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Hola Compañeros, today I was not sure what to do in my cave, till I remembered the sheer amazement, when I opened the box of my Mig-31 BM-BSM (Limited Edition) kit from AMK or Avantgarde Model Kits. besides the sprues in separated bags, there where some boxes included for special protection of the front fuselage tub, the weapon sprues and the upper fuselage. Than there was a plastic box containing superbly cast white metal parts for the wheel struts, which not only look better than the plastic, but sometimes make living easier, because multi part plastic affairs are cast as single parts. The metal is sturdy and not like this soft SAC stuff. Clear parts are doubled, one in -yeah, clear- one one version in a golden tint and there is a fret of PE The offering is so overwhelming, that there is only minimal need for AM. I bought Brassin wheels, which are definitely nicer than the supplied ones, Canopy masks from HGW and a big sheet of stencils as wet transfers made by HGW. My last more or less modern jet was and Eduard/Academy F15, with lots of fit issues and a stenciling nightmare, because I couldn't get the decals blended into the paintjob. I hope these wet transfers will behave better. When I started building the feeling of near perfectness continued. engineering is great, detail very crisp, the fit is very good and there is minimal cleanup to do. Most parts would just snap fit, you rarely have this with kits. The engines build up fast and are ready for painting. The wheel wells are a piece of art and are prepared for painting too. When you insert the sub assemblies into the fuselage components (snap fit again) and close up the fuselage everything is aligning well, with most of the seamlines hidden, vey clever. Up to this point the kit is a clear 10 on my wow scale and I'm not that easy to excite. Cheers Rob
1:48 MiG-31B/BS Foxhound AvantGarde Model Kits Catalogue # 88008 Available from Hannants for £45.99 The aircraft that looks similar to the machine it was designed to replace, the MiG-25, was actually more than a simple rework with lengthening and a second cockpit. In fact, the MiG-31 was a whole new supersonic interceptor, designed to overcome of the shortcomings of its predecessor. Not only had issues with manoeuvrability been overcome, but the type was capable of a higher Mach speed without rick of engine failure. The type also utilises multiple target tracking technology and the Look Up/Look Down – Shoot Down capability, thanks to its advanced Zaslon radar. As well as high altitude interception, along with the ability to shoot down Cruise missiles, escort high flying bombers, and provide strategic air defence, the MiG-31 also had, unlike the MiG-25, a good ability to provide low-level support, whilst maintaining speed and manoeuvrability. The B series of MiG-31 had an improved refuelling probe as well as avionics that allowed multiple aircraft and ground stations to network with each other and share data so that any one individual MiG-31 could act upon that data and destroy/intercept the target. This system is operated via a data-linking system. Currently, Russian and Kazakhstani air forces operate the MiG-31, and the production period that lasted from 1975 to 1994, saw over 500 of the type built, and it is anticipated that they will remain in service until 2030. Existing ‘B’ frames have now been updated to ‘BM’ status, and BS types are now modernised to what is referred to as BSM, with further-improved target detection. The kit AMK are a pretty new name to the market, but already with a respectable number of impressive releases under their belt, such as the highly detailed 1:48 Fouga Magister, and the Aero Delphin etc. Prior to the release of this MiG-31B/BS version kit, in 2015, AMK released the MiG-31BM/BSM to much fanfare, and the kit has been lauded on various forums and on Facebook. There’s no doubt that the in-progress photos and finished images of this kit do indeed show that this was a very special kit release. There are a number of model manufacturers that do listen to their customers, and AMK do seem to be one, as this next incarnation of their kit includes a number of improvements that had been flagged up by builders of the first kit. These include decals for the Germetika canopy sealant, tinted clear sprue as an alternative to the regular parts, and also a re-engineering of some areas to eradicate those areas where ejection pin marks originally resided. I do know that there are more PE parts in this kit, but no longer the cast weights that the first release had. This review won’t compare this kit to the previous, simply because I don’t have the previous release to hand, so let’s take a nice, simple look at what this new MiG-31B/BS offers the modeller. The box itself is no shrinking violet, being a reasonable size, and quite deep, as well as having a nice weighty feeling to it. A rather nice photo of a real MiG-31 adorns the lid, in art that looks a little too similar to the original release, so remember to check exactly which version of this kit you are picking up or putting in your virtual shopping cart. Lifting that lid shows the first sign of real attention to detail. The sprues themselves are tucked in next to three smaller boxes that contain some of the fancier, larger mouldings. Whilst the bagged sprues aren’t all separately packed into their own clear sleeves, they are well packed, and no damage can be seen across any parts on my sample, including scuffing etc. Under the sprues can be found an instruction manual, two decal sheets and a single fret of photo-etched parts. SPRUE A The centrepiece of this sprue are the two lower wing panels that are interconnected with a skeletal internal framework with beams that are notched out to accept the engine positions. Leading edge slats are separately moulded and alternative pieces mean that you can pose these in a lowered or neutral position. Landing flaps are also separate, but the ailerons are moulded in situ on the upper wing panels. Of course, you wouldn’t wish to dynamically pose these anyway, so I find no problem with this arrangement. Surface detail is very good, with various panels and leading edge areas having recessed rows of rivets, with none on the main wing panels themselves. This detail extends to the two upper panels that are moulded here. The inside areas of upper and lower panels have moulded ribbing that should give rigidity to the wing and prevent any possible warping. Several holes need to be drilled out from within, to accommodate wing pylon/ordnance mounting points. Also on this sprue are the lower faces of the stabilisers, single piece dual rudders, control column, and a few small parts. SPRUE B Not so much of a sprue, as the entire upper fuselage section, with a small secondary part attached to it. This large part is a fine example of intelligent moulding, such as was seen on the 1:48 Academy Phantom fuselage. Here, as with the Phantom, the main part was injected through a small opening on the spine, and this injection point is removed on the final kit. The small attached part is the panel that you just pop into the place where the part was injected. Et Voila! A nice touch. Detailing consists mostly of neat panel lines, with only a few rivets occupying the edges of some panel detail. Moulding of this part extends onto the inboard upper wing areas, and incorporates the whole spine, up to the rear cockpit area. Flip the part over, and a generous usage of stiffening fillets can be seen. SPRUE C AMK’s engineering of the fuselage means that the fin/rudder assemblies are integrally moulded to the rear fuselage sides, lapping just underneath the fuselage itself. Inboard panels for the fins are moulded as separate parts, included on this sprue. Detail is really quite exquisite, with subtle recessed riveting, and a small quantity of raised rivets around the forward area of the leading edge fairing. For those of you who wish to pose your model with dropped landing flaps, you will find them on this sprue, as single parts with simple panel line detailing and no rivets. The drooped inboard wing slats are also here, again as single piece units. Other parts include alternative mounting points to pose the stabilisers in either a neutral or downward position, rear fuselage spine fairing, alternative intake flaps doors for two positions, and the body for the IRST. SPRUE D This occupies one of the three internal boxes, and is a single piece lower fuselage. There is no clean-up to perform here either, as the central opening is where the sprue gate would’ve once been, prior to packing. This part is ready to be used with no clean-up to perform. A complicated-looking part, it includes the engine intake channels, lower belly and sides, and also have the main gear bay openings as well as the rear of the nose gear bay. In short, a large part. It’s actually surprising just how big this model is in 1:48 scale. Pay particular attention to the recessed areas that will house the mounted R-33 missiles. Rivets are again used to outline various panels, and not used wholesale, and the interior of the part is contains various stiffening ribs and some mounting points for the engines and gear bays. SPRUE E There will be next to no seams to remove on this model, as evidenced by the contents of another of the internal boxes. The main player here is the complete fuselage/cockpit section. This is connected to a couple of elaborate injection moulding channels, and the use of some amazing slide moulding means that all you need to do is to snip from the sprue and remove the gate points. Exterior detail is commensurate with that of the rest of the fuselage, and the nose cone is separately moulded on this sprue. Internally, two rails help guide the completed cockpit tub into its final position. The remaining two parts form the air intake outer sections. SPRUE F (x2) Both of these contain parts for the engines, including the fans, interior casings with superbly detailed channel detail. These parts slot together and sit within the main upper/lower engine halves. Other parts here include wheels (non-weighted) that are moulded as halves, and also the hubs, R-33 mounting plates and some gear door actuators. SPRUE G Those engine body halves are moulded here, and if you find a way to actually display these things, then you will have some longitudinal seams to remove. For the majority of us, I suspect, the engines themselves will simply act as carriers for the internals that we’ll see through the intakes and exhausts. However, the external detail on these parts looks excellent, and maybe you can do some surgery and remove a panel or so to display these. The rest of this sprue is a mish-mash of various parts from around the model, including the inner parts of the air intakes. Much of the filigree detail will barely be seen when complete, but you know it’s there! Note the parts that form all three wheel bays, which will be fitted to the intake ducts and the forward lower fuselage. These comprise several panels, all highly detailed with valves, plumbing, tanks and louvres etc. I really do like this level of detail, and it reminds me much of the high-end, larger scale models that I’m used to building. SPRUE H The engine ducts comprise four main parts, onto which the wheel bay detail is mounted. Detail on these is also internal as well as external. I don’t know how much you will see when everything is sealed up, so I’ll dry fit stuff before I just airbrush everything én masse. A key component here is the cockpit tub. This is moulded with some fine console detail that really does look good enough to use without having to resort to aftermarket. Note the cockpit lamps and push button panels. All detail is very sharp. Two cockpit bulkheads that will support the crew seats, are moulded here. SPRUE I The first thing to mention is are the stabiliser parts and the two channels within them that allow the parts to be positioned in either a neutral or downward stance. Wing leading edge slat parts, including neutral and downward position parts, are included here. Parts for neutral stance landing flaps are moulded here. The only thing here that looks disappointing are the lower rear fuselage strakes that have a prominent ejector pin mark on each. Still, they’ll be easy enough to fill, and AMK can be forgiven for this, seeing as the kit is pretty intelligently designed. Parts can be seen here for the nose cone pitot and also for the refuelling probe. SPRUE J (x2) TWO clear sprues are supplied here, both of them identical, save for one of them being moulded in a plastic that resembles the gold tinting that is seen on some cockpits. Trying to replicate this yourself is a nightmare, with all sorts of odd concoctions that I’ve seen that barely look realistic. So, thank you AMK! A nice touch is that parts are included for both open and closed versions, so there is no need to try to make separate parts all align and fit neatly. Note that the actual clear panels are quite small, as befitting the MiG-31 canopy style, with the non-clear areas being frosted. Detail is excellent. Frame definition is also first class, so adding masks to these, or making them yourself, should be an easy job. Parts clatity is also extremely high. SPRUE K A small sprue with weapons mounts/pylons. All of these are moulded as single piece units, and therefore no glued seams to remove. No need to make this any harder than it needs to be, and AMK recognises this. SPRUE L & N These are more sprues that contain a multitude of parts from various areas of this model, including cockpit sidewalls/consoles, solid cockpit hoods incorporating internal detail, instrument panels and coamings, undercarriage doors and other landing gear parts. Take a look at the latter and the level of detail. Unusually, the main gear legs are moulded as halves, with a plastic rod and linkages that sits within. Unless this is due to a constraint in moulding, it’s an unusual approach for something that may have been easier to mould as a single part. Both sprues are moulded as interlinked. SPRUE UA (x2) Each of these contains parts for one crew seat, made up from nine parts each. Unlike the previous release, seatbelts are supplied as PE parts. SPRUES XA (x4), XB (x4), and XE (x2) The last small box within the main package, contains 10 sprues, all concerned with the weapons supplied in this release. These are: 4 x R-33 “AA-9 Amos” 4 x R60M “AA-8 Aphid B” 2 x R-40 “AA-6 Acrid” I have to say that the moulding of these is a real joy to see, with the latter two weapons just needing a snip from their sprues, as they come with fins etc. moulded in situ. The R-33 is more or less of that style, but with the end cap that needs fitting and a couple of small stabiliser sub-fins that just need popping into place. All parts, like the whole kit, appear more or less seamless. Check out the detail on these parts too! Photo Etch For this release, AMK have included a number of parts that weren’t available on the original kit, and these include crew seatbelts and the Zaslon radar plate that can be seen when the nose cone is removed. Other parts are included for the seats too, as well as the original ejection pull loops featured on the original kit. This fret is manufactured in bare brass, and has a sort of frosted texture. Connection points are narrow and also thin, so should be easy to nick through in order to remove the parts. Decals TWO sheets are included here. The most obvious one contains the various national insignia, codes and emblems for all schemes, but also has decals for the various cockpit instrument panels and consoles, plus a series of individual Germatika pink seals for the canopy. These are marked as for inner and outer sides. Take your time with these as they could be tricky to apply if you go at it with some ham-fistedness. The second sheet is a stencil-fest, with hundreds of decals for the airframe and for the missiles. Another nice touch here is that AMK have grouped the decals into areas for port/starboard sides, and for the individual missile types. Printing is excellent, although a couple of small defects exist on two of the Russian stars. Colour is solid too, although the Russian stars look a tad pale to my eyes, but that could be an age thing! All decals are nice and thin, and carrier film is minimal. All decals have a glossy finish. The THREE schemes on offer here are: MiG-31BS, 16 Blue, Russian AF, Chelyabinsk-Shagol AB, 2014 MiG-31BS, 23 Red, Kazakhstan Air Force, 2012 MiG-21B, 73 Blue, training unit, Savasleyka AB Instructions This comes in the form of a glossy, 28 page booklet that opens with a brief history of the MiG-31, followed by several pages of colour scheme profiles. Paint references are supplied for FS codes. Constructional illustration is given by finely drawn images that show as much detail as the parts themselves, but despite the fussiness, seem to be pretty easy to follow. I would’ve liked to seen a different colour text for the PE parts so they are easily identifiable at a glance. Where options are given for things such as dropped slats etc, these are readily identifiable and easy to follow. The final pages in the manual are tied over to stencil application maps, and sprue images. Conclusion After reading the hype surrounding the original kit, and having seen their Fouga Magister, I was expecting quite a lot from this release, and I think that has been more than delivered. The whole package is well presented, with a superbly engineered model that is quite quirky in places with regard to the single piece forward fuselage, missiles etc, but the sheer detail presented in the model, extending to the engines and the wheel bays, look to make this nothing short of a captivating build. For actual schemes, there really wasn’t too much variation with the MiG-31, and this kit reflects that. I also have to say that for the price (Hannants is £45.99), that I think the AMK kit represents excellent value for money with what looks like a satisfying model to build. I’ve been checking out some of the original release builds on various forums, and I really don’t hear a bad word about the kit. I really can’t wait to get stuck into this myself, but first I need to clear the bench of 3 projects! Highly recommended! My sincere thanks to AMK for the review sample seen here. Check out your local store or online hobby shop for this one.