Revell/Matchbox 1/72 BK-117
KIT #: 4408
DECALS: One option


If you're lucky enough to live in a developed country when you get into an accident or lost in the woods, chances are there's a rescue helicopter to come and find you and whisk you away to a hospital. Depending which country you live in, and how well you're insured, the price tag might be more harmful to your health than the original emergency! But either way, chances are you would have been rescued by a BK-117.

These sleek choppers were designed in the late 1970s. They were the child of a joint venture between MBB and Kawasaki, and first came into service in the early-to-mid 1980s. Almost 450 were built when production ended in 2004, and it developed into the Eurocopter EC-145 which is still in production today.

Many of the BK-117s found their way to fire departments and rescue services, which appreciate their general flying abilities as well as the handy rear clamshell doors for easy lifting of stretcher cases. A BK-117 can carry up to ten passengers, can fly 500 km and can cruise along at 250 km/h.

This one, D-HBKS, has a fetching scheme designed by Italian Luigi Colani, a sort of Yanni-esque industrial designer perhaps best known for the classic Canon T-90 camera. It's known as the "Spaceship".

A Matchbox repop, this one is simple and straightforward. It's simply detailed inside, with seats in the cockpit and the passenger cabin. There is only the most basic detail at the rotor head.

There are at least two boxings of this kit. Another one I know of depicts a yellow and red "medicopter"

Mine was in dark blue plastic but I bet the other one comes in yellow.

There are not many panel lines on this thing, but those that exist are engraved and appropriate for 1/72.

You can start in the cockpit if you like. You won't be there long, because there isn't much to do unless you're going for super detail. The main control stick (the cyclic - (I always have to google it to remember) is there, but the side one (the collective) is absent.
Just remember that the cyclic can be moved in a circle. Ed

The rear cabin has some seats with moulded-on seat belts. There is no other interior detail.

You need to insert the windows at this point, I think. They fit flush into their openings, but it would be difficult to insert them from outside once the body was sealed up, so I chose to do this first. I botched one window, sadly, spilling a small amount of glue onto it.

The tail boom pops neatly into its socket and installing the tail is straightforward. The rotors are pretty simple and pretty flimsy.

My greatest difficulty was getting the landing skids lined up properly to ensure the proper stance. I did a reasonable job but then, inevitably, one of them broke off. It doesn't have the best stance now, but it isn't too bad. Pictures of the real thing do indicate a bit of a slant towards the rear.

I used Tamiya's beautiful X-13 Metallic Blue, brush-painted, to cover the entire helicopter. A few coats with plenty of time in between gave me a lovely glossy finish, which you really can't see so well in the photos. Rotor blades were a dark grey and the insides were painted with a light tan colour to give it a nice executive feel.

The decals took a while to apply. There are various sized patches with the galaxy-and-stars and then there are more obvious elements like meteor on the right side tail and the D-HBKS serials. The instructions are none too clear on where most of these decals go (actually in this regard these instructions are really well below Revell's usual standard). Basically I used the box top and internet pictures and simply tried to get good galaxy coverage.

The decals go on relatively well. It helps having a nice glossy surface, of course. The rainbow stripes mostly met underneath, but I did spend a while trying to line everything up and smooth it all out. I haven't graduated to setting solutions and Future, so I relied on my basic decal skills and used a little Tamiya gloss coat here and there to hold it all together. Time to learn some new skills, for sure, but the result is not bad.

A nice basic helicopter kit. It's not as easy as it might look, with the windows and landing skids being a bit tricky. The decals are tricky too, and probably not for total beginners. Still, I enjoyed it and anyone with average skills will have no trouble building it to the humble standard I managed here.

Richard F

October 2011

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