By Vicente 'Darth Tedious' Conejos - images & text © 2005
The somehow controversial launch of Star Wars Episode III models has just got to Spain and I was fast and lucky enough to get hold of one of the first kits that went on the shelves.
Image: Top hull piece, aft
Image: Landing bay piece. Detail here is a tad soft
Forget everything you ever knew about Star Wars model kits. Forget about MPC's Star Destroyer and X-wing. This is a serious model made by a serious manufacturer, of a quality (at last) equal to that of a real world tank or plane model.
What You Get
The kit consists of 74 styrene parts: the top and bottom halves of the main hull and a bag with two sprues containing all the superstructures and a second bag with the side trenches detail. And of course, the 12 page instructions book in B&W with easy to follow indications and a colour suggestions code.There is also a small decal sheet with the Republic logos and the red stripes that you can see at the aft of the ship.
The detail is crisp (excellent on the top and bottom hull halves) although it gets slightly 'soft' on the side trenches - but it is very intricate and will look wonderful on its own and - especially - if fibber optics are added. Panel lines are carved in the plastic though a tad thick to be in scale.
On close examination you can see that the detail on the side trenches is made up of several patterns that repeat at intervals. It does the job perfectly though and I think this is a fair manufacturing process for a big series product like this. If this troubles you, a little extra detailing here and there will break the pattern easily.
Although there is detail all over, there is still (and happily so) room for super-detailing in the model: some small flat areas can be filled with styrene bits and the engines can be improved with micro-detailing. This happens at the control towers, at the part where the engines meet the back hull and in a few other parts. The guns look nice but the cannons are far too thick and should be changed for thinner ones.
This kit will also make for a great model if you have lightning in mind. As an example, the engine exhausts are not finished (if you look into them you can see a flat area) which is great because you can add photo-etched bits from say a F-4 or drill the end out and place blue LEDs. The way the top and bottom hull parts close behind the side trenches can make the use of fiber optics a little tricky, but that is part of the fun of super-detailing!
Finally, the art on the box shows a superb image of the ILM digital model, and that makes it the best possible reference for the pain job.
I have not yet seen the film, but judging from the box art and all that I have seen on the web, this model seems to be a true replica of the ILM movie original, and I would not be surprised to learn that it has been pulled from the very 3D mesh.
Asembly & Finish
Top and bottom halves fit perfectly, and given that all the joints happen at the ends of superstructure elements, they should be invisible once the ship is built. At 504mm long, there is plenty of room inside the model for the setting of a LED-fiber optics lightning system, so this model can be made to look really impressive with time and dedication.
As said before, this is a real model of a quality at least equal to a good real-world one from a fine manufacturer. It will look great both built out of the box or after many hours of dedicated work, and I think that is the best definition of a great kit.
Many thanks to Vicente's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!
This page copyright © 2005 Starship Modeler. First posted on 22 June 2005.