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In-Box Review
Big Ed 4852 - Ki-61 I Hei Hien

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

This is my first chance to see a BigEd pack, so I was really interested to see what it comprises. In fact, it's four sets in one and consists of a selection of existing Eduard sets:

  • 48496 - Ki 61 Landing Flaps
  • 49315 - Ki 61 Detail Set
  • EX059 - Ki 61 Painting Masks
  • XF564 - Etched blotch mask set
48496 Landing Flaps
This set is really aimed at experienced modellers - it doesn't have many parts, but it involves some intricate folding and glueing delicate parts. Using the set involves 2 main tasks:

1. Constructing a pair of boxed-in interiors for the wing, each complete with ribs and spar. This requires some accurate long folds, so a specialist tool could well come in handy.

2. Building the flaps themselves - again pretty fiddly but (maybe) not quite as daunting as the interiors.

The interior of the kit's wing must be thinned to allow the etched parts to fit and, obviously, the flaps themselves themselves must be cut away from the lower surface. Before the etched interior is fitted, a plastic rod hinge (not supplied) and etched brackets must be carefully trapped. Although the instructions show the flaps glued in place, ambitious modellers could probably make them operate... Common sense would dictate building the etched sub-assemblies BEFORE taking a scalpel and razor saw to the kit parts. That way, if you do mess up the etched components, you won't be left with a butchered wing.

All in all, quite a daunting set, although practice probably makes perfect. The result should be spectacular, with delicate raised rib detail and rivetting. The double-sided sheet of instructions is clearly illustrated, but still repays careful study to plan the best plan of attack.

49315 Detail Set
This consists of two etched frets - one of them partly pre-painted. Between them, they contain no less than 179 parts. The parts are exquisitelty detailed and many are etched on both sides.The set details the Hasegawa kit in three main areas:

1. Cockpit / fuselage interior. Here, the set offers masses of extra or replacement details. The instrument panels are replaced with beautifully pre-painted 2-part sandwiches. The instrument faces are far more finely painted than could be achieved by hand. The cockpit sidewalls and floor are treated to replacement consoles and fittings, many of which involve some quite complex folding. The kit seat is replaced by a folded multi-part metal version which should look much more realistic. The gunsight is almost completely replaced with a delicate etched frame, which includes the stand-by ring and bead sight, plus clear fim for the reflectors. Finally, the radiator core gets new vanes and face, along with a new outlet flap.

2. Exterior. The control actuators are all replaced and a number of access panels are supplied for the wings. The drop tanks and their racks also come in for some extra detailing.

3. Undercarriage. The landing gear comes in for a serious make-over. The wheel-hubs get a choice of new faces and the doors are re-skinned. The oleo scissors are replaced and the wheel-wells are lined with etched panels and other details. Brake-lines are supplied, but I'll probably use fine wire for a more 3-D effect (the same is true of some of the plumbing and cabling in the cockpit).

The colour instruction are well illustrated on 3 sheets. Despite the complexity, the assembly is quite easy to follow (although there is one unexplained icon used in connection with the seat-pan. I presume it means to dish out the base of the part with a ball-point pen or similar.) The only weakness is that there are no painting instructions. This isn't such a problem where the parts replace kit items, but where the etched parts are entirely new you'll have to find your own references.

EX059 Painting Masks
Eduard were among the first companies to bring out a canopy masking system. Their original masks were die-cut vinyl - which was OK, but a little inflexible for very small items and had a tendency to lift. Nowadays, Eduard have made a very welcome switch to die-cut tape which is similar (if not identical) to Tamiya's popular masking tape. The die-cutting is very precise and a quick test showed the elements peeled off the backing sheets perfectly, with no ragged corners. Just as important, the new material is much more flexible than the old and the adhesive seems just right for optimum results - it stays in place with no sign of lifting, but can be removed easily when the job's done. I like it! (Can you tell? LOL!) The set should be simplicity itself to use, with clear instructions showing how to fit the masks for the kit's canopy, landing lamp and wheels.

EX564 - Mottle masks
Lastly, Eduard have included a set of brass masking templates with a variety of mottle sizes and patterns. This is a generic set, not designed for the Ki 61, although some of the stencils closely resemble the patterns seen in reference photos. The set also includes an irregular wavy-edge mask.

Being made of brass, the templates are quite flexible, but you'll need to take care fitting them around complex curves without damaging the finish underneath. They are probably most use for modellers who don't own an airbrush suitable for detailed work but, by reversing the masks and changing their orientation, I'm sure some impressive random-looking effects can be achieved.

Hasegawa's Hien is already a nice kit, but BigEd 4852 certainly piles in masses of extra detail with its two principal component sets. You'll definitely need a fair amount of exprience to get the most out of the etched parts but, that said, the final effect of all the delicate parts should be spectacular. If, you don't feel up to tackling quite this level of detail all at once, remember that the component sets are all available individually - but the beauty of BigEd sets is that they offer quite a substantial cost saving over buying the items separately. In this case the saving is $15.89 - and the flaps on their own cost $14.95. Recommended.

Thank you to Eduard for kindly supplying the review sample.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ARMORAMA
Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Ki 61 Hien has always been a favourite of mine; a finely detailed, well-fitting kit. What more could you want? Well, the opportunity to see just how much more could be made of the model came when Eduard announced the release of a BigEd set for the Hien.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: BIG4852
  Suggested Retail: $42.95
  PUBLISHED: Mar 29, 2006
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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