Around the time Alaric was leading his Visigoths toward Rome, Special Hobby began work on their 1/32 Hawker Tempest.
Okay, maybe not that long ago. But this kit has been in development for years.
Now that it’s out, I told my usual aversion to short run kits to STFU and snagged one. In part because I’m a glutton for punishment and/or stashing. And in part because I really like the Tempest.
I haven’t intended to touch it, but so far the conversation out there about the kit has been…frustrating. There’s been plenty of ejaculatory praise given to its surface detail – I’ve even seen comments to the effect of “Tamiya has some catching up to do”.
Please. The surface detail is good – really good for a short run kit – but let’s not get carried away.
Anyway. There’s been this sort of weird non-evaluation evaluation going on. The detail is great! Yay! It only includes one type of spinner! Boo! And that’s about it.
As is sadly usual, nobody seems to be talking about the kit as, well, a kit. About how it’s engineered. About how it fits.
So I couldn’t resist.
I won’t bore you with a bunch of pictures of sprues. Suffice to say, the Tempest looks great in pieces. Unlike Fly’s Hurricane and other shorties, the crisp detail extends beyond the exterior surfaces. Control consoles, gear bays, cockpit framing, they all look rather good. And the surface detail is definitely the best I’ve ever seen from Special Hobby.
HOLY FUCK LOCATION AIDS
If you expect a short run kit to have much in the way of location aids, you’re usually going to be in for a bad time. So imagine my surprise when I turned the nose parts around and saw this:
And inside the main fuselage, this:
There are locator pins and location ridges throughout. And while there is some flash here and there, some mold seams, they’re on a level you might expect from one of the second-tier mainstream kitmakers like Kinetic or Kitty Hawk.
Being both curious and impatient, I did a quick removal and cleanup of the main components – wings, fuselage, spinner, stabs, rudder – and jammed them together with some tape to hold things in place.
As you can see, some small gaps remain, but they’re really small and some of them will almost certainly turn invisible during a proper cleanup and build. For the others, we’re talking relatively minor amounts of putty.
The wing-to-fuselage join is particularly impressive. I know a small gap is visible above, but it’s significantly smaller than what I’ve encountered on kits from Hasegawa and Trumpeter in the past.
Engineering-wise, everything appears to be solid. The cockpit is slightly concerning – getting the tube frames and front and rear bulkheads aligned could be a minor challenge, but the fuselage’s location ridges should allow it to serve as a jig. There’s no fancy bullshit to complicate things really anywhere. This unfortunately means no Sabre engine, no lowered flaps, no exposed gun bays, but I’ll take a clean, well-fitting build any day. And Eduard will be releasing flaps in August if one is so inclined.
The only frustrating bit is probably the separate leading edge bits at the wingroots. But these mean we will be getting two kits I never thought we’d be seeing in 1/32 scale – a post-war Tempest VI, and the Centaurus-engined Tempest II.
Short run kits are usually synonymous with “this is going to be a bitch to build”.
With the Tempest, Special Hobby has smashed the usual expectations of what a limited run kit can be.
If I were completely unaware of this kit’s development, and someone put the sprues in front of me and told me it was an upcoming Trumpeter release, I’d have zero problem believing them.
And not one of Trumpeter’s shitberg releases, but one of their good ones like the Dauntless or Me 262.
Now – I’m not going to do the whole HIGHLY RECOMMENDED thing. Not until I’ve built it.
But if you’ve been squeamish on this kit because of its short run origins, I would personally consider those fears allayed. This is not only the best Tempest in 1/32 scale (not a hard title to claim), but it’s a legitimately solid kit that can stand toe to toe with mainstream kits in terms of detail, engineering and fit.
8 Comments Add yours
Nice to see a quick build up. Promising to see how well it goes together.
One thing I need to stress and that this isn’t a short-run/limited-run kit. It’s a mainstream long term production tooling, as was the Fly Model Hurricane.
As always Doogs … A very entertaining review of some ‘real’ info needed for a buy-or-burn decision … Always an entertaining read, without losing any pertinent information.
I agree with James though – SH can’t hide behind “S/L Run” as a category for quality-type assessments … they are firmly (and appropriately – with this kit) in “The Big Show” now …
Rog, I don’t think SH ever did hide behind that tag. It was an assumptive tag given to them by modellers who don’t realise that it’s not only Revell, Tamiya, Airfix and Hasegawa etc. that are mainstream.
SH are firmly a long-run enterprise.
Been pretty out of the loop for the last week or so, but to get this going again…I think it has to do with this hobby’s overall lack of strong terminology discipline.
Airfix calls what they’re doing LIDAR, when it’s really 3D Laser Scanning, for example. Eduard comes out with a new line of “steelbelts” and nobody knows what the fuck they are.
So what should we call what Fly, Special Hobby and others are doing, then? The Tempest is the first Special Hobby kit that I could see myself confusing for a more “mainstream” manufacturer like Trumpeter, Academy or HK. Okay, so they may be set up for long term production, but even recent kits of theirs – the P-39 or the Viggen or the Fiat G.50 – sit a step or two behind what we’d expect from more traditional kitmakers. The same is true for the Fly Hurricane – the exterior surface detail is lovely, yes, but many of the smaller parts, especially in the interior, display a crudeness that wouldn’t be out of place on an old Esci kit.
In the end it doesn’t matter WHAT the hell type of company they are…as long as the kit is decent enough to build…right…? All those experts out there that drone on and on and on about frikkin ejector pin marks, a wee bit o flash and yadda, yadda, yadda, never seem to post any of their builds anyway…! Doog’s quick reviews are IMHO the right way to rough out a kit review.
Well, this is where we see the limits of Doog’s method of reviewing a kit.
What makes a good model kit is much more than a good fit or a profusion of fine details. The first judging criteria should be the accuracy of the shapes. What use are the excellent fit and the fine details if the assembled kit doesn’t look like the a/c it’s supposed to represent?
The Fly Hurricane, for all its Esci-like interior looks like a Hurri when finished, even as an OOB build. The SH Tempest just doesn’t look like a Tempest, especially in the nose area.
The problem nowadays is that most people cannot – or don’t want to – see the forest for the trees. Some even concentrate on the bark and the leaves 😉
Respectfully – I ardently disagree that “the first judging criteria should be the accuracy of the shapes”. NO MODEL KIT IS 100% ACCURATE. It’s just not possible. So it’s a sliding scale of what you find acceptable. I can count on one hand the kits that are so far out of bounds, shapewise, that I wouldn’t build them. Other people probably have longer lists than that, and that’s just fine.
Besides, other reviews obsess over detail and accuracy. They’re a dime a dozen. Very, very few look at engineering and fit. Even many build reviews gloss over it to go on rambling treatises about the history of the subject, or the aftermarket they used, or the markings or what-have-you. I even wrote a post about this exact thing not too long ago: https://doogsmodels.com/2015/10/20/the-4-key-attributes-of-kits-and-the-2-reviews-usually-miss/
As to the Tempest, it sure as shit looks like a Tempest to me. Is the chin a bit off? Yeah. Is the rest of the kit far better detailed, engineered, and better-fitting than the only other option, the PCM kit? Yeah. On the balance of those I can totally live with a slightly off chin.
Don’t know how I missed this review until 3 AM this morning. Good that I did. I walked in to my local hobby show & swap meet today and the first thing I saw was this kit just waiting for me for $75. After 3 hours of sleep I really needed to go back to bed anyway. Spent more time driving across town than I did at the show. I retired 2 weeks ago, and the way this kit showed up in my collection I think that this will be my first post retirement build! Thanks for the recommendation! (PS-I’m not a G.D. rivet counter. I like something that I’ll enjoy building, and will look good when I’m done! I love reading your blogs.)