by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Love them or loath them, one of the big growth markets in the last few years has been ready-built and painted display models. They are certainly attractive, but of arguable value in developing a new generation of modellers, so it's great to see a new breed of releases - basically the self-same models, but sold in an unassembled form and requiring painting. Perhaps these are the perfect kits for beginners to cut their teeth on?
I've previously come across Pegasus Hobbies through their good-value diorama accessories, but now they've entered the 1/48 scale aircraft kit market with their series of E-Z Snapz models. The range so far includes:
Kit #4811 - Hawker Hurricane Mk.1
Kit #4810 - Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1
Kit #4813 - Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6
Kit #4815 - Messerschmitt Me 262
Kit #4816 - V-2 Rocket
I haven't found the kits in many UK shops yet, but bought the first three of the kits as soon as I spotted them at Model Hobbies.
So, what do you get? Well, the kits are neatly packed in conventional boxes. Each kit is extremely simple with a minimal number of parts. The basic moulding in each case is best described as "heavy" and details are mostly fairly crude. Exterior surfaces have distinct "pebble-dash" texture and deeply engraved panel lines. On the plus side, there are very few sink-marks and virtually no trace of flash. Sprue attachments are a bit thick and some of the sprues themselves are really thick, so they'll definitely be worth keeping as stock.
Dry FitThe kits are sold as snap-together, so the obvious test was to dry-assemble them all to see if you really can build a 1/48 scale fighter with no cement at all. They all pass with flying colours! There are some really hefty locating pins and the fit is often very snug, but the parts can be prised apart again without fear of damaging them. The propellers are designed to rotate and the Spitfire's was the only sloppy fit I found.
AccuracyEach kit looks basically like its subject but, beyond that, rivet counters will be risking high blood pressure. To be fair, the kits are aimed at beginners and casual modellers, so accuracy has taken second place to easy assembly. In terms of general outline, the Hurricane is probably best, the Bf 109 in the middle, with the Spitfire bringing up the rear. Trailing edges of the flying surfaces are mostly very thick and the Spitfire suffers from a slim nose profile and also lacks the original's distinctive "gull-wing" on the underside.
Each kit is supplied with a choice of raised or lowered landing-gear and this is functional, rather than very accurate. In the case of the Spitfire and Bf 109, the angle of the gear legs looks odd, throwing off the "sit" of the models.
Cockpit interiors vary considerably - the Spitfire has virtually none, but the Bf 109's and Hurricane's do at least resemble the real thing - albeit very heavily done. Radiators are mostly see-through, but the Bf 109 looks as though it was designed for radiator inserts that aren't included in the kit (there's a similar case on the Hurricane, where there's a locating hole ready for a non-existent pitot-tube). The exhausts and propellers are quite basic.
The cockpit canopy for each kit moulded closed as a plug-in fit. They are thick, but crystal-clear - I wish all kit clear parts were this clear. Sadly, the locating tabs are quite prominent and likely to show even after painting the frames.
Instructions and DecalsThe assembly instructions are clearly drawn (the kits are so simple, experienced modellers will hardly need them) and include a good general guide on painting the model and applying decals to get beginners started.
Each kit is supplied with markings for a single ace's aircraft:
Hurricane - s/n P3901, RF-E, flown by Witold Urbanowicz of 303 Sqn.
Bf 109G - "White 1", flown by Erich Hartman
Spitfre - s/n R6885, flown by Eric Lock of 41 Sqn.
The decals are thin and glossy with good register. In the case of both the RAF aircraft, the fuselage codes are shown reversed on one side, but it's a simple matter to slice the decals to put things right. Similarly, the Hurricane's tail markings look taller than usually depicted for this machine, but can be trimmed down easily enough. More of a problem is the colours, because the both the red and blue inks used are very bright and some of the printing is also a bit ragged on the edges of the roundels, so many modellers will prefer to replace them. No swastikas are provided for the Bf 109.
Not mentioned in the instructions, along with the water-slide markings each kit also includes a matching sheet of stickers. Ironically, the blue used is actually better than on the decals, but most modellers will ignore them as they are thick with massive clear surrounds. However, they do provide a useful alternative for youngsters wanting an ultra-quick finish.
ConclusionMost of the above reads rather like a list of negatives. So, do I regret buying the kits? Not a bit of it! Judging the kits in terms of accuracy doesn't take into account their fun-value. For pocket-money prices, you can assemble a reasonable-looking 1/48 scale kit in a matter of minutes, so they are ideal for youngsters and beginners. Thanks to the snap-fit, you are virtually guaranteed a good looking model (although using cement and filler will obviously improve matters further).
Confirmed rivet counters will probably scoff at the toy-like details, but for the rest of us E-Z Snapz also score in providing a little light relief between more serious projects and are also perfect to try out new painting and weathering techniques on. In terms of accuracy, you could probably bring them more up to scratch if you were very determined, but I wouldn't bother; it would be such a major project, you're probably better off enjoying them for what they are - quick, fun builds. They might also serve to fill the background of large dioramas where they won't be scrutinised too closely.
I haven't rated the kits, because how you'll view them will be so subjective, but if Pegasus Hobbies E-Z Snapz kits succeed in encouraging a new generation of aircraft modellers, I welcome them wholeheartedly.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.