With 2010 rapidly drawing to a close, I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit the kits that have come off my bench since I returned to the hobby in July.
Rather than follow the usual chronological order, I’ve decided to proceed from my favorite to least favorite kit.
Tamiya’s superb P-51B was the first kit I built on returning to the hobby, and remains my favorite (though Tamiya’s P-47D is giving it a serious run). Excellent fit, excellent detail, and a completely manageable parts count make this one a pleasure to build. I’ll be tackling another Tamiya P-51 soon – I just haven’t made up my mind if it’ll be their P-51D, or another -B.
Zvezda’s La-5 is an excellent k it of a relatively obscure subject (at least, obscure here in the west). Fit and detail are quite good, and the engineering is rather ambitious, complete with an extensive buildup of the aircraft’s internal structure. I have a second of these in the stash, and look forward to giving it a go.
Read the reviews of Accurate Miniatures’ Dauntless kits and you come away with the impression that these are some of the best model kits ever produced. I disagree. The Dauntless is a pretty good kit, but not quite deserving of its fearsome reputation. Detail is outstanding and the fit is pretty strong overall, but when it comes down to the fiddly bits, in my opinion this kit is too ambitiously engineered for its own good. The inability to test fit certain stages of the assembly process proved detrimental along the way.
Monogram’s old P-47 was a surprisingly refreshing build. The fit and detail aren’t up to the standards of the best modern kits, but the low parts count and nostalgia factor won me over. Then the decals went and messed everything up, and I messed everything up trying to get the decals off…
While I didn’t finish the Monogram Jug, and abandoned it at the decal ruination stage, it’s as done as it’s ever going to get, so I figured I’d toss it in…
These days, Eduard is among the top tier of kit manufacturers, and several of their newer offerings (Hellcat, Bf-110, etc) are regarded as either best-in-class or very nearly so.
Their Yak-3, alas, is of an older vintage.
On whole, the Yak is a simple build with good fit among the major airframe components. Detail ranges from shockingly good (along the forward half of the fuselage) to thick and plasticky-looking (upper wing details, gear bays). And the wheels are just godawful. The kit also lacks really any sense of positive fit. The fuselage halves and wings lack locator pins, for example, and the gear struts lack any sort of hole to slot into. Certainly possible to overcome, but they make certain elements of the build more frustrating than they should be.
I’ve build plenty of worse kits in my time, but I do think the Yak could benefit from a new-tool offering.
Hobby Boss’ F4F Wildcat starts off strong and rapidly proceeds downhill. The cockpit is quite good, and the surface detail on the fuselage and wings – if a bit on the heavy side – breaks up the tubby fighter. Then you start putting pieces together, and find that they just don’t fit right. The wings and wing fairings are literally different shapes. The lower fuselage is a mess. The windscreen is too tall. The canopy is too short, but also too thick to be posed open.
On whole, the kit is just average, and did not leave me eager to sample Hobby Boss’ other efforts any time soon.
Overall, it’s been a good half a year, if rocky in places. I’m definitely modeling at a higher level than I ever have before, but it’s clear that I still have a lot of room for improvement, and each build is a learning experience.
Next year, I’m looking to ramp up even more. My stash has grown, my skills are improving with each build, and I’m looking forward to tackling some very interesting kits in 2011!