Reviews of scale model kits.

T54 E1 - Smart Kit "Black Label Series"

Published: August 6th, 2017     
T54 E1 - Smart Kit "Black Label Series"
Reviewed by: Gino Dykstra, IPMS# 11198
Scale: 1/35
Company: Dragon Models

You've got to give Dragon Models some real credit - they're willing to put out the oddball kit now and then, and to do it with class. The U.S.-made T54-E1 tank (not to be confused with the Russian T54) was one of the several attempts in the mid-50's to upgrade the M48 from its 90mm gun to something with a bit more punch. Three different approaches to this idea were initially attempted, including this one, which clearly owes its ancestry to the famous French AMX-13 tank developed around the same time. The idea, of course, was that an autoloading main gun would eliminate the need for a human loader, and would permit extremely rapid firing during combat. There were a couple of problems with this idea, however. First, once the nine-round "magazine" was expended, someone typically had to exit the vehicle to reload it - not something you necessarily want to do under fire. Second, early autoloaders were notoriously indiscriminate, happily loading some poor crew member's ARM if nothing else was immediately available (although this may be apocryphal).

Staghound Mk. 1

Published: August 5th, 2017     
Staghound Mk. 1
Reviewed by: Tim Wilding, IPMS# 47420
Scale: 1/35
Company: Italeri


The T17 Staghound Mark I armored car was designed in the United States based on British specifications at the beginning of World War II. The British were looking for a wheeled reconnaissance vehicle with a high level of armor, well-armed and highly mobile. Chevrolet started production in late 1942 and a total of 3000 units were produced. British and Polish units started fielding this vehicle in the spring of 1943 in the Italian Campaign. The Staghound was used by many different counties during the post war era up into the late 1970s.

The Kit

Italeri first released this Staghound kit in 2007 under number 6549. They used this kit to make a AA version in 2008, number 6563. Tamiya re-boxed it in 2008 as their number 89770. Italeri used this kit in 2009 as the base for their Mark III, a staghound with a Crusader turret on it. This kit being reviews is basically a re-box on the original 2007, but without a 48 page reference book that was in the original.

Hitachi Zaxis 135US Excavator

Published: August 4th, 2017     
Hitachi Zaxis 135US Excavator
Reviewed by: Bill O’Malley, IPMS# 46473
Scale: 1:36
Company: Hasegawa

This is not a highly-detailed kit, but can be an entertaining build for both less experienced and more advanced modelers. Less experienced modelers will enjoy the ease of assembly, and can build the kit without painting. More advanced modelers looking for construction equipment will find the kit to be an opportunity for some extreme weathering.


This is the second kit Hasegawa has produced based on the Hitachi tracked excavator. The first was the Double Arm Working Machine Astaco Neo released in 2015 and updated in 2017 with new parts. This new Hitachi Zaxis kit retains the grasping claw from the Double Arm kit, but adds an excavator bucket and dozer blade as additional options.

The Zaxis 135US-6 excavator is used by contractors needing a tight tail-swing radius to work in confined areas around obstacles. The excavator is equipped with an Isuzu engine.

Kit Contents

The kit comes on multicolored sprues so it is possible to have a nice-looking model without painting. The kit has 175 parts including the following:

Value Pack, Hawker Fury Mk-1 & Fairey Flycatcher

Published: August 1st, 2017     
Value Pack, Hawker Fury Mk-1 & Fairey Flycatcher
Reviewed by: Jeff Leiby, IPMS# 30249
Scale: 1:48
Company: Lindberg/Round 2

The Kits

The molds for these kits were originally produced by Impact in the early 60s as part of a series of British fighters that included the Bristol Bulldog, Fairey Flycatcher, Hawker Fury and the Gloster Gladiator. The molds have changed hands from Impact through Lifelike, Pyro and Lindberg and now are the property of Lindberg/Round 2. This double kit is a reissue by Lindberg Round 2 with improved instructions, one additional decal option per plane and two 36" lengths of rigging wire (not included in any of the previous issues).

Included in the box are:

  • 2 sets of three light grey sprue with each kit packed separately..
  • 1 sprue with clear parts (bagged separately).
  • 2 decal sheets.
  • 2-36" strands of bright silver wire
  • 2 five-step instruction sheets with rigging guides and decal placement guides for two of each aircraft.

The kits retain many of traits of 1960s kits: limited interiors, some flash (but not bad for 50 year old molds), thick clear parts and ejection pin marks. The light gray plastic used in this release sands easily and has a smooth surface.

USN F2H-3 VF-41 "Black Aces"

Published: August 1st, 2017     
USN F2H-3  VF-41 "Black Aces"
Reviewed by: Jon Caldwell, IPMS# 22034
Scale: 1:72
Company: Academy

The first mockup of the F2H was actually completed before the end of WWII. A continuation of the FH-1 Phantom program, the F2H was a progressive step in the Navy's effort to develop jet aircraft for carrier operation. The Banshee, as it was called, entered service in 1948, served in the Korean War, and wasn't retired until 1961. It was also operational with the Canadian Navy until 1962.