Reviews Manifesto

Kit reviews need an enema.

Inbox reviews are just…not helpful. Pretty pictures of what’s on the sprues can’t tell you how well a kit is engineered or whether it fits.

Quick test-fits of the major parts give a clearer picture, but only just. They can tell you the fuselage halves and wings fit together, but miss things like misaligned landing gear mounts or poor-fitting pylons or too much stuffing inside the fuselage that leads to a snowball of poor fit everywhere else.

Then there’s build reviews which…can be quite good. But they’re comparatively rare, and often as not neglect to focus on the actual build. Between the obligatory subject history and the focus on adding extra detail, painting, markings and weathering, you may be lucky to get two or three paragraphs on the actual build, often glossing over the particulars with such statements as “overall fit was good, and I only had to use filler in a few places”. Not. Helpful.

There’s also bias – subconscious or not. That’s not to say that reviewers are corrupt or “in the pocket” of manufacturers or anything. Bias can be far more subtle than that. Bias can also be manufacturer-based. I mean – look at all the shit Trumpeter gets called out for, while Hasegawa’s equally-if-differently flawed kit gets a pass.

And finally, there’s loss aversion. That’s why you see most reviews stop at the test-fit. It’s a totally understandable thing – “I just got this sweet $90 kit and I fully intend to build it so I’m not going to sacrifice it on the altar of this review”. I’ve know. I’ve done it myself. But it’s why you don’t see many “naked” builds.

The entire goal of these contributor-supported reviews is to overcome all of these impediments and deliver thorough, bracingly honest reviews. To that end:

  • Reviews will be full “naked” build reviews. No putty, no paint, nothing for the plastic to hide behind. Each step will be documented and commented upon.
  • Decals will actually be tested, on a painted surface, with various decal setting solutions, so you’ll know ahead of time what you’re getting into on that front.
  • Contributions will overcome the “loss aversion” aspect. Review kits will be purchased with a singular purpose – to be sacrificed on the altar of their own review.
  • Contributor voting will ensure the kits selected are the kits you want to see reviewed.
  • Contributor support will ensure that the principal bias will be in delivering you the best review possible, without favoritism or its opposite.

Don’t like it? There’s a whole lot of other internet out there, and nobody’s forcing you to be here.