Friday, November 23, 2012

Thoughts on the Meng F-102

One of the most exciting releases this year on a personal basis was the Meng 1/72 F-102 Delta Dagger. I had a couple of the second generation Hasegawa kits in my stash for some time, but their absence of a positionable canopy always bummed me out. (I generally build all of my aircraft with the canopy open.) I was very happy when Meng released this new kit.

Yes, I bought two kits, and I'll probably need at least one more. I figure I'll paint one in the typical ADC grey scheme, another in the SEA scheme, and another as a PQM-102. If the kit goes together well, a NMF might be particularly striking as well.

I said in my first post here on Scale Model Soup that I had no intention of reviewing new kits. And I still don't. Brett Green has a good review of the kit on Hyperscale if you haven't seen the kit yet, and I'm sure there are a few others if you Google for more than 10 seconds. I do, however, intend to discuss new kits when I feel a manufacturer's product choices are particularly interesting, and so it is with Meng's F-102.

First, my only disappointment. For a kit released in 2012, the panel lines are not quite as crisp as I would have expected. They're not terrible, but they're almost reminiscent of an Italeri mold rather than Hasegawa or Tamiya. I hope they improve with future kits.

Now the good, and there's a lot of it! The ejection seat is not molded with seat belts, which I appreciate. To my eye molded seat belts never look as good as those we can cut ourselves from masking tape or photoetch.

And then there's the missile bay. Praise the gods, there is no detail molded in the bay! Heresy, you may cry, but I think that's a good thing. I prefer to add the plumbing and widgets myself, which will be much easier to paint than those soft, half-round shapes that practically manufacturer molds into bomb bays, wheel bays, and cockpits. Actual wire and rod provide a more convincing 3-D effect, and it makes us true craftsmen! For those of you who don't chose the DIY route, I'm sure one of the aftermarket folks will provide us a drop-in, resin replacement.

I also like the option for displaying the AIM-4 Falcons extended from the missile bay on their racks. That's going to make for a stunning display for those who choose to display their F-102 on a mirror.

For those of you who don't want to fiddle with all that junk in the missile bay, our friends at Meng have given us a single piece to close up the bay. You won't have to align and glue all four doors yourself.

I see that Meng has released a second boxing of the kit, one featuring an aircraft from George W. Bush's unit, the 111th FIS. I think we're all waiting for a third release with the Case XX wing. I'd ask for a TF-102, but that's one fugly airplane to look at much less build!

In the meantime, the decal guys are already fast at work to produce alternative markings for us. Check out the decals from f√ľndekals and Caracal.

So there you have it. My message to the manufacturers, particularly those (like Meng) who cater to the serious modeler, is to give us the bare minimum to build a reasonable representation of an airplane and let us (or the aftermarket community) do the rest. The results are more satisfying!

You can find Meng on the web and on Facebook.

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