Ernst Udet, WW1 Flying Ace

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Company: MiniArt - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: MRC - Website: Visit Site
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The kit of Ernst Udet is one of three German World War One pilots currently offered in MiniArt’s 1:16 scale Historical Figures Series. Udet was the second highest scoring WWI German ace serving in the Great War (and the youngest), who later went on to become a world famous postwar air show performer and light plane manufacturer. He flew for the movies, was instrumental in the development of the Luftwaffe, advanced the concept of dive bombing and was a driving force in adopting the Stuka dive bomber. He lead a very colorful life, becoming a member of the Nazi party and struggled for years with alcoholism until he committing suicide after Germany invaded Russia in 1941. There have been (and currently are) numerous kits of his brightly colored Fokker D.VIIs available from various manufacturers and the man himself has been the subject of a number of smaller scale figure models. In his day, Ernst Udet was almost larger than life. It would be an oversight to not include him in any line of German WWI Aces.

The MiniArt kit come in a sturdy two-piece telescoping box with art work featuring a colorful illustration of youthful Udet standing behind the tail of one of his famous red Fokker D.VII Fs. The contents of the kit includes two gray plastic sprues of 24 parts, a nice pedestal base molded in a red brown plastic for displaying the finished model and a full-color 7”x 10” instruction sheet with a paint chart at the bottom. The nine needed colors are listed in most available brands of model paint: Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, Mr. Color, and Life Color.

The parts are molded with a little noticeable flash that can quickly be dealt with. As can be seen in the photo below, the upper legs, upper torso with tunic are molded in two pieces and the head, calves/boots and arms are all one-piece moldings. Because of the pose, only one hand is provided and it is divided into two parts with the thumb included with the right arm, and a separate part for the fingers holding a cigarette. Medals, epilates, and small emblems for the hat are molded separately to facilitate painting and detailing. The cap also is molded in two pieces for easier painting.

All of the parts that are molded as one-piece components have mold seams that require attention. Not a serious issue, but one that seems a bit surprising with today’s mold technology. Aligning and assembling the multiple part components (torso, upper legs, etc.) also seems like a step back in time because the parts don’t fit together all that well. Adding to the challenge is the fact that mating surfaces of the parts vary in thickness.

After fitting the pieces together in the best possible way it became obvious that a fair amount of filling, sanding and reshaping would be required to mask the various misaligned details and continue the folds and wrinkles in the garments that passed through the seams. I also found that the collar on the tunic required a little filler and reshaping to appear as it does in the illustration on the instruction sheet and box art. In all fairness, I usually build aircraft models, so the steps involved in making everything right may be more the rule in assembling figure models. I just had not expected to spend most of the build time re-sculpting the figure.

After assembling the main torso, I found it necessary to thin the plastic around the collar a bit for the head (actually the neck) to fit into place. With that adjustment completed, I felt that neck was not long enough to place the head in a natural position. So, I added a little styrene to the base of the neck. Again, some sculpting was required. The pieces that make up the hand fit together nicely, but it was necessary to make adjustments to add fingernail details and thin down the rather fat cigarette between the two fingers.

For this review I decided to photograph the finished figure in a non-painted (but primed) form on its pedestal base to show how the details look (As can be seen, the base needs no painting but could be adorned with some grass or dirt to enhance the presentation of the painted figure). To make painting the figure an easier experience, I would recommend not attaching the head or two-piece cap so they may be painted separately before assembly. Likewise, the medals, epilates, and small emblems for the hat should be painted and detailed separately before they are attached to the painted figure.

One other thing that I feel compelled to mention…after googling photos of Ernst Udet, I believe the facial features of the head in this kit don’t exactly match those of the ace. Painting may bring out the details and add to the likeness, but in grey plastic, I think the features (although very nicely rendered) look a bit generic. Again, figure painters may have the ability to enhance the cosmetics enough to make the mini Udet look more like the real Udet.

Overall this kit is easy to assemble, with the caveat that a fair amount of filling, sanding and reshaping will be required to bring everything together properly. Actually, exercising some modeling skills will result in a very nice 1:16 scale figure.

The key to figure models is how well they are painted, so I have included a photo from MiniArt’s website of the painted figure to show how they believe it should look in final form. Also included, is a close up photo from the website showing how the medals, epilates, and small emblems for the hat look when they are attached).

All in all, this kit is recommended. Figure modelers should find that it builds into a very realistic model. My thanks to MRC for the product sample and to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.


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