Like a lot of modelers, I take this hobby a bit more seriously than I should at times. This kit is a reminder that it's actually fun to build models. Taking real-life subjects and “egg shaping” them into a whimsical mimic seems to be a growing sector based on the number of kits and subjects receiving this treatment. In this case, AFV Club has chosen the F-5E/N Tiger II. The F-5E/N series was an improved version of the F-5 Freedom fighter that incorporated modifications from the unsuccessful F-20 Tigershark. Leading-edge extensions and more powerful engines made it the perfect aggressor aircraft to simulate the MiG 21. This kit draws inspiration from the Navy’s VF 111 “Sundowners”. But enough of that serious stuff.
A small box contains four parts trees molded in white, grey and clear. The instruction sheet is printed in color and shows renderings of the four possible versions covered on the decal sheet included in the kit. Construction is very simple and most of the parts fit without glue. Surface detail is nice, oh wait! I’m not supposed to count the rivets on this one. Everything goes together very quickly and you are soon ready for paint. I chose the paint scheme that resembles a Mig-29 or Su-27 with multi-tone greys and blues. Beginners will find the canopy very easy to mask or hand painted as the frame is very prominent.
Next came the only issue I had with the kit. The decals are very thin and somewhat opaque. I’ve been modeling a long time now and I fought several of them when they rolled up coming off the backing paper. All I could think of was a beginner giving up after destroying one or two of them. The finishing details are cool. The pilot body is basic but the head is nicely done with an oxygen mask. Two clear flame spikes are included for the missiles.
If you want a humorous change of pace this kit is a good way to do it. The box recommends 14 years and up and that seems reasonable although I could see this subject appealing to younger kids. The best part was not feeling the pressure to make it accurate because it doesn’t really exist! For that reason and the pure fun of the subject, I recommend this kit and others like it. I could not find any suppliers that currently stock this kit but there were a few on eBay.
Thank You AFV Club for the sample and IPMS for giving me a break from being too serious about this hobby.