by: Entoni Seperic [ ]
The Balkan Models is a relatively new company from Slovenia. They are not particularly known outside the West Balkans due to their specific subject niche, i.e. the aircraft of the Yugoslav Airforce (YAF) and successor’s air forces. Recently, they sent me a batch of their products to be reviewed, and I decided to start the series with their Special Edition MiG-21 Exercise Markings, which is their first decal sheet in this scale.
As soon as I embarked upon the first samples from the Balkan Models, I was greatly surprised with an extraordinary quality and very good presentation of the decal sheets. It is reminiscent of some “bigger players” on the market, and the sheets are very well thought out and executed. I particularly like the appeal of the accompanying material, which presents the content clearly and user friendly. I did notice, however, some bad English in places, but this is almost irrelevant and doesn’t minimize the overall appeal.
This particular decal set covers four MiG-21’s (R, M, MF, and Bis; serial nr. 26104, 22823, 22870, and 17157), which were utilized by the YAF as a part of the largest post-war manoeuvres in Yugoslavia, i.e. “Freedom 71” and “Golija 76”. Each of the aircraft was painted with special manoeuvre markings, which were a bit at odds with the YAF standards. With each aircraft in its own distinctive mark – white lightning, light blue noses and wingtips, or white band across the rear frame body and vertical stabilizer – these are very attractive subjects, and truly fit for the “Limited Edition” decal sheet.
The quality of the decals is truly superlative. Decals are very sharp, and with a minimum of carrier film. They are printed in perfect register, and I couldn’t notice any major printing flaws or mistakes. The colours closely resemble the original YAF colours, and what is particularly welcome is addition of three complete sets of stencils, as well as cockpit and seat labels. The stencils are very nice and easily legible under magnification, which is a feature often compromised by major producers.
The instruction sheet is very informative and well researched, and it provides very detailed painting instruction with a paint cross-reference chart of all major producers. This is particularly welcome, since modellers are often at odds with the exact colour match within their preferred paint range. I must say that the instruction in my sample had one of the profiles printed twice by mistake, but a separate sheet with a corrected profile is also added for your convenience.
I find the Balkan Model’s sheet to be most welcome, and not only to the YAF aficionados. It provides you with an opportunity to build a slightly different Fishbed. I intend to use it for the upcoming Eduard’s MiG-21Bis build, which will serve as the platform to test the adherence as well as other physical properties of the decals.