This review was first published in early 1997. Falcon Kits is no longer in business and these detail sets are no longer available. As of November 2015, Blue Moon produce a detailing set that replaces the incorrect sidewalls of the original MPC/ERTL kit, as well as other details. MMI make several detail sets to better detail the engine area, and Paragrafix produce a brass set that can be adapted to the RTL kit.
Manufacturer: Falcon Kits
By Rob Caswell
If you're a fan of the Millenium Falcon and a sci-fi modeler, then you're probably no stranger to the disappointment brought on by the MPC/ERTL kit. So close....yet so far away. The upper and lower hulls were pretty accurate reproductions of the craft, but those side panels. That cockpit. Gods - they're just makin' this stuff up as they go along!
Well, it's been almost 25 years, but our Knight in Shining Resin has finally arrived. Falcon Kits (aka Jack Smith) has recently offered a series of accurizing kits for this venerable SF classic. These sets address both the kit's innaccuracies and the dispartity between the "Star Wars" Falcon and its "Empire"/" Jedi" configuration. I've got the first two of these sets, though I haven't yet installed them as I write this.
The first set offered by Falcon Kits was the "Guts on the Outside" (aka "Side Panels") accurizing set. The ones which come on the MPC/ERTL kit are not only incorrectly detailed, but they're also too high. Using these stock parts results in a kit that looks more like a Kenner toy than a scale model. The accurizing set comes with replacement panels, a new lower cockpit tub, and complete, cleanly laid out instructions on how to install them - PLUS make the modification to the overall height. If you only get one set, this is it. From photos on the web site, it can clearly be seen that this makes a world of difference in the kit's appearance.
The second set tackles the cockpit problem. It provides new instrument panels, back walls, chairs, and window glass. Like the "Guts..." set, it comes with a complete, illustrated instruction sheet. All quite professionally produced.
The third set is due for release in July '97. It provides the extra gear wells sported by the Falcon in the final two movies. This is the easiest of the above modifications, but it's still cool to have a set available if you want to take the short cut.
As many of you probably know, product quality can vary widely with cottage industry companies. So part of me wasn't expecting miracles from the Falcon offereings, while another part of me was loaded with expectation just because I've waited sooooo long for a set of this type to be produced. What finally arrived blew me away and EXCEEDED my expectations. These sets are well worth the money you pay and the care in their production is rare in this small-production field.
The sets came in a small, sturdy box with the contents well packed in bubble wrap and "peanuts". The parts are molded in white resin and the casting is wonderfully clean. There were no significant airbubbles to be found and all the parts were cleaned of flash. The detail was remarkably crisp and all parts were hand labeled on the back, then glued to a sturdy cardstcok backer with (water-soluable) white glue. Its' clear a lot of work went into preparing this package even AFTER the parts left the mold.
Combine those exquisitely crafted parts with crisp, laser-printed instructions, and stock for cutting clear parts and you have one fine package. Though I haven't yet incorporated these into the finished model, I have little doubt that a manufacturer who puts this much care into making and mailing these parts would not drop the ball on the assembly phase. I would not hestitate one second to recommend this set to the serious Star Wars modeler. It's well crafted, completely accurate (as far as I can tell), and at around $30 for sets one and two combined, its more than reasonably priced.
RATINGS (1=stinky, 10=Ooo-la-la!):
So there you have it folks -
The following images were provided by Jason Eaton. they show what comes in the 2002 re-issued "everything" set from Falcon Kits.
Image: Photo-etched grilles
Image: Cockpit console
Image: "Guts-on-the-outside" side detail pieces
Image: More guts on the outside