My Sea Vixens arrived this morning. Wooohoooooooooooooooo!
I'm pleased. Can you tell? This is my pleased face! :-D
So what is it like? Well on first impressions, it is a bit like the
curate's egg. Parts of it are excellent. Other parts are not so good. And
other parts are, quite frankly, abysmal!
Firstly, the box. The box is a typical Xtrakit thing - all gaudy red and
yellow colours. The difference is that this is a tray-and-lid box, which is
far better than the end-opening box of the Xtrakit Meteor F8. It is also
very difficult to open. The box dimensions are 30 x 20 x 4.5 cm. We've all
seen kits that have come in oversized boxes, so that they rattle around in
there. The Sea Vixen isn't like that. If anything the box is a teeny bit too
small. The two make sprues will not fit flat in the box and have to be
propped in at an angle.
Inside the box. There are four sprues of mid-grey parts, plus a single
sprue of transparent parts. The transparent parts are bagged separately.
There are also seven resin blocks holding a number of detail parts, more on
these later. The resin parts are separate bagged as is the decal sheet and
a paint masks. There are 78 opaque plastic parts, 6 transparent ones and 16
resin ones. Not all of these will be used on this kit - here's a nice
surprise... you can build an FAW1 from this kit!
The plastic has a somewhat rough texture. It's not exactly pebbly, more
like the sort of texture you would expect to provide a good key for paint.
The panel lines are engraved - and engraved quite superbly, in my opinion.
There are no locating pins for any of the components, but that's par for the
course with kits from MPM. Nothing whatsoever to worry about. There are no
ejection pin marks on the visible faces of the parts. However there are some
very intrusive pin marks on the inner faces, many in areas that locate
together. These will interfere with the fit of parts and so will have to be
removed. I can only find one sink mark, but hat one is quite horrendous -
right on the tip of the nose cone. Having said that, I doubt I'll lose any
sleep over it.
The airframe is broken down into upper and lower fuselage and inner wings,
upper and lower outer wings, left and right halves of booms and fins and a
one piece horizontal stabiliser. The boom extensions for the FAW2 are
provided in left and right halves and are intended to be scabbed on top of
the wing. I foresee a few fit problems here. I think that the joint line
between the upper and lower halves on the nose will also need a lot of
filler and filing but with the exception of two small panels, there are no
panel lines to worry about here.
The cockpit interior is composed of nine plastic parts and two resin ones.
There is a central wall dividing the pilot's cockpit and the observer's
"coal hole". However, a little voice inside my head is telling me that there
should be some form of access between the two cockpits. I did my RAF weapon
loading and ejection seat training on Sea Vixens in the early 80s and it was
certainly possible to climb from the coal hole into the pilot's compartment.
There are side consoles for the pilot's compartment - very narrow ones, but
then the consoles in the real thing were narrow. There are also nicely
detailed instrument panels for both compartments. That in the observer's
compartment even has a shroud for the radar display.
The seats are resin and now we come to the abysmal bit. The seats are
unusable. They are nicely cast with some lovely detail. Sadly they are far
too small. I reckon that they are about 1/90 scale. The pilot's seat won't
even reach above the cockpit coaming! Now it just so happens that I have a
couple of Pavla Martin-Baker Mk4 seats and these will fit in just right.
Having said all of that, if you plan to build the model buttoned up, then
the tiny seats probably won't look wrong, as long as you raise the pilot's
seat up a few millimetres.
The intakes lead into intake trunking showing a pair of engine faces. My gut
tells me that this area will need a lot of filling and filing to look right.
The exhaust shroud is a separate component with plastic tailpipes and resin
engine rears. I feel that this may also require a bit of blending in.
The outer wings are separate, which will allow you to build it with wings
folded, if you are willing to put in the work. There is no provision in the
kit for building the wings folded. Both the outer wings and fuselage/inner
wing assembly have blanking plates which will provide an area to butt joint
the outer wings. Again, I can foresee fit problems in this area and I think
it would be best to fit the wing halves to the relevant fuselage halves
first, providing a lot of reinforcement and ensuring that the joints look
The booms are also a butt joint to the wing assembly. Now here's an area
that will *certainly* provide problems. Due to the moment provided by the
tail, this joint will definitely need some reinforcement. I'm going to
handle it by filling the boom stubs on the wings with Milliput and inserting
a length of sprue. When that is cured, the booms will also be filled with
Milliput and skewered onto the projecting sprue. This will provide a much
larger bearing surface and the booms can be secured with epoxy. This will
add more weight at the rear of the model and so I will have to take care
that it's not a tailsitter. The instructions already recommend placing
ballast in the nose, but doesn't say how much. The good thing is that the
radome can be secured after the booms, so a correct ballast can be ensured.
The undercarriage bays are separate parts. There is minimal detail in the
main bays and none whatsoever in the nose bay. This isn't really a problem
as I have never seen a picture of an operational Sea Vixen with
undercarriage doors open. The undercarriage legs don't have much detail,
but then there wasn't much to be seen on the real thing either. The nose
gear leg is combined with the nosewheel and is made from resin. The main
wheels are in two halves and have nicely detailed hubs. There are two sets
of main undercarriage doors, one for the FAW1 and one for the FAW2/D3.
The transparencies are nice and clear. There are two windscreens, again one
for the FAW1 and one for the FAW2/D3. The main canopy can be shown slid
back, but there is no coaming detail underneath it. The coal hole covers can
be positioned open if desired. Again there are two choices. That for the
FAW1 fits directly into the fuselage opening. The FAW2 has a raised fairing
(provided in grey plastic) into which the canopy fits. I believe that this
is because the FAW1 did not have an ejection seat for the observer but DON'T
QUOTE ME ON THAT. It's possible that this is the reason for the undersized
seats. A fully sized seat would not fit under the canopy of the FAW1, so it
is possible that MPM made both seats small to fit.
Other detail parts include weapons pylons (six of them), an option
refuelling probe or blanking plug (the plug is in resin), an optional
extended or retracted arrestor hook and resin end plates for the air brake.
There is no facility to display the airbrake open. Neither is there an
option for extended flaps..
Now more bad news. There is no ordnance in this kit whatsoever. There are
just two 100 gall fuel tanks. This is quite a shame as it will be difficult
to source missiles and other ordnance for this aircraft. The FAW1 carried
Firestreak missiles, the FAW2 carried Red Top. Both could carry SNEB rocket
pods while the FAW1 could carry bombs and the FAW2 could carry Bullpup
missiles. Hopefully the AAMs will be provided soon by aftermarket companies,
otherwise it is down to raiding Lightning kits or scratchbuilding.
There are two colour schemes provided in the kit, both are for the same
aircraft, XP924. One is for the aircraft as an FAW2 in Fleet Air Arm service
with 899 NAS aboard HMS Eagle in the early 70s. This scheme as Extra Dark
Sea Grey uppersurfaces and white lowersufaces. The other option is for the
same aircraft as a D3 drone, operated by the Royal Aircraft Establishment
from RAF Llanbedr in the late 70s. This aircraft is in insignia red with the
extreme uppersurfaces and fin sides in golden yellow. This scheme will
require some very careful masking and so there is a sheet of paint masks
included, which also has masks for the canopies.
The decals appear to be of a similar quality to those in the Xtrakit Meteor.
If so they will be very thing when applied and very glossy. The stencilling
is all there as are the "Keep Off" warning panels. One problem that I can
see is that the roundels are only suitable for the D3 version. They are too
small for the operational aircraft. Xtradecal already has a Sea Vixen sheet
for this kit. There are two complete sets of correctly sized roundels on
So... what to make if this kit? Well, I've tacked the main components
together and checked it from all angles. It certainly *looks* like a Sea
Vixen. It's not a Tamigawa kit, so it won't fall together. It will need
some care taken in the build, but I don't care. I'm supposed to be a
modeller. The seats are abysmal and will look ridiculous if the canopy is
posed open. But I don't care, I already have replacements. The cockpit and
main undercarriage bays will require a modicum of detailing, but I don't
care. I'm supposed to be a modeller!
Well, it's not going to be to everyone's taste, but I like it. Yes, it's
going to be a challenge, but then, I'm supposed to be a modeller! :-D
One thing, though. This kit is 17 quid from Hannants (slightly cheaper
elsewhere I believe). This is no doubt due to the resin. There are rumours
that the forthcoming MPM FAW1 will be 20 quid! Does that mean that it will
have resin missiles? Who can say? Nevertheless, given that the Xtrakit
boxing can be built as an FAW1 I'm going to get another before they sell out
to ensure that I can make my three choices from the Xtradecal sheet. I may
even try one with extended flaps and folded wings.
- posted 13 years ago