The Mirage 2000D is a variant of the Mirage 2000 tasked with conventional strike missions. It is a modification of the Mirage 2000N, which is tasked with nuclear strike missions. A total of 86 units were built and the first aircraft joined the French Air Force in April 1995.
The Mirage 2000D features an NVG-compatible cockpit, modernized navigation system and updated countermeasures systems. It’s designed to carry all major ‘dumb’ munitions, laser guided weapons from both French/US arsenals, the Exocet anti-ship missile and the ARMAT anti-radar missile. In 2001, the aircraft was further upgraded with improved capabilities.
Italeri kits can be hit or miss but so far, I’ve been lucky. The previous Italeri kit (the A-6E Intruder) I previewed looked to be a good kit. What about this one? The kit comes in the typical Italeri side opening box. There are two main trees of parts and 1 clear canopy tree in a plastic bag. Not much protection I must say, but at least there are no parts that fell off the tree.
58 parts is just right in my opinion so you won’t get bogged down during assembly. The kit comes with a centerline external fuel tank. The typical wing mounted fuel tanks are only available in Italeri’s Rafale release. It also comes with what looks like two air-to-air and two air-to-surface missiles. Not having any knowledge in French weapons, I can’t say much about whether they are accurate. However, they do look a but simplistic in my opinion.
A quick look at the sprues indicate a decently molded kit. It’s a mixed bag of recessed and raised panel lines. The majority of the aircraft has recessed lines while the pylons and the centerline fuel tank all have raised panel lines. The kit is not as detailed as something like the Hasegawa F-14D kit, but the details are more than acceptable for any modeler. I find that compared to a typical Hasegawa kit, this one has deeper recessed lines. The good thing about that is of course it’s harder to obliterate the panel lines during the assembly stage. However, some of the panel lines do look a bit out of scale. I’m not that much of a stickler of that though.
The seats (which I think makes or breaks a cockpit) is decently molded and should be more than adequate. The control surfaces also comes with raised details which is a pleasant surprise. I was expecting the standard decals-for-cockpit-controls things. The landing gear doors are also molded in the open position so doing the Mirage 2000D in-flight will require a bit of modding. The landing gear also has decent details as expected from Italeri.
Decals options aplenty. No less than four! Italeri only gives the major stencils athough that’s not a big problem for me.
Registration is quite OK although my sample has started to yellow somewhat. I just have to get it shined by the Sun abit and the yellow should be easily gone. By all accounts, Italeri decals are good. It’s just a pity they didn’t include an option to do an in-service French AF Mirage.
I bought this kit knowing full well it was released one year BEFORE the actual Mirage 2000D was introduced into French service. Expecting some mistakes in the kit, I surfed around the Internet for some info on the kit. From what I could gather, there were some major mistakes: the real Mirage 2000D doesn’t have a pitot tube and the cockpit is located 5mm too far back on the kit. 5mm doesn’t sound like a lot but in 1/72 scale, that’s big enough to actually somewhat change the shape and look of the Mirage. I’m not sure at this point whether it’s an easy thing to fix to be honest or for that matter, whether I should just ignore the mistake. We’ll see.
This is so far the only game in town for the Mirage 2000D in 72 scale. If you can live with the inaccuracies then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick one up. It looks like a Mirage 2000D from two feet away anyway.
Price: S$17.50 (est. US$10.30)
The GZ-002 Cannon Fort is the Helic Republic’s primary light mobile artillery unit. Designed to look like the American Buffalo, the Cannon Fort sports a wide array of weapons for its mission of providing indirect fire on short notice. Two 120mm guns are mounted on a swivelling turret on the Zoid’s back to provide a wide field of fire, including the ability to elevate 30 degrees. The Cannon Fort is also armed with light weapons for self-defence purposes. To allow the Zoid to be mobile, armor is sacrificed. The light armament and armor of the Cannon Fort means that they are usually paired with other Zoids to form light strike mobile units: able to move from place to place and provide fire support for other Helic forces.
Note: This is my own created Battle Story for my Zoids. I don’t really like the official version. So sue me… 🙂
The Cannon Fort is a re-release of the 1980s original. The main difference between the two versions is the color and the markings: The new Cannon Fort is dark green and black while the old one has the green parts in a medium blue. The old kit also comes with 2 gold coated mind-riders instead of just 1 dark grey one for this release.
Each part of molded in their respective colors as typical of all Zoids kits. One mildly annoying thing is the copyright molded on the front right shoulder of the kit. While that’s easily removed, there are actually a lot of other places for the copyright notice without it being so conspicuous.
The inclusion of only 1 mind-rider is also surprising since the Cannon Fort has two crew compartments: one in the head, the other in a compartment on the main turret. The stickers included are also typical Zoid quality. One word: thick. The Cannon Fort also comes with dull red colored rubber pegs which IMO, doesn’t really complement the overall subdued colored scheme of the machine.
The age of the mold is pretty obvious as the quality of the details are not up to par to the newer Zoid designs. This might also be attributed to the limitation of technology during the 1980s or it could simply be a degradation of the mold through the decades.
Typically of all Zoids kits, there are parts that are hollowed out in the back. These include all the legs and the two main guns. Since Zoids are sold primarily as toys as opposed to models, this is pretty normal. Remedying it is a simple matter of filling the spaces with epoxy putty and sand to shape.
The Cannon Fort comes with a medium-sized wind up motor and when put into action, the Cannon Fort will move forward, the main turret will swivel side to side while the two main guns will alternatively elevate.
The Cannon Fort is actually one of those Zoids that I failed to get in its original run, so it’s nice to see it being re-released. Although I must say I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the molding.
Preview courtesy of my wallet
Price: Rp. 285,000 (est. US$31.00)
The Grumman F-14D is the final version of the Tomcat. It is at home in both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions and is considered the most versatile platform in the US Navy arsenal. Primary differences between the D and A variants include: more powerful GE engines, upgraded avionics and radar. By the end of 2006, the Tomcat has been retired from US Navy service, having served with distinction for more than 30 years.
VF-101 was the F-14 FRS (Fleet Readiness Squadron) for the Tomcat community. Since the mid-1990s, it was also the only training unit after the west coast training unit (VF-124) was disestablished. VF-101 was tasked with training the crews and ground personnel on the Tomcat. Weapons training was also done by VF-101 which encompasses all the weapon systems the Tomcat could operate. Until it was disestablished in 2005, VF-101 had as many as 130 F-14s of all three Tomcat variants for currency training and range control work.
By all accounts, this is the ultimate Tomcat kit in 1/72 scale and they aren’t kidding. 197 parts of beautifully molded parts greet you when you open the box. As usual with Hasegawa, they have packed all the sprues into one big bag with the decals and clear parts in another smaller one. Once you take the parts out of the bag, you will find that the box won’t close properly. That’s how many parts there are in the box!
The kit features very fine recessed lines and is very detailed. You can tell this is a complex kit just from the parts breakdown. In fact, there has been talk that this is actually a simple (well, not really) scaled down version of the the excellent 1/48 scale F-14. One thing to note though, the 1/72 kit actually has a lot more parts. As with the 1/48 kit, the kit comes with PE parts and IIRC, there’s more PE parts than the bigger brother.
A look at the parts breakdown indicates that it’s the same as the 1/48 kit. The front fuselage is made of 2 left-right halves while the rear is made of top-bottom halves. This is probably the only logical way to split the parts. However, if it’s anything like its bigger brother, then the fitting between the front and rear fuselage will be a bit fiddly. Not anything major though.
Unlike the competition or even its older version of the kit, you can only build this kit with the wings either swung out or swept in. I personally think that being able to swing the wings in and out is simply a gimmick anyways. I certainly won’t be using the feature when I’m done with the kit.
It’s pretty clear based on the instructions that this is a rebox of the B variant so all the parts needed to build one is included. That’s good for the spares box. To build the D variant of the F-14, Hasegawa has included a new sprue of parts for the kit. Included in this sprue are two NACES ejection seats, control panels and the chinpod. Along with the GE F110 engines (which the B variant shares), the parts will make for a pretty accurate F-14D. Hasegawa has also thrown in the LANTIRN pod and rail, and the new-style LAU-138 launchers. Nice. As usual however, Hasegawa has again not included any weapons. You have to buy the weapon sets for those.
Hasegawa has started a trend of reboxing the D variant in various squadrons so you buy the box based on which squadron you want to model. This being the Grim Reapers boxing, both choices of markings are of course, VF-101 birds.
High-viz red-tailed Grim Reaper. Shown on the box cover.
AD 164 (Pic from airliners.net)
Low-viz black-tailed Grim Reaper with sharkmouth on the radome and a sickle-bearing grim reaper for the tails
Registration is as usual, very clear. Hasegawa has a reputation for slightly thick decals but this one seem pretty OK. That’s probably because this sheet was printed by Cartograph, which has a reputation for good quality decals.
This is an excellent kit. Although the many parts will translate to some inevitable fitting problems, it is the most accurate representation of the F-14D Tomcat in the market right now. The choice is pretty obvious actually.
Preview courtesy of my wallet
Manufacturer: Gran’ Ltd
Price: Rp. 140,000
The Lavochkin OKB S-75 (Russian Ð¡-75, NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline) is a high-altitude surface-to-air guided missile (SAM) system of the Soviet Union and is the most widely deployed and used air defense missile in history.
The SA-2 was the main reason behind the development of electronic warfare strategy and dedicated aircraft during the Vietnam War. The Wild Weasel program was the direct result of the US Air Force suffering heavy losses from SA-2 batteries.
The SA-2 is currently deployed by as much as 35 countries although it’s starting to be phased out by more modern weapon systems.
Gran’ Ltd is a Russian company that produces mainly Russian/Soviet subjects. So I’d be forgiven if I’ve never heard of them. That’s because I don’t collect much on the subject. All this changed when I saw this kit in the shelves. I’ve never heard of the SA-2 being offered in 1/72 scale. The most common scale available for this subject is the 1/35 Trumpeter. Since this one is in 1/72, I just gotta have it. I mean come on, this was the one weapon that made the USAF develop the Wild Weasel program! And it’s in the same scale as my Electronic Warfare aircraft collection. Who can resist?
So anyway, the kit only includes the missile and the launcher. I would have preferred if they included the Fan Song guidance radar but this would have to do. There’s only 2 trees of parts. Details are all raised and everything is cast in white. Parts detail is good even though the panels are raised and the casting quality is reasonable good. There were some flash on the parts but I don’t see any major sinkholes. Nice.
The showcase itself is the missile. It measures about 15cm and is huge compared to the launcher. Looking at its size, this missile must have been a fearsome sight to pilots when it was heading toward them. This missile is easily 3/4 the size of an F-16.
The instructions are pretty straightfoward and is simple to follow. There is a history of the SA-2 on the front page in both Cyrillic and English although I must say, the English isn’t that good. There are no decals included but they offer coloring guides for 4 schemes. 3 of the schemes have some sort of camo pattern on them but they only show one side of the SA-2 so some guesstimation is needed.
The launcher might be small, but the sheer size of the missile should make this into an impressive kit. Who wouldn’t like a model of a giant missile anyway?
Preview courtesy of my wallet
The RGM-79G GM Command is the result of the Federation’s refined manufacturing processes and is built on a modified RGM-79 GM frame with added thrusters for maneuvaribility. The RGM-79G is primarily tasked with colony defense. Manufacturing costs are high for this variant and production for this type is extremely limited.
This kit was done as part of Project WOOB. The rules state that the kit has to be built fully out-of-the box only without any modifications. So I decided to give the kit a custom camouflage.
The camouflage was done by handbrushing, which is a first for me. It didn’t turn out as I’d imagine, but it didn’t look half bad. I have also continued the cheesecake decal on the shield of this kit, just as I did in my Powered GM. Maybe it’ll become my signature, who knows.
My entry actually won the Silver Medal, to my utter surprise. It’s the first contest I joined and the first time I’ve won anything. Incidentally, this kit was done in between the birth of my son so hopefully, I can show it to him someday when he’s old enough. Here’s to more good things to come!