by Academy?) you get the added benefit of separately molded slats.

f-40 wing

Surprisingly Fujimi does not make a distinction on its packaging regarding the type of wings their kits come with.  In their “JASDF” issue you get an F-86F-40 with the extended span, slated wing.  In their “Mig Mad Marine” issue you get the F-86F-30 with the in Korean War theater hard fenced wing conversion.  Fujimi’s boxes just say “F-86F” (at least on the kits I have).

intake trunks

The old Heller kit has the best detailed main wheels. The Fujimi main wheel tires are the biggest in diameter, followed by Hobbycraft.  Photos indicate that the Fujimi tires might be the correct diameter, but the Heller wheel definitely has the best detail.  All three kits have similar nose wheels.  The real F-86 used at least three types of nose wheels: Two types of spoked wheels, and a solid wheel.  Most of the pictures I’ve seen of the solid nose wheel is of South Korean and West German Sabres.

intake trunks

The Heller and Hobbycraft kits have a short intake trunk.  The Hobbycraft kit has the nose wheel bay and cockpit floor molded onto the trunk.  The Fujimi intake trunking also has the nose wheel bay and cockpit floor molded on, but is much deeper and actually goes somewhere.

fan blades

That somewhere is an incorrectly faced engine.  The fan blades should be set back more (there should be a section of venturi before the blades), and the nose cone should be larger, but who’s gonna really notice once it’s assembled?

doors

The wheel bay doors, and speed brake doors are much better, and accurately detailed on the old Heller kit.

nose gear doors

Hobbycraft has screwed up its nose gear door.  They’ve put the locator stubs on the wrong side.  Their instructions give a vague indication of placement on the correct side of the wheel bay, but if your not paying attention and simply go with the locator stubs you’ll end up with the door on the wrong side (it should be on the pilot’s left side).

elevators

All three kits have issues with their elevators.  The Hobbycraft kit has the shortest, with the least angle of sweep, and rounded tips.  The Fujimi and Heller elevators have the same angle of sweep, but with different shaped tips.  The Heller elevator is the longest of the three.  From three view drawings of F-86F-30s it doesn’t look like any of the three kit makers got it right, although Heller’s looks the closest to being correct.  The Fujimi and Hobbycraft elevators look more like earlier F-86A/E elevators (according to three view drawings).

Other notes: The cockpit details on the Heller kit are worthless.  Fujimi has a nice looking instrument panel (not necessarily accurate, but it looks good), and it looks like Hobbycraft has copied the Fujimi panel.  The detail on the side consoles, in all three kits, is spurious at best.  All three kits have similar looking seats.  All three kits have canopies that can be posed open.  The Heller and Hobbycraft kits come with external fuel tanks, while the Fujimi kit comes with Sidewinder missiles as well as external fuel tanks.

You can improve the Fujimi and Hobbycraft kits with some of the parts from the Heller kit, but you’d still need aftermarket photo etch, or resin parts to improve the wheel bays and cockpits (or scratch build your own).

A note on references: In one book I have (no names/titles mentioned) there is a color photo of a South Korean F-86, with the -40 extended slat wing (and solid nose wheel).  At the back of the book is a color profile of the same aircraft, except it shows the -30 hard fenced wing.  It’s just an example to show that you can’t trust a profile, instead use photos of the real thing.

Part 2: F-86 Saber Fujimi vs Heller, or, Nobody is Perfect!

Kit Bashing: PJ Production has new figure kits

PJ Production has released three new figure kits. Two in 1/72 scale, and one in 1/48 scale.  The kits are polyurethane resin, so you’ll have to use cyanoacrylate (super type) glue.

F-16/F-18 Pilots Sitting

F-16/F-18 Pilots Standing

 

 

 

 

 

Philippe Jacques (PJ) has issued two 1/72 scale “F-16/F-18″ pilots, one set sitting, the other set standing/boarding.  They’re basically present day U.S./NATO/European pilots, so if you want up to date pilots for your present day ‘western’ aircraft better get ’em while they’re hot out the silicon mold.

USN Bomb Crew

The other set is 1/48 scale World War 2 U.S. Navy bomb loading crew.  It comes with four figures and a little bomb dolly.

The figures have nice detail, unfortunately the pics don’t show it.

 

Little Bomb Cart