If it’s one thing I’m known for, it’s loving crappy kits. I’ve built my share, too: from various FROG kits (including the Ar-234 Blitz and He-2319 Uhu) to the Revell Germany (nee Frog) Gannet to the Heller Lansen, I’ve seen a lot of bad kits. Thus, it can be assumed that I have both low standards and a high tolerance for pain.
I needed a Bf-109 for a Luft ’46 project. I knew the Academy kit was excellent, but I didn’t really feel all that good about butchering such a nice kit. I really wanted something that was a bit cheaper; something that no one would really miss if I cut it up. A Monogram 109 would have done just fine. Then, in Broughdale hobby shop here in London, Ontario, I found this little “gem”. I felt I had to share my first impression of this kit with you all. Just in case someone felt the need to order it, or buy its sister kit, a Tempest.
My first thought was that for such a low price ($5.50) I really wouldn’t be getting much in the way of detail. I was both right and wrong. Taking the kit to the counter, I quipped with the cashier “This thing is going to be a piece of junk, isn’t it?” She responded that “Heller has improved recently, so it should be okay…” Right. My new battle cry is now: “They’ve improved!” Of course, I’m prone to sarcasm, so you can imagine just how ‘improved’ this model is.
This kit is, without a doubt, the biggest P.O.S. I have ever, EVER seen. It is equaled ONLY by the Monogram re-issue F-94, a mould from the 50’s, I believe. Heck, even the Seamaster was, in many ways, better than this thing! When you consider that the 109 is from 1980 (allegedly), this model becomes unforgivable.
Upon opening the box I was treated to two unbagged sprues of green plastic in the vaguest shapes suggesting some kinship with Willi Messerchmitt’s famous fighter. That was about it, though. The casting on this kit is very rough, with large rivets festooning an outer skin replete with raised panel lines and considerable evidence of tired tooling. The interior consists of… a chair. No instrument panel, detail on the walls, control stick, nothing. Oh, there’s a lump that’s supposed to be a pilot. Poor chap must have been shot down and frozen to death on the Eastern Front; at least that’s how it looks.
The fit is God-awful. It is far worse that any of the Frogs I’ve built, and after the He-219, that’s saying something. The wings fit together well, but mating with the body is non-existent. The cockpit is nice, except it doesn’t have any kind of framing on it worth mentioning. Barely raised lines make it seem like there might have been an effort made, but not much of one.
Quite possibly the worst part, though, are the landing gear. The legs come moulded to the doors, and the sizing is a bit off. The tires themselves are a joke – I’ve seen pizza cutters with more footprint that these things! The propeller is not that bad, though, and the spinner is actually okay. The distinctive breech bulges of the G-model 109 are technically present, although they are terribly misformed and extend, like a horse collar, right across the nose!
The kits decals are very spartan, and include some iron crosses and kill markings for the tail. The strongest part of the kit is the weaponry. Because this kit isn’t badged as any particular model of 109, it comes with a lot of different weapons. It has a drop tank or a bomb for the centerline, as well as having two underwing cannon packs (eerily similar to the Starfix 109, actually…) and a pair of stovepipes! The aerial mortars are crude, and while they don’t hold up to the ones with the Revell Germany Me-262, they’re not bad. They include the right bracing and little mortar rounds for the fronts of them.
Unfortunately, there’s almost no way I can recommend this kit for anything other than kitbashing. It might be alright for a young modeller with very low expectations, but it’s a really disturbing piece of sprue for the rest of the world. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about this – build it at your own risk!