This is the first time I’ve ever reviewed a product but felt so compelled to do so for this much awaited product.
Okay, first I should point out that I'm a bit of a beginner when it comes to modeling... having only been doing it seriously for a couple of years now. While many Flightpath detail sets state quite clearly that they are not for the beginner I simply cannot resist a challenge. The first part of this review will simply be an “out of the box” inspection. I will add to this thread the stages of my building and any comments I can think of to help future builders. Modeling is the main area where I feel confident so I will cover the building stages and not the painting. Generally this is due to the fact that as soon as I open a jar of paint the proverbial tends to launch into any fan type device situated nearby.
The set arrives well packaged and presented in a resealable bag. Evident on first inspection is the shiny Nickel Silver photo etch sheets. I must admit I got just as excited seeing this nickel silver as I did seeing brass PE for the first time. That may sound weird but I’m sure others know that feeling. This was certainly enhanced after reading the first couple of paragraphs of the instructions where it stated that the nickel silver could be left unpainted in places just like the real thing. Emptying the contents of the bag I’m faced with 1 large sheet of PE (actually the sheet, folded in half in the bag, breaks into two), a small bag of white metal rods (these would appear to be the arms that move the flap structures) and the instructions which follow the same format as most Flightpath detail sets I’ve encountered. The detail in these sheets of PE is simply amazing and full credit to the Flightpath team for putting in such hard work to create it. Modeled in 1/32 you’d expect to see quite a bit of detail but everything from perfect panel lines, rivet detail right through to frame structures is first rate. It would appear though, the true detail will come out when the objects are formed up into structures so close to the real thing no resin product could ever come close. Well thought out, the PE sheets are divided up into port and starboard wings making for a straight forward building process. Having said this there is a small error highlighted in the early stages of the instructions where a couple of parts are incorrectly labeled on the PE sheets. This, as I say, has been picked up by Flightpath and it’s a simple matter of getting out a permanent marker and relabeling the parts in question or just keeping it in mind if your memory and concentration are better than mine (as most would be). Certainly not something that will cause dramas for anyone.
Construction starts with the removal of sections of the Revell kit parts that the Flightpath set will replace (these being sections of the upper and lower halves of each wing). After this it is suggested the “edited” wing halves be glued together and let dry to insure a solid foundation onto which the etch will be installed. Personally I’m going to skip this editing part altogether for a little while preferring to cut the kit parts only when I know the exact shape of the sections to be installed. I don’t doubt the Flightpath instructions, more so my ability to cut within the lines J . This is followed by the construction of the lower wing flap housings, flap units, upper surface slats and finally the leading edge spoilers. The instructions run through the procedure for building the port side wing… the starboard is simply the same - mirrored. Flightpath recommend the use of an etch folding device such as 'Etchmate' or the 'Hold n Fold' to form up the structures. Personally I have an Etchmate but couldn’t imagine attempting a project like this without it, the aforementioned product or similar tool. Naturally you should never say never as anyone can find a work around to all problems but these tools would certainly aid the modeler in a big way here. Because of the length of the flap housings etc having a tool that can fold longer surfaces is ideal especially to attain a perfect straight fold. Also a tool for bending curved surfaces is recommended, of which I have none. I plan to attempt to fold the curves with various sized brass rods and tubes that have done me well up to now. For this reason though, among others I plan to build this set “wing by wing” as opposed to both wings simultaneously.
The instructions are what you’d expect from Flightpath, for anyone who’s seen their products before. Well presented and thought out. The diagrams for this kit are very good; easy to read and understand. Also contained are a couple of pages with numerous “close up” reference photos of the subjects. These are quite valuable as they are from angles and of objects that even the best reference books would rarely publish. Clearly Flightpath understand the difficulties with obtaining reference images of certain items and do well to publish these.
I really only have one criticism of the instructions and it is aimed not specifically at Flightpath but at the PE detail set manufacturers as a whole. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I would love to have a couple of pages, maybe more depending on the kit size, devoted to photos of the actual kit in various stages of construction. To me this would be as valuable as seeing the real object out on the tarmac. Maybe even just a couple of accompanying images for the trickier parts of the model. While the instructional diagrams of this set are good they are, after all, just perspective line drawings. To Flightpaths credit after reading the instructions through completely I suspect they’ve got it right with this kit, however I feel a few accompanying photos would settle any doubts some may have. Personally I’ve had some experience helping to build and rivet flaps, elevators, rudders, and wing components etc of real life 2 - 4 seat aircraft (thanks to my Dads hobby… and yes I do often feel quite deflated showing off something built in 1/48 scale when he then shows me a 1/1 real flyer) so the shapes and structures involved I understand to a degree. This may be another story for someone new to these sorts of devices. To see the metal formed up and installed in the plastic kit would greatly help the modeler This is a pretty small point but it’s an opinion I’ve formulated after viewing a number of PE sets over various genres. In addition in Flightpaths case I think they could benefit greatly from having some sort of images available on their website accompanying the kit information. Currently you buy one of their kits online based on a one or two paragraph description. Many a buyer may want to actually see what you get before they make up their minds. I for one, can assure any future buyer that the products they sell far exceed any expectation arrived at by reading their product descriptions. On these points I’d gladly raise my hand (along with many others here at armorama I’m sure) and offer up any images in the future if a Flightpath or any other manufacturer wanted our help in achieving this. Naturally I’d say this would be done “in house” by the companies but if out-sourced could create a very special relationship between modeler and manufacturer working together to achieve the same goal, where both could benefit in many ways. Well, that’s my dream anyway J.
These points aside, I’d rate this detail set very highly indeed to anyone looking at making a large scale Tornado. The detail on the Revell kit wings already looks bland compared to what the Flightpath set will add. Personally my MAJOR project includes Flightpaths' other detail set for this kit (painting cockpits are not my strongpoint so you’ll have a laugh when you see those pictures eventually) so combined with this set should make a model I’m proud of. Some may find this product a little pricey but in this scale you expect to pay a little extra for these sorts of details especially when the end result will far exceed any resin alternative (I know Paragon used to do a resin set but am not sure if it’s still in production). This combined with the fact that the time it takes to build (I manage about 5 hours a week on average) extends the enjoyable building process. Hopefully this set will do well for Flightpath and they may even look at doing the same sort of set for other modern aircraft. The thought did cross my mind on whether this set could be adapted and attached onto a F-14 in the same scale… silly I know.
Stay tuned to this thread for my updates and pictures to follow over the coming days/weeks.
About Matt (powerlogik) FROM: WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA
I started modeling seriously about 2 1/2 years ago...initially into AFV but now branching out into all areas just to learn and try everything (well that's my excuse for my evergrowing stash of kits). My experinces have been limited only by time as from day one I jumped in the deep end using produc...