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AMT/ERTL Jedi Starfighter Kit Preview


By John Lester - images & text © 2005

Scale: Not stated; 1/24 - 1/25?
Parts: 58 injection-molded styrene (2 clear) + 2 steel pins
Instructions: Fold-out assembly guide; no paint guide
Decals: Commercial waterslide decals; markings for Anakin and Obi-wan
Molding Quality: 9 - no obvious flaws
Detail: 8 - sufficient for the scale
Accuracy: 9 - Looks good compared to the references I have
MSRP: $14.99 USD (~$17.36 CAN/ 12.73 EUR) available from Starship Modeler for $12.00
Overall Rating: 8 - decent kit with plenty of potential

[Box art]

[What you get]

^ Open the box and this is what you see

[Please click to enlarge]

^ The main parts: top and bottom

Image: The rest of the bits

Image: Three different styles of solar arrays

Image: Decals

Image: Sample assembly step

Image: Paint guide, such as it is

[Pleasae click to enlarge]

^ The Revell kit is bigger. Image: Revell panels vs AMT

Image: Cockpits are similiarly detailed...

Image: ... right down to the seats

Six months after Revenge of the Sith debuted, and a month after the DVD hit store shelves, RC2 has released their version of the Eta-2 "Jedi Starfighter" . Was it worth the wait?

Yes and no. Read on -

What You Get

Inside the colorful box are four bags of parts: main hull halves; everything else; clear bits, and; two steel pins. The clear parts are well protected inside two layers of bubblewrap - hazzahs and kudos to RC2 for that. The kit includes a two-piece stand but has no pilot figure. Assembly instructions and a decal sheet round out the package. Optional parts (headrests in the cockpit and solar panels on the wings) enable you to build at least four variants, including Anakin Skywalker's and Obi-Wan Kenobi's, as seen in the opening sequence of the movie. Unfortunately, there's nothing in the box to really tell you what parts make which ship. More on that in a minute.

Detail is typical for ERTL: good but not stellar. Engraving is moderately deep and a tad soft (as compared to this year's Japanese or Czech kits, for instance); raised detail is not sharp enough to shave with but certainly looks decent nough for the scale of the model. There is no flash (as befits a new mold) and only the most trifling of mold seams to clean up before breaking out the glue. A hasty dry-fitting of major pieces indicates that the parts fit will be pretty good; it's not a snap kit, but tolerances are tight enough it could have been with just a bit extra engineering.

The instructions are comprised of five exploaded assembly diagrams, plus the usual cautions ("don't eat styrene! it's not good for your tummy", yadda yadda yadda) and a paint list. The latter might have been more usefull if the instructions showed where to use those paints .... there's no painting information at all, except for four color pictures on the side of the box cover. Similiarly, you get different headrests and different flip-out solar arrays to do at least three different starfighters, but there's no actually guidance as to which part makes which character's ship. Hint: (#32, 49, 50, 51 and 52 ) are Anakin's, which includes the black 'wheel' decal; (#34, 53, 54, 55 and 56) are Obi-Wan's, which also sports the black 'wheel' decal and the white kill markings. The other option is for Master JoeSixpack, I guess. The 'Art of..." book shows a green Starfighter, and the boxart shows a green and an intermediate blue one. I gather these use the other parts.

Revell vs AMT

So how does this kit compare to Revell's, released before the movie debuted?

In most respects, the kits are very similiar. Revell's is bigger, but not by much: if it is 1/24 scale than ERTL's is 1/25. It's enough difference to be noticeable if the parts are stacked against each other, but not enough to really jump out at you in the finished kits. Detail is almost exactly the same in the two kits, with the exception of the inboard portions of the solar arrays. ERTL provides a textured "waffle iron", while Revell's is completely flat. Revell provides 2 different startfighter kits (Obi-Wan and Anakin) while ERTL gives you one kit with detail parts. Revell gives you a pilot figure (such as it is - a mishapen, poorly detailed and indifferently painted lump that appears vaguely humanoid); ERTL gives you a stand. The parts breakdown is different, but the end result isn't, except for the aforementioned size. Revell's is a snap fit; ERETL's needs glue.

Which is better? I guess that depends on what you want from a kit. Both are decent enough out of the box, with plenty of room for extra detailing. About the only significant difference is price: ERTL's is half the price of Revell's -- in the US. Just the opposite outside the US.

Conclusions

Late is better than never. ERTL gets a resounding "does not suck" for this latest Star Wars kit. I'm looking forward to building a couple.

Recommended for all skill levels.


Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ 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 © 2005 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 6 December 2005.