Hasegawa 1/144 F-5E


DQ 171


¥1400 (about $12.00)


One aircraft


Scott Van Aken


'Area 88' boxing, includes 1/12 resin figure


Japan is a country obsessed by animé. To us, animé are just cartoons, but to the Japanese, they are everywhere. The most popular reading material are mangas, or comic books. These are really graphic novels covering everything from love stories to sci-fi and fantasy. If you have kids, then they have undoubtedly been watching it on Saturday morning TV. The Gundam robot series is only one of the more popular venues for this expression. In Japan, you see more than just a few shows on the subject, you also have movies, which are spectacularly done and of an art form that is unique.

One of the more interesting ones is Area 88. Now I know little about it so have had to swipe some info from a few web sites on the subject. Here goes:

"Shin Kazama had just graduated from the piloting academy with flying colors (no pun intended). His girlfriend, Ryoko, was the daughter of the president of Yamato Airlines, and Shin was in line for a high-paying pilot position at Yamato. Shin seemed to have it all. Until, of course, his ambitious friend got him drunk one night and tricked him into signing his life to the Aslan Mercenary Air Force at Area 88.

Now, Shin flies for his life, fighting for a country he never lived in, and becoming an expert in killing. There are three ways to escape from Area 88 outside of getting killed in combat: spend three years in service, earn 1.5 million dollars, or desert. Shin swears that he'll never spend three years killing people he bears no grudge against, and "setbacks" continually keep him just outside of the 1.5 million dollars he needs to go back to Ryoko and Japan. Meanwhile, his ambitious friend continues to make moves to create a world of his own -- and make moves towards Ryoko."

It seems that in order to keep flying, the pilot must buy a new plane with the money he earns for destroying enemy planes whenever the one he has is destroyed. This means that the heroes and villains are not always in the same type of aircraft. Interestingly enough, there are lots of 1980's-era aircraft available, like F-8s, Kfirs, F-100s, A-10s, A-4Ms, and the subject of this kit, the F-5E.



Really, this is not so much a 1/144 F-5E with a resin figure as it is a resin figure with an F-5E. The Tiger II kit is the Dragon version and comes with both a single and twin seat nose so you can do an F-5e or F-5F. An interesting little juxtaposition is that in the bag with the main kit is the twin seat nose and single seat canopy. The additional bag with the single seat nose has the twin seat canopy!

Dragon's 1/144 series of kits are known for being rather good and this one appears to be no exception. The few Dragon kits of this scale I've built have pretty well looked the part, unlike some other small scale planes that have gross shape errors.

The resin figure is easy enough to build and is made of quality white resin that you would find in many Japanese resin garage kits. The resin blocks are quite small and the mold seams are very light, which means that cleanup will be a snap. This 1/12 kit consists of four parts. A lower body, a torso with one arm attached, the right arm with helmet and the head.

Instructions are totally in Japanese as this is a home market-only kit. Construction sequence for the F-5 is two steps and the twin seat section is not even shown. It uses the usual Gunze paints in the color section, devoting a page to the figure and a page to the colors of the F-5. Most of the small decal sheet is for the figure, specifically the helmet. Only the unicorn head of the Aslan A.F. is used on the F-5. As you can see from the box art, the Tiger II is painted white with a Blue Angel Blue spine and tail.



As I said at the beginning, this is more a resin figure with an aircraft. Most aircraft modelers will probably want nothing to do with it for they can get a Dragon F-5 for a lot less that what this kit sells for. But if you want something just a bit unusual, or you are a fan of Area 88, then you should look into this one. Besides, it is different!

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has well over 100,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.