Kitech 1/32 Blue Thunder helicopter

KIT: Kitech 1/32 Blue Thunder helicopter
KIT #: 08M-3005
PRICE: NZ $14.99
DECALS: One Options
NOTES: Monogram rip-off


From the instruction sheet (so any grammatical errors aren’t my fault!):

“’Blue Thunder’ Helicopter is from the 80’s famous US movie which called ‘Blue Thunder’. It was the most lethal flying weapon invented. The whole fuselage is heavily protected with 1” thick armoured plates. It equipped with a forwarded-mounted 20mm electric cannon which can fire 4000 round of ammunition per minute. It has jet turbine engine with boost capability, enabling 360 degree loops; heat sensing infra-red filter for night version; ‘Whisper Mode’ for silent flights; three TV-monitors; twin long-range, high sensitivity shotgun microphones; a Harrison helmet-mounted fire control/targeting system etc…Blue Thunder is the true ‘star’ in the movie.” So there we have it in a nutshell!

 “Blue Thunder” was a 1982 film directed by John Badham, starring the late Roy Scheider as an LAPD chopper pilot selected to test-fly a new police helicopter, fitted out with all sorts of mod-cons. Ostensibly for “crowd control” at the then-upcoming 1984 Olympics, it is revealed that the testing programme will lead to more sinister efforts. Co-starring Malcolm McDowell (as always, The Villain), Daniel Stern and (in his final role) Warren Oates, “Blue Thunder” remains a cult favourite with rotorheads after numerous small screen re-runs and a less-than-successful TV series adaptation. Rumour has it that the success of the film led to the development of the TV series “Airwolf”. (As a personal aside, I grew up watching a copy taped from TV, the tape becoming very worn from almost monthly viewings!)

 The helicopter that starred as the eponymous technowonder was an Aerospatiale Gazelle, heavily modified by the filmmakers with a new canopy and forward fuselage, as well as numerous accoutrements like stub wings and the intimidating six-barrelled gun up front. The resulting machine reportedly was slower than a stock Gazelle and very nose heavy – referenced in the film by Scheider’s character, Murphy: “This thing’s nose-heavier than the Ayatollah!”. Gazelle N77GH made appearances in other, lower-budget films as well as the short-lived “Blue Thunder” TV series before being sold back to her original owner and, sadly, dismantled for parts. However, a studio mockup of the cockpit section survives (barely) at Universal Studios, and can be easily seen on the tour there. 


Soon after the film’s release, Monogram issued a very nice kit of the eponymous chopper in 1:32 scale, which can still be found for a mint on eBay and occasional hobby stores and collector’s stands – I saw one at an airshow earlier this year! From what I’ve read on various modelling forums on the internet, the Kitech company – related to the infamous Zhengdefu outfit, apparently – specialises in “ripping off” other companies’ moulds and selling them under their own label. Due to the fact that many reports suggest this kit is very similar to the Monogram one, I believe this to be the case here! Other examples include a 1:24 Hughes MD500 (likely ex Hobbycraft) and a 1:48 Airwolf (ex AMT/ERTL – I bought one of these as well as Blue Thunder).

 Regardless of origin, this is a very nice looking kit. In the side-opening but sturdy cardboard box are four sprues: three light grey styrene and one clear. One sprue consists entirely of the fuselage halves, giving you a fair idea of the size of the completed chopper. Detail is pretty good, including the various monitors and switches, even the backseater’s keyboard is there! Based on repeated marathon viewings of the DVD it looks fairly accurate, although if you’re aiming for a dead-on replica a wee bit of scratchbuilding will be necessary. The cannon up front is designed to pivot and swivel, and the main rotor should turn. The Fenestron tail rotor, however, is moulded integrally with a fuselage half and won’t move. Bizarrely, there’s a very nice pilot’s helmet in two parts, but it’s shaded “Parts not for use”. Hmm.

 There’s a fair amount of flash on all parts, and I foresee a lengthy period of clean-up before opening paint or cement. There are also a few ejector pin holes, most conveniently out of the way (under the cockpit floor, inside the stub wings etc) but I found one on a blade-to-rotorhead join. Rather deep and, due to the detail, challenging to fix (at least for a novice like yours truly!).

The clear sprue has parts for the cheek-mounted searchlights and nose glazing, including the massive glasshouse as a single piece. On my copy at least this large part is very cloudy, and a corner has in fact broken off! Hopefully I can fix it….or attempt to source a replacement!

 Decals are very simple, consisting of a serial number (not entirely matching the “real” aircraft, though) and the red lines around the canopy. The decals look fairly thin and in register, but I may mask and paint the red lines myself. There are no stencils provided whatsoever, so in order to make an accurate representation of the movie’s helo you’ll have to raid your spares file.


It may be pirated and full of ejector pin marks, but it looks like Blue Thunder and costs about a third of any vintage Monogram boxings you’re likely to find on eBay. Considering this puppy sent me back only NZ$15 and a Tamiya 1:48 Fw190D is NZ$45, I think it’s a real bargain! Flash be damned, I got me a Blue Thunder!

 Review kit courtesy of my overworked Mastercard.

Zac Yates

July 2008

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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