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Fine Molds Jedi Starfighter Preview


By John Lester - images & text © 2002

Scale: 1/72 - about 4"/ 10.2 cm long assembled
Parts: ~ 75 white injection-molded styrene on 4 sprues, plus two clear parts
Instructions: Step-by-step assembly guide uses exploded diagrams; 4 pages of decal placement guide. All text in Japanese
Decals: 2 waterslide sheets with over 175 markings (!)
Molding Quality: 10 - completely state of the art
Detail: 9 - crisp raised detail, finely recessed engraving
Accuracy: 9+ -- looks spot on to me, and given Fine Molds' obsession with accuracy ....
MSRP: (~$20.85 USD / $32.80 CAN/ 21.39 EUR) available from HobbyLink Japan
Overall Rating: 8 - all I can say is wow. The only downsides are it's small size and complexity.

[Box art]

The Jedi Starfighter, a modified Kuat Systems Engineering Delta-7 Aetherspright Light Interceptor, was a small wedge-shaped fighter operated by one pilot and a truncated R-4 astromech. To enable it to travel beyond the normal range of such vessels, the Jedi developed a customized external hyperdrive booster sled to which the fighter can dock/undock.

[Click to enlarge]

^Not very big at all ....

[Click to enlarge]

^ This sprue holds most of the fighter

Image: The second sprue makes up the structure of the hypersled
Image: Two identical sprues provide hyper engines and two bases

[Click to enlarge]

^ One decal sheet is for the fighter ....

Image: ... the other for the sled.
Image: It takes 4 pages of diagrams to cover the placement of all those decals
Image: Assembly instructions appear easy to follow
Fine Molds have worked their magic again, this time with the only injection molded styrene kit of a vehicle from Star Wars: Episode 2 (at least so far). Like their previous releases of the X-Wing and TIE/Fighter, this kit is a fine example of the state-of-the-art in kit making technology.

What You Get

The kit is comprised of four sprues of white plastic in two bags, a small clear plastic sprue, two decal sheets, and separate instructions for assembly and decal placement. Despite the small size of the ship, the box is pretty full. You get the starfighter, a seated humanoid pilot (Obi-Wan Kenobi), astromech dome, the hypersled and separate bases for the sled and fighter.

The plastic parts are about as fine an example of what's possible with injection molding these days as we're likely to see. Panel lines are finely engraved, raised detail is sharp and well defined. All the details, engraved or raised, are crisply rendered. As befits a new mold, there was zero flash on my example. Mold seams are so light as to be almost non-existent, and the only ejector pin marks I saw are on inside surfaces where they will not be visible when the kit is built.

Decals are of the silk-screened waterslide variety. There's at least 175 of them, which provide all the markings for the ship and hypersled. You could conceivably get away with not painting the model, but it will no doubt look better if you do paint the white basecoat.

The decal placement and assembly guides consist of several steps, each "explained" by line-drawing diagrams. There is quite a bit of text, all in Japanese, but it does not appear to be necessary to build the kit - no doubt it's the usual warnings against sniffing glue in front of a roaring fire. Parts and decals are clearly numbered, in physical form and on the instructions, so it should be fairly easy to determine what goes where. About the only place where a translation might be nice is the paint call-outs for Obi-Wan, but a quick look at the DVD/tape will give you all the information necessary.

Assembly and Finish

If you've built a kit or two, you should have no trouble putting this model together. There's a lot of small parts, however, so it may be more frustrating to the novice than the intermediate or experienced builder.

What I see as probably the most frustrating part of the process is applying all those decals. There are some pretty small markings, and a lot of them too boot. On the one hand, masking and painting all the large red areas would be a real chore; on the other, getting decals to perfectly align will be one as well. You'll need patience and several sessions to get though it, but the results should be worth the effort. Applying weathering effects over the decals might be tricky, however.

Conclusions

The Jedi Starfighter is a sharp-looking kit in the box, and should build up into as impressive a model as the X-Wing and TIE/Fighter. The large number of small parts, coupled with the massive decal sheet, make this a project that the inexperienced and impatient should probably avoid.

Recommended for modelers with some experience.


Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3000+ readers a day? Contact us!

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler™. First published on 11 September 2002
Last updated on 9 October 2003.