by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
I've recently been lucky enough to examine a very neat quartet of 1:48 aircraft boarding ladders produced by Plusmodel.
The latest batch includes ladders for the following aircraft:
AL4084 F-106 - Price: $11.00 / 7.70 Euros
AL4085 F-22 - Price: $11.00 / 7.70 Euros
AL4086 F-101B - Price: $14.70 / 10.30 Euros
AL4087 MiG-29 - Price: $11.00 / 7.70 Euros
All the previous Plusmodel accessories I've seen have been resin so, when I saw the neat end-opening boxes, I assumed that would be the case here too. I couldn't have been more wrong, though, because each packet contains a neat injection-moulded ladder (or pair of ladders in the case of the F-101B).
I found just a little flash on the sample ladders, but there are moulding lines (see more on that below). There were no sink marks on the sample sets, and ejection pins have been kept clear of the parts themselves. So, with no casting blocks etc., preparation is much easier than if the parts had been cast in resin - and the construction is definitely simpler. The ladders vary in complexity as follows:
F-106 - 14 x parts
F-22 - 11 x parts
F-1-1B - 2 x ladders with 3 x parts each
MiG-29 - 5 x parts
Even with the most complex ladders, I found construction was quick and easy. Where the ladders have separate rungs, there are clear indentations to ensure a solid fit. I was initially concerned that it would be difficult to keep the rungs square and true, but actually found everything lined up really easily.
In fact, cleaning up the parts was far more time consuming, because the moulding lines (although they are only light) are readily apparent and really do need removing. (I only did this roughly for the photos at right and I'd go back for a second pass before painting the ladders.) If I was building the ladders with separate rungs for myself, I'd probably replace the rungs with styrene rod - I think this would be quicker in the long run than removing the mould lines.
One point of caution: I've obviously built the ladders in isolation, without kits to check their fit against. Some of the ladders allow a degree of adjustment, so it would be much better to have the kits to hand to make sure the ladders match the fuselage contours before cementing the parts firmly.
The completed ladders all seem to match examples of the real thing I found in a quick search on the Internet.
By way of instructions, the back of each box has a colour exploded diagram along with a view of the completed ladder. The attractive artwork on the front of the boxes serves as the painting guide. This is adequate (if not ideal), because the ladders appear to be basically painted overall in single colours, but it would be useful if Plusmodel had also included paint matches.
Conclusion Plusmodel's aircraft boarding ladders are very nicely produced and will be useful accessories for vignettes and dioramas. Construction is easy enough for them to be suitable for modellers at pretty much any experience level.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.