The Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche was an advanced five-blade armed reconnaissance and attack helicopter designed for the United States Army. It was intended to replace the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior as an armed scout helicopter.
Designed with stealth in mind, it incorporated multiple techniques to reduce its radar cross-section (RCS) and other areas of visibility. The RAH-66 was armed with a 20Â mm three-barrel XM301 cannon under its nose and could internally carry 3 AGM-114 Hellfire or 6 AIM-92 Stinger missiles under each retractable weapons pylons. It can also externally carry 4 Hellfire and 8 Stinger missiles on each stub wing.
The RAH-66 program was canceled in 2004, before mass production began, after nearly US$7 billion was spent on the program. Two RAH-66 prototypes were built and conducted flight testing from 1996 to 2004. Since the cancellation the prototypes have been placed on display.
Info adapted from Wikipedia.
The kit was originally released in 1996. The latest boxing still comes in the same side opening box which is still easily crushed. The 2 sprue trees come in one sealed bag with the canopy in a smaller separate bag. Parts breakdown is very basic and are molded in olive drab. It looks to be a simple build. I also think there aren’t any aftermarket parts for this kit.
The panel lines are recessed but are quite thick on the main fuselage. Italeri gives options for open or closed internal pylons and external stub wings. It even looks like one can model both: internal weapons bay open and external stub wings loaded with missiles. The kit comes with 12 Hellfires and 2 Stingers to arm the Comanche.
Cockpit details are OK with raised details and molded on belts on the seats. I’m not sure if the seats are accurate: they look like car seats to me. 😀
There are minor flash around some parts but nothing really major.
The chin cannon is made of only 2 parts and the barrel assembly doesn’t rotate. Details aren’t great either.
The canopy is big and clear which unfortunately will clearly show how bare the cockpit is. It’s also made of one whole piece so you don’t get an open canopy option. On the plus side, no fitting issues if you choose to have the canopy closed.
The markings included are for the 1st prototype only and is very sparse. The whole helicopter is also basically 1 color: olive drab. Lots of what-if options though if you model a production RAH-66.
Revell has a rebox of this kit and a snapfit version. Tamiya also reboxed this kit. And since this helicopter remained only as a prototype, I’m not sure there will be another company that will release a brand new kit.
So for now, this is the only game in town if you want a 1/72 Comanche. I actually like the design of the RAH-66 Comanche very much. It looks both stealthy and deadly when loaded with weapons. I’m glad to finally have this in my collection.
Preview courtesy of my wallet
Price: 192.00 HKD at Hobbyeasy
The T-47 airspeeder was a model of low-altitude vehicle manufactured by Incom Corporation. When the Alliance to Restore the Republic was stationed on the icy planet of Hoth, a contingent of T-47 airspeeders were modified to become assault fighters called snowspeeders. A small, wedge-shaped craft, the Alliance snowspeeder was a two-man ship, with a pilot and a rear-facing tailgunner. It had two heavy, forward-facing laser cannons and a harpoon cannon fitted in its rear arc.
During the Battle of Hoth, snowspeeders were deployed to delay advancing Imperial forces and buy enough time for the Rebel forces to evacuate Echo Base.
Info adapted from Wookieepedia.
I’ve been a life-long fan of Star Wars but it was only in the 1990s that high quality model kits of the vehicles were made available by Fine Molds. Last year though, it was revealed that Bandai has taken over the license and they quickly released many vehicles and even figure model kits from the Star Wars universe. I’ve been building Bandai kits for at least a decade now and have a very high regard for them. So expectations are quite high for this kit.
As per usual with Bandai, the kit is molded in multiple colors, sometimes in one tree. If you’ve ever built a Gundam kit, then there’s not much surprise here. Details are molded very well and panel lines are very fine and consistent. Also as per Bandai, this kit is pretty much a snapfit kit but the more serious modelers will definitely add cement.
Bandai also gives you plenty of options including:
- Opening canopy
- A spool of harpoon cable simulating being shot out of the rear harpoon gun (to trip up Imperial AT-ATs of course)
- 2 clear red laser beams for the forward guns
- Opening flaps above and under the snowspeeder
- Pilot and gunner figures
- A stand to pose the snowspeeder flying over a snowscape
- Landing gear
As you can see, there are a lot of ways you can display your finished kit. And best of all with the pre-molded colors, you can simply snap the kit together, apply the stickers (more on that later), and happily put the kit up for display.
After seeing how detailed the kit is though, I’m sure most folks will want to give this kit at least a wash to pop out all the details.
Bandai has replicated all the gribbles that are the signature of Star Wars vehicles and they are very well done.
Two detailed pilots are included. They are molded in one piece and come with the restraining belts molded on. Kudos must also be given for managing to get the different designs of the suit legs correct. As the kit only allows you to model (I assume) Luke’s snowspeeder, so these figures are of Luke Skywalker and his (unfortunate) gunner Dack Ralter. No option to model a dead Dack though.
Bandai gives you 2 options for the canopy. The first is a clear insert under the canopy frame which is molded in gray. The other option is the frame and canopy in one piece. You are then required to decal/sticker the frame on. The clear parts are free of distortion and are done very well.
Unfortunately my kit came with a broken harpoon cable. Not a big issue for me as I wasn’t planning of using it anyway. Still, it shouldn’t be happening.
A very pleasant surprise is that you’re given a sheet of stickers and a sheet of decals. They are exactly the same except for type. So Bandai leaves it up to you how you want to finish off the kit. The markings are printed very nicely without any faked damage or chips on them. A small minus is that you’re only given the option of the plain gray stripes (which is prominently on Luke’s snowspeeder). In the movie there are units with orange stripes which I find looks more interesting.
This is a very nicely done kit as is usual with Bandai’s kits. The inclusion of the stickers and decals is a very nice touch too since it leaves the modeler with the option of how detailed he wants his kit to be. The amount of fine details on this kit really calls out for all out weathering and finishing though. Besides, a clean Star Wars vehicle just feels odd, especially ones from the original trilogy.
Highly recommended to anyone who can get hold of one.
Preview courtesy of my wallet
Price: 2,720 JPY at Hobby Search
The VF-25 Messiah is one of the latest variable fighters used by humans in 2059. It was developed as a replacement for the VF-171, the standard variable fighter in the New UN Spacy. Production prototypes were fielded by SMS in 2059, during Macross Frontier fleet’s voyage into the center of the Milky Way.
Like previous variable fighters, the VF-25 can transform between 3 forms. Unique to other models though, is the EX-Gear power armor integrated into the cockpit which reduces the burden on the pilot during extreme maneuvers. With the addition of various modules, the VF-25 can be configured for multiple missions. The VF-25 is also the first variable fighter to be able to transform without having to eject its armored pack (unlike the VF-1).
Info adapted from Macross Wiki.
Unlike Bandai’s release a few years ago, this kit is only modeled in fighter mode. Consequently, I think captures it the look of the Messiah better. The kit comes in the bigger sized box in the vein of the VF-0 kits. As usual with Hasegawa, the box is way bigger than what’s needed and also as usual with Hasegawa, everything but the clear parts are shoved into one big plastic bag which probably caused 2 parts to have fallen off the sprue straight out of the box.
Features of the kit:
- Separate parts for open or closed canopy
- Co-pilot seat included as option
- Armaments! A total of 18 missiles are included besides the gun pod
- Option for open or closed wings
- Option for gear up or down
I like this: separate parts for open or closed canopy. This means less fiddling around to make the open parts fit closed. A lot of itty bitty clear parts are also included to stick onto various parts of the kit.
I find that the panel lines are finer and the parts are more detailed than previous releases. The molding also looks crisper although this may be due to my kit being from the first run. We’ll see how it goes as Hasegawa invariably milks the mold for the other VF-25 versions.
I like how a co-pilot seat is included as an option but it sure will be great if a passenger figure was too. Looks odd empty if you used the included pilot upfront. Plus, where are you going to find another Macross Frontier era figure besides buying a new VF-25 kit?
Hasegawa has finally given the modeler the option of modeling the kit in flight or on the ground in the form of separate parts. So you don’t have to wrestle to close the gear doors that are meant to be in the open position. Nice.
While the main body is molded in white, quite a few parts are molded in gray for some reason.Â These tend to be the parts that are very detailed although I’m not sure that has do with the color used.
The exhausts are thankfully designed to be able to be assembled and painted separately before being installed.
Interestingly, the VF-25’s hands aren’t retracted in fighter mode.
The armament includes the underbelly GU-17 gatling gun pod which oddly includes the hand grip. The kit is capable of being modeled carrying 3 triple missile racks on each wing for a total of 18 missiles to kick Vajra ass. Seriously overkill but seriously bad ass.
Markings-wise, you are given 2 options:
- Alto’s VF-25F
- Ozma’s VF-25S
What can I say? It’s a Hasegawa. It’s very nicely molded although with the many parts, there will probably be some fiddly parts fitting like most of the brand’s latest releases. I really like the inclusion of the missiles and I hope Hasegawa will keep doing this from now on. The inclusion of co-pilot seat is nice although it’ll be better if it came with a co-pilot figure.
Still, it’s a welcome entry into the 1/72 Macross model kits as I find the Bandai kit seriously over-engineered: so much so I threw it back into its box and stored it away after I was done snap-fitting it.
I’m sure many more variants will be released in no time: Michel’s VF-25G, Luca’s RVF-25, VF-25 with Super Pack, VF-25 with Armored Pack and VF-25 with Tornado Pack. Can’t wait.
Preview courtesy of my wallet
In 2008, Taiga Heavy Industries was commissioned by the Ministry of Defense to begin developing the ASF-X. By 2016, there were 4 prototypes built for testing: two each CTOL and STOVL variants. Unique to the Shinden II were the forward swept wings and two-tiered thrust vectoring engines.
The ASF-X Shinden II is a next-generation fighter aircraft, combining a striking airframe design with the latest aviation technologies. As a result of Japan’s unique geography, it was designed to undertake aircraft interception and air-to-ship attack duties.
Info from instruction sheet and Acepedia
This kit is part of Hasegawa’s Creator Works line which showcases mecha from various Japanese properties. The AF-X Shinden II is from Ace Combat: Assault Horizons, an arcade flight simulator published by Namco Bandai. The Shinden II was designed by Shoji Kawamori, who designed the mecha from Macross. How can I resist? 🙂
When the box arrived, I was surprised how big it was: easily twice the size of a typical Hasegawa Macross kit. The aircraft itself was also big. I was expecting it to be on-par with an F-16 Viper. Instead it’s about as long as a 1/48 A-4 Skyhawk.
As is typical of Hasegawa, they stuffed the main sprues into one bag although this time, the fuselage and the canopy parts are in their own separate bags. While I usually don’t mind this as much as most modelers, one part did end up breaking off from the tree while in the bag. Less chance of that happening if each sprue tree were in a separate bag.
Also as usual, all parts are very nicely molded with very fine details all round. One nice feature is the fuselage is molded in upper and bottom halves so fitting should be much easier than the typical multi-part affairs Hasegawa likes so much (they do it to use one mold for various variants) which tends to fiddly fits. No full engine trunking but that’s never a deal breaker for me. 99% of people who actually see my stuff don’t peek into the intakes.
Landing gear is included but the kit also includes a stand in clear plastic so the aircraft can be displayed in flight. It also includes a pilot. Nice. The canopy is provided in clear plastic although in most pictures, the Shinden II should have a tinted canopy (much like the F-16 and F-22 Raptor).
Hasegawa gives the options to model the Shinden II in normal or SVTOL mode. The description of the modes from Acepedia:
The ASF-X’s airframe is capable of changing its shape and the direction the rudders and wingtips face as the flight speed changes. Furthermore, it is outfitted with a unique tandem twin-engine design, with the lower engine (located further inside the aircraft) being capable of pivoting to provide VTOL capabilities.
Surprising for Hasegawa, they have included weapons! 6 AIM-120 AMRAAMs or 6 rocket pods to arm the Shinden II with. In most images I found of the Shinden II online, it is almost always shown with 6 AMRAAMs so this is accurate. However, it’s also supposed to be designed for anti-shipping missions so I would have liked an option for that too (rockets for ships? Hmmm). I guess it’s too much to ask. 😛
Decals are provided for 2 aircraft:
- 50-8108 in Air Superiority Camouflage (similar to the F-22)
- 50-8108 in Maritime Camouflage of blue on the topside and gray on the bottom
Hasegawa also provides a set of serials so the modeler can customize a serial number. Quality is typical of Hasegawa so they should fit fine. For the stencil freaks, there are also a ton of these so they should be happy.
All in all, I like the approach Hasegawa has done with this release. it’s an all-in-one package where you don’t have to add anything from an option set to complete. The parts count is also not too high so you won’t get bogged down with the details and best of all, it has Hasegawa engineering so fit and finishing should be good.
If only they would do this with their aircraft kits.
Preview courtesy of my wallet