Last night, I was scouring the interwebs investigating my aftermarket options for a potential project, and I kept coming up against the same basic image, repeated over and over again, probably associated with the item’s presence in a few dozen online storefronts. And…that’s it.
No deeper looks. No in-depth reviews. No advisories on what needs to be cut or filed away.
A few times, I was lucky enough to find a mention of a certain item in a forum thread. But the Photobucketpocalypse has basically crippled the utility of forums as project archives. Unless you like looking at dozens of images of an extortion message cuted up by a kitten.
It’s amazing that, in 2017, it’s basically impossible to find detailed photos or a good look at the instructions, even, for most resin aftermarket items. Much less photos and confirmation of whether or not a thing fits.
NOTE 1: If you’re a resin manufacturer who is not Eduard (or a vanishingly few others like KASL and Zactomodels), do everyone a favor and pull your head out of your ass. Take high-res, detailed photos of your wares (imagine that!). Post instructions online. Maybe even include an idea of what work will need to be done to make a thing fit.
NOTE 2: If you’re one of those who likes to bray about modelers vs assemblers and basic modeling skills and who cares you’ll make it fit anyway, go fuck yourself. I personally would like to know what I’m in for before dropping $45 for an engine set. It all goes into my cost/effort/benefit analysis. And I know I’m not alone in that.
NOTE 3: If you are Eduard, for the love of god please stop shipping your really nice resin seats with those shit-ass color PE belts. Give us unpainted, malleable ones or take a note from the Aires/Quickboost division and sell an option with belts molded in.
The more you know
Anyway, as something of a public service and to hopefully help spare others from fruitless searching, I thought I’d start posting my experiences with various resin contrivances, detailing how they fit and whether I think they were worth the effort. So hopefully you can make a more informed decision where to spend your hobby dollars. Or not.
Up today – accessories for Trumpeter’s 1/32 MiG-23 Flogger series.
AIRES #2133 – MiG-23 Flogger Wheel Bay
Trumpeter’s big MiG-23 kits have a lot going for them. But their gear bays leave a lot to be desired. In addition to being rather spartan, they require assembly. The HORROR, I know. But if you could just drop in a one-piece replacement, that’s a step up in my book.
Aires’ gear bays are far, far more detailed than the kit pieces. And while my comparison to the actual gear bays shows some discrepancies in wiring, I wouldn’t really be surprised if that varied from Flogger to Flogger as they were wrenched on during their lifetimes.
To fit, the main think you have to do is remove this little bit of plastic around the kit’s bay openings.
After those areas are cleared away (I found the back of a #11 blade the cleanest way to do this) and a very little bit of sanding along the bottom of the fuselage where the bay sits, the fit was almost drop-in. The bays are just ever so slightly short. Not enough to bother me much, but to each their own.
You will also have to remove the pour block on top, and a few square things on the wing part that drops down over the fuselage there. This is pretty easy and since they won’t be seen, doesn’t have to be pretty.
When you do commit to glue, I recommending doing so with the upper fuselage taped firmly in place. This will help with making sure things are aligned, since the mounting post for the main gear supports is past the resin in the upper fuselage/wing glove assembly.
Ultimately, the slight gaps on the sides got on my nerves, so they got filled with putty.
As for the nosebay? It’s a complete drop-fit.
Detail – Absolutely exquisite
Does it Fit? – Yes
Worth it? – Yes
AIRES #2134 – MiG-23ML Cockpit Set
As with a number of 1/32 Trumpeter offerings, the kit’s cockpit isn’t bad, per se. It’s just not that great. The instrument panel is done, annoyingly, as a clear part. This is by no means a dealbreaker, and with careful masking of the gauge faces these types of panels can look stellar. But the Trumpeter one has no gauge surrounds, and the rest of the cockpit is just so-so. Whereas the Aires cockpit is just gorgeous.
The question though – does it fit?
The kit helpfully has some location ridges, but Aires isn’t exactly known for being accommodating.
But a quick test-fit revealed that things weren’t so far off the mark.
The main sticking point is in the aft bulkhead’s “shoulders”, right around where it clears the cockpit sills. Fit was also a bit snug on the sides. Between scraping with a #10 blade and a microchisel, I managed to knock these areas down sufficiently.
Another thing that has to go is the interior portions of the cockpit sills. Fortunately, you don’t need to sand anything down to paper-thin translucency.
With everything cut and abraded, the fit was snug, but solid. A few comments told me to keep sanding, but with the way the sidewalls curve, I have a feeling that would have just caused more of a gap in the sills.
Those gaps in the sills? They don’t matter, because the MiG-23 has weatherstripping running around the entire cockpit, and that line is exactly where it’ll need to go.
Installing the cockpit was pretty straightforward. The starboard sidewall kind of plugs into the main cockpit tub so there’s no alignment fuckery on that side. The port sidewall is more free-spirited. So, using epoxy, I got installed the starboard sidewall (with the cockpit tub attached), then added the port side, slammed everything shut, and clamped it for the night to cure.
After that I was able to crack it back open and remove the cockpit tub for painting.
Painting is kinda outside the scope here, so…here’s how it came out.
NOTE: There are other elements that install into the canopy that are well-detailed and fit nicely. But let’s face it, it’s always how the *main* cockpit fits that drives concerns with resin.
Detail – Absolutely exquisite
Does it Fit? – Mostly yes. You will have to do some scraping, and remove a portion of the cockpit sills (as well as open up space for the instrument panel/coaming), but at best a moderate amount. There is no sanding down to micron thickness or cutting away vast, important sections of the kit.
Worth it? – Yes
HAD Models #132002 KM-1 Ejection Seat
Why in the seven hells would I buy a resin seat when one already came with the Aires set?
Because laziness. The Aires seat is exquisite. One of the prettiest ejection seats I’ve seen. But the PE belts are a nightmare. In 1/32, I love me some fabric belts for older aircraft. But when it comes to ejection seats, I much prefer my harness detail molded on. The HAD seat was insurance in case the Aires didn’t work out. Worst case, I thought, it’d give me justification to buy a MiG-21 or something.
As it turns out, the PE belts on the Aires seat soon had me pondering things like how “movie” probably sounded as stupid to people 100 years ago as “selfie” does to us today. Before I chucked my sanity into the abyss, I decided to go with the HAD seat instead.
The seat isn’t as slick as the Aires, but it’s still pretty nice. The headrest and footbox things are a bit clunky to install, but not in any way that is noticeable once it’s painted.
The cream-colored resin makes it really tough to get a sense of the seat, so here’s a shot if it after painting and weathering. The stencils are pulled from a Linden Hill decal sheet.
Detail – A solid 8, but not crisp enough to earn a 10 in my book.
Does it Fit? – Yep
Worth it? – This is up to you. I feel that life is too short to go mad threading PE belts for a modern ejection seat. Your mileage may vary.