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F-14 Tomcat


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I know, I know - this gets raised regularly. I got myself in a right old overthinking state trying to relive my youth and one of the last models I made as a youngster before rediscovering modelling recently.

 

Probably just under 40 years ago I made an F-14 Tomcat. I can't remember what brand (I'd guess Airfix), I can't even remember if it was 1/48 or 1/72. But I remember the wings swung in sync. To me at the time it was quite a big model (but I was smaller then). And it had the VF-1 Wolfpack decals. Which to me at the time (and now probably) was important as the VF-1 F-14 adorned the cover of my much loved 'Encyclopedia of World Air Power' that I spent many hours poring over, I still possess and now my 10 yr old son gets great pleasure from.

 

That model is long gone probably in landfill somewhere. It's a model I'd like to revisit (as closely as possible) it's an itch I need to scratch. I'm not too worried about detail, historical accuracy. I just want a challenge that I is fun for me and my son to enjoy and a nice looking model that will reward mine and my son's time and hard work. 

 

I'm also a cheapskate 🤣

 

Options I can see. Hobby Boss 1/72 F-14A Wolfpack. Italeri 1/48 F-14A Tomcat are the cheapest. There's a 1/48 Hobby Boss but no Wolfpack (or Jolly Rogers) decals. But I like the HB because it has a nice ladder and raised canopy option.

 

Not sure what I'm even asking really. Just talking aloud coz sometimes a (first world) problem shared is a problem halved.

 

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If you want Wolfpack decals in the box and don't want to stretch to the more expensive kits, you've already identified a couple of options, to which i may add the Academy 1/72 kit, that can be found with these markings. However this is the old mould kit, so IMHO not worth the asking prices I've seen around.

Of the two, well one is bigger and one is smaller... so your choice will likely depend on this aspect. In general the HB kit is better moulded and, with the exception of the cockpit where HB has decals, features better details. On the other hand I consider the Italeri kit more accurate than the Hobbyboss kit and I'm not talking of a few mm here and there: the HB kit is known for some strange quircks, like the lack of intakes on the ventral fins or the front wheel well doors moulded with the fuselage. The tails are also quite suspect in shape and the wings have very heavy raised details around the lights and have slats way too large.

Fit of the HB kit is better, although the cockpit parts do have some gaps. Costwise the Italeri kit is probably more value for money, as can be found for little more than the HB kit even if it's in a larger scale. The decals of the Italeri kit look nice, I've not seen the one in this specific HB kit, the ones in the box I have are IMHO not great

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4 minutes ago, Giorgio N said:

If you want Wolfpack decals in the box and don't want to stretch to the more expensive kits, you've already identified a couple of options, to which i may add the Academy 1/72 kit, that can be found with these markings. However this is the old mould kit, so IMHO not worth the asking prices I've seen around.

Of the two, well one is bigger and one is smaller... so your choice will likely depend on this aspect. In general the HB kit is better moulded and, with the exception of the cockpit where HB has decals, features better details. On the other hand I consider the Italeri kit more accurate than the Hobbyboss kit and I'm not talking of a few mm here and there: the HB kit is known for some strange quircks, like the lack of intakes on the ventral fins or the front wheel well doors moulded with the fuselage. The tails are also quite suspect in shape and the wings have very heavy raised details around the lights and have slats way too large.

Fit of the HB kit is better, although the cockpit parts do have some gaps. Costwise the Italeri kit is probably more value for money, as can be found for little more than the HB kit even if it's in a larger scale. The decals of the Italeri kit look nice, I've not seen the one in this specific HB kit, the ones in the box I have are IMHO not great

 Grazie for your very detailed reply. Food for thought. 

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I had that same book and it inspired me to build the very same Airfix kit. That was many years ago. 😃

 

That was the start of a long love affair with the Tomcat. Having just completed the HB 1/72 kit I can highly recommend it, goes together great and has the markings you need.

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Why not stay true to form and revisit the Airfix, possibly in a 90s boxing (which may or may not have decent and unyellowed decals)? The kit is not bad (at all), though only for very early airframes. As people tend to rate it third-worst, you should be able to get one quite cheap (though I admit my ebay days are long gone, and prices may have changed). Back in he day, you'd be a fool to pay anything approaching 10 €, at least for the first two boxings. Type 6 and 8 are another matter.

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1 hour ago, tempestfan said:

Why not stay true to form and revisit the Airfix, possibly in a 90s boxing (which may or may not have decent and unyellowed decals)? The kit is not bad (at all), though only for very early airframes. As people tend to rate it third-worst, you should be able to get one quite cheap (though I admit my ebay days are long gone, and prices may have changed). Back in he day, you'd be a fool to pay anything approaching 10 €, at least for the first two boxings. Type 6 and 8 are another matter.

 

I must admit. I found a couple of boxes of the Airfix kit David above mentioned on the dreaded 'Bay. I did have a bit of a further dig around the Scalemates website. I think IIRC this was the model I had seems about right by the dates. I think it's just a new box however...

 

978951-17841-50-pristine.jpg

 

Sooo. The yellow decals? Would I have to buy a new / aftermarket set?

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Just had a look in my kit list - I have managed to accumulate 13 of the Airfix kits (I wonder how hat could happen 🙂 - but most of them were cheap) in Type 5, 6, 8 Palitoy and 8 Humbrol boxes. Those above may be either one of the latter. In fact, my sealed Palitoy version would have bought 5 or 6 of the others, as the cheapest was a mere Euro. And it took me a long time to find one, as it's relatively scarce.

Re decals - there is no hard & fast rule regarding yellowing. Some of the Palitoy era decals came with a deep cream film when new, but definitely not all. If you buy one of the early boxings as shown by David, they may or may not be yellowed (or only very slightly so), and they may or may not work. But if you manage to get one for say a tenner incl. s&h, there may be some change left for a sheet of AM decals.

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You can try to put yellowed decals next to sunny window for a week and so or if you have a source of UV (the UV thing that speeds the cure for nail polish is the popular option) then few hours to a day might take care of it unless the decal film is something funny. Keep in mind that old decals could completely fall apart once you put them in water, they might behave in funny way (like not adhere), etc. However don't get too much into cheap stuff: if airfix model + decal set costs more than HB or some other model kit you probably would be better off with something other than Airfix. Would be a real shame if you are going to spend as much money on Airfix as for a new 1/72 GWH F-14A unless nostalgia feeling.

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23 minutes ago, Doom3r said:

You can try to put yellowed decals next to sunny window for a week and so or if you have a source of UV (the UV thing that speeds the cure for nail polish is the popular option) then few hours to a day might take care of it unless the decal film is something funny. Keep in mind that old decals could completely fall apart once you put them in water, they might behave in funny way (like not adhere), etc. However don't get too much into cheap stuff: if airfix model + decal set costs more than HB or some other model kit you probably would be better off with something other than Airfix. Would be a real shame if you are going to spend as much money on Airfix as for a new 1/72 GWH F-14A unless nostalgia feeling.

I've done a bit of searching on Ebay but those old kits aren't that cheap. Similar money to a more new / recent version. I'm not feeling that  nostalgic about doing the exact same kit. It's more about the livery. I think I may end up splashing the cash on the HB 1/72...

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Now my views may not be completely objective as I'm a big Tomcat fan, anyway I personally wouldn't bother with the Airfix kit unless nostalgia is a big element for you.

The Airfix kit may have been nice when first issued in the '70s but even a few years later it was surpassed by the first mould hasegawa kit so really today it is not third worst, it's something like 8th worst or so. I built one many years ago and while the kit has some nice touches (open airbrakes and IFR probe for example) it also has a lot of flaws, starting with the use of raised panel lines for everything including moving surfaces. Now I understand that some don't mind raised panel lines but having flaps and slats represented as raised panel lines may be a bit too much... The kit didn't fit particularly well, so even from this point of view it's not a kit that would result in a particularly pleasant experience.

Then there are the decals.. they were correct for the construction block that the kit represented and didn't look bad at all. Problem is that as with all old kits they may or may not be useable today. You may be lucky but what if you aren't ?

With the Hobbyboss kit at least you don't risk having to search for decals, I don't know how accuratyte they may be but for sure they will work when you put them on the model.

Mind, not that I rate the Hobbyboss kit particularly high, to me it's a kit that could have been so much better if only HB had looked at a few pictures of the real thing, something that they must have forgotten... At least however you'll get everything you need in a single box, the kit fits pretty well and it's a modern one, with good detail. If you don't mind the various accuracy issues it is an easy option.

 

Now keep in mind that there are other options, however a lot depends on your personal budget: just out of curiosity I checked Kingkit's website and they of course have an Airfix kit with the decals you want for £17, of course a preowned item. Then the Hobbyboss kit, again with VF-1 is available, new, for £22.50. Is the HB kit worth the extra £5.50 ? Personally I'd say so, even if I'm not a fan of this kit.

The same shop however has a Hasegawa new tool Tomcat with VF-1 decals, preowned, for £ 30.... is the Hase kit worth the £7.50 more than the HB one ? IMHO it is worth more than that ! That Hasegawa kit is miles better than the Hobbyboss one. It is however also much more difficult to build, being a very complex kit with many parts, including photoetch details. Being a preowned kit there is some risk that the decals may not be the best but generally with hasegawa decals the problem is that they are a bit on the thick side but they tend to survive quite well the age.

Of course whenever it's time to choose a kit each of us will decide according to many aspects, and cost is one of them. Personally I'd have no doubt and I'd go for Hasegawa if that kit is still available, but as I said I am a big Tomcat fan....

Edited by Giorgio N
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20 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

The Airfix kit may have been nice when first issued in the '70s but even a few years later it was surpassed by the first mould hasegawa kit so really today it is not third worst, it's something like 8th worst or so.

You obviously have misunderstood me Giorgio - thirdWORST means third from the bottom. Only the Monogram which really is a kit of the mock-up and the MB are generally considered even less worthy to build. All I wrote was under the proviso the Airfix kit may (still) be bought cheap. If it's the same price or even more expensive than more modern kits, there's little point in going for it.

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26 minutes ago, tempestfan said:

You obviously have misunderstood me Giorgio - thirdWORST means third from the bottom. Only the Monogram which really is a kit of the mock-up and the MB are generally considered even less worthy to build. All I wrote was under the proviso the Airfix kit may (still) be bought cheap. If it's the same price or even more expensive than more modern kits, there's little point in going for it.

 

Ah, now I understand ! Sorry about that, my mistake. Have to agree, it is really 3rd worst from the bottom... although for a number of reasons I tend to consider the Esci kit as almost as bad as the Airfix one and actually in some aspects it is even worse. I've not seen the Hobbycraft kit though, been told it's a clone of the Esci kit... may well be one even worse than the Airfix one !

 

 

It's been a while since I last saw an Airfix Tomcat going for very cheap, cheapest I've seen around here has been in the € 15 range. That is not bad for a Tomcat kit in general, we can debate of course if it's the right money to spend on that kit.

Cheapest here tend to be, not surprisingly, the Italeri kit, that can be found for €10, but of course they do not include Wolfpack decals.

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