|KIT:||Zhengdefu 1/48 Su-27 Flanker|
|PRICE:||$4.98 ($2.50 at 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Here we go again|
The Su-27 Flanker is still considered to be one of the finest fighter aircraft ever built. It entered service in 1984 as single-seat, twin-engine all-weather air superiority fighter; a two-seat fighter-bomber variant has also been observed.
The production of the Flanker and the MiG-29 Fulcrum in the 1980s were seen as counters to the U.S. F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Flanker carries a payload of 6,000 kilograms and has a maximum speed of Mach 2.35.
A modified Su-27
established dozens of climb and altitude records between 1986 and 1988. The
Su-27 platform has set the stage for a series of variants and upgrades,
notably the Su-30/33/34/35. Thanks to the rather low initial cost of the
aircraft and support provided by Sukhoi technicians, the aircraft has found
favor in the air forces of many countries, many of whom have the aircraft
as much as a sign of prestige as in having sufficient numbers for them to
actually be effective in their roles.
You know, there are times in everyone's life when the brain totally disconnects from the rest of the body. That happened to me a year or so ago during one of Hobby Lobby's half price sales. They had a ton of Zhengdefu kits there. These are Chinese copies of various kits, in this case the Academy 1/48 Su-27 Flanker B. During that moment of disconnect, I bought three kits; a 1/72 F-14 "USAF trainer", a 1/48 F-111 and this Flanker kit. My brain was screaming "Don't do it; don't do it", yet I paid for them and left the store. Was it a mistake? Well, if you read the F-14 kit build article, you can see that it probably was.
Yet, here I am, looking over the pebbly finish of the plastic, the soft detailing, the flash on several of the pieces, and knowing that this will not be an easy task. Why do I do such things? I've a bunch of very nice Tamiya and Revell kits that I could be doing. Heck, I could do the Academy version (if I had one) and not go through the trauma. It has to be the challenge. And the fact that I got in a really neat Hi-Decal sheet on Su-27s. There is the truth of the thing. A decal sheet does me in every time. I'm a sucker for them and there are a considerable number of models that have been built solely because I got a neat decal sheet!
Well, let's see what we have here. First off, it comes in a box that you don't think could really hold a kit of this size; but it does. The upper and lower fuselage are unpackaged. There is a smaller bag with the 'shark' markings decal sheet (that won't be used as they are rather transparent), and the flashy and somewhat cloudy clear pieces. There is a small tube of glue, a set of instructions and a bag that contains the rest.
One sprue it totally dedicated to missiles and pylons. There is a rather staggering array of weaponry on this sprue that has to include at least two of every current missile in the Russian inventory. The next sprue has the wing and fin halves. These are like the rest of the kit and while many will consider the detailing to be fairly good, it seems to me to be a bit much. Next sprue is intake bits, tail plane halves and speed brakes. I should mention that several of the rather thin flight surface halves are warped. The final sprue is wheels, struts, nose engine intake/exhaust cockpit bits. There are both single and twin seat cockpits as well as canards for the later Su-30, gear doors and the rest of things. Aside from the flash and sink areas and ejector pin marks on things, it doesn't look that bad. The seats look more like easy chairs than proper bang seats, but what do you want for less than $3 anyway?
Instructions are not at all bad as it is written in English and Chinese. Color information, though generic, is provided during the construction steps and FS 595 references are given for the overall painting. The instructions make sense when you read them so no bonus giggles over odd syntax in this one. The decals are very glossy, seem to be well printed and are undoubtedly nearly transparent. Fortunately, there are a lot of aftermarket decals for this kit so one isn't in big trouble in this regard.
Listen, I can hear you saying that I'm a fool for buying this. Probably. However, you can't disregard the incredibly cheap price of the thing. I'm not one to whom the mantra 'time is money' really has any meaning when it comes to hobbies. Heck, hobbies are what you do to fill 'wasted' or excess time anyway so those who are constantly bleating that they 'don't have time' to spend on a poor fitting kit are only kidding themselves and need to look into something less of a 'waste' of their time; like die-cast.
Of course, I have to wonder how many kids have bought these kits and have thoroughly enjoyed the building experience despite the undoubted poor fit. Heck, I slammed together many an old Airfix and Revell kit when I was a kid and was quite pleased with the result, even though they were by no means an easy to build kit in the modern sense of the term. This one will undoubtedly be a putty fiend, require a lot of care in construction and end up looking OK despite the effort to make it look great!
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