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  1. The CHARIOT from Lost in Space FruitPACK (FP28 for Doll & Hobby Kit) 1:35 GreenStrawberry Danger Will Robinson! In the mid-60s, a new series called Lost in Space premiered, a creation of Irwin Allen, a man with a prodigious imagination. His output during the 60s and 70s consisted of well-known fantasy, adventure and Sci-Fi series and TV movies that many kids of the day grew up loving or loathing. Many of them were repeated late at night with a new audience of drunk or stoned youngsters that delighted or laughed at the corny but intriguing stories that were unfolding before their bleary eyes. Lost in Space was one such show, and it became quite a familiar sight, consisting of three seasons and eighty-three episodes plus an un-aired pilot in its original form, although a big-screen reboot in the 90s happened, and another reboot in 2018 as a very different series that I just couldn’t enjoy. The original show was based on the premise that a family heading out to colonise the galaxy was thrown hopelessly off course when a stowaway caused issues. That stowaway was the overly arch and slightly effete Dr. Zachary Smith, who became trapped whilst trying to reprogramme the robot, which was designed by the same gentleman that also create Robbie the Robot for Forbidden Planet. Whilst in space they jollied around in the Jupiter 2 space ship, which was a similar saucer shape in a similar vein as the C-57D from Forbidden Planet, but on a smaller scale and with a large and highly impractical picture window for the crew to stare out of. When planet-bound, they trundled around in an extensively glazed Chariot, which was a tracked vehicle that just happened to have road-style tyres on its wheels. Where it would fit within the saucer is a practical aspect that’s best not thought about too closely. The Kit This FruitPACK set from our friends at GreenStrawberry is a combination of the sets that are also available separately from them, but in one box and with a discount for the modeller. The super-set is intended to significantly improve the detail of the 1:35 Doll & Hobby kit (who?), and it arrives in a handsome black box with the set’s name and details on a large sticker that wraps over the side onto the underside and securely seals the front-opening lid against accidental release before it is deliberately cut open by the new owner. Inside the box are three sets that target specific areas of the model, broken down as follows: Exterior & Interior Accessories Tracks Those few words oversimplify the aims of the sets, while “Accessories” is rather vague, but it refers to stowage that can be placed inside or around the vehicle, or alternatively loaded into the stowage rack on the roof for extreme visibility. The tracks set is a work of art, and must be seen to be believed, while the Exterior & Interior set is a comprehensive reworking of the model’s details that improves upon the injection-moulded kit parts. Between them they will transform your kit and raise the level of detail to something very special, which will be a head-turner with careful painting and minimal weathering. We will deal with each set separately to do them justice. Exterior & Interior (19323-1/35) This is the most comprehensive of the three sets, and it consists of two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a short length of styrene tubing, and two instrument panel faces, printed in duplicate on film and paper to add to your choices. The instructions are four pages long, and begins with the removal of much of the detail in the front of the Chariot’s cockpit, sanding away raised detail on the dash, the kick panel, two seat lugs on the floor, and the massive centre console. A new interior is then built, starting with the top of the centre console, which is folded into a shallow rectangular box with a dual layer instrument panel at the rear, set to the side while the largest part of the sheet is folded into shape to cover the console and both floor areas on either side. Extra tread-plated layers are added to the floor sections, with folded over returns linking the kick panel, gluing the console top to the assembly, and adding three detail parts to the rear of the left floor portion. The dash is next, angling the upper face and adding an extra layer, plus four inserts that are applied to the cut-outs in the part. This is lowered over the remains of the kit dash, while the console and floor parts with folded-up kick panels is slotted in from the rear. The computer console that is mounted in the right position is folded into a wedge-shape with supporting legs under the front, and holes for dials in the crew-facing surface, which lends itself to lighting from within. Your choice of film or paper dials is then applied over the holes, and is locked in place by adding the instrument panel surface over the top, which has bezels etched in around the cut-circular outs for added realism. The console is slotted into the right station after installing two diagonal inserts in the corners against the wall below the dash. The step to the rear of the new PE crew section is folded over at the top, and glues into position, adding a long hand-rail across the rear of the console, which is formed from an extended O-shape that is folded in half to add thickness. A scanner device is mounted on the console between the crew members, and this is detailed with a new section added to the underside to fill a gap in the kit part, along with a pair of grab-handles on the front sides. A box-like shape at the rear of the cabin has its raised circular detail removed, and is covered by a lid that is folded into a shallow open box, while the seat mounting posts are also removed from the kit floor, with the corresponding lugs on the underside of four of the six crew seats also removed, and replaced by a PE panel that has triangular strengthening webs between it and the 9mm length of styrene tubing that is cut from the length provided in the set for each one. On the top surface of all six of the seats, eight tabs are added around the perimeter of the cushions, and lap belts are folded up and draped over the cushions. The focus now switches to the exterior as promised, starting with the front of the Chariot, folding a mesh panel in half to create the lower grille, and curving another part to the same shape as the upper grille. The lower grille is then covered by another coarser diamond-patterned grille that has a protective panel curved under the front, and a long strip at the top that stretches across the width of the vehicle. The Robot gets a look-in too, adding replacement pincers to the ends of his concertina arms, rotating sensors on either side of his ‘head’, and lugs on his shoulders, replacing the chunky kit equivalents in the process. He also has his narrow tracks filed down and replaced by four strips that wrap around to the back under his track-units that hide the operator’s feet… sometimes badly. An astrodome is present on the roof of the Chariot, which has a new square surround folded into a shallow box with a large hole in the centre that receives the dome later, adding a top layer and two double-thickness grab-handles along one edge. The kit’s roof-mounted stowage rack has the solid sides removed along with several lugs denoted in red, leaving just the framework present, which is built into a rectangular frame that has a PE mesh floor inserted from below, with shallow folded-down sides, and a separate ribbing insert underneath. An L-shaped box is then made and attached to one side of the stowage rack, which supports one of the sensors after removing its mounting lug, and adding a textured surface to the flat rectangular sensor panel. Another radar-like assembly at the front of the roof has the kit’s moulded-in dish removed, bending a replacement from a circular PE part that has a section missing to help create the cone shape, mounting it to the remains of the kit radome, strengthening the joint with two large tapering supports at the rear, with lightening holes etched into them. Four handles are folded double to thicken them, and are applied to the two opening doors on each side. The access ladders on both sides of the Chariot have their lugs removed, and a doubled PE strap fitted between the top supports, which hook onto two brackets that are made from two parts each and are glued to the side of the vehicle between the two opening doors on each side. Accessories (20123-1/35) This set consists of seventeen items in grey resin, some of which share a casting block with others of a similar type. There are nine cases of various sizes with moulded-in handles, hinges and clasps around the edges of the opening, and stiffening ribs along the larger surfaces. Three vertical tubs with handles and clasps on their lids are on a single casting block, as are the five differently-sized bedroll elements, all of which are individually shaped to be more realistic. All these parts are sensibly mounted on their casting blocks, and should be simple to prepare once liberated from them. Sympathetic painting using your references will bring them to life, and where you place them is entirely your choice. Tracks (19223-1/35) This set will make a huge difference to the look of the model, which from the box has each track run moulded as a single part that includes the many road wheels, so you know it won’t be particularly detailed. There is a lot in this set, including twenty-four resin wheels and springs, four long PE track parts that form the base for the build, and two bags of track ribs, one containing 140 of one type, the other with 40 of a different design. The track ribs appear to be made from a very thin fibrous material that is possibly a thick card impregnated to strengthen it, and each part has been cut out very cleanly, possibly by a laser, although I could be jumping to conclusions to match the Sci-Fi theme. The instructions are simple but the build will be time consuming due to the number of parts involved, however it will be well-worth the effort. Each run of tracks is etched as air-gapped pairs within an outer frame, and the side frames are first folded up, creating an upstand that spaces the tracks from your desk while you glue the track ribs to the PE. The detail is etched into what becomes the underside of the tracks, which will be seen between the wheels, and is in no way a mistake, and you should ensure that the detail is facing down during construction. The ribs are laid out and glued into place using three of the shallower and more numerous parts, followed by one deeper part from the smaller bag, repeating this process until you reach the other end of the track run. The frame of the PE can then be cut away, and the finished track is wrapped around the wheel set, which consists of five identical road wheels with standard tyres you might find on a 1960s truck, plus a drive sprocket at the rear of each run, arranging the track so that the join is under the wheels for minimum visibility. This task is carried out again in mirror image for the other side of the Chariot, and all the wheels have a resin axle with a spring at the rear pushed into the holes in their rears, the hollow springs plugging into the kit’s location stubs on the sides of the body. The instructions don’t show the wheels on the model, but this is probably the easiest way to obtain the correct length and shape, wrapping the tracks around the wheels after fitting them to the lugs moulded into the model. You may have to reseat a few of the track ribs whilst bending them around the ends of the track runs, but if you remember the order in which they are applied and don’t over-glue them, no-one will know but you. The detail will be noticed by everyone however, as they look very impressive when finished. Conclusion It’s not all that often that a set comes in with the ability to make me purchase a model to go with it, but this one did. The level of detail it brings to the model is enormous, so extremely tempting, even though I was never a fan of Dr Smith’s malevolent campness. Don’t forget that these sets are also available separately if your budget or area of interest won’t stretch to the Fruity package. If you click the link below, you’ll be able to find them from there. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Star Wars The Mandalorian Razor Crest Updates (for Revell) 1:72 GreenStrawberry We reviewed the Revell release of this (IMHO) iconic but short-lived Star Wars ship in Platinum Edition here recently, and the original release that came without the additional cockpit parts of the later edition. You might note that the Platinum kit included some GreenStrawberry parts for the cockpit and cannons, but they had also been incredibly busy making more detailed update sets for the kit that will bring a huge increase in detail to the kit that would otherwise take the modeller forever to complete themselves, assuming they even had the skills. The sets are themed for various areas of the kit with minimal overlap, and can be purchased individually to suit your needs or budget, or you can push out the boat and opt for the FruitPack edition that includes all the sets with a discount to match. We’ll link to the FruitPack as the end of the review. The Sets Each set arrives in an appropriately sized cardboard box in their usual black, grey, red and green theme, with the resin parts in a Ziploc bag, and any Photo-Etch (PE) sheets separately bagged with instructions and black paper divides (for multiple sheets), to prevent chaffing and bending of the parts. Cannons (15822-1/72) This set completely replaces the kit cannons with eighteen resin and five PE parts. Each cannon starts by joining the three stepped tubular sections together to form the main assembly, adding a separate muzzle to the end of the barrel, then making up a two-part sub-assembly for the shroud around the outer mid-section, which has a smaller shroud added to the front of this section, and a curved strip around the end of the cylindrical body. The left and right assemblies are handed, and simply slot into the holes in the sides of the nose in the same manner as the kit parts. Engines & Exterior (16022-1/72) The Razor Crest has an oversized engine nacelle to either side of the hull, and these are the subject of this set, consisting of thirty-seven grey resin and two clear red/orange resin parts, plus a PE sheet of detail parts. Each nacelle is made in mirror-image, starting with the exhaust petals made from two highly detailed halves, which have ten vanes inserted into grooves in the rear, aligning the assembly with the base part that it is glued onto. The clear orange/red part is intended to allow you to easily light your model, and this circular part has two sleeves fitted to the central tip before it is glued to the underside of the exhaust assembly. The kit cowlings have PE strips fitted around the inner lip before the exhaust are inserted into them, with a scrap diagram showing the correct alignment to complete the engine part of this set. The rear landing gear struts are targeted for the next round of upgrades, starting with removing a simplified section from one of the actuators, creating the replacement from four PE parts, which adds a lot of extra detail with lightening web-work on the struts and sides of the supports. This is glued to the main gear legs, and the captive bay door is fitted over it after removing a small area of raised styrene that is marked on the instructions in a dull green. Behind the main gear bays are grilles at the end of the nacelle, which the set replaces with more accurate detailing in the shape of an insert for each side of the hull, plus two circular detail-parts on the rear loading ramp. The final parts of the set replace ten triangular strengthening parts near the front of the engine nacelles, which should be removed and made good first, folding each replacement into a wedge-shape before gluing it into position equally spaced across the two locations. Cargo Bay (16122-1/72) This substantial set is packaged in a deceptively small box, although it is still the largest of the boxes, mainly because there are five large sheets of PE of varying gauges, plus thirty-four resin parts, some of which are quite large. There is also a small piece of paper printed with template shapes for some alterations that are carried out during the build process, the instructions for which stretch to seven sides of A4. The first stage is to remove large parts of the cargo area sidewalls, increasing the size of a doorway, removing some tapering tubes in the nose, and filling any rough areas once complete. With that done, the PE front bulkhead is prepared, folding several wires down over the bulkhead to add detail, then adding a resin trunk, a set of PE tools in a rack, and a two-layer recessed bay to the cut-out in the bulkhead. This is glued into place at the front of the cargo bay, where the space-toilet is found, completing the structure by using the kit parts, which includes the short sections of the side walls that were left after removing the rest. The cockpit floor is also replaced by a long PE part with etched-in detail, and a small fold to the forward edge. In the outer walls of the two forward bays, a triangular fillet with grilles etched-in are made with the use of two templates to make styrene back-plates, fitting them into position at the top of the compartments, and installing two resin detail parts into the starboard bay, a toilet and a PE ‘basin’ that is folded from two parts. Extra diagrams show these installations from above as a “modeller’s eye view” to assist you with placement. The next task is to create sub-assemblies for installation in the bay over a couple of pages of the instructions. It starts with folding up ten PE blasters to attach to the weapons locker body and doors that are supplied as three resin parts. A section of the cargo bay is made from two open doorways with a section of roof above it, plus two grab-rails added to each doorway. A ladder is folded up and attached to an equipment box, and another ten lighting boxes with three rectangular cut-outs is made with use of another of the pattern pieces to complete the assembly. Next, a jig is cut from the PE sheet and folded into a C-shaped carrier so that five ribs and three cross-ribs can be installed and glued together without undue issues, unless you’re too liberal with the glue and stick it to the jig! Don’t do that. Another jig is folded up to create a longer section of ten ribs and three cross-ribs, putting these to the side carefully to avoid damage before installation. A tapering rib has a similarly shortening set of lightened ribs half-etched to it so that they can be folded perpendicular to the long rib, rotating them as you do. The jigs are then bent in the opposite direction to create the same three assemblies in mirror-image to finish the three ribbing sub-assemblies for the hull. The kit hull is moulded as a tub with a blunt nose, and sharply tapered rear where the main loading ramp is located. The tapering rib assemblies are fitted to the rear of the hull, adding another rib level with the floor near the roof. A resin strengthener is fitted in front on both sides, gluing the ribbing to the wall and adding two resin equipment blocks over the top, plus four lighting boxes at roof level. Another doorway is fitted forward of this section, and the short ribbing insert is glued to the wall, fitting another lighting box at roof height, locating the resin compartment in front, then installing the gun locker and ladder in front of that, which finishes filling the interior from nose to tail. The same ribbing sections and light boxes are fixed on both sides of the hull, the starboard side having two wiring looms instead of resin equipment blocks in the long compartment, a control panel next to the side door, and a stowage net in PE laid over the ribbing. The doorways should all line up with grills on the floor, and the instructions point this out, perhaps a little later than it should, but pay attention to this in anticipation. The kit upper floor is prepared by removing a cross-bar from below, and cutting out a hatchway just behind the cockpit using the template provided, after which the rear of the floor is cut away, as shown by the red printed area on the drawing. The open undersides of the cockpit floor should be filled as instructed, then another stowage net is fixed to the underside, allowing it to sag under gravity. The new ceiling to the lower floor is detailed with four resin clamps for carbonite frozen criminals, adding four raised panels to it, and another stowage net, again sagging under gravity. The kit ceiling is lowered into position over the new ladder, and at the rear an aft ladder is folded up and glued in position at the edge of the new ceiling after it has been inserted and glued down. It's a big set, and the most expensive of the six for good reason. There’s a lot of content, and it’s time-consuming to create for the manufacturer. You will need to create sub-assemblies and undertake painting in stages, and with care an amazingly detailed cargo bay will be the result. Cockpit (15722-1/72) It’s worth noting that this set is not the same as that included on the Revell Platinum boxing, which was a simplified version to appeal to a wider and possibly less-demanding audience. There are twenty resin parts, and a sheet of PE, plus a template to cut out the hatchway that is printed on white paper. The first step is to fold up small PE parts to represent the controls on the resin instrument panels on both sides of the cockpit, then folding up additional boxes that are fitted into a recess at the back of each console, and help space the consoles from the cockpit wall, and will also support the next panels to be made. The PE floor with etched-in detail is inserted into the resin tub first, followed by the two panels made earlier, creating a cylindrical control column from three resin and two PE parts, which fits near the front of the PE floor in the centre. On either side are two rudder pedals, folded to a wedge shape, gluing the non-detailed side to the floor, adding two additional consoles stepped above and behind the lower side consoles, then making a representation of Mando’s favourite weapon to hang on the bulkhead outside the cockpit, plus a small instrument box with trunking running up to the ceiling. Inside the cockpit above the doorway, there are three small domes moulded in a line, which are partially covered by a two-part PE assembly that allows the domes to be seen through the grating underneath and through the circular etchings on the front of the part. The pilot’s seat is resin, and is mounted on a PE box that is folded up, and has a PE support running up the back, while the two passenger seats have a similar mount, but also have seatbelts included. The port seat can be posed folded away to the side, with a separate flat resin seat and different PE belts to suit the stowed seat. Inside the kit's upper hull, the cockpit framing is moulded-in, and short raised sections should be removed with a sharp blade, scraping it flush, then adding a longitudinal frame the entire length of the canopy, with three grilles at the rear, and two equipment boxes with separate faces over the pilot’s seat. A tiny pair of PE instrument are located on the sidewalls of the cockpit as shown in a transparent diagram, taking care not to lose them, as they are very small. The kit floor and walls are adapted to suit the new layout, removing the forward half of the side walls and the moulded-in ladder that will be replaced, while the floor has three raised boxes removed and made good, using a template to remove a section of the floor behind the cockpit for the hatch that leads to the lower level. The new cockpit tub is glued over the kit floor, and the floor in the compartment behind has a new PE surface installed, adding the remains of the kit sidewalls, and the kit rear bulkhead to complete boxing in. A new PE ladder is folded up, and you are shown the moulded-in ladder in the lower level that will need removing before installing the replacement, and a two-layer door is also supplied in case you wish to depict this in the closed position. The final diagram shows the location of the ladder and the closed door to assist you with placement. Flaps (16222-1/72) These aren’t flaps as we’d expect to see on a terrestrial aircraft, but are air-brake flaps that extend from the engine nacelles on command, revealing the bays behind them. The set consists of five resin parts, one of which is a jig, and two sheets of PE from which the flaps are created. The first step shows the areas of the engine nacelles that should be removed in red, giving helpful 'before and after' diagrams to assist you with construction. The outer nacelle parts are separated into two subsections that are joined back together by a large and detailed piece of resin with the bays moulded-in, which joins them together on large lips that should prevent any issues. The engines are then built as normal, making the flaps and leaving them detached until after main painting in case of damage, which is likely if you’re a clumsy modeller like me. The four flaps per nacelle are all made from two layers, folding over the gridded section onto the solid portion without gluing them down, then applying the PE to the curved jig and bending them to shape for later fitting. The jig is a perfect arc of the nacelle, and as long as you press the flaps over it squarely, they should be the correct shape when removed. Annealing the flaps may assist with bending the parts smoothly, holding them over a flame until they discolour, without letting them become red hot for more than a fraction of a second, then allowing the part to cool naturally, which leaves the brass more malleable. The four flaps per nacelle are shown being installed at the rear end of the bays, with another diagram showing which numbered flap should be located where, as they all have different details on the outer skin as seen from behind. Cargo Stuff (15922-1/72) This set is the most fun, as it includes equipment, accessories and other items that would be seen inside Mando’s ship, consisting of twenty resin parts, and a small PE sheet. There is a little overlap with the Cargo set, which extends to the stowage nets and the clamps for the carbonite frozen perps that he often carries on the way back to collect their bounty. The first item is a tubular container with PE backpack straps, which is shown in one of the compartments with several loose items, including another backpack and helmet, plus sundry boxes and other parts. The stowage net in the short compartment is shown holding equipment in position, another diagram showing the net in the longer compartment, the various boxes also shown without the net over them for clarity. The final and best parts of this set is the four carbonite frozen criminals in their “frames”, hanging from the ceiling by large clamps, in the same manner as seen in the show. There is an Ewok, a humanoid wearing shorts, a Rhodian (Greedo’s race), and a Ithorian (Hammerhead), one in each frame for you to arrange in any order you like. Painting them will be relatively easy, as once a person is frozen in carbonite, they’re a monochrome metallic shade. Of course, leaving the rear ramp open is the best way to expose your hard work within the model. FruitPACK (FP23) For the super-detailer, all six of these sets are included in the FruitPACK, which you can check out by following the link below, representing a substantial saving on purchasing sets individually. Conclusion This Star Wars fan thinks Mando and the Razor Crest are the best things to come out of the modern trilogy and its off-shoots, so when I build my kit, it will be a fully detailed model, although I’ll have to learn how to make a lighting kit before I do. The detail presented here is truly amazing, and it’s worth every penny. Don’t hang around though, as some of the sets are going to be out of stock soon, so get your order in while you can. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. TIE Fighter (20423-1/32 for AMT Studio Scale) 1:32 GreenStrawberry The TIE fighter was one of Star Wars’ outstanding and iconic space craft designs that stemmed from the original film that was released in 1976, but has since become Episode IV of the saga, which still rankles a little bit to this reviewer. Flown by the evil Empire, they were first encountered after the Millennium Falcon came out of hyperspace where Alderaan should have been, and was later encountered in their escape from the Death Star, then again when the Rebel Fighters attacked the gigantic battle station in an attempt to destroy it before it destroyed their base, which they clearly managed. The design carried on through the rest of the original trilogy, and has been seen in different forms at the end of the original trilogy and as updated variants in the sequel trilogy, plus the new TV shows such as the Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. We’ll ignore Kenobi. AMT released their new tooling of the TIE Fighter last year as part of their Studio Series brand, and our friends at GreenStrawberry have wasted no time in creating a new set for the kit to bring up the detail to what you would expect from a Studio Scale kit, as the model has been criticised for being a bit soft and low on detail. The set arrives in a flat package, with a substantial card protector hidden inside the dark grey themed outer layer of cardboard, and inside is a large fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, plus a clear sheet of acetate with various triangular shapes printed on it, and a clear red sheet of foil to assist with lighting your project. The instruction sheet covers both sides of a piece of A4 that is printed in colour, and consists of six steps, although the last two are both marked as No.5. Small portions of the two faceted inner cockpit walls are removed, then several facets of the interior are replaced with PE parts, applying the decals to the clear printed foil to show through the PE part with the same number. This extends to twelve panels, one in the corner receiving an additional PE layer over the top. The coaming that covers some of the faceted windscreen in front of the control columns has the instrument box cut from the top to be replaced by a new folded part, with the two control yokes detailed by adding small levers to the outer sides, removing the top surfaces of the grips, replacing them with small PE parts, with addition levers on the inner side where the pilot’s thumbs would rest. The clear kit floor is laminated together with a PE part that has the same decking pattern etched into it, sandwiching a section of clear red foil between them to assist with lighting the floor, and giving it a red hue. The pilot’s seat is detailed with a new PE head box that is folded up from three parts and applied to the back of the headrest, which will be seen through the hatch on top of the hull once complete. A small instrument box is folded from two parts, and applied to the inner face of the coaming, where it too will be visible through the hatch. Speaking of the hatch, this area is improved by folding up a new hinge from three PE parts, and adding a highly detailed etched rim around the rear lip that is curved to fit the contours of the entryway, gluing the hinge to a flat patch in the centre of the strip, and supporting the hatch itself in the open position. The interior of the windscreen is provided with a new PE inner frame that creates more realistic detail when looking out from the hatch, and another two-part equipment detail assembly is fitted to the bottom rail of the inner octagonal frame. There are eight “clamps” spaced around the external edges of the windscreen, which have their moulded-in texture removed and replaced by small PE rectangles with a crisp pattern etched into their surface, with two spares in case you lose some. The instructions note them as parts 29, but that is the kit part number, and they are in fact part 28. The final part is a honeycomb textured PE insert that fits within the hexagonal exhaust at the rear of the fighter. Conclusion This is not a huge set, but neither is it expensive, and it improves the detail on the kit to a level where it will draw the viewer into the cockpit. The addition of the extra interior details that lend their use to lighting the model will be useful to the modeller with a hankering for some LEDs in their TIE Fighter kit. You can see the set applied to the unpainted kit by following the link below, which gives a feeling for the usefulness of it in improving the kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. USS Enterprise NCC-1701A Refit (14021-1/1000 for Moebius) 1:1000 GreenStrawberry After losing Spock on the Genesis Planet at the end of the Wrath of Khan and getting him back in Search for Spock, the sneaky trick on the Klingons near the end of the film sees Kirk and co. leaving the bridge of the original refitted Enterprise for the last time just in time for it to blow up and take the deluded Klingons with it. Captain Kirk is a bit upset about that for obvious reasons, and they’re stuck flying a green Klingon Bird of Prey for most of the following Long Way Home movie, engaging in some time-travelling, whale kidnap and saving of the world once again. At the end of the movie, they get a new Enterprise as a thank you from a grateful earth, which they sail off into the black depths of space until the next film came calling, with many break-downs following a refit, and some chicanery from a group of baddies that frame Kirk for murder, at least temporarily. That’s a massive over-simplification of events, so if that doesn’t make any sense, just watch the films, some of which are better than others. The Kit Polar Lights kicked off a new series of Star Trek kits in the homogenous 1:1000 scale around the same time as Star Trek: Discovery reached our screens. This version of the Constitution Class Enterprise is available again as a reboxing, which also comes with some ‘damage’ decals for people wishing to depict the ship in a state of battle weariness. This set arrives in GreenStrawberry’s usual clear foil packaging with black card that has green and red branding, whilst inside are two frets of Photo-Etch (PE) separated by a sheet of black paper, a small printed sheet of self-adhesive paper, a thick chunk of card for protection, and the folded-up instruction sheets that are also doing some protective duties. Construction begins with removing a tiny raised light at the rear of the upper bridge, with a two-layer bulkhead added to the flat rear before it is joined to the lower. The lower section has a detail strip applied all around its middle, which includes vertical frames for the bridge windows at the rear, through which the simple insert that is made next will be seen. The floor of the insert is folded to create a bulkhead, and two additional short bulkhead sections are glued into grooves in the floor, and some half-thickness details are etched in the area nearest the windows. It is inserted from below and glued into position before it is placed in the centre of the saucer section. The lower surface of the saucer has two shuttered bays cut out to receive a pair of wedge-shaped inserts that are each folded up from four parts before they are slotted into place. These parts are identical to the Reliant set we reviewed recently. The impulse engine housing at the rear of the saucer section has the lower lip removed and a PE mesh insert fitted, with two more light fittings on the saucer nearby, and a PE spider placed over the dome-shaped Plasma Deflection Assembly just forward of the impulse engines. The similar-shaped Photon Torpedo housing at the base of the saucer ‘neck’ has a new insert made up from two main layers with additional bezels around the launch tubes. The central scanner array in the lower saucer has four PE skins added to the flat-fronted sections, while a trio of lights are added to the rim, and at the top of the neck a ribbed appliqué plate is glued to each side, butting up against the saucer. The edge of the saucer is decorated with new skins that have textured stripes and windows etched-in, with the ends shaped to fit around the Impulse Engine housing at the rear, and where the sections join at the sides, the left side is hidden by the application of the crew gangway over the top in a half-thickness socket. A circular hatch is installed at the bottom of both sides of the neck, with two more on the sides of the hull. The hull has a long, windowed section along the lower side with an arboretum stretching from side-to-side, and this is updated with a PE window frame part on each side, which will allow the interior to be seen. The arboretum itself is made up from a floor part that has pathways etched to half-height, and walls with etched-in fold lines that are bent up to support the roof section, onto which the sticker is fixed, giving the impression of lights and a blue cloudy sky, with the light portions having the PE etched away behind so that if you light the interior, it will show through the sticker. Two small curved skins are applied at the rear around the sides of the shuttle bay doors, with yet another little circular light added over the top. On the underside of the hull another pair of light fittings are glued onto the centreline - there are quite a few of these on the sheet. Moving to the warp nacelles, the kit inner nacelle sides have their striping removed, and the new PE replacements are glued into the recess instead, then at the rear the exhausts are inset with two new parts that make up a U-shape when complete. Yet another light fitting replaces the kit lumps at the rear of each of the nacelles. Conclusion Apart from some slight vagueness around the fitting of the arboretum (my kit is on its way, so I can’t peruse the parts together yet), this is another great set from GS with plenty of detail added to the base kit. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. SSTO Ranger Update Set (02422-1/72 for Moebius) 1:72 GreenStrawberry The Film Interstellar made a few folks scratch their heads, a few more yawn at times, while many others were thrilled and enthralled watching this fictitious expedition across the universe and time. Deep, huh? There were some interesting and plausible ships and near future tech exhibited on the screen, including one of the most unusual robots to take part in a Sci-fi film, bearing a striking resemblance to a stack of slabs of stainless steel when at rest. In order to get around away from the mothership on the Endurance mission, the ship carried two Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) spacecraft, named Ranger 1 and Ranger 2. These wedge-like ships have a crew of four plus one of the four former US Marine robots, TARS being the most prominent in my memory after the rapid departure from Miller’s Planet near the Black Hole. The set is to augment the moulded-in detail of the Moebius kit of the Ranger in 1:72, released in 2015 and getting more difficult to find as time goes by and the film fades from memory. That should mean that there are plenty out there in stashes that could benefit from the detail that this set brings to the party. As usual, the set arrives in GreenStrawberry’s clear foil packaging with black card liner that has green and red branding, whilst inside is a large fret of Photo-Etch (PE), a thick chunk of card for protection, and the folded-up instruction sheet that is also doing some protective duties. The base kit is quite simple, having solid styrene windows and no interior despite being in a larger scale, and the exterior is on the menu for GS will fix. Firstly however, the ‘real’ underside has a section of the fuselage covered in long narrow vents that aren’t particularly well-represented in the kit. That section of the fuselage is removed completely and is replaced by a PE section that has etched-in crease lines, and the louvers etched completely through at all but the pivot-points at the ends, which allows them to be twisted/rotated to an angle once they are in position under the fuselage. It would be wise to create an inner lip around this section to give the PE something to ledge upon so that it won’t push through with accidental pressure. The top surface is dotted with 22 windows of various shapes and sizes that are cut out and the bezel detail removed then sanded smooth. The fret includes a full set of PE bezel/frames and a sheet of acetate with the window shapes pre-printed on them. These are cut from the sheet and glued behind the frames and then applied to the window apertures as per the accompanying diagrams. If you don’t like masking, you could use the PE frame parts to make masks spirograph-style for the acetate before you join them together, making the painting an easier task, or treat yourself to the mask set, also from GS. The kit has no interior however, so it would be an ideal time to engage the services of Black 3.0 or Musou black to make the interior as dingy and invisible as possible. The topside also has a pair of two-layer laminated exterior instrument panels on the rear, much like the panels seen at the rear of the Space Shuttle. There is an upper panel that wraps around the rear of the ship, and this is detailed with a large PE skin that has fine grating etched-in, improving immensely on the kit details. At the rear, there is a large circular air-lock with an engine exhaust at each side. The blank panel behind this is first removed and consigned to the bin, then the detail over-layer has the circular centre removed too, to be replaced by a PE lamination with latch details added from the rear, and a triple laminated ring around the front edge, which means that the initial cut will need to be as smooth and circular as you can manage. The two exhausts are decked out with PE inner tips, finishing off the set nicely. Conclusion The original kit wasn’t overly expensive, so you can forgive Moebius for skimping on the detail, but this set goes a long way to correct that, giving the windows the correct sheen and depth, and upping the detail where it matters. An interior would be awesome, but maybe that’s a topic for another day. Highly recommended. PE Upgrade Set (02422-1/72) Mask Set (AM020-1/72) Review sample courtesy of
  6. USS Reliant NCC-1864 Later Version (14121-1/1000 for Polar Lights) 1:1000 GreenStrawberry KHAN!!!!!!!!! Yes, that’s him. He’s been Kirk’s nemesis for a while now, and during the 2nd Trek movie, he pinched the USS Reliant whose crew happened upon the remains of Khan’s people left on a horribly transformed planet that Kirk marooned them on some years earlier during the original series. The Reliant is primarily an exploration vessel of a different configuration to the Enterprise, consisting of a saucer section with underslung warp nacelles on each side, and a rather 80s spoiler at the rear that they call a Support Pylon. She sported some weapons for self-defence, as demonstrated during the climactic battle around the Genesis planet, where Khan came off worst thanks to a clever ruse on the part of the Federation crew that resulted in the destruction of the Reliant. The Kit Polar lights kicked off a new series of Star Trek kits in the homogenous 1:1000 scale around the same time as Star Trek: Discovery reached our screens. The Reliant is available in a couple of variants, one of which being the Khan edition, which also comes with some ‘damage’ decals for people wishing to depict the ship near the end of the film when the Enterprise has finished knocking it about. This set arrives in GreenStrawberry’s usual clear foil packaging with black card that has green and red branding, whilst inside are two frets of Photo-Etch (PE), a thick chunk of card for protection, and the folded-up instruction sheets that are also doing some protective duties. Construction starts with the upper saucer, which has the bridge windows removed to receive the new parts later. The bridge insert is first folded up into an L-shaped assembly with another part mated to a line on the interior wall and painted. Once complete, it is glued into the upper saucer from the inside, as shown in a later diagram. On the underside of the saucer there are a number of let-in sections toward the front, which are cut out from the kit along the panel lines, and have the inserts made from four parts that are folded up into a wedge-shaped assembly, then slipped into the apertures from the outside. A PE outer skin is added all around the bridge deck, curved around so that the window frames match the slot in the front where the bridge will be seen. If you’re minded, you could add some acetate sheet behind to give the impression of glazing. An additional pair of inserts are fitted into the areas above and below the bridge windows, and a number of circular PE parts are dotted around the underside of the saucer, and on the top side above the bridge, plus a few more to the edges of the saucer topside. The whole saucer edge is wrapped in PE skins that add extra striping detail and window cut-outs to the area, with a raised section at the aft-most ends, with two ladder-sections on the corners of the deformed sides. Underneath the saucer is a tapering front “wall” toward the rear of the area, and these too are fitted with skins added to the front, having windows and decorative striping etched-in, a motif that is carried on in sections around the rear of the shaped parts of the saucer under the pylon. Additional details are added to the sides of the pulse phaser cannons that are in the pylon sides after removing the vertical details, and these too get one each of those circular PE shapes, which could be formation lights. Possibly. Under the cannons a pair of triangular skins are applied to the front of the support pylons, then at the rear under the support, some moulded-in details are removed and replaced by new more detailed parts around the two shuttle bays, which themselves are surfaced and lined with new PE skins, including a texture on the door, and details around the entryways. In addition, a pair of overhead light fixtures hide the join between the ends of the strip. The auxiliary Navigation Deflector unit at the centre of the lower saucer have PE skins applied to the four ends, and in the centre of the support pylon the weapons pod is detailed with exhaust louvers, exterior panels and yet more of those round lights. The panels near the rear have a choice of two parts, so check your references, and while you have them out, check to see whether the circular Photon Control disc at the rear of the saucer has a set of fingers radiating out from a central circle, as this a included as an optional extra. If you are planning on modelling your Reliant during the Dominion War, there are two more formation lights (we’ll call them that), another set of fingers for the Lower Fusion Core dome, and striped inserts for each side of the warp nacelles, so take your pick! Conclusion Another gorgeous set from GS, and yet again it has cost me to pick up the kit to go with the set. The detail is excellent, and the parts are well-finessed to fit, while bringing a ton of extra detail to your model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Millennium Falcon, Snowspeeder & T-70 X-Wing Junior Update Sets (2004, 2005 & 2006) 1:144, 1:48 & 1:72 GreenStrawberry Star Wars. Enough said? We all know the Bandai kits from this ground-breaking series of movies (we’re talking generally here – ignore any you don’t like). Not so very long ago, GreenStrawberry hit upon a cool idea that would appeal to a broader group of modellers, a simple pared-down set of Photo-Etch (PE) parts and accessories that can be used to improve on the detail of the base kits, which are pretty impressive to begin with, let’s be honest. You can always improve on injection moulded plastic with a little PE and some cleverness though, and these sets are just that. They’re smaller than their fully-featured siblings, and are useful as an introduction to PE wrangling, or in case you just want to put a little extra into your model without pushing the boat too far out. Each set arrives in a resealable clear foil bag with a black card that has the usual green/red branding, and a thick piece of card within to protect the goodies inside. The sets usually comprise one fret of PE, plus either printed acetate, stickers or paper, depending on what is appropriate to the set. The final part is the instruction sheet, which has step-by-step isometric instructions to guide you through the process, and is folded up to add even more protection to the package. 1:144 Millennium Falcon Junior Set (2004-1/144) Despite the small scale, the set is quite large, due to the inclusion of the mesh for the six vents on the rear deck, all of which are shown in a scrap diagram to ensure correct alignment of the mesh with the direction of motion. There is also a rear bulkhead for the cockpit, which is layered with a door and its padded surround from either side, and a set of stickers that when applied will allow light to filter through them and give the impression of the bright flashing bulkhead we know and love. There are similar panels for the side consoles, although these do not have corresponding holes to match the stickers. A simple control yoke is included to place in front of Han/Rey and Chewie. Nien Numb and Lando Calrissian have just spat their collective dummies. The crew ramp is backed up by a two-part assembly that prevents the see-through effect if anyone is looking up there with an endoscope, and a T-shaped part is also fixed to the exterior just next to the opening. The final parts for the interior are the gun controls for the twin cannons that Han & Luke had so much fun with in the original Star Wars movie. Externally, the seven sets of landing pads are upgraded with fine filigree ‘cuffs’ that are each single parts with four sections with pre-thinned joins that allow them to be folded and lightly curved to form the vertical parts of the cuffs. They slip over each strut before installation of the legs into the hull, and although there are two types of legs, there is only one type of cuff. 1:48 Snowspeeder (2005-1/48) The fret for this ship is slightly smaller than the Falcon set, and includes a sheet of clear acetate that is printed with various shapes for the instrument panels, allowing light to show through if you’re planning on lighting your model, and who doesn’t? A little removal of moulded-in detail is needed first, taking the dials off the instrument panel, the two pegs on the seat that retain the kit pilot figure, and the instrumentation on the rear gunner’s console in the centre of their control yoke. The front and rear seats are re-skinned with PE replacement roll padding, and four small parts are applied to the back-to-back bulkhead sides between the crew members. The main panel is fitted with a flat T-shaped part on the rear, and a laminated panel on the front that is made up from three acetate pieces and three PE parts over the top, ending with four layers on the outer areas. This is then glued in place on the recently blanked panel. The rear gunner’s station has a similar, smaller panel made up from two layers, then it also has a pair of grips installed underneath, folded and then laminated to give the handles some thickness. Externally, you have a choice of two styles of grille at the front under the windscreen, connecting hoses and coiled cables to the harpoon gun at the rear, as well as a twin-layer part glued into position vertically beneath the cylindrical barrel. The final part is another grill for the back of the intake that runs down the centre of the underside. 1:72 T-70 X-Wing (2006-1/72) This set includes a sheet of printed clear acetate as well as a fret of PE, and starts with a small panel fixed to the control column, augmented with a new triple faceted instrument panel that has a clear central section. The side consoles are also covered with new panels, and five additional parts are dotted around the rest of the interior. Externally, there are two crew ladders, one for the pilot that descends from a slot in the lower fuselage the plastic for which must be removed from the kit before proceeding, as per the accompanying diagram. The ladder is folded in two to give it additional thickness, and the treads are folded horizontally to better represent the steps, with a small folded part at the top representing the opened ladder door in the fuselage. The other ladder is a larger accessway for the ground crew onto the aft deck that houses the BB-8 unit or other Astromech, as appropriate. The ladder’s structure is etched as a single T-shaped part that is first folded perpendicular to the treads, then each tread is folded horizontally, and covered by cross-hatched plates, with another double lamination on the flat top where the mechanic would crouch attending to the droid. A guide rail is affixed to the left side of the ladder, then it can be placed behind the cockpit and a crewman sourced if you feel the need. GS have sets of 1:72 Star Wars figures too, so while you’re there… The last four parts are replacements for the nozzle detail within the exhausts, which are fixed in place after removal of the simplified moulded-in detail. They fit neatly against the rear of the nozzle parts before adding them to the rear of the engines. Conclusion Not everyone wants the full PE sets to adorn their model, and these sets take the most important and noticeable areas of your model and upgrade it in a relatively simple but effective manner, without too much taxing work with the PE bender. A decent pair of flat-bladed pliers would be sufficient if you’re not already tooled up for PE. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Intrepid Class Sensor Array (15321-1/1000 & 15221-1/670 for Polar Lights & Revell) 1:1000 & 1:670 GreenStrawberry Star Trek Voyager was one of the early spin-offs from The Next Generation, and was rather successful, extending to seven series that spanned two millennia (1995-2001 in case you wondered). After departure from Deep Space 9 on their first mission, then being whipped far away from their home sector to the Delta Quadrant by the ‘Caretaker’ that following its death would see them travelling for a lifetime to reach home, they set off on the way back, meeting many friends and foes along the way, getting the occasional leap-frog to get them closer, and problems to set them back along the way. The Intrepid class was fortuitously designed for long missions, and was compact in size at roughly half the length of the then-current Enterprise with a relatively small crew of just over 140 souls under normal circumstances. It was technologically advanced, having variable geometry warp nacelles, an emergency medical hologram system, and many other fancy things to fit the storyline. The Kits The larger Revell kit is 1:670 or 1:677 if you believe Scalemates, and it has been around a long time now, since the mid 90s when the show first aired. It is a product of its time, so will welcome any upgrades that can be thrown at it, and you can see some of the other GS sets here, which covers pretty much the rest of the spaceframe. The Polar Lights kit is smaller at 1:1000 and was released in 2021 as part of a range of new range of Star Trek ships that also included the then-new Discovery with its weird mushroom powered propulsion system, that seems silly when you say it out loud. The main difference between the two sets relates to their size. There are the same number of parts in each set, and they both arrive in the same compact-sized black box with their usual green and red themed printing. Inside each box is a Ziploc bag of five grey resin casting blocks that contain twelve parts each set, plus a folded instruction sheet that acts as a damper to protect the contents during shipping and handling. The instructions are functionally identical, although they are laid out slightly differently between the two scales. The narrow, curved sensor arrays are set into the edges of the saucer section, and these require the possible deepening of removal of the blank backing plates behind the kit inserts and replacing them with the corresponding resin parts, along with two more on each side of the main hull, an inverted coffin-shaped array on the sloped front of the saucer, and a final trapezoid array at the back of the saucer where it blends into the hull. Each part is correctly shaped and contoured to fit the model, and improves on the kit details to make it a worthwhile exercise. 15221-1/670 for Revell 15321-1/1000 for Polar Lights Conclusion If you have either or both of the two kits and want to bump up the detail, these sets are just the ticket. The detail is to the usual high standard we’ve come to expect from GreenStrawberry, and that’s why they’re my favourite Sci-Fi upgrade company. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Star Trek Danube Class 'Runabout' Shuttle Update Sets (for AMT) 1:72 GreenStrawberry Star Trek has been around for longer than I have, and I’m getting on a bit now. After the original show and the movies, during the late 80s and early 90s we were treated to newer TV shows that gave us more exciting visuals thanks to the advances in special effects, the early days of CGI, and everything that came with it. First appearing in Deep Space 9, the shuttle has since shown up in other Star Trek shows, although it appears predominantly in DS9 where it became the regular Runabout for their various adventures, which was its more informal description. In a cross-over with Star Trek – The Next Generation, the Enterprise delivered three Runabouts to the station, all of which were named after rivers of Earth. The Runabout is modular in design, with a twin boom warp sled over the top of the main hull, a tapered command section to the front, with an interchangeable pod in the centre section that can perform various functions as the mission demands it. It’s a warp-capable ship, although it’s not as fast as a Galaxy Class ship like the Enterprise, with a maximum warp of 5, and a cruising speed of a stately warp 2. The two front seats contain duplicate controls for pilots, so that one can take over from the other seamlessly if the need arises, plus a replicator and a transporter in the centre section under most circumstances. It’s a large shuttle, capable of carrying 40 passengers in addition to the two crew, but with different pods it could be configured as a medical shuttle or for carrying a smaller number of passengers in relative comfort, but after the initial run-ins with the Dominion, an additional tactical station was added behind the forward cockpit, with an extra crew member able take some of the workload from the pilots. Exterior Set (15622-1/72) This large and comprehensive set is intended for the AMT 1:72 kit of the Runabout, which was initially released in 1993, but was re-released in 2018. It’s fairly rare on eBay these days, so there are doubtless a lot out there, probably yet to be built, mine being amongst them. The kit is typical of its day, having reasonable detail and some simplification that could be improved on by some additional effort, which GreenStrawberry are intent on helping you with. The set arrives in a small black box with the usual green/red branding, and on opening it up you find three bags of resin parts, one in grey, one in translucent blue, one in translucent red and orange resin, plus another bag containing the instruction sheet and a small sheet of thick-gauge Photo-Etch (PE). Detail is excellent throughout, and the translucent parts are beautifully cast, with the orange-coloured corrugated parts cast so sharply that you could probably file your fingernails with it! Each part is cast on a block, the small parts cast with a number of other parts on the same block, while the larger parts are flying solo. There are raised numbers and codes on most of the parts to aid with identification, which will certainly come in useful. Construction begins with the twin engine nacelles, which have all the clear parts replaced by translucent resin that improves the look of these areas immensely over the original clear parts that are painted with transparent paint, especially if you intend to light your model, a task that this set is extremely suited to. The blue side sections and the bulbous red front are drop-in replacements, whilst on the top a small rectangular shape with rounded corners is removed and replaced by new grey resin parts for additional detail. On the hull, the phaser banks are replaced by more detailed resin parts, and the radiators at the rear are also replaced with resin units, then a host of PE panels are dotted around the hull, with a double layer replacing one strip high over the windscreen. The twin booms that support the engine nacelles have the front sections removed and are replaced by a resin part that has an orange translucent resin backing inserted behind. The rear surface is also replaced by grey resin, and has a small translucent red resin section pushed through the hole near the bottom, necessitating a small block removing from the rear of the kit surface. The tops of the booms are detailed with two new resin sections after removing the kit details, and at the rear three more resin parts and two folded PE parts finish off the transformation. Deep Space 9 Cockpit Set (14821-1/72) This set contains parts for the cockpit as it appears in Deep Space 9, where it is primarily seen, so this should/could be the most popular, but who knows? It arrives in a larger box than the exterior set, and contains a huge quantity of resin parts, twenty-seven of which are grey resin, with five more in a translucent/clear resin. The package is rounded-out by a large PE sheet, a clear film sheet, a sheet of printed paper, a sheet of decals, a sheet of masks, and a sheet of printed stickers. Lots of sheets that add up to quite a thick multimedia bundle. We find out right away why there are clear resin parts, as the largest piece forms the base for the main pilot consoles, which includes the sides, fronts, centre and corner consoles, all of which have gigantic read-outs on the “real” thing. These are simulated by either decals or stickers that are applied to the top surfaces of the consoles then varnished over with gloss clear to protect them from the masking material that is applied over it in order to paint the rest of the consoles, leaving the screens unpainted. This leaves the modeller the possibility of installing lighting beneath/behind the console that will diffuse and glow through the decals or stickers. If you intend to light it, a first coat of black or metallic paint should prevent light from leaking through the lighter coloured paint that is applied over the top. The instructions for this set and the others for this kit take a new form, which shows the assembled area in colour 3D, pointing out the part numbers and colour numbers to assist you with construction. The cockpit floor is a large resin part onto which the clear console section fits, plus a stand-alone lectern-style console is decaled and fitted to a marked area in the centre of the floor. The two cockpit sides are then painted and slotted into place on top of the floor after cleaning out the flash on the oval side windows, then putting a transverse beam across the rear, and a curving fore-aft beam between the two pilot stations. There are also decals for the patterns on the floor, which is first painted blue according to the instructions, suggesting AMMO paints as the brand to use. The aft bulkhead is next to be made, beginning with the large screens that fit onto the bulkhead either side of the door, suspended over a pair of holes so they too can be lit. The open doors are prepared with PE and decal, and two side hatches are made up in the same manner, then the large resin bulkhead part is painted up and has the new assemblies added so that it can be mated to the front of the cockpit, creating the front “tub” that receives the mixed PE and resin roof section on top, to be topped off with a printed paper depicting mesh at the last moment. A pair of clear blocks are provided to glue into the aft bulkhead, filling up corresponding holes in the resin part. The aft section of the cockpit is primarily PE that is folded up to create the floor and aft bulkhead, with three resin structural members added so that the front sections can be applied after some minimal bending to shape. The sides of the floor are also built up into raised areas, and the final diagram in the step shows the area painted up and decaled. In the centre of the aft compartment the two-person transporter (Beam me up Scotty!) is located, and this is made from a single resin compartment that has clear parts slotted into the sides to receive either decals or stickers that “greeblie” it up. The front aperture is opened up to allow the crew access, while the rear opening is opened up to accept another detail panel that can also be lit up. The floor area is layered up from a PE base, a clear acetate section and either a decal or sticker on top, before it is fixed into the bottom of the transporter cabinet. Another pair of displays are fixed into the front bulkhead, then the ceiling is created by adding acetate and stickers/decals to the area where the roof of the cabinet should be, with it glued into the top of the compartment after adding one last structural beam that joins the cabinet to the forward bulkhead. Note the vertical clear parts for the transporter booth are doubled up in this kit, as both casting blocks have one strip with a solitary bubble within, so rather than foisting inferior parts on you, they have supplied two sets, thereby saving waste, which is a responsible method. The two parts of the compartment are now joined, and the printed paper mesh ceiling inserts are fixed to the top of the assembly, with additional paper layers fixed to the backs of the hatches, which should diffuse any light over the etched lines in the doors. The remaining clear acetate parts are supplied to create the windows at the front and sides of the hull, with masks supplied for the aftmost oval portholes. In order to complete installation a small section of the hull floor is removed to make room for the new cockpit, which is slid up into the upper hull, and closed in by the lower. As it’s likely that you’ll light this model - It would be churlish not to really – the process will be a little more complex due to the addition of wiring, LED sources and a power source to keep the lights on, but it should result in an impressive model. Star Trek The Next Gen. Cockpit Set (14321-1/72) Surprisingly, the TNG variant is substantially different from the DS9 set above, not just from having only the forward cabin with the transporter booth right behind the crew seats, and a different console layout. That makes for a lower parts count and some differences, and should make for a simplified build, although the detail is still excellent, and on a par with the DS9 cockpit, just lacking the aft compartment. The set arrives in the same sized box, and inside are fourteen grey resin parts, five in translucent/clear resin, a smaller sheet of PE, decal sheet, mask sheet, acetate sheet, sticker sheet and printed ceiling mesh sheet, all differing from the DS9 set. The first part to be made up is the clear instrument panel, which is decked out with screen decals or stickers, given a coat of varnish, then masked up ready for painting. The same process is carried out for the clear side panels for the transporter booth, along with the triple-layer top and bottom sections of the booth, although only the floor is documented at this stage. The booth is inserted into a hole in the cockpit floor from below, and the cockpit floor is painted grey, then decaled with a few paler grey marking decals. The cockpit sides are added to the floor, and a central beam joins the transport booth to the front of the instrument panel, and this too has its own detailing decals. The seats are probably best inserted into the cockpit before the sides are added, as it gives you more finger-space for locating them. The aft section of the cockpit is very similar to the DS9 version, but its door is closed, as there’s nothing behind it. There are a pair of screens on the aft bulkhead, plus decals for the operating panels for the three doors, two of which are PE with decals on the sides that correspond with the exterior access doors on the kit. The ceiling is very different from the DS9 set, but is completed in the same manner, with a PE section folded up at the front, some resin detail parts, the top of the transport booth and a paper mesh above it. The clear acetate is for the windscreen and the forward side windows only, again because of the lack of aft section that wasn’t yet defined at this stage of the show. Habitat Module Set (14321-1/72) This set fills in the rear compartment of the model with living space for a small crew, and includes the windows at the rear that helps locate it in the mind’s eye. It arrives in the same sized box as the two cockpit sets, and has thirteen grey resin parts and one clear/translucent, plus decals, film, PE, printed paper, stickers and masks (I’m sick of typing ‘sheet’). The first assemblies are the five ‘office’ chairs that seem unchanged over the last 400 years or so. The main seat and pedestal are moulded as a single resin part, with two PE arms and a PE star-base (not to be confused with Star Base) and castors for each one. Four of these are placed around a resin table in the rear of the floor panel, which also has a pair of sofas moulded into the back wall upstand. There are two wall/ceiling sections to turn the floor into a compartment, and these are supplied in forward and aft parts. The forward part is made up first, and this has four bunks moulded into the side walls, which have PE fronts with curtains etched in, and also have sloped overhead panels from PE with a paper mesh insert to allow light to diffuse onto each bed space. Two overhead lighting panels are laminated from PE and paper sections, and are inserted into two troughs in the ceiling. The doorway through to the centre compartment is PE and has a decal to detail it before it is inserted into the space in the front wall. The aft ceiling is mainly storage lockers similar to those over the bunks, and has a space in the exterior side of the rear bulkhead that allows you to insert a sheet of clear acetate, then a resin frame insert, and finally pre-cut masks to protect the acetate during external painting. Two more PE/paper overhead lighting strips are placed into troughs in the roof, and a number of smaller light decals are applied to the undersides of the lower lockers. The solitary clear resin part is used to create the control console on the starboard side of the rear section, and this is decaled or stickered before being varnished, masked and then painted, allowing any light from behind to glow through the decals or stickers. It is attached to a PE backing plate that has an acetate sheet inserted into the front along with a decal or sticker, then this is inserted into a socket on the wall, allowing light to diffuse if a source is provided by the modeller. A large skeleton bulkhead fits between the front and back sections, and this has darker grey recesses painted on it, then the whole assembly is brought together to create the room, which is placed inside the upper hull after cutting out the window section in the rear, and gluing the two other acetate sheets to the exterior of the compartment, sliding between the hull and giving the impression of glazing. Conclusion These four sets are incredible in terms of the work that has gone into making them, and the transformation that they will perform on what is a fairly simple and unassuming model. It’s a shame the base kit is currently hard to find, as it could well entice more modeller to buy the kit simply to accommodate these sets, but the many Star Trek fans that already have them in their stash should prick up their ears and take note. They’re stunning! Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Greeble Plating 1.0 (14921-1.0) No Scale GreenStrawberry Sci-Fi modellers often have the urge to build things that don’t exist yet, both in terms of being in the future or even another reality, or because there’s just not sufficient perceived demand to warrant a model company making a kit of it. That’s where our scratch-building skills come in handy, making things from all sorts of goodies found wherever and whenever our modeller eyes alight on something useful. It’s a weird skill, but sometimes we just don’t have the time or haven’t yet found anything suitable. Sci-Fi involves detail that is loosely referred to a “greeblies” by those that know, making areas busy and more visually appealing to the viewer, whilst making your model look more… technical and futuristic. GreenStrawberry have been my favourite Sci-fi aftermarket company for a long while now, and they’re always thinking of ways to ease our way through the process of creating these fabrications of someone’s fevered imagination. They’re looking to make a little profit of course, but that’s only fair for the effort they put into doing these things! The set arrives in a resealable foil bag and their usual dark grey card with green and red branding on the header, a further thick piece of card helps protect the contents, instruction sheet, and the sheet of Greeblies within. There are four styles of Greeble-sheets available, and this is just one of them. If you’re interested in seeing the others, click the link below and you’ll be taken to the store page where there are photos of all the types. This sheet of greeblie material is covered in all manner of shapes and technological-looking bits & bobs that can be used in a diorama or a model to add almost instant detail. Cast in grey resin on a sheet 11.4cm x 6.9cm with a base thickness of 1.5mm that varies depending on what’s detail is present, maxing out at just under 8mm thick. The back of the sheet isn’t perfectly flat as that’s the open pour side, with the usual complement of bubbles and small depressions that are associated with any resin casting. A rub-down on a flat piece of sandpaper would be a good idea, especially if you think you need the sheet a little thinner. The instructions are very simple, but worth a read. The common-sense part advises that you can cut the sheet into a number of sections to suit your applications, but even though I’ve been using resin for years, the second instruction didn’t occur to me. If you heat the resin up in a shallow bowl or saucer of hot water, the thermo-formable resin will become soft and you’ll be able to bend the sheet around contours to make it fit your needs more closely. The water should be 70-90oc, and you should immerse it for 10-15 seconds or until it begins to feel soft. Also, don’t burn yourself as burns are painful. Relatively obvious, but still worth mentioning. Conclusion A greeblie/greeble sheet is manna from heaven for those of us with a Sci-Fi leaning, especially if you’re prone to some scratch-building and are short on time. You’ll be glad you had it on hand when the need arises. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Star Wars T-65 X-Wing, RZ1 A-Wing & BTL A-4 Y-Wing Junior Sets (for Bandai/Revell) 1:72 GreenStrawberry Our friends at GreenStrawberry have been releasing a flood of detail sets for all things Sci-fi for a number of years now, and in the Star Wars fold the Bandai kits are at the pinnacle of plastic kit quality, so there have been numerous sets for those kits, taking the great styrene kits and making them better. Not everyone is experienced with Photo-Etch (PE) though, so some folks might be put off by the complexity of the sets and the amount of work involved. It occurred to them to create some more straightforward sets for the beginner, intermediate or modeller in a hurry that could be used as an introduction to the genre of PE folding without over-facing them with tons of parts or slowing them down to a crawl. Their Junior Sets are their response, and we have three such sets for some of the popular Star Wars Rebel ships, namely the X-Wing, Y-Wing and A-Wing from the original and best trilogy. Each set arrives in a small clear film bag, with a card insert, the PE, the folded instructions, and a thick piece of card to keep everything safe and sound during transit from them to you. T-65 X-Wing (2001-1/72) This set is etched from bare brass, and contains a nicely detailed boarding ladder with separate treads and standing area at the top; a new instrument panel that requires the kit panel to be removed or sanded flat, but using one kit decal and four new decals supplied with the set to complete the detail, as well as small pieces of printed white PVC foil behind the instruments that will glow if you’re lighting your model. At the rear of the engines, the exhaust detail is cut from the nozzles and replaced by PE parts that are oriented with a small hole pointing toward to the aerofoil. If you’re taking the opportunity to light the model, the interior of the engine shell should also be reamed out to make way for an LED. At the nose there’s a small electronics bay that receives an insert skin, plus a two-layer flip-down bay door. Finally, the three gear bay doors receive opener rams near the forward end of the bays, which are folded up to give added depth. RZ1 A-Wing (2002-1/72) This set is nickel-plated PE, and includes a slip of white PVC foil to back up the instruments in the cockpit. This is the main focus of the set, with the kit instruments filed away and replaced by a lamination of PE and printed PVC. The PVC is best glued with CA or PVA, as normal modelling glue won’t adhere. A pair of control handles fit on each side of a central boss to give the pilot something to hang onto, and if you are planning on leaving the pilot out, shave away the tab in the bottom of the seat, and fit the four-point seatbelts that are supplied in the set. As well as delicate new inserts for the engine rears, there are two detail inserts added around the base of the weapons pylons at the widest point of the ship – I hesitate to use the word “wingtip” for obvious reasons. BTL A-4 Y-Wing (2003-1/72) This set is on nickel-plated PE, and includes both printed clear acetate and printed PVC foil for use in the cockpit. Firstly, the engine exhausts are lined with ribbed PE that should be rolled into a tube to be glued inside the outlet and is then joined by a narrow ring that covers the thickness of the cowling parts. Later on the exhausts are detailed by removing the kit detail and replacing it with a crisp PE part in each nacelle, which will be useful if you’re going down the lighting route. The cockpit has its original instrument panel removed and replaced by a new lamination of two pieces of PE and printed PVC foil, which is repeated for the side consoles, with the clear acetate inserted into the window aperture in the rear of the fixed part of the canopy. The engine nacelles receive further detailing that involves folding up a set of skins for the inside of the gear bays, with a small hole left for the stut’s socket in the centre. The final parts make up a skin for the interior of the nose gear bay door, and includes a hinge mechanism for better detail. Conclusion More great sets from my favourite Sci-Fi detail & accessory producer. If you can’t afford a full set, don’t want a full set, don’t trust yourself to do a full set justice, or don’t want to be slowed down by the extra work, these will do the job nicely. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper Mk.I TOS (FP19 for Moebius) 1:32 GreenStrawberry Battlestar Galactica came to our TV screens in 1978, courtesy of Aaron Spelling’s media factory, and was a big hit at the time, even though it lasted a scant two seasons before it was cancelled due to the high costs of each episode, which were coming in at over a million dollars a week. CBS considered picking it up, but it wasn’t until the reboot happened in 2004 that it hit our screens again, and only then if you subscribed to Pay TV at the time. It ran for five seasons of variable quality, and it still doesn’t seem like it was 17 years ago. We really are getting old! The Vipers were a common theme between both renditions, and were similar in form and function, acting as fleet fighters and general run-abouts, having various versions from the original “TOS” (The Original Series) Viper Mk.I, through the Mk.II that was first seen in the opening episodes of the reboot, and later the sweeping lines of the Mk.VII. The original Viper wasn’t referred to as the Mk.I in TOS, but as the Colonial Viper it ferried the originally male Starbuck, Apollo, Boomer and the gang around the late 70s galaxy far far away (wait, what?), using a design imagined by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie of Star Wars fame, with an unused alternate design showing up as the Thunder Fighter in Spelling stablemate Buck Rogers. The Kit This is number 19 in the GreenStrawberry FruitPACK range that bring together a number of smaller sets into a “full meal deal” boxing that gets you everything with a little cost-saving into the bargain. This set arrives in one of their medium-sized black boxes with their usual green and red printing, and a photo of the finished set on a bare model along with some details of the sets in the box. It includes the following rather large group of sets: 13521-1/32 - Intake & nozzles 13721-1/32 - Side Panels VC09-1/32 - VacuCanopy 13621-1/32 - Cockpit 13821/32 - Wheel bay & exterior Unpacking the box is a satisfying experience involving nine Ziploc bags, a sheet of masking material and a printed clear acetate sheet, plus five sets of instructions to help you along. As usual, all the sets are available individually, so if you don’t want them all for whatever reason, you can get as many or as few as you need, want or can afford at the time. We’ll cover each set separately to avoid confusing myself, mostly. Intake & Nozzles (13521-1/32) This set includes eleven resin parts on six casting blocks, plus a large fret containing three delicate Photo-Etch (PE) parts. It upgrades the detail in the front and rear of the three engines, and requires surprisingly little adaptation of the kit parts. The first activity is removing the locating tabs inside each intake and adding a section of intake on a T-shaped platform in the rear. At the aft-end, the three fluted exhaust detail parts sleeve inside the kit trunking, increasing the detail substantially. Back at the front, the exposed central structure of the engine pack has the new intake fans inserted into the front, and once the intake lips are added, the PE parts have a bullet fairing fitted to the centre before they’re placed inside and located on their rear dowels, so don’t cut those off during prep, although there is a spare on the casting block. Side Panels (13721-1/32) The side panels in this set refer to the rounded-off rectangular greebly-filled depressions to each side of the cockpit, which must first be removed from the kit fuselage halves, then have their detail replaced by the pair of resin inserts. The PE sheet is made from thick gauge brass, and contains four parts that are laminated up to create a coaming area in front of the cockpit, and should be curved to match the contours of the fuselage before they are laminated together. Annealing the parts in a flame and allowing them to cool naturally will make that process much simpler. VacuCanopy (VC09-1/32) This is a multi-media set, and includes a vacformed canopy blank in thick crystal clear PETG plastic, plus a set of PE frames to give the canopy sharp definition, and finally a set of pre-cut vinyl masks for each of the six panes. It will be essential to choose the correct glue to put the canopy together without fogging up the glazing, so choose something like GS-Hypo watch crystal cement, or one of the PVA-based canopy cements that are commercially available. Care and preparation will be key here. Cockpit (13621-1/32) This set is mixed media too, with six resin parts on four pour blocks, plus two sheets of nickel-plated PE and a sheet of clear acetate with instruments and screens pre-printed on it. The instruction sheet begins with the tub, which is the largest resin part, and is covered in apertures through which the instruments will be seen. Firstly, remove the flash from over the holes, then laminate up each screen with its matching PE panel and glue them over their aperture. There are four on each side and one large panel at the front, with smaller button panels above some of the side panels, which also have holes behind them - you can just see one of them in the the photo below. The holes allow light to show from behind if you are lighting your model, which seems de rigeur with Sci-Fi builds these days. A nicely detailed control column fits into a D-shaped slot in the floor of the tub. The lower floor is built up on a cruciform sheet of PE, with foot pads, a detailed central tunnel and rudder pedals added before the sides are folded up, leaving a step at the rear that gives a large contact point for when it is glued to the underside of the tub, adding detail under the seat and in the footwell of the cockpit. It would be a shame to hide all that detail away, so a canopy rear frame is included in the set, allowing the modeller to pose it open, simply by gluing it to the rear of the canopy (from kit or the lightweight one above). The other large resin part includes the headrest for the pilot seat and the spine directly behind it, replacing the kit part completely. The new PE canopy rear frame is glued to a recess in the top of the spine, with one of the three resin rams holding it in position. Why three? Spares in case you want to experiment with different lengths or happen to break one. Wheel bay & exterior (13821/32) This set is made up of a large fret of PE, and requires some removal of kit details before adding the new parts. The main landing gear skids have a moulded-in rod removed from each side of the legs, adding a pair of brackets near the bottom, then linking them to the top with a dog-leg PE part on each side. The main bays have a number of small corner protrusions in the corners removed, with a new bay skin folded up from one main part that is augmented by two more slatted detail parts, then dropped into the bays, leaving the sockets for the gear legs visible in the centre. Each gear bay door including the nose skid get skins with integrated hinges added to improve on their blank inner surfaces. The nose gear bay also has a small panel dropped into the roof with opening rams laminated onto it to add more detail in that little bay. Moving to the intake at the tip of the nose, which presumably comes into play in the atmosphere when there’s some gases to take in, the rear blanking plate is removed from the tapering lip part, and has two layers of PE slats inserted to give it more interest, and the final parts are two replacement gun muzzle tips for the main armament at the sides of the cockpit. Conclusion With five sets in the box, this is an extremely comprehensive upgrade to a somewhat bland kit that really does take it to the next level. It’s not cheap, but if you have limited areas of interest or budget to upgrade the basic kit, check out the individual sets before you move on. Truly excellent detail that’s easy to work with. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Battlestar Galactica Fighter Pilots (for Moebius/Revell) 1:32 GreenStrawberry Battlestar Galactica came to our TV screens in 1978, courtesy of Aaron Spelling’s media factory, and was a big hit at the time, even though it lasted a scant two seasons before it was cancelled due to the high costs of each episode, which were coming in at over a million dollars a week. CBS considered picking it up, but it wasn’t until the reboot happened in 2004 that it hit our screens again, and only then if you subscribed to Pay TV at the time. It ran for five seasons of variable quality, and it still doesn’t seem like it was 17 years ago. We really are getting old! The Vipers were a common theme between both renditions, and were similar in form and function, acting as fleet fighters, using a lot of Fleet Air Arm terminology in the dialogue, and having various versions from the original “TOS” Viper, through the Mk.II that was first seen in the opening episodes of the reboot, and the sweeping lines of the Mk.VII. These resin figures are designed with the kits in mind, and each figure arrives in a small card box, with the resin parts ensconced in a Ziploc bag, protected by the folded instructions. The seated pilots are patterned to specific kit marks, but could probably be adapted with a bit of judicious sanding etc. Colonial Pilot Fighter Ace (132017-1/32) This figure is a tacit homage to Lieutenant Kara Thrace, who had the nom de guerre or call-sign ‘Starbuck’. It’s a good likeness given the limitations of size, and consists of six resin parts - the body, two separate arms, a stowed jacket that fits around her waist, pistol at her waist and an equipment box for her to rest one foot on. There is a little flash on her chin and across her back, which should be easy to eliminate with a little care, and once removed from the casting blocks should go together quickly. She scales out at around 5’9” which is three inches taller than her real-world size, but we’ll put that down to the soles on her flight boots being thick, or the taller stature of her fictitious character. Colonial Pilot – Viper Mk.II (132018-1/32) This figure is of a seated male pilot sat in his Viper, waiting for the launch order or pondering life, the universe and everything after a difficult mission. It consists of four resin parts, one of which is a clear visor for the helmet resting on his lap. The pilot is bare-headed, and has a pair of separate arms that are moulded as one piece and fit over the shoulders once the helmet is in place, resting on the top of the helmet with hands folded. The helmet is hollow, and the base can be cut out to depict it more realistically before painting and adding of the visor. Colonial Pilot – Viper Mk.VII (132019-1/32) This male figure has his helmet on and is moderately prepared to launch, although his hands are firmly planted on his lap. There are three resin parts, the body, the separate helmet, and the clear visor, which can be applied after painting the helmet and face. There is a little flash between the pilot’s knees, and the shape of the seat is clearly visible in his back. Conclusion A figure brings a human scale to any model, and these are well-sculpted and simple to build, with little in the way of preparation other than cutting off a few small casting blocks. A quick wash in warm soapy water will help the paint adhere too. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. USS Voyager NCC-74656 FruitPACK (FP18 for Revell) 1:670 GreenStrawberry The USS Voyager, under the command of Captain Catherine Janeway was “relocated” to the far away Delta Quadrant by a benevolent but misguided alien whilst in the middle of a firefight with a Maquee ship, wanting their help in looking after a race called the Ocampa since damaging their planet irreparably in error. It all gets more complicated, the Caretaker eventually dies and the crew are forced into a difficult decision to destroy the station to protect the Ocampa, stranding the Federation ship in the Delta quadrant, so far away from Federation space that it could take the rest of their lives to get home. Cue a long journey home that spanned seven series and ran from 1995-2001 with 168 episodes, of which I’ve seen quite a few but by no mean all. The USS Voyager is an Intrepid Class ship, built in the Martian shipyards in 2371, carrying around 150 crew, some of whom were originally Maquis, filling jobs vacated by crew killed in the initial encounter with the Caretaker and the other protagonists of that episode. Kate Mulgrew played the Captain, and was the first female lead character of any Star Trek show, with a number of alien races also being on the roster, some more annoying than others. Looking at you, Neelix. The Set This is another of GreenStrawberry’s burgeoning range of FruitPACK sets that bring together a number of smaller sets into a “full meal deal” boxing that gets you everything with a little cost-saving into the bargain. This set arrives in one of their medium-sized black boxes with their usual green and red printing, and a photo of the finished set on a bare model along with some details of the sets in the box. It includes the following sets: 13021-1/670 Exterior Set 13121-1/670 Shuttle Bay 13221-1/670 Landing Gear The kit is patterned for the Revell kit that has been re-released a number of times over the years, and we have reviewed one of those boxings here on the forum. It’s a nice kit that builds up into a reasonably sized model, but it could do with a little more detail if we’re honest, in order to bring it up to the more exacting standards of the modern modeller (that’s you BTW). Each set is available separately in case you don’t want to purchase all of them, so make a note of those numbers above if you’re so minded. In the meantime, we’ll deal with each set separately, as they are in their own clear film and Ziploc bags within the box with their own instruction booklets that are printed in colour in the usual GS style. Exterior Set (13021-1/670) This set consists of three sheets of Photo-Etch (PE), two of which are 0.2mm thick and nickel-plated, while the third is bare brass but much thicker than the other two at 0.5mm. There is also a sheet of thin printed plastic (possibly PVC film) with lots of tiny windows and the contents therein to decorate the windows/portholes of the ship. The instructions are 8 sides of A5(ish), thanks mostly to the volume (area?) of PE that you have in the package. Work begins on the aft of the hull, removing a few raised areas to be replaced by laminated grilles top and bottom, plus a wrap-around section of windows facing aft, for which you’ll need to laminate the printed window pictures with the PE. More raised/engraved areas are removed under the saucer, and on both aft “corners” the raised details are removed to accommodate the new PE detail parts later. These are made up with two layers that are bent to fit the shape and glued in place, as are five more sets of windows with printed backing within recesses in the lower saucer. The details removed earlier are replaced with new parts, the rectangular sections being made from two layers each, while the two curved ribbed lengths are glued to the lower saucer along with some frames above the deflector dish, which has extra detailed parts inserted into its three sections once the original detail has been removed. Some additional skin panels are laminated up either side of the pivots at the front of the variable geometry nacelles, and a pair of faceted mesh panels are added to the intakes on the pylons. The same “exfoliation” is carried out on a large number of raised panels on the upper saucer, and a hole is made in the rear of the bridge superstructure, then the windows are filled in with PE and printed plastic picture parts in the same manner as the underside. More printed windows are applied to the hull sides, and another raft of them are placed behind the outer rim layer of the upper saucer. More of the two-layer detail inserts are added to the front “corners” of the saucer lip, then a major detail upgrade is performed on the bridge. The centre section has various layers added to create the correct depth at the centre, the windows and their frames are added on either side of the main bridge hump, and the two-layer grilles are laid in place further outboard, again in a similar manner to the underside. A large detail skin is prepared with additional layers and inserts, then glued to the roof of the bridge, with more parts added to the sides and to the front section of the roof, with yet more side detail panels, an insert that fills the hole in the rear of the bridge, and another pair of detail panels to complete the revamp. Toward the front of the saucer is an auxiliary deflector array set into a large scalloped part of the surface. The array is cut down at the rear and detailed with PE parts, then the raised panels in the depression are skinned with PE, and the two large grille panels are given the (by now) usual treatment with two layers of PE. A trio of three-layer airlock panels are laminated and placed in the front and both sides of the saucer edge, followed by more raised panels being removed from the underside of the hull, to be replaced by yet more detailed skin panels, some of which are two layers. On the back of the “neck” that joins the saucer to the blended hull after a fashion, there is a sensor palette, which is upgraded with a small insert placed in a recess, and a pair of brand-new photon torpedo launchers replacing the soft styrene versions that are moulded into the hull. There are also two raised panels on each side of the neck that are shown being added rather vaguely, which is because they’re actually missed off from the kit. You can see their location on the example photos of a finished example, or on any of the many plans of the ship that can be found online, which is exactly what I did. The final stage has you building up the two slatted impulse engine exhausts on the back of the nacelle pylons. They are folded up into a three-sided shell with grooves for the strakes that is inserted within the hollowed-out styrene originals once finished, which are comparatively chunky. At the back of the hull is a skin for the shuttle bay surround and a door part that has horizontal lines etched in it. Shuttle Bay (13121-1/670) This set includes the two-part bay within the rear of the Voyager, which has a larger inner section and long narrow entrance hall. The set is 100% PE, and includes two sheets of PE in 02.mm brass with 6 sides of A5 instructions. Construction begins with the entrance hall, which is L-shaped and folds up to form floor and walls from one part, with detail inserts lining the walls to add extra visual interest. Doorways and doors are included, and the larger rectangular second section is made up from another one-part floor and wall section, adding door skins and a two-layer sidewall, which gives the impression of a narrow walkway high up that wall. The two ceiling panels are made up from structural layer and detail layer, with added lighting frames running down the centres, and shallow flaps on the sides that give them a better grip on the lower sections, preventing them from flexing and breaking the glue bond. The rear doorway is made up from three layers, plus detail panels inside and out, and optional smaller access door to the right (from the outside) of the main door, which can be glued closed if you enjoy wasting your efforts, or more sensibly in the retracted or semi-retracted position to show off your hard work. The last part involves trimming excess plastic from the top of the rear duck-bill fairing, removing the centre section that is now redundant, plus adding a set of narrow slots in the rearmost area, which will be most use if you plan on lighting the bay floor. If you want to populate the bay, the kit includes a Type 7 shuttle for you to place in the sightline. Landing Gear (13221-1/670) This set is a combination of resin and PE parts, with twenty resin parts and a small fret of nickel-plated PE brass in the package. Construction begins with cutting out the four gear leg apertures on the underside of the hull that are depicted as raised mouldings on the hull halves. The holes are backed by large resin ports that should be well glued into place for maximum strength before closing up the hull halves. The four gear legs are paired and handed once built, but the struts are identical pairs. They have a resin core that is wrapped with a PE skin that is glued in place around it and slid into the four ports after putting the lower legs and feet in position. The lower legs are all identical, with a slot in the inner face that accepts a PE strake. The bottom of the lower legs has a joint onto which the landing pads are fitted, with a choice of two sets of feet. The first set have all the “toes” folded together as if they have just been extended and haven’t yet deployed, while the second set are unfolded into their cruciform landing configuration with a flat underside. The first set could be of use if you were planning an in-flight pose just prior to landing of after take-off, while the second set is great to take the kit’s stand out of the equation and ground your Voyager as it appeared occasionally in the show. Again, probably the first main ship that landed back on a planet willingly – we’ll ignore Cap’n Kirk’s regular crashing of the Enterprise in the films. Conclusion A highly comprehensive set of updates to this ageing kit that should do much of the work to bring it up to modern standards. Your talent will do the rest of the job. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. NX-326 USS Franklin Detail Set (06218-1/350 for Moebius) 1:350 GreenStrawberry The USS Franklin appeared in Star Trek Beyond, part of the new Kelvin Timeline series of films with that actor that wasn’t Bill Shatner – Chris Pine maybe? It was marooned on the planet Altamid after an accidental trip through a wormhole in 2164, where it was kept in reasonable order by one of the characters, conveniently waiting for Cap’n Kirk and his chums to come along and get it back in space again during the climax of the afore-mentioned film. The Franklin was pre-Federation, and the first ship capable of Warp Factor 4, with some fancy defensive and offensive capabilities for its time, which came in handy during the film. It also had a Star Trek: Enterprise vibe about it, which was set a decade or so earlier than its disappearance. Moebius kitted it in 1:350 in 2018, and it’s a nice model but maybe a little spartan for some modellers, so along comes this detail set from our capable friends at GreenStrawberry. The set arrives in one of GreenStrawberry’s familiar medium-sized boxes, and inside are resin parts in a Ziploc bag, two large frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, some clear acetate with the two outlines of the view-screen printed on it in black, plus a set of A4 instructions, with a sheet of black paper separating the two PE sheets, stopping them from chaffing during transport. The bridge floor is the first to be made, which involves laminating four layers of PE, then another two and finally creating a thick lamination from those sub-assemblies and two more layers, before the crew seats and the various consoles are glued to the new 3D stepped surface on their contact depressions using CA. The large resin “tub” forms the basis of the walls and ceiling, with a two-part lamination of perforated PE parts adding central detail before the floor is glued into position. The centre of the saucer section is drilled out to the correct size according to the instruction, and is filled with a new hatchway made from folded PE, which includes a ladder and floor section, following which the bridge is glued to the rear of the bridge window, with the clear acetate and a PE outer skin added in the front of the styrene aperture. Attention turns to the exterior of the ship now, with two small assemblies either side of the engraved USS Franklin on the front of the saucer, with 20 tiny circular PE parts topping off the paired upstands on the underside of the saucer. Back to the top again, 10 small trestle-like assemblies are folded up and glued to the surface, and the final parts are a pair of mesh panels with circular perforations for the impulse engines at the rear of the saucer. Conclusion This set will give your USS Franklin just the right amount of visual interest, and if you’re lighting the model, the centre section of the bridge ceiling is perforated to give the effect visible in the original. The engine grilles will also add some detail to the exterior lighting, as will all the delicate parts. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Resin Figures (1350015) 1:350 GreenStrawberry While these little folks aren’t strictly Sci-Fi, I suspect that they were intended to be placed in Star Trek kits that have visible bays or arboretums, at least initially. That doesn’t stop you from using them anywhere that their scale would permit, even going as far as a Gulliver’s Travels diorama! The set arrives in a small box, which is why it got side-tracked for a while (sorry about that!), and inside is a plastic bag that has been heat-sealed into four quadrants, each one containing a casting block of figures. There are no instructions because each figure is a single part, and as they aren’t intended for any specific role, you can paint them any colour you like, within reason. The four casting blocks each have little ears at the ends to help protect the figures, of which there four on each block. There are two blocks of male figures, all in different positions, and two blocks of female figures in the same poses as the males, so if we’re thinking Star Trek, you have plenty of variety to play with. The poses are as follows: Walking, possibly carrying or pushing something Standing, hands on hips Kneeling on one knee, both hands out Walking, arms swinging Standing, one arm out straight Standing, possibly leaning against something Standing, hands near pockets Standing, hands folded in front Each figure is attached to the block across the shoulder blades, and there are additional wisps of resin spreading out to ease casting, but all this should be very easy to cut off the back, possibly with the aid of some Blutak to hold the figure down. At this scale the limbs are very slender, but my example had made it here in one piece, but care will need to be taken by the time you begin handling them for painting and eventual installation. Conclusion Very well-detailed and crisply cast tiny people in a range of poses that will add some human scale to any 1:350 model whether it’s Sci-Fi or otherwise. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Star Wars Venator Class Lighting Kit (FX02 for Revell) 1:2274 GreenStrawberry One of the coolest ships from the Star Wars Prequels (IMHO) was the Republic Star Destroyer, having a definite Star Destroyer vibe, and taking quite a big part in the films, carrying Clone Troopers and their equipment into battle. The Revell kit has been around since 2005, and was last re-popped in 2016, so there are doubtless plenty of them languishing in stashes around the world just waiting for these wonderful upgrades. We recently reviewed the detail upgrade sets that GreenStrawberry have laboured over here, and they really bring the kit’s sometimes soft detail up to modern standards, while adding a full interior bay to complete the blowing of your mind. Sci-Fi kits scream out to be lit, and when you’ve spent that much effort on a kit, it would be rude not to really, which is where the fun really begins, especially if you know nothing about electronics in models. With the advances in small portable SoC (System on a Chip) devices, meaningful computing power is now available for relatively little outlay, such as the Raspberry Pi (RasPi) and the Arduino in their various guises. There has been an explosion in technology that is useful in creating lighting control systems for models, which coupled with the affordable cost of light-guides/fibre-guides/fibre-optics, makes it even easier. The final nail in the coffin of lightless models is the size and availability of bright, colourful LEDs of various sizes and styles, which consume a tiny amount of electricity, create very little heat to melt your models, and can now be crammed into small spaces thanks to the infinitesimal size of SMD (Surface Mount Device) LEDs that rival the grain-of-wheat bulbs of yore. The Kit This kit is specifically engineered and configured to be used with the Revell Republic Star Destroyer as it is called, but GreenStrawberry have named their set after the series of ship that Revell have kitted, the Venator Class. It arrives in one of their grey/black themed boxes that is held together by a large green/red sticker that shows a completed Venator class Attack Cruiser floating through the void, plus a small thumbnail of the lighting set in the top right. Inside is a small PCB with an ATMega328PB at the heart, holding and carrying out execution of the instructions that have been encoded onto it at the factory, with no worries about losing everything when you turn off the power. It has two ribbon-cables plugged into sockets on the main board, and the smaller of the two ribbons has two smaller custom PCBs carrying three SMD LEDs each, which are used to create light sources for the tiny fibre-guide lights. There is also a Ziploc bag full of a generous quantity of fibre-guide for you to trim to length and install to make your model sparkle, plus two resin parts that should be glued over the smaller boards to provide the fibre-guides with a concentrated light source. The final parts are a pair of clear-cast resin light guides that are used to transfer the light from smaller LEDs down a narrow engine nacelle to the business end. The instructions show you how to assemble the LEDs and their light tubes that will be filled with bundles of fibre-guide that have their other ends inserted in holes drilled out in the superstructure to give a nice scale-effect to the external lights. The traditional LEDs that are wired into the larger socket are shown in a scrap diagram with letters allocated to them so you can better understand where they are destined for within the hull. Two smaller lights are inserted into the twin bridges, with another two in the sloping superstructure that supports them. The resin guides are inserted into the narrow auxiliary engines with the LEDs fitting into the larger cupped ends, then it is time for the largest LEDs to be used to light the main engines. A number of holes should be drilled through the rear bulkhead to permit insertion of the lights, with the correct diameter for each hole called out along the way. As you’d imagine, the large blue LEDs are for the four largest engines, with four smaller ones for the smaller secondary engines. The location of the holes for the tiny glittering lights and their fibre-guides in amongst the greeblies is left up to you, but a small length of the side is shown with examples of where you could place them. Checking your references to see where they appear would be wise, although 100% accuracy would take more effort than most of us could muster in a lifetime! The only item you will need to acquire in addition is a 2A MicroUSB Power Supply Unit (PSU), which are cheap and easy to find anywhere from in your drawers to eBay or Amazon. It would be expensive and difficult to supply a unit with the kit, as there are far too many mains plug styles for a small company to keep up with, and you’ll only need one style unless your Star Destroyer is going travelling with you. For my purposes I grabbed a MicroUSB cable from my drawer and plugged it into a USB socket in a nearby double wall plug, which did the job just perfectly as it can supply 3.1A if necessary. It’s a lighting kit right? so you turn it on and the lights are there. Right? Nope. This set has a programmed start-up sequence coded into the little computer, which removes the unrealistic and toy-like initial 0-100% blaze of lights, and substitutes a lengthy start-up sequence that builds to a crescendo and incorporates elements of flicker into the main engine lights, as well as sequenced lighting of the fibre-guide LEDs, so if you’re clever with locating them, they should shimmer into life as each LED comes online. The drive flicker doesn’t show up as well in the video below, but it looks really cool in the flesh so will bring your model to life in a major way. One other thing you might need to pick up is an extension cable for the MicroUSB socket to allow you to plug your PSU into a convenient port in a base or beneath the model somewhere out of the way. Those are pretty cheap to pick up too, and if you wanted to convert from MicroUSB to USB-C, which is the current de rigeur connector, that’s your opportunity. You could always bury a USB battery pack in your base to free yourself from the tyranny of a wired connection. Hyperbole’s the best thing EVER!!!!! With lighting any model you will need to consider light leaks, and also take precautions such as spraying the interior of the model with a light defeating black or some other coloured paint. Hot glue can also be your friend when it comes to securing wires or fibre-guide around the inside of your model, as can be tape, zip-ties and many other tools I’ve not thought of. I recorded some video with my DSLR in “daylight” as well as with the lights off, which should give a reasonable representation of the effects and start-up sequence of the set. It’s a first for me (almost), so please excuse the un-fancy presentation. Conclusion If you don’t have the time, the inclination or the skill to create your own complex and programmed lighting set for this impressively large kit, this is the perfect short-cut. It is designed with this exact kit in mind, and uses high quality fixtures and fittings to create a comprehensive package. Imagine having to do all of this work yourself. Where to start? Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Star Wars Star Destroyer Engine Bells & Shield Generators (10120-1/5000 for Bandai) 1:5000 GreenStrawberry Star Destroyers. It’s just occurred to me that despite their name, they can’t even destroy planets, which was why the Death Star was created - as Alderaan found out to their cost. Still, it’s a cool name. Apart from Tantive IV, known at the Blockade Runner in the olden days, the Star Destroyer was the first ship to hit the screen at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode IV. Bandai have the Far Eastern kit rights to the Star Wars franchise, but those kits are so nice that they keep finding their way to our shores here in the West. GreenStrawberry are big Sci-Fi fans, and have a ton of sets for these kits and many others to improve the detail and accuracy of these kits. This set is intended for the recent Bandai 1:5000 Star Destroyer kit, which although quite a bit larger than the usual 1:72 kits of fighters and so on, can still be improved upon. The set arrives in a small dark-themed box, and inside are five resin parts and a fret of Photo-Etch (PE). The three larger parts are the replacement engine bells without the thick fluted lips of the kit parts. They still have holes in the centre for the lighting kit if you’re lucky enough to have that variant (Brag: I do!), and the three surrounding baffles that are visible at the very tip of the engine bells are supplied on the PE sheet together with a more in-scale fluted section of the engine bell that should be rolled to match the size of the bells and is attached on a tiny dropped lip inside the edge - you can just see that in the picture below. The other two resin parts are the shield generator “golf balls” that sit atop either side of the bridge superstructure. They are moulded on small casting blocks with a central support section, around which the visible PE structure is fitted. The PE part has the support shape etched-in, so that you can glue the resin ball in place before you begin to fold it to shape. Before the outer struts are folded up, the inner ladder-like supports are folded up and glued in place on the etched squares that gives them a good contact patch. With those fitted, and there are 12 for each generator, the outer legs are folded up to touch the underside of the faceted spherical skin. The completed generators are glued into the space left by removing the chunky kit supports, after which the tiny little antennae are glued to the top at the intersection of the facets, as per the accompanying diagram. A scrap diagram shows how the supports should look from the side to assist in placement. As an aside, you can see some holes in the model that have been drilled to accept fibre-optics later in the build in these pictures. Conclusion Another great set from GreenStrawberry. A little delicate folding will be needed to do it justice, and those tiny antennae are best left off until the end. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Venator Class Clear Resin Panels (10420-1/2274 for Revell) 1:2274 GreenStrawberry We reviewed the FruitPACK set for the Revell Republic Star Destroyer in 1:2274 here a little while ago, which included a set of much more detailed resin side panels, where all the greeblies are found between the top and bottom hull halves. This set is from the same moulds, but has been cast in clear resin for anyone wishing to light their model, but not wanting to go down the fibre-optic route. With this set you can light the interior and just lightly drill out or even scratch off the paint after you’re done. The set arrives in a standard large GreenStrawberry dark themed box, with ten clear resin parts, a single grey resin bow hangar bay entrance, and a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) that forms the bay doors to close off the innards. To prepare the parts for use, you will need to remove the casting blocks, which are inset from the edges to reduce the chances of damage. There is a substantial amount of clean-up that a motor tool (Dremel) will help speed up, but remember that resin dust is harmful, so wear a mask and for the sake of clean-up, try to do it outside if you can. You’ll need to cut away some of the vertical sections of the hull halves too, so take note of where they are for later use. The side hangar doors are folded into two layers to be inserted into the aperture, and the same happens in the bow hangar. Speaking of the bow hangar, the kit hull halves have to be thinned around the nose before fitting the resin part, all of which is covered in the instructions. Conclusion These clear resin inserts provide the modeller with a simple method of lighting your model if you aren’t fond of fibre-optics or creating the light enclosures that they usually require. When compared to the kit parts, they’re a massive improvement on the soft plastic detail with much better definition and sharpness. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Colonial Viper Mk.II & Mk.VII Updates (for Moebius/Revell) 1:32 GreenStrawberry It’s quite a while since the revitalised and re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (BSG) hit our screens, running from 2004 to 2009 through five series and a spin-off covering some of the exploits of the Pegasus, as well as a short-lived prequel series about the events leading up to the Cylons’ devastating attack on the colonies. Galactica’s flee from the Cylon onslaught was covered by the mighty Viper fighters and their brave pilots, initially the Mk.II was drawn out of retirement through necessity, but later joined by a small quantity of Mk.VIIs that had been separated from the communications network that had been their downfall during the fall of the 12 Colonies. With the network gone, the Cylons couldn’t easily infiltrate and disable them, so they could be used again. These new sets from GreenStrawberry are designed with the Moebius kits in mind, their own reboxings as well as their reboxing by Revell some years later. They’re nice kits, but will benefit from upgrades either from the existing GreenStrawberry sets, or some of these new ones that add a little diorama possibility into the mix, by adding standing crew and some hangar details that could embellish a hangar scenario. You can pick and choose from those available to suit your needs, and all but the Photo-Etch (PE) gear bay set arrive in small boxes, with the resin and PE components in heat-sealed bags, the PE in Ziploc bags, and folded instructions adding extra protection to the parts. Colonial Pilot (132009-1/32) This set turns up in a small box, with ten parts in grey resin, and another two in clear resin. The figure is moulded with legs, torso, arms and head as separate parts, and offers choices for the pilot’s head and helmet. You can use the bare head and have the empty helmet in his hands, or you can substitute the helmeted head, although you’ll need to be careful when painting the face through the visor aperture. There are two clear resin visors included, and you should be able to polish them to a clear gloss if you don't mess up the face painting. Additional parts include the pilot’s pistol on his hip, two larger pouches on his belt at his back and another smaller one at the front. The final resin part is a circular base with deck plating and grating moulded in so that you can pose him separately without creating a full diorama base. The spare heads might also come in handy if your boxing has a resin figure with a solid visor, which is a nice bonus if you’re not afraid of a little light decapitation at your workbench. You’ll need to check your references for painting your model, as the instructions deal solely with the construction of the figure. It’s a good excuse to re-watch the show though, which is nice. Colonial Viper Mk.VII Seat (10020-1/32 for Moebius) The set arrives in a small box like the pilot’s, and contains a complete replacement for the kit’s horribly simple seat in resin, having very naturalistic cloth effect for the cushions that look like they’ve seen some butts. The seat is a single resin part, and is accompanied by a good-sized PE sheet, which contains a seat-base with inserts to represent the bolts holding it down. It also includes a full set of well-detailed five-point seatbelts that have highly realistic furniture, and even have extra parts that represent the attachment points of the belts on the base of the seat. With sympathetic painting and some care, they should look very realistic. Colonial Hangar Equipment Vol.1 (11820-1/32 for Moebius) This set arrives in a larger box, and is a boon to anyone wishing to depict their Viper or Raptor models from Moebius/Revell, which are all scaled to 1:32. The set is mixed resin and PE, and contains seven resin parts, plus two sheets of PE. From these you can make up a step-platform, an access ladder, and you also have two drums to dot around the hangar. The platform is made entirely from PE, which folds up to create a three-step platform that would be useful for a maintenance situation. The access ladder consists of a resin base, into which the two tubular frames slot, after having the moulding flash removed between the tubing. Then a number of tread-plated steps are made up and attached across the small diagonal rungs running up the frames, with a larger standing platform at the top, plus another small step. Finally, a stiffening strip is attached under the top step, with a tube surrounding it thanks to a slot in one side, and a choice of widths to allow a better fit. The two drums are each single parts, and just need their casting blocks removed, then any clean-up that may be required before painting them a suitable colour. Colonial Viper Mk.II Wheel Bay (10720-1/32 for Moebius) The Mk. II is a product of an earlier level of technology in the BSG universe, resembling the original series’ Vipers very closely. They were about to be part of the museum that Galactica was to become when the Cylons attacked, so they were brought back to fighting condition for the next five series of combat. This set suffers from an initial misnomer, as none of the Vipers have wheels, but ignoring that there’s detail in abundance on show with this set. It arrives in the dark-themed flat-pack we’ve come to know and love, and contains two sheets of brass PE, one large, the other slightly smaller. The first task is to remove a lower portion of the rear-upper fuselage to make space for the bays, plus another bay cut out of the underside of the fuselage, centring on the cut-out beneath the nose gear aperture that is laid over it later. The nose gear leg itself is relieved of its tab, then the nose bay is folded up from a single part that has extra layers added behind to give it some depth. Once this is glued within the bay, the cut-out you made earlier can be checked and adjusted if necessary. The nose gear leg has its base extended by a box of PE that is detailed with side panels to obtain the correct height of the new bay. The main bays on the kit are merely holes in the underside of the fuselage, into which the gear legs are glued. All this is remedied by firstly adding detail skins around the base of the legs that are just inside the aperture with a set of parts to hide the bland plastic, then a single double-width bay roof is folded up from the large parts on the smaller fret. There are a lot of small folds required, so make sure you have your PE pliers handy, as the results will be impressive and worth the effort. The bay is inserted into the lower fuselage, and two bulkheads are attached at the ends after being detailed with extra parts, using a folded lip to give the structure more strength. New bay doors are then laminated up and have separate hinges added before they are glued into position to each side of the three bays. Conclusion The BSG ships are still pretty iconic and good-looking ships that have only been kitted in styrene by Moebius in 1:32 and 1:72, and while they’re great in outline, their interiors and bays are lacking by modern standards. This range of sets from those good people from GreenStrawberry gives the modeller a serious choice of excellent detail upgrades. Choose from any of these sets, or the ones we’ve reviewed previously, such as the nozzles for the Viper Mk.II, FruitPACK detail set for the Viper Mk.VII, and for the other Moebius kit of the Raptor, all of which are a huge boost to the details. So say we all. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Waterslide Decals for Slave 1 Boba Fett (1004) & Jango Fett (1006) 1:144 GreenStrawberry Slave 1 first appeared in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with bounty hunter Boba Fett at the controls, following Han & Leia on their journey to Cloud City on the gas giant Bespin, with all the Lando shenanigans that ensued. It also appeared in the Prequel series in an earlier blue and yellow themed paint scheme in the hands of (SPOILERS) Boba’s father, Jango Fett. It seems that father and son were both guilty of leaving repairs and maintenance at the bottom of their to-do list, as they were shabby but functional in both trilogies, with Jango having the edge on Boba, although time was on his side, so it’s about even. The kit from Bandai has been released as Boba Fett’s version (0200638) and Jango’s version (0215637) in different boxings, and GreenStrawberry have produced these two sets, one for each. They are my favourite source of Sci-Fi detail sets, and the decals aim to help with that issue of highly weathered paint that is seen on many Star Wars kits. They have a new but expanding range that so far that extends to the Super Star Destroyer, Star Destroyer and the Death Star, all of which have complex paint schemes in a relatively small scale. The set arrives in a clear film package with their usual dark-themed card wrapped around a stiff card insert, two sheets of decals and instructions on where to put them. The decals are very well detailed with multiple colours, lines and paint damage that will bring out the best in your model, with the visual guide showing you where each individual part goes. The printing is crisp with good registration, colour density and sharpness, and will look best when laid down on a light greyish coat of paint that has been glossed to obtain better adhesion. My go-to Star Wars paint is Xtracrylix XA1137, as you can see that the blue paper is giving a very slight darker cast to the lighter colours. Boba Fett’s Slave 1 (1004) Jango Fett’s Slave 1 (1006) The instructions state that some adjustment of the decals might be needed depending on how well they are applied, or in case the decals stretch due to fitting around curved surfaces, which on Star Wars kits, there are many. Just take it slow, do things one at a time, and ensure that nearby decals are fully settled down and dry before moving onto the next one. Conclusion The detail and intricacy of the paint, chipping and scarring is excellent thanks to some high quality graphics, which will doubtless give a far more impressive finish than a lot of us can manage with a paint brush, airbrush and weathering tools. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Star Wars Venator Class Republic Attack Cruiser FruitPACK (FP12) 1:2274 GreenStrawberry When Mr Lucas announced that the Star Wars universe was expanding after a long hiatus with a prequel trilogy planned, everyone got quite excited, although this was tempered by the dreadful opening crawl that wittered on about trade agreements and had us all nodding off. That was then and this is now, where a great many of us have begun to reassess the Prequels in a new light, but I still think that some of it’s a bit hokey in places (especially the dialogue). One of the more believable new pieces of hardware was the grandad of the Star Destroyer, the Venator Class Republic Attack Cruiser, carrying Clone Troopers and lots of fun hardware, often under the command of a Jedi Knight, which was the source of the other colloquial name of Jedi Cruiser. The FruitPACK This is an amalgamation of three sets that are available from GreenStrawberry, containing resin and Photo-Etch (PE) sheets to give your model a massive boost in detail. The Revell Venator kit has been around since 2005, with the most recent reboxing in 2016, so by now there are probably thousands in stashes waiting for a en excuse to ramp up the details, which are a little sparse and chunky in places. The set arrives in a taped together double-box in black, with the usual Greenstrawberry branding throughout, and it’s a simple task to open it up by cutting open the broad sticker at strategic places, leaving the whole thing adhered to the box. There are two sets in one box, one in the other, comprising the following: 09520-1/2274 Engine & Exterior set 09620-1/2274 Main Hangar 09720-1/2274 Side Panels Of the three, the Main Hangar is the largest, as it forms a large T-shape within the hull of the ship, and all of this is replicated in resin and PE. The engine & exterior set does exactly what it says, while the Side Panels form the “greeblie” infested vertical sections between the top and bottom hull parts, adding massively to what’s normally there. As a side note, there is also a clear set of Side Panels (10420-1/2274), which we’ll look at shortly once we’ve given our full attention to this monster of a set. As usual we’ll deal with each section individually, as they’re also available separately, in case you want to focus attention on one portion of the ship or other. We’ll also be reviewing the lighting kit, which is truly amazing, and comes programmed with start-up sequence and various flickering effects. The resin is separated within heat-sealed channels in a larger polythene bag, and the PE is in a Ziploc bag, with a piece of black paper separating two sheets in one set. The instructions are folded into four, adding some extra protection to the package along with the inflated bags that the resin parts are supplied in. Resin Tips Resin usually comes attached to its pour block, which is where the resin is poured into the mould and acts as an overflow and bubble-catcher for more rustic manufacturers that don’t have access to pressure casting methods. These will have to be removed before you can assemble or paint the parts, so there will be a little extra time needed to prepare the model for construction. With resin, you should take the precaution of wearing a mask when cutting or sanding it, as the tiny particles are harmful to your health if breathed in. Washing the parts in warm water will also improve the adhesion of paint, as there may still be some moulding release agent on the parts when you receive them. Take care not to use water that is too hot, as this may cause deformation to more delicate parts, and this technique can conversely be used to fix warped parts, using cold water to “freeze” the changes in the parts. Engines & Exterior (09520-1/2274) The first task of this set is to remove the moulded-in bay from the underside of the hull, then build up the replacement, which bears a familial resemblance to the “original” from 1977. The bay is made up from a single larger area, with a smaller section attached to one end with a separate roof for the smaller part. This is a shuttle bay, and if you have superior sculpting skills or the Hangar set, you could put something in there for the determined viewer. PE parts are used next to layer up the details around the sides, with two large panels set in the roof, and another even smaller PE bay folded up with tons of small structures along the sides, and a large overhead crane that runs through the main and smaller resin bays, with a set of grabbing arms on a cab. The bay edge is lined with two-layer comb-like parts, and a flat bulkhead behind the bay is given a detail skin, after which the bay is inserted from within. The twin bridges and their fins are next to be augmented, removing the raised windows from around the lower section and the fronts of the twin bridge sections, in preparation for later work. The front of the bridges are wrapped with PE skins that include more realistic recessed windows, and a flat circular panel on the roof, which is of course carried out twice. At the rear of the bridges, another detailed skin panel is fitted to the lower rear with more recessed windows and frames etched in, with more applied to both the sides of the structure, plus another triangular raised section that sits on the sloped front of the bridge. To each side of the bridge are four gun emplacements, which are replaced entirely with new resin parts on both sides that further embellish the top of this large ship. At the rear of the hull above the engines, a pair of new skins are applied to a diagonal panel on each side of the base on which the superstructure and bridge are fitted. The huge engines of the Venator Class are quite visible, the smaller ones being enclosed in long cylindrical fairings. These are made up from two parts, and for the upgrade, the kit's simplified exhaust cones are first removed, then fitted with a folded up set of blades that form a crown within the trunk. The new resin exhaust cones are made of two parts, the outer surface and an inner set of blades on a circular section, which slides inside the outer. These are glued onto the fairings to replace the removed parts, and this is carried out in identical pairs that can then be attached to the model as normal. The four larger engines are built up in a similar manner, but with the radial fins glued into the back of the insert before it is slid inside the larger outer cone. There are four cylinders that fit into the back of the cones, which have their tips cut off and are glued to the back of the PE ring that finishes off the back of the exhaust. Another PE crown is inserted into the short trunk with the blades pointing outward, and is joined by another that has its blades folded inward, with the new exhaust cone and rods inserted into the end. Again, this is carried out in pairs due to slight differences between the exhausts. The smallest exhausts are simply chopped off their trunk, and have new exhausts added to replace them. The final two parts of PE sheet are fixed to the underside of the gigantic “stinger” that splits the pairs of exhausts, finishing off that area. Side Panels (09720-1/2274) This set is almost a drop-in replacement for the kit parts, if you ignore the removal of the parts from their casting blocks, which can in places be left quite rough on the reverse if you aren’t planning on lighting the model (shame on you!). It comprises a collection of eleven resin parts, and a sheet of PE that contains lots of small details. The first activity is to remove the supports from the tip of the bow under the hull, which is where there is a bay door for the ships it carries. The edges are also thinned to better accommodate the parts, with test-fitting always a good idea in situations like this. The side panels consist of four sections for the various facets of the ship, one of which is a side-facing bay. This has a PE bay door applied in two layers before it is glued in place. This is of course repeated on the other side in mirror-image. The bow is open at this stage, and needs its bay door inserting, which is again closed off with a two-layer PE door, with small PE parts added to each side after being folded to shape as per the instructions. The final parts completes the detail on the squared-off side panel just forward of the engine bulkhead. Main Hangar (09620-1/2274) This set is the larger of the three, and adds a huge area inside the ship that will be visible from the bow and side bay doors, providing you remember to leave them open. It consists of fourteen resin constructional elements, plus sixteen blocks with a number of vehicles and ships that will be used to detail the completed assembly. A PE fret of small parts also adds detail to the ships that can’t be done easily in resin at that size. Construction begins similarly to the Side Panels set, removing the upstands in the bow, but adding the side bay upstands into the removal process. The bay is roughly T-shaped, and is created from the trapezoid aft section, which is joined to two straight sections that extends all the way to the nose bay. All the parts so far have “windows” in their sides that are the doorways to small bays where ships are parked and worked upon between missions. The bow bay exit fixes to the last bay section, and the smaller bays are attached to the sides, lined up with the doorways as they are fixed in place. There are five of these bay sections, and they will of course need painting before they are attached, unless you have an L-shaped paint- or airbrush. The kit (or replacement resin) side bay doors are attached to the sloped ends of the aft bay, and the whole assembly is dropped into the hull and glued in place. I’d be tempted to test-fit and glue these parts in place within the hull to ensure that you don’t “bake in” an element of twist or unevenness. The various ships, vehicles and hangar bay storage can be put in any position you want within the bays before you put the four-part roofs on the bay, then invite anyone that might be remotely interested to peek down almost the full length of the hull to see your handywork. I left the accessories until last, as they’re the fun part, and will probably take you a while to make and paint. You get the following in the box: 5 x All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE) 20 x Republic Attack Gunship 20 x (Assault?) Shuttle 15 x ARC-170 Starfighter 5 x Low Altitude Assault Transport/carrier (LLAT/c) 12 x boxes of supplies of various shapes and sizes Each vehicle has a resin core with PE parts added along the way. The AT-TEs also have a resin gun for the roof, and six tiny legs to hold it up, applied in a number of stages. The ARC-170s have their wingtip weapons attached, and the LLATs have the carriage mechanism added under the belly, after removing the parallel casting support that each of them has. The shuttles are really small, so it’s tricky to identify them definitively but they are detailed with PE wings and a top fin for each one. The gunships come fully-formed, even down to the top-mounted pointed fairings. A couple of my ARC fighters had a slight casting issue, but as there are 20 of them, you can afford to have a few mistakes or short-shots before you run short. Conclusion It’s a mind-melting set with so many extra details that it would make anyone’s mind boggle, so treat each part as an individual model and work accordingly to complete each element. When it’s done it will definitely blow people’s minds, as well it should. It’s not a cheap set, but it has a lot of content that has taken a great deal of care and talent to create. When I got my kit this was my dream set, but it wasn’t available at the time, so I've been waiting patiently ever since I found out about it. It really does beg for the lighting effects kit to be installed to light up the engines and all the other parts with this set. We’ll be reviewing the lighting set shortly, but suffice to say, it’s a comprehensive almost plug-and-play solution that just needs a MicroUSB power supply. That’s a story for another day though. Incredibly highly recommended. Out of stock at time of writing, but check back regularly – it’ll be back soon. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Lando’s Millennium Falcon FruitPACK (FP11 for Bandai) 1:144 GreenStrawberry The story of Han Solo’s younger years filled in a lot of blanks for many Star Wars fans, although Solo: A Star Wars Story got a luke warm reception thanks to the then-recent divisive sequels, that maybe it didn’t deserve, if it had been judged on its own merits. I say that with my Star Wars fan hat on, which is just the thing to watch what is a Space Opera at its heart, and allowing for the jarring sight of someone else playing the titular part because Harrison Ford has unsurprisingly aged markedly in the 40 plus years since the original film – it took a bit of getting used to, but I got there in the end. I’m also not one to over-analyse things, and can enjoy films that defy physics and sometimes logic (I do have limits though). One major point of interest for me was the introduction of the Millennium Falcon in its original factory-fresh guise under Lando Calrissian’s stewardship, before that fateful game of sabacc that led indirectly to the Kessel Run incident. It was clean, white and streamlined, with a shuttle that fitted snugly in between those two cargo-handling mandibles, and even sported a set of blue go-faster stripes. Han had ruined that by the end of the film though, leaving it a smouldering write-off by the final scene. The Set This is a detail set of Photo-Etch (PE) that is intended to upgrade the excellent Bandai kit of the youthful Falcon, adding detail where Bandai has simplified or omitted. Even Bandai can’t work miracles with styrene alone. We’ve got the FruitPACK in for review, which puts two smaller sets in a thick card envelope to offer a one-stop-shop for the detail, with a discount into the bargain. It arrives in the aforementioned card envelope, and the two sets are found inside in their original packaging that adds more protection to the sheets within. The two sets are also available separately from the FruitPACK, so I’ll drop some links in at the bottom of the review in case someone doesn't want both, and we’ll deal with the sets individually to simplify things. Lando’s YT-1300 Millennium Falcon (09119-1/144) This set contains a large sheet of bare brass PE, and a self-adhesive sheet of printed instrument panels and other details that are integrated during painting to further enhance realism. It starts with the shuttle, adding detailed afterburner-style exhausts by putting new stand-offs on the kit parts and adding a new layer to each of the four exhaust bells. The bulkeads to the sides have grilles behind their outlets too, after which attention turns to the cockpit, which is fairly similar to the one we know and love, although a lot cleaner and less distressed. The upgrade begins with removal of some parts from the simple interior floor part that has seats moulded in, replacing the steering-yoke and adding more detail to the front of the area. A new rear bulkhead is made for the cockpit using the stickers to detail it with the masses of instruments and flashing lights, which should be capable of being replicated by shining a light through the perforated bulkhead to illuminate the printed portions. More stickers are applied to the centre and side consoles, then an interior skin is folded into a faceted half cylinder and detailed with more PE and stickers before it is fixed over the aft portion of the cockpit. New headboxes are made up for the aft seats, some of the moulded-in detail and friction-fit turrets are removed from inside top of the outer skin, then new side consoles are made up from angled PE panels with stickers applied over them, then they are glued to the cockpit sidewall. Outside the cockpit on the side of the hull is a prominent semi-circular vent, with another on the other side, which is covered by a PE grille, with another long strip wrapped around the transition from tapering cockpit to the tunnel behind it. The Falcon has two gun positions in its centre, one at the top, one in the bottom of the hull, which from the box are fairly sparse. The set includes new detailed skins that are formed up and placed on a faceted ring behind the glazing to give it the depth that it should have. More stickers are included to give the area some life, with the rest being painted according to your references. Grilles This smaller set contains two sheets of PE, which are laminated into a set of super-detailed exhausts that are found on the aft deck of the Falcon in a fan-shaped array of six. The kit part that surrounds these exhausts has the moulded-in representations removed and is then backed by three curved parts that support the following steps. The assembly is flipped over and the new parts added into the new deeper recess. The circular lower supports have two layers, plus a central disc to allow enough stand-off for the new fans. These are etched as a single part with the blades attached, which are tweaked slightly to form the angled fan shape, then a central detailed disc is glued over the blank section in the middle. They are fixed into the recesses, and a two-layer grille is placed over the apertures, taking care to align the long ribs toward the front so that they converge slightly towards the front, as shown by the red lines on the instructions. A big improvement on the kit parts. Conclusion The Bandai Falcons are well-detailed for the most part, especially considering their snap-together nature, but you can always improve on styrene that has been engineered for mass-production, and this set does just that with lots of lovely details to draw the eye. Highly recommended. FruitPack (FP11) Detail Set (09119-1/144) Grilles (07719-1/144) Review sample courtesy of
  24. Babylon 5 The Station (09420-1/19660 for Revell) 1:19660 GreenStrawberry Babylon 5 was a ground-breaking American Sci-Fi TV show, or Space Opera from the mid-to-late 1990s that broke a few records, being amongst the first shows to utilise the then nascent Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) instead of the usual miniatures and mattes for the space ships and exterior action, plus a great deal of CGI used in expanding the sets that the humans were later placed in. It also had a five-season story arc, rather than the usual piecemeal show-by-show or season-by-season approach, which in itself gave the show a loyal viewership that stuck with them long after the show was over, and still has fans today. Of course, some of the CGI looks long in the tooth now, and the costumes and hairstyles haven’t aged well, but if you look past those aspects the show still has legs. They had to shorten the story arc to four seasons when they were threatened with cancellation, but the reprieve left them with a season to make without the Shadows, but they managed to pull it off reasonably successfully, with a few straight to DVD movies in the following years. Babylon 5 also had some cool ships, some of which Revell kitted at the time, and although they’re sometimes hard to find now, there must be many Bab 5 kits still in stashes just waiting for this set to arrive and pull the kit detail out of the doldrums. I’m lucky enough to have a boxless kit of the Babylon 5 station in my stash, so when I heard of this set I was pleased, to say the least. It arrives in a clear foil envelope with the usual dark themed card interior within, showing off one of the frets. Holding the package in my hand reveals the weight of more than one fret of Photo-Etch (PE) in the package, and when the resealable outer is opened, it deploys seven sheets of bare brass between sheets of protective black paper that are almost the size of the pack, and there are three different gauges of brass that have been used. Structural components have been etched from 0.2mm sheet, while the more detail-focused parts etched in 0.1mm gauge. The rest are in 0.12mm (ish) sheet that has strength without being too thick or resistant to bending. Construction begins with the removal of the ribs around the main habitat drum and the removal of a raised block where the docking bay entrance should be. The ribs are then replaced by new parts that folded into shape with a lot more detail, with skins added to the curved “prongs” that project over the bulge behind the docking bay. The spine of storage and manufacturing areas that run along the top of the drum, called the “top array” in the kit instructions is decorated with new skins from end-to-end over the next few steps, including details for the sides of the trapezoid boxes on the mid-section. The zero-G docking area “tuning fork” that overhangs the docking hub is also given a detailed skin plus a number of triangular webs underneath, a docking bay aperture below, details for the ring, and an assembly above the fork that I think represents the Tachyon emitter. The rest of the set is a complete replacement for the sails that fit on the “side array” toward the aft of the habitation drum, with six sails per side that first need removing. The new sails are made up each from three layers, the centre being the strong thicker gauge, the two detail skins having fine patterning etched into the surface. They are then surrounded by frame parts on each side and finished by two attachment lugs that then glue onto the short length of remaining plastic between the top and bottom sails. When they are attached to the array, a set of detail skins are fixed to the connection as well as the array surface, completing the upgrade. Conclusion My main issue with the base kit was always the complete lack of serious detail of the parts, although I had a reckless plan to replicate much of it with paint, but if you know me you just know that would never happen! This set makes all my silly plans redundant, and upgrades a so-so kit into a good one. If you’re lucky enough to have one in the stash, or plan on hunting one down, this set is a must-have if you have the skills to fold some PE and remove a bit of styrene from the kit. (yes, I know there's a typo on the package label) Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Star Destroyer Decals (1005 for Bandai 001) 1:14500 GreenStrawberry The Star Destroyer was the first Imperial ship to be seen in the iconic opening scene of Star Wars, that some strange people now refer to as “A New Hope”. To me it will always be Star Wars, because I’m of a certain age. Bandai have been working hard to fill lots of gaps in the available Star Wars kits for a few years now since they took up the mantle from Fine Molds when the Sequel Trilogy began, and they have a huge range of kits now, including the Vehicle range that this set of decals is intended for. They are pocket-friendly kits both in size and cost, but painting details at such a small scale can be taxing to us modellers with normal skills. I’ve had the original Vehicle scale Star Destroyer on my desk since it was first released because I became locked into an indecision-loop on how best to paint it. I’m sure I’m not alone. This set from GreenStrawberry, my favourite source of Sci-Fi detail sets, aims to help with that issue for this kit and they have a new but expanding range that so far extends to the Super Star Destroyer and the Death Star, both of which have complex paint schemes in such a small scale, plus a few others for the two variants of Slave-1. The set arrives in a clear film package with their usual dark-themed card package wrapped around a stiff card insert, a sheet of decals and instructions on where to put them. The decals are very well detailed with multiple colours, lines and greeblies that will bring out the best in your model, with the visual guide showing you where each individual part goes. The printing is crisp with good registration, colour density and sharpness, and will look best when laid down on a light greyish coat of paint that has been glossed to obtain better adhesion. My go-to Star Wars paint is Xtracrylix XA1137, so that’s what I’ll be using once I find the bloomin’ model! I intend to use this set to demonstrate the effect of the decals, as I think they will do a better job than I ever could with my shaky hands and poor eyesight. Although the decal printers aren’t named on the sheet, the colour of the backing paper and style of print reminds me of the decals often used by the likes of Special Hobby or Eduard, who are also in Czechia as the Czech Republic is now known. They will doubtless settle down well with the use of your preferred decal solution, and as long as you don’t try to rush it and apply more decals in one session than is sensible, the results should be excellent. Conclusion I got quite excited when I saw these sets in GreenStrawberry’s recent newsletter, and was very keen to try them out. I went looking for my completed Star Destroyer kit and found it, and hope to show you the results when I’m done. There is also an alternative set for the personal Star Destroyer of Admiral Thrawn, who appeared in some of the well-loved books that are still considered canon under Disney’s ownership, and had a rather fancy scheme applied to his ship to pick him out from the crowd. I’ve added a link to that below. Highly recommended. Star Destroyer (1005) Admiral Thrawn's Chimera Star Destroyer (1001) Review sample courtesy of
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