In the vast world of model kit making, there have been a huge number of names that have come and gone. Some are revered, some are reviled. Some, though, just seem to be forgotten. Maybe that’s the way it should be, at least after coming across the Humbrol Harrier T.4.
I wasn’t even aware that Humbrol put its name on anything other than those annoying little paint tinlets. However, I love two-seaters, and when I saw this Harrier T.4, I was very excited. I have the Airfix Harrier T.10, but it’s a newer model of Harrier, and doesn’t have the extended “stinger” tailboom of the early trainers. Because of this, I was willing to forgive some shortcomings.
Keep in mind, too, that I got this kit used at a “nostalgia show”, so that accounts for some of the issues, possibly. However, it wouldn’t matter if it was second, third or ninety-eighth-hand, no amount of hand-me-downedness can really explain some of what awaited me when I popped the box open.
The box on the old Heller T.4 is the epitome of boring, stuck-in-the-70’s, we-really-don’t-care-if-you-find-this-exciting-because-it’s-the-only-kit-there-is-of-this-thing box art. See above for what I mean. Seriously, that is some low-rent graphic design. It reminds me of the box on my family’s old Rumoli Game. The Harrier’s box consists of a picture of a built kit on the box (always a terrible idea for making things look exciting) on an orangey background. The kit doesn’t look particularly good ON the box, and that’s the first indication that the kit probably doesn’t look that great IN the box.
The box lid is cheap and flimsy, like an old Heller box, but man, the bottom is a rock. That is also like an old Heller box. Not surprisingly, this kit was also offered as a “Bobcat” kit, from, you guessed it… Heller/Humbrol. As a fan of many Heller kits, I would not want my name on this one. Of course, I’d also want my name removed from oh-so-many Airfix abortions, too… That’s a different story though.
Not much else is given on the box, so it’s time to lift the lid, and see what awaits.
Like I said, I was not the original owner of this kit, so I don’t know if the parts came in a bag when it was originally packed. My parts did not. It’s quite annoying to have to sort through a box of loose parts at a vendor’s table with crowds around you as you try and figure out if all the parts are there or not. Of course, it’s made a bit easier by the fact that THERE ARE HARDLY ANY PARTS!
I noticed on the Bobcat box I saw online that this is a “stick, click and paint kit”, or, in French “ma 1re maquette authentique.” (my first authentic kit). Knowing it’s essentially a beginner’s snap fit kit makes what I found inside the box make a lot more sense. This is the most simplified Harrier I’ve ever seen, having about half (or less?) the parts of the Dragon 1/144 AV-8B. There are a great many parts actually moulded together on the plane, or as large subassemblies.
For example, the exhaust nozzles are moulded into the body. Go masking nightmare! The wingtip landing gear are all moulded as one piece, and the landing gear are moulded INTO the body! There’s no landing gear bay, just wheels sticking out of the body. Yikes! There’s also no compressor fan, which is one of the most recognizable features of the Harrier family.
Oddly enough, though, the canopy glass is quite good. It’s a bit disturbing that there’s nothing for the centreline, like, oh, I don’t know, say the strakes or gun pack normally associated with the Harrier family. You know, those things that trap the engine gasses and help lift it off the ground?? Yeah, minor detail. Thankfully, I have the Airfix Harrier T.10 (not great, but not this bad) and it has guns and strakes both, so I can choose for this one.
Despite all these (very many) shortcomings, the T.4 is actually not a bad looking kit. The fit is passable, and assembly is definitely going to be simple. Making a half-arsed kit out of it, though, will be the real challenge!
The Humbrol Harrier T.4 is pretty much the only way to get a “long sting” 2-seat Harrier in injection moulded plastic. It has lots of shortcomings, but it is dimensionally sound and looks good, for the most part. Sure, you’re going to need to do a lot of work on it, but if you like Harriers it’s a good, and definitely interesting, addition to your fleet.
That having been said, this kit is pefect for beginnners, since that’s its original audience. These are people who won’t care about the landing gear bays being missing or no compressor face. On the other hand, it’s good for very advanced modellers, who have the time and skill to sink into changing a lot of the kit around.