by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Almost a year after it appeared, Tamiya's beautiful Spitfire Mk. IX remains a benchmark against which largescale mainstream kits can be judged. But there's always more detail that can be added to even the best kit and, notwithstanding the fact that they have their own 1:32 Spitfire in development, Eduard have seized the opportunity to produce a range of aftermarket sets for their rival's product.
#32667 - Spitfire Mk.IX late seatbelts - $19.95One of the "instant" improvements one can make to Tamiya's Spitfire is to add a new seat harness. True, Tamiya include etched belts, but they really are rather simplified. Eduard's are much better, with 30 parts providing individual straps and buckles. These show much finer detail on the buckles, and of course the belts are pre-painted and the level of detail here is quite extraordinary, with stitching and lettering that would be all but impossible to paint by hand. The separate belts and buckles allow the harness to articulate, making it easier to drape convincingly, but I still feel that Eduard could go one better by using their artwork for the harnesses to print paper straps as an alternative to the etched ones - this really would give the best of both worlds.
#33064 - Spitfire Mk.IX late interior - $ 19.95This is a Zoom set so it's ideal for anyone wanting to add worthwhile detail without going totally overboard, but it still adds a lot of finesse to the "office" - e.g. many solid moulded brackets are replaced with folded etched versions.
The set comprises 59 parts, many of which are pre-painted and self adhesive. The star of the show for many will undoubtedly be the new main instrument panel, built up in layers with Eduard's trademark incredibly fine pre-painting on the instrument faces. This level of detail extends to the compass and selector switches.
Overall, the set isn't too complicated, so it should make a good choice for modellers wanting to try their hand at adding etched details. However, there are a couple of tiny folds to make, and the new gunsight mount looks a bit fiddly, so I'd advise anyone who's unsure to assemble the etched parts before butchering the kit's moulded version.
#32249 - Spitfire Mk.IX Exterior - $24.95To be honest "exterior" is a bit of a misnomer with this set, because it mainly deals with the engine and cooling system, plus a few added extras for the landing gear. There's only one fret in the packet, but the parts count is phenomenal: 254 new pieces! This daunting number is accounted for because Eduard have included tiny multi-part Dzus fasteners.
The kit's radiators get a worthwhile makeover with new grills for part of the cores, plus actuators and brackets. The set makes good the strangest omission on Tamiya's beautifully detailed Merlin engine - any sort of ignition harness. Eduard provide wiring and spark plugs which are obviously "flat", as dictated by the medium, but they should look fine if built-up with paint or PVA. They'll definitely help busy up the engine and you can always use them as a template to cut your own cables if you're not convinced by the 2-D etched parts. Eduard provide maker's nameplates and cowling pads, before moving on to those Dzus fasteners - dozens of them! These are in two parts - perforated eyelet to be folded and attached to the cowling support, and the fastener itself. Note: if you fit the fasteners, you will have to display the cowlings open. The inside of the kit's cowls is a bit bare, so Eduard include new frames to dress them up.
Lastly, the set adds new oleo scissors and towing rings to the main gear legs.
#32246 - Spitfire Mk.IX Landing Flaps - $24.95Of course, Tamiya include separate flaps in their kit, but no injection moulded items can hope to match the delicacy and realism of etched ones. If you've never tried Eduard's flaps before, they can appear rather daunting, but in fact looks are deceptive because they are relatively straightforward to construct, provided you work carefully. The biggest factor in fitting them successfully is thinning the inside of the kit's wing sufficiently to accept a new etched insert that represents the wing's interior structure.
In this case there are 58 parts in all. The flaps and wing interiors themselves are one-piece items, complete with all the ribs, to fold to shape. The rest of the parts count is the multitude of small fish-plates etc. that will create a convincing structure. A nice touch is the inclusion of a detailed "blanking plate" to hide the outside of the kit's cockpit parts that will otherwise be visible through the open flap wells.
#JX103 - Spitfire Mk.IX Canopy masks - $12.95Surely the ultimate in luxury for the "modeller who has everything" is a set of canopy masks for a kit that already includes some. Of course, the difference is that Eduard's are pre-cut (and I well remember the exclamation of horror from one of our members that you actually have to cut out Tamiya's original masks!).
It's rather disappointing that Eduard haven't also included painting masks for the wheels too, as this would give a little extra justification for buying a set that many may otherwise see as superfluous to their needs.
ConclusionEduard's range of accessories provide many worthwhile extra details for Tamiya's superb Spitfire, and you can mix and match the sets to some extent to suit both your pocket and abilities. This is definitely a major factor, because you will be effectively doubling the cost of the project if you go for all the new parts, so you'll want to be certain that you can make the most of them. It seems strange to talk of a kit that set new standards for injection moulding as a basis for adding extra detail, but there's no doubt that the full combination of Tamiya's Spitfire with Eduard's details should look fantastic. Recommended for fairly experienced modellers.
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