by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Roy Sutherland has a reputation second to none, thanks to his awesome Cooper Details aftermarket sets that have pretty much set and maintained a benchmark for the very highest quality modelling and resin casting for many years. Now, in a move to unify his range of accessories, Roy is producing his work under a new name - BarracudaCast. The range will eventually include some reworked and improved (is that possible?) ex-Cooper Details sets, as well as all-new products like this initial batch of Spitfire upgrades designed primarily for Tamiya's 1:32 Mk. IX, but suitable where appropriate for PCM's Mk. IX and Hasegawa's venerable Mk. V.
Tamiya's 1:32 Spitfire Mk.IX (and, by extension, the recently released Mk. VIII) is a fantastic kit, but it still leaves room for improvement, most noticeably in a few surprising simplifications and omissions.
The BarracudaCast range of upgrades for the kit currently comprises 7 sets, as follows:
BR32001 - Spitfire Seat with Leather Backpad - Price: $6.95
BR32002 - Spitfire Cockpit Door with Separate Crowbar - Price: $5.95
BR32003 - Spitfire Cockpit Upgrade Set - Price: $7.95
BR32004 - Spitfire IX Rocker Covers with Logos
BR32005 - Spitfire 5-Slot Mainwheels - Price: $7.95
BR32006 - Spitfire 4-Slot Mainwheels - Price: $7.95
BR32007 - Spitfire Gun Covers with Wide Blister - Price: $6.95
The sets are packed in zip-lock bags, and attached to a cardboard backing which has a generic set of instructions for working with resin printed on the reverse. Most of the upgrades featured here don't include separate assembly instructions - they are self-explanatory and straight replacements for kit parts - but the Seat and Cockpit upgrades include a full-colour guide, with clearly written step-by step instructions backed up by excellent photographs.
The casting is basically perfect, with not a bubble in sight and just an occasional wisp of flash to clean off. The parts are all attached to casting blocks, and some of the smaller items are extremely delicate, so you will need to exercise care in removing them.
Working through the sets numerically:
BR32001 represents the famous "Bakelite" Spitfire seat (actually, it wasn't made from Bakelite at all, but the name has stuck). One of the obvious omissions on the Tamiya seat is the lack of a added backrest. While I have occasionally seen photos of the seat with the padding removed, it just doesn't look "right" without it. Barracudacast have captured the look excellently, with a crinkled leather effect that's just right - and unfortunately just goes to prove how dismal my own effort to simulate the cushion with Milliput was! The new item also adds the drain holes in the seat-pan.
BR32002 provides a new cockpit door. Tamiya include a choice of parts depending on whether you want to model the door open or closed, but they have the moulded the emergency crowbar integrally, which looks very over-simplified and at odds with the general detailing of the kit - particularly with the door open, as it's so prominently placed. Roy's version not only has a separate crowbar which is held in tiny spring-clips, but the locking mechanism is more detailed. Lastly - and it's a huge bonus - there are no ejector-pin marks to worry about, which were a real nuisance on the kit door.
BR32003 is the most elaborate of the Barracudacast sets, with 8 resin parts, a length of black wire, and a small sheet of decals.
The detailing on the new parts like the throttle and undercarriage selector is much better than the styrene items (thank goodness, I've realised I haven't fitted them yet in my stalled build!) - and the replacement control column includes the prominent cables (using the pre-coloured wire provided) that were so clearly missing on Tamiya's version.
The decals feature various stencil marks and placards to dot around the "office" sidewalls and instrument panel, and replacement faces for the artificial horizon and direction indicator.
BR32004 supplies new rocker covers for the kit's excellent Merlin. What's the difference? The Rolls-Royce nameplates which are missing on the Tamiya parts.
BR32005 and BR32006. Love 'em or hate 'em, Tamiya's mainwheels are moulded in soft rubber - a decision which produced cheers and groans in pretty much equal measure! Personally, I don't like them - any advantage in the soft rubber is outweighed by the pain in cleaning off the mould-lines and getting a convincing final appearance. Plus, they're dust magnets! - despite being in a closed box for the last few months, those in my kit are filthy! BR32005 and BR32006 provide new 5- and 4-Slot mainwheels respectively, with excellent hub details and hassle-free tyres.
BR32007 - if you're modelling a machine fitted with the wide-blister cannon covers, you may well want to consider replacing the kit parts with Roy's resin replacements. A number of Spitfire experts have expressed the view that Tamiya's versions have too-squared an appearance at the front of the blister, something that's hard to correct. Sitting the resin parts next to the originals, the difference is subtle, but quite distinct, and is the set offers a simple but very worthwhile improvement.
ConclusionWhen you see Roy Sutherland's name on any product you know it's going to be rather special! These first BarracudaCast sets are beautifully modelled and produced, perfect for anyone looking to take Tamiya's superb Spitfire to the next level of accuracy and detail. Unreservedly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.