Back in November and December 2012 James Bella and I took a look at the photo etched bending tools hitting the market from RP Toolz. James Bella is very much into the mechanics of tools while I was more interested in if I could work with it and would it do what I wanted, a link to both of these reviews is below. In this review I am taking a look at the Mk II version of the bender for want of a better name and that should be hitting the market now, and to assess if the changes are for the better or not.
13cm Photo Etch Bender review by James Bella
Photo Etch Benders review by Darren Baker
The photo etched bending tools from RP Toolz are now supplied in a plain cardboard box, this is an improvement as previously they were supplied loose. Inside the box you will find the specific sized photo etched bender you ordered with a one sided razor blade firmly gripped in the teeth of the bender.
The review that James wrote on the mechanics of the initial photo etched bender would appear to have had a marked effect on the Mk II rendition. The long locking threads have been greatly reduced and the aluminum locking nuts are no more, these have been replaced with a short black knurled plastic knob with a brass thread nut trapped on the inside. This improvement makes taking apart the bender to reverse the fingers and the tightening of the bender much easier and quicker while also improving the overall appearance of the tool. I found it much easier to secure these nuts than the previous method and so this improvement gets a thumbs up all round.
The 5mm aluminum base plate is also a thing of the past having been replaced with a 5mm galvanized steel bed instead. This improvement ensures that this tool should outlive even the most ham fisted modeller out there unless you start using chisels as the levering tool, and it would take a pretty determined individual to damage the bed with the supplied bending tool. Unlike James I never had an issue with moving the photo etched parts around on the bed of the tool and so I am unable to say if this has removed the need for painting that part of the tool as James did.
The fingers of the tool appear to be made of the same material however the finishing process seems to have been refined, and there is no indication of the problem that James encountered. There is still a very subtle curve in the finger plate which will insure your photo etched parts are gripped firmly when bending. As covered in the previous reviews there are the same number of fingers of the same sizes with a full length bending face if you reverse this part. The depth of the fingers has not been altered and while I was happy with the depth your mileage may differ.
The bending lever as supplied is still a single edge razor blade with a guard on the other side. James likes to take the sharpness out of this blade in order to prevent damage to the aluminum base as was and the photo etched part you are bending, I myself prefer the sharp edge as I find it makes getting under the gripped photo etched part easier. So it is up to you as to what your preference is, but if this tool is being purchased for a younger modeller I strongly suggest an alternate lever is supplied with the tool by yourself as a replacement in order to prevent injury.
This review sample was a pre-production bender which was rushed out to me so that a review could be written, and as such the tool has missed one stage which is the installation of the lifting springs. The springs that lift the bending plate can be seen in the comparison of the original and new bender, I will say that this means I don’t know if this aspect of the bender has been improved or not.
RP 01 – 8cm PE tool - €16 or $21
RP 02 – 13cm PE tool - €21 or $27
RP 03 – 18cm PE tool - €26 or $34
The improvements made to the design of the three photo etched benders have made the tool look much more professional, and have cured some and possible all of the concerns that James had with the design. I myself was very happy with the original version of this tool but I can appreciate the changes do make this a better tool if for no other reasons than the appearance and durability. The prices have increased slightly due to the material changes and in today’s market that is not exactly a surprise. The tools are still very competitively priced and I believe the cheapest option on the market by far. If you are looking for a photo etched bender I believe that these three photo etched bending tools at these prices are worth very serious consideration.