Speed Silver Spit! 1/48 Airfix Spitfire Mk.XIV
When Airfix went to the red box, it was a revelation. One that signaled that they could indeed make attractive boxes that made you want to buy the kit. Adam Tooby's fantastic modern artwork sealed the deal. Almost literally. The instruction sheet has set a new standard for 3D exploded views, and their color coding is a smart stroke. Also, the full color paint and decal guides have finally come to the state of the art. Airfix has also switched to the glossy type Cartograph decals which are colorful, on register, and lay down beautifully.
This incites a lot of controversy. This kit is molded in the soft, light Indian plastic. And it's love or hate. I personally love it. Because it's soft, it's easy to cut and sand. On the downside, it's soft, so it's easy to cut and sand. So, you can easily cut off too much, or inaccurately if you're not careful. And because it's easy to sand, you can lose detail very quickly. Filling and sanding is my least favorite task, so I don't mind the softness. The softness can also soften some of the detail. But mold seams are starting to show up more prominently lately. Also, the part gates have almost no land to them. The gate goes right up to the part, so when you nip it off, you end up cutting into the part itself. Right off the runner. This has been a long-standing issue. It's time for Airfix to step up in this area.
Shape looks good. It captures the lines of the classic fighter well. I'm sure the Spitfire illuminati will nitpick, but I see no major or medium issues.
Subject/Cool Factor: 9
As a whole, you can't get cooler than a Spitfire. It's a mainstay and a supremely cool airplane, to this day. However, this mark isn't exactly one of the most coveted. It's not a Mk.V, or a Mk.XI. The Mk.XIV, while important, is not one of the most popular in the line of Spitfires. In fact, a story is told of the commander in the far east rejecting the mark because it didn't look like a Spitfire should look. So, for coolness, it loses that one point. Engineering: 8
The shape is spot on, the modern methods Airfix uses to gather its data is working quite well. However, it's getting let down by the sprues, as mentioned earlier. While Airfix's new kits have been wonderful for the last 13 years, it's high time to take that next step. Yes, their financial woes have hurt them in recent years. But now with more stable footing, fixing those niggling issues with the sprues, and really honing in the detail should be imminently possible
BOX SCORE: 45
Some engineering decisions are puzzling. Such as why they chose to make the front fuel tank a separate piece, which did create some issues. Why they didn't make the wingtips a separate piece, instead of having you cut it off, to add the clear clipped wingtips. That didn't create any issues, but a strange decision nonetheless. Clipping the top of the vertical stab to fit the larger rudder though, that makes perfect sense. Also, no issues were created there. The sequence for adding the wing panels also left a gap to deal with. I suggest going the traditional way and adding the bottom wing piece to the top two panels and then adding it to the fuselage.
Detail is fantastic, however, as mentioned before, the detail can now be homed in just a bit more. Perhaps it's a limitation of the Indian plastic. But if that's the case, then some new solution may be needed. Just keep the plastic softish!
I built this kit in one night. It went together beautifully. But the small issues mentioned before do take appoint away.
Airfix kits have come up in price in the last few years. They're no longer quite the value they used to be. Economics dictate this, and I get it. You used to be able to get 90% of the detail of a Tamiya kit for 2/3 of the price. Now that's upped to about 3/4.
Fun Factor: 9
Fats and easy, fun build of a subject we've had no new tool of for a while.
BUILD SCORE: 44
Add it all up and the D score is...89 out of 100