2009 June - Product Lab
Reviewed this month are Tamiya's 1:48 Avro Lancaster B Mk. I/III kit, Revell Germany's 1:48 de Havilland Mosquito kit, the board game Giants from Editions du Mattagot, and much more!
Published: May 14, 2009
1:48 Avro Lancaster B Mk. I/III from Tamiya
Product: Tamiya has re-released its kit of the Avro Lancaster, Great Britain's most famous World War II bomber. The kit provides a flight crew, bombs, and fuselage interior with posable bomb- and landing gear bay doors. New to the kit are different engine covers, propellers, armament, smooth tires and markings for four aircraft.
Performance: I painted the fuselage interior according to the instructions (except for painting the fuselage walls with Testors British interior green), then masked the fuselage windows. The fit of the fuselage halves is not up to current Tamiya standards; I devoted a lot of time to cleaning up the seams.
Test-fitting the wings revealed some of the same fit issues as the fuselage. I was disappointed with the poor fit of the engine nacelle halves, the engine covers, and their fit to the wing, taking a lot of time to fill and blend the seams. My suggestion would be to glue up the engine covers first, then adjust the nacelles to fit the covers. Builders will still have to smooth out the nacelle-to-wing fit after installation.
After assembling the wings and tails, I glued them in place and found their fit was clean and solid - good news for such a large and heavy model.
The canopy has a choice of side window sets, with or without a blister on the port side; the proper sets are indicated on Page 3 of the instruction sheet, according to your choice of plane. I used Tamiya's extra thin cement to attach the clear parts.
This model has 41 clear parts! Too bad there were no kit-supplied masks for all that glass and framing.
The nose turret's fit to the fuselage was poor and took some adjusting.
Choosing to model a Mk.I of No. 424 Squadron, I painted the top-surface camouflage with Testors RAF dark earth and RAF dark green, then coated the underside with flat black. After putting the decals down with Micro Set solution, I finished with Testors flat clear.
Marketing: It took me 45 hours to complete this kit, mostly because of the seam repairs. The model appears close to scale, and I'm glad it's available again. But, because of the fit issues, I can only recommend it to advanced modelers.
Since part of the appeal of this kit is the multiple variants provided, take a look at the instructions and make sure that you have the proper paint in stock to finish the model. Be up front about the modeling challenges, suggesting putty and masking tape.
Reviewed by Tom Foti
Product: 1:48 Avro Lancaster B Mk. I/III
Stock No: 61105
Availabilty: Tamiya America, 800-826-4922, www.tamiyausa.com
New decals and optional parts
Poor fitting nacelles and nose turret
Blemishes on some clear parts
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1:48 de Havilland Mosquito by Revell Germany
Product: On a list of iconic World War II aircraft, Great Britain's Mosquito would be near the top. Now, Revell Germany's Mossie bomber swells the ranks of available kits of the famous plane.
Molded in light gray plastic, the parts show good surface detail, but there are some ejector-pin marks, sinkholes, and prominent mold seams. Some of the parts have strange molding artifacts, but a swipe with a hobby knife removes them easily.
In addition to cockpit and nose compartment details, Revell Germany's kit features two complete Merlin engines and a detailed bomb bay complete with four bombs. To display the latter, you have to cut the access hatches from the sides of the nacelles, but here the instructions are clear.
Unused parts, including under-wing rockets and optional side windows, as well as the fuselage breakdown -the forward section is separate - point to the possibility of other versions of the kit.
The clear parts are thin, and there is frame detail molded on the inside edges of side windows. Unfortunately, there's no internal detail on the canopy, a prominent feature on the full-size aircraft.
Well-printed decals provide markings for three Royal Air Force Mosquito B Mk. IVs: two in night-bomber camouflage of ocean gray and dark green with black undersides and red codes; and another in ocean gray and dark green over light gray. All sets of markings feature nose art.
The 67-step instructions incorporate color callouts keyed to Revell's paint range.
Performance: This is no shake-and-bake build. The parts fit is OK, but before committing glue, I test-fitted everything (after filling the most obvious ejector-pin marks and sinkholes with super glue). I spent some time cleaning up parts and refining fits early to avoid problems later.
The cockpit looks good after painting and artist's oil washes, and the decal harnesses look OK through the glass.
I had trouble getting the front fuselage to close around the cockpit assembly, with a considerable gap to fill under the nose. However, the clear nose fit perfectly to the imperfect assembly.
Revell includes posable control surfaces. Although the elevators must be glued in position, the rudder, ailerons, and flaps are designed to be movable. The engineering of the flaps impressed me; as they drop, they also roll back like the full-size aircraft. All of these were too loose for my liking, so I glued them.
After trimming, the wings slid perfectly over the spars. I used thin white glue to obliterate tiny gaps at the wings and horizontal stabilizers.
The engine nacelles presented the greatest challenge. Following the instructions, I attached the inner halves first, then the landing gear and engine, followed by the outer half. Take heed: inattention here leads to trouble. Dry-fitting and fine-tuning helped, but I still needed to sand and fill to blend everything. (I wanted to keep the Mossie's clean lines, so I left the engines out - but the Merlin parts fit cleanly.)
The complex gear legs consist of multiple scale-thin parts; they support the model, but won't tolerate a lot of stress.
The canopy framing is cleanly molded and easily masked.
After painting with Tamiya acrylics and clear gloss, the decals performed beautifully, needing only a nudge from Micro Sol to conform. The red, white and yellow are solid over the black.
Finally, I added the wheels, propellers and clear lights. The wingtip lights have small, molded indents for bulbs that look very realistic when filled with clear red or clear green paint before being attached - and they fit perfectly.
Marketing: The model looks every bit the "Wooden Wonder" of de Havilland. The finished model scales out very close to published dimensions, but the prop spinners appear too round; they should be pointier.
I spent about 30 hours on my Mosquito, with cleanup and parts fit taking a little more time than usual. Because of the challenges, I recommend this kit to modelers with skills intermediate and above who have experience refining fits.
Reviewed by Aaron Skinner
Product: 1:48 de Havilland Mosquito Mk. IV
Stock No.: 04555
Maker: Revell Germany
Availability: 49-05-223-965-0, www.revell.de
Good cockpit, engine and bomb bay details
Optional parts; nice decals
Engineering complicates assembly; spinners too bulbous
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Giants board game, imported by Asmodee Editions
Product: The indelible image Easter Island's Moaï statues standing silent watch over the Pacific Ocean are as ingrained into history as Stonehenge's monoliths. In Giants you play one of several clans during Easter Island's Golden Age working to create, transport and erect these silent sentinels.
The Giants pieces are of the quality you would expect for a game of this price point. The board is beautifully designed. The figurine and tribe markers are plastic, but nicely sculpted. And the Moaïs and headresses are this game's centerpiece and their quality reflects that.
Performance: Giants is a resource management game along the same vein as Civilization or the Catan series. Unlike other games of its kind, the overall goal isn't taking over and controlling a landmass. Each turn begins with using the included custom dice to determine the Moaïs to be built. Using a double-blind bidding process, players determine Moaï control, bidding with tribe markers in one hand to determine the order in which they choose the statues and worker figurines in the other hand to determine which statues they can sculpt. Both the markers and workers used in the bidding process are unable to be used later in the turn, so careful decision-making is key here.
Once the Moaïs have been chosen, players place their tribe figurines, each with different abilities. The workers help sculpt and move the Moaïs from the quarry to the Ahus (bases) where they will be erected. The sorcerer is the most versatile and important figure in the game - unfortunately you only get one - allowing the player to add workers, add more tribe markers, take logs from the forest, reserve an Ahu and sculpt a Moaï headdress. The chief - again, you only get one - can help move and erect Moaïs and is able to double as a sorcerer once per turn.
Figurine placement is particularly important because it's where players have the greatest chance of scoring extra points to put them over the top in the end.
The key to Giants is moving the Moaïs from the quarry to the Ahus. Each Moaï is assigned a point value based on its size (1 to 3). Moving it through a hex requires an equal point value in figurines. Workers count as 1 and the chief as 3. Multiple figures can be placed in a hex and logs culled from the forest add +1 to the hex point value. Unfortunately, as with all forests, the Giants' forest is finite and only 27 logs exist in the game - once they're used they're gone. Of course, you can ask your neighboring tribes to help, but at a price. Every opponent's figurine used to move one of your Moaïs gains them one Prestige Point, and prestige is what wins the game.
Prestige Points are gained from "helping" move Moaïs and by erecting the statues and headdresses on the Ahus. Each Ahu includes a point total for the Moaï and another if a headdress is placed on top of it. The further you're from the Moaï or headdress quarry, the more points the Ahu is worth. This combination of Prestige Points is marked on a track around the board. The one with the most points in the end is the winner.
Marketing: Giants is a solid resource-management game without the competitive building phase (as in Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride) focused on the board. With its unique double-blind betting and "co-operative" transportation mechanic, Giants is a good addition to your game closet.
Also see our review of Hurry'cup!.
Reviewed by Fred Jandt
Manufacturer: Editions du Mattagot
Stock No.: GIA01FUD
Availability: Asmodee Editions, 514, 504-8461, Click here to e-mail
High-quality pieces and board
A little pricey
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E-flite's CX3: Realistic and responsive
Product: The coaxial Blade CX3 is offered in a ready-to-fly (RTF) version, complete with transmitter, and the Bind-N-Fly (BNF) version reviewed here, which requires a separate DSM2 transmitter. The BNF version includes the helicopter; 7.4V 800mAh LiPo battery pack with charge-protection circuitry; and a DC LiPo balancing charger and AC adapter.
Performance: The CX3 is decked out in a licensed MD520N fuselage and color scheme that replicates a police/rescue helicopter, so it looks realistic from the get-go.
Binding the CX3 to my Spektrum DX6i transmitter was a simple process using the supplied binding plug, and getting the model airborne was straightforward.
Each CX3 is test-flown prior to shipment, so I was confident it would handle well. And after a few short "hops" to get used to the model a bit, hovering and simple maneuvers were no problem.
The CX3 did seem a bit "tail heavy" at first, requiring a fair amount of trim adjustment to achieve a stable hover, but after that correction was made, the model flew just fine.
I had been flying an ultra-micro helicopter for some time, so some adjustment in flying style was necessary. This model does not have the high power-to-weight ratio of a its smaller brothers, so more care needs to be taken in planning maneuvers.
The CX3 is plenty responsive, but its mass must be accounted for when turning or changing altitude. I'd compare it to the difference between driving a minivan and a passenger car: not a big adjustment, but one that gets your attention at first.
Marketing: The CX3 is touted as a model that first-time pilots can fly, and I would say that's possible, but I feel more comfortable suggesting this as a second-step helicopter, or at least a model for a modeler with some piloting experience.
The counter-rotating blades simplify hovering, and the heading-lock gyro aids controllability. It helps to have an experienced pilot around to smooth the learning curve, but the CX3 is stable, predictable and enjoyable to fly.
As always, I'd suggest purchasing an extra battery pack (EFLB0990, $26.99) for additional flying time.
Reviewed by Jim Haught
Product: Blade CX3 MD 520N BNF
Stock No.: EFLH2080
Availability: Horizon Hobby
Easy bind-n-fly w/DSM2 radio
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Autoart rolls out a racy Porsche and a rare Lamborghini
Product: The Porsche 917 was, and is, one of the German sports car and racing legend's most famous and successful racers. This is the race car's 40th anniversary; the Autoart model is of the 1970 Porsche 917K as it appeared in the 12 Hours of Sebring. It was driven by noted endurance racer Vic Elford and Kurt Ahrens Jr., but didn't distinguish itself at Sebring, aside from posting the third fastest qualifying time.
The race itself is remembered for the win posted by Mario Andretti in a Ferrari 312, with a team that included actor Steve McQueen finishing second in a Porsche 908. McQueen would go on to create his famous film, "LeMans," shortly thereafter, where he piloted a Porsche 917.
Performance: Detailing is sharp in this model, with both doors opening up and forward, a removable front hood piece and the huge rear bonnet that opens toward the cockpit and contains a lockable strut that holds the hatch open to reveal the Porsche's engine. The engine bay is nicely detailed, although most pieces look like the plastic that they are. A spare tire also is housed in that giant tail, per the racing rules of the day.
There are twin-lens front lights and red and amber taillights. The markings for the white racer are clean and authentic. Inside, the cockpit is fairly sparse, with two seats, one with proper seat harnesses. Inside the wide Goodyear slicks are black 5-spoke wheels with silver brake calipers visible behind them. However, like some other parts here, they are obviously plastic.
Product: Italian exotic car maker Lamborghini has been pushing the styling envelope for years, as this metallic gray (silver) Espada clearly shows. Espada means sword in Spanish, appropriate for the blade-like sharpness of this design, and it ties into Lamborghini's bull theme, as swords are used in every bullfight. Espada was made from 1968 to 1978, with just 1,217 being created during that period, the most of any Lamborghini models to that point.
Performance: Autoart delivers a finely detailed model of this rare, unusual wedge of a car with its silver Series II model, featuring a beautifully detailed interior with its wood paneled dash and wood three-spoke steering wheel. Gauges are well executed inside as are the gearshift, seats and other interior pieces.
Outside, the low-slung Espada's door handles, antenna, louvers and other trim look great, while underneath, the suspension and quad chrome-tipped exhaust pipes are realistically executed. In back, the giant rear window even has a defroster grid in the glass.
That big rear window opens like a hatch too, and the large hood opens forward to reveal Lamborghini's gutsy V12, fully plumbed and looking like it's ready to fire up this Italian beauty. Gold and red versions also are planned.
Marketing: If you feature die-cast models in your shop, you should have a good selection of 1:18- and 1:43-scale Autoart cars, as these continue to be among the nicest on the market for the price. There are more detailed models, but they'll cost two to three times as much, and in this economy, that limits your buyers.
Keep a few of the most popular 1:18 racers and exotics in a case and then stock some of the 1:43 models to offer a more affordable choice for collectors on more limited budgets.
Also keep a database of your customers who prefer the bigger and more costly models so you can contact them when new models are available. Then you could pre-order models for them. That way you both win!
Also see the review of Autoart's Kawasaki 900 Super 4 Z1.
Reviewed by Mark Savage
Product/Stock Nos./MSRPs: Porsche 917K (87086), $129.95; Lamborghini Espada (74501), $114.95
Availability: Gateway Global
High level of detail
Reasonable pricing for quality
Some pieces look like plastic
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Pegasus Hobbies lands the classic Martian War Machine
Product: In 1953, producer George Pal reimagined H.G. Wells' science fiction classic "The War of the Worlds," and this time the Martians terrorize Cold War America. The tripod war machines of the book were now copper-colored, manta ray-shaped craft that hover on legs of electrical energy.
Pegasus Hobbies' foray into science fiction features a 1:48-scale kit of that war machine.
Performance: Molded in translucent ivory plastic as well as clear, clear green, and clear red, the 18 kit parts capture the lines of the original ship well. The kit includes an Earth-shaped stand and colored clear parts for the nose, wing tips and eye.
The thick plastic looks a little odd - almost like appliance plastic - but it is very smooth, perfect for applying a metallic finish.
Pegasus doesn't advertise the war machine as a snap kit, but the engineering, combined with a tight fit throughout, means the kit can be put together without glue, although I used putty and cement.
The lower hull fits into the upper half so the gap is hidden. I applied three layers of Tamiya putty to make it disappear. The other major gap is on the side of the eyestalk. The end of the stalk has a long tail, which is shown much shorter in the instructions. I had to trim some off of the end to get it to fit in the stalk.
After priming, I airbrushed the body and eyestalk with Hawkeye's SnJ Spray Metal bronze, then misted on Hawkeye's copper, streaking it front to back.
I thought the nose and wingtips were too green, so I sprayed them with Tamiya clear yellow.
The hardest part of the finish was airbrushing the planetscape on the base.
The eyepiece has a clear red insert for the clear lens, and the entire assembly slips neatly into the eyestalk. A screw is included to attach the stalk but the fit was snug without it. The nose and wingtips also slip in, but the mating surfaces don't match perfectly. I filled the gaps with Testors clear part cement.
The only way to improve the model would be lighting it, and the ship's body leaves plenty of room for the necessary electrical connections.
Marketing: Fans of science fiction and classic cinema already familiar with the film will find this kit an easy way to relive the movie.
For those unfamiliar with the film, the kit is an easy build that quickly produces a good-looking replica. Displaying it with a selection of appropriately colored metallic paints would be advantageous.
The war machine was a fun, quick project and it looks every bit the menacing movie threat. Experience with metallic finishes will result in a great replica, but the model is a hoot and a welcome addition for fans of classic science fiction.
Reviewed by Aaron Skinner
Product: "The War of the Worlds" Martian War Machine
Maker: Pegasus Hobbies
Stock No.: 9001
An easy build
Looks like machine from movie
Metallic paint know-how needed
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