Laurent Stern offers some insight into the confusion of European MiG-21 kits.
I've seen all your recent 1/72 MiG-21
kit articles and I'd like to comment on them.
Several kits Eastern European derive from the KP MiG-21 kit (pretty accurate kit, raised but nice surface details, not very detailed but good value for money). The parts breakdown is exactly the same (except for the transparencies), so is the ordnance (two R-3S AAMs, two UB-16 rocket launchers, two 490l fuel tanks), so are the dimensions. Here's a little list of the kits and toolings that seem to find there origin in the KP kit:
- Mir/Eastern Express: The Mir kit appeared in USSR in the mid-Eighties, I guess. Boxart and decals show that this kit was made for kids, not serious modelers. Version: MiG-21 SMT. Raised panel lines, no riveting. The kit has been reboxed by Eastern Express a long time ago before they switched to the Kondor tooling.
- ZTS Plastyk/Mastercraft: ZTS Plastyk is a Polish company that mostly reboxed Frog kits. However, they sold a Hawker Hunter F6 and a MiG-21 SM/MF that featured recessed panel lines. The MiG-21 looks like a cleaned-up KP kit with recessed panel lines "à la Italeri" (a bit sluggish, not sharp as in Tamigawa kits). This kit has problems as all bulges found on the fuselage are oversized. The rear airbrake bulge is noticeably out of shape. It appears that Mastercraft abandoned the old KP molds to use the Plastyk molds instead. You know this tooling: That's the latest MiG-21 kit you've reviewed and built.
- Eastern Express/Toga/...: It's a bad modified copy to the KP kit. I don't know who tooled the molds (perhaps "Aeros" according to the link at the end of this mail). Molding is worst, so are the raised panel lines and riveting. The dorsal spine has been modified to match a MiG-21bis spine. A two-seater was also available. Eastern Express sold kits of this tooling before switching to Kondor tooling.
- Kondor/Eastern Express/ICM: Kondor is an Ukrainian company. Their kits are reboxed by ICM and Eastern Express (MiG-21,-29 and -31). They've made a MiG-21-93 (modernized MiG-21bis; India is the sole user of what is called the MiG-21UPG Bison), a MiG-21SMT and a MiG-21UM. The MiG-21-93 kit is sold by EE and ICM as a MiG-21 bis without the "-93" sprues (missiles, chaff/flare dispensers and instrument panel). All kits tooled by Kondor feature extremely petite recessed panel lines but poor detailing. The Eastern Express MiG-21UM you previewed recently is the one tooled by Kondor.
None of these kits are related to the Fujimi MiGs. The only kits somewhat similar to the Fujimi kits are the 1/48 Academy MiG-21s. The Academy MiGs don't appear like scaled-up Fujimi kits but it's probable that Fujimi and Academy used the same inaccurate drawings to tool their molds. The Fujimi/Academy kits are very nice to build but they don't look right to someone that knows the MiG-21 a bit: windshield too long, canopy too short and too wide, wheel well fuselage bulges badly placed, the fuselage looks too wide... The kits that derive from the KP kit are rougher, less detailed but more accurate.
There's a little MiG-21 kit survey on Rumodelism.com but it's in Russian, not up-to-date but it's interesting anyway. URL: http://www.rumodelism.com/sunduk/kit002.shtml . Check http://www.online-translator.com/ to get a mostly readable English translation.
The best MiG-21 English book is
probably "MiG-21 Fishbed: The world's most widely used supersonic fighter" by
Bill Gunston and Yefim Gordon, Aerofax, Midland Publishing.