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Aoshima's Airwolf

By Dan Holmes - images & text © 2008

Scale: 1/48 - about 10.8" or 275 mm
Parts: 120+ Styrene, a few polycaps and screws, and one small photoetch fret. 4 different colors of styrene--white, grey, black, and matte chrome.
Instructions: Japanese with reasonable English translation, 1 page for photoetch modifications. Gunze Sangyo paint codes.
Decals: One small sheet of waterslide markings, nicely printed.
Molding Quality: 9 Very very good. Small parts have crisp detail, injection pin marks are mostly hidden, parts have appropriate rivet markings on them. Pilots are nicely done too. No visible mold seams.
Detail: 10 - Full interior detail, scale raised rivets. Multipart pilots are extremely detailed.
Accuracy: 8 - Looks good to my eye, but I haven't compared it to any online reference.
MSRP: 4500 JPY(~$48.84 USD/$52.63 CAN/ 33.28 EUR) available from HobbyLink Japan
Overall Rating: 9 Exceeded my expectation for a tie-in kit.

[Boxart]

Badadaum badadadum doo doo di doo doo da doo immediately entered my head as I opened the latest package from Starship Modeler Pan-Galactic Headquarters. On top was Aoshima's latest, a 1/48 scale version of Airwolf. Memories of the 80's TV showed echoed in my head as I opened the box and began to paw through the contents. It was always one of my favorite shows growing up, and I'd been waiting for a model of 'The Lady' for a while.

[Please click to enlarge]

^ Sprues

Image: Fuselage halves

Image: Detail

Image: Photoetched fret

More info for the show can be found on Wikipeida, but the super helicopter of the show was a dressed up Bell 222 with weaponry and a set of 'turbo jet' engines. As a side note, these modifications were done by Andrew Probert, who should be familiar to Trek fans.

I've bought a few other of Aoshima's tie-in kits such as the Road Warrior Interceptor, and the recent Blue Thunder, and couldn't wait to see how this fared. The Interceptor suffered from a lack of detail, but the Blue Thunder was pretty impressive. This one didn't let me down.

What You Get

The kit comes in a standard issue box with multiple sprues to a bag. Mine also came with a small fret of photoetch details stapled to the side of the box. The kit is molded in the appropriate colors for the part. For example, the majority of the body is black, with a white bottom and gray interior. Matt chrome parts accentuate the ADF pod and turbo jet engines.

The photoetch parts replace the flight instruments and computer console in the rear position, the door handles and windshield wipers, and also the intake screens for the engines. A minor amount of bending will be required, not enough to need an Etchmate or Hold-n-Fold if you don't have one. An Airwolf nameplate is included.

The instructions are the usual Japanese with English translations. Aoshima's translations are getting better. There isn't any of the hilarity that the Road Warrior Interceptor has. They are well detailed with very clear illustrations. Paint codes are given for Gunze Sangyo Mr. Hobby and Mr. Color, although there isn't anything that can't be found in the major paint lines.

Impressions

The assembly appears to be straightforward. Starting with the blade assembly, then moving to the interior, and then finally the fuselage and weaponry. Nothing appears to be outside the skill of a modeler with experience of one or two glue kits.

Aoshima has really paid attention to the finishing aspects of this model. From what I can tell, all of the detail is molded on one side with the ejection pin marks on the other side so they will be nicely hidden. The interior is it's own subassembly that fits inside the fuselage--no attaching pieces directly to the interior. It will be easy to create a great interior that won't be ruined by seam filling on the fuselage. There's no flash on any parts that I found, and the few seam lines I saw are not going through detail. The chrome parts are the same finish as the Road Warrior Interceptor engine blower.

The interior of this model is excellent. The flight station has a fully rendered instrument panel, and the rear station has both consoles done with extreme detail. I'm afraid that all of this great detail in the back won't be visible when the model is closed up however. But I'll know it's there.

The pilots are multipart, and very well done. The only thing missing is decals for the patches on their flightsuits. They would be tiny, but if Fine Molds can make decals that small, anyone can. I always loved the Probert designed wolf-in-sheep's-clothing insignia, and I'm saddened by it's omission. At least have it on the base or something.

The fuselage has well represented panel lines and lots of raised rivet detail. Enough rivets are around that I'm afraid of messing them up when I'm doing the final seam work. The included base has some articulation to it, about what the Kutobukiya Jigabachi appears to have.

The small sheet of decals has the instrument clusters, the white lines around the side windows, and a few red markings for the rotors. Not a lot, however they are well detailed, and the original didn't have a lot of outside markings. It was supposed to be a stealthy aircraft, after all.

Conclusions

I'll admit it. I'm terrible at finishing models. I've got a growing stack of half completed models as my interest wanes in a particular one and rises in another. I've tried very hard not to start any new models until I finish at least two more. However, looking so closely at this model for this review has whetted my appetite. I think the Armored Core mech and the Galactica can wait another month. This goes directly to the top of the build pile. I've never built a helicopter before, and I think this will make a perfect first one.

This kit would make an excellent starting point for someone to try their hand at photoetch. The only pieces requiring bends are the windshield wipers. During the show's run the Lady was shown pristine, and also somewhat weatherbeaten, making this an excellent choice for testing out fledgling weathering skills. There is also enough detail to satisfy the hardcore superdetailing crowd. Doors could be opened, panels opened with scratch detail behind, and there appears to be room to light the interior. Anyone with one or two glue kits under their belt could make a nice representation of one of TV's most famous helicopters without any trouble.


Many thanks to Dan's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 6000+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2009 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 8 December 2009.