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Tom Cleaver
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Review: Kit(s) of the Year - 2021

December 24, 2021 · in Reviews · · 15 · 1.6K

It's that time of year to look back on the latest happenings of the Golden Age of Modeling.

I'm not presenting this as a competition. You, too, may have your ideas of the good, the bad, the ugly - post away!

My list is limited to models I have actually built, that were released in 2021. That leaves out such worthy contenders as the Tamiya F-4B, by all accounts a wonderful kit that makes into a great model. It also limits my list to airplanes, and we know there are other genres in the hobby.

1/32 Scale:

Only did one this year, and it was great. The Special Hobby Westland Whirlwind Mk.I finally got everything right about this interesting airplane. Lots of detail, not a difficult kit to assemble. I really like the result.

1/48 Scale (Mainstream injected):

Lots of competition in this category, which was very active in 2021. These are all sort of "tied" in my mind, I liked every one of them.

Kinetic IA-58 "Pucara" - definitely wins the prize for "Model of an Airplane I Never Thought They Would Do." Easily Kinetic's best kit to date. World-class quality, excellent detail and accuracy.

Eduard/Special Hobby Hawker Tempest II: Finally! My favorite version of the Tempes, and a world-class kit. Super detail, and if you take your time and clean up the parts, easy to assemble without filler. I've done two and there's a third one in the stash that keeps calling - I'll pick up and answer sometime after New Year's.

Eduard Spitfire V Series: As with every other Eduard release, the Spitfire V series is "definitive." Early and late Spitfire Vb, and - again, finally! - a Spitfire Vc. If you assemble it by attaching the lower wing part with the wheel well to the fuselage sub-assembly, and then attach the upper wings, you will have no problems and get excellent fit.

Eduard A6M2 Zero - a nice surprise from Eduard, and again, "definitive." It has details I didn't know exist in the Zero-21. According to Vlad Szulc, over the next 5 years of their "80th Anniversary of the Pacific War," they will release every version of the Zero, including the trainers and the A6M8.

Modelsvit F-82 Twin Mustang: We've only been waiting for-bloody-ever for a good kit of this airplane, and Modelsvit has delivered! This kit marks their move from "high-end limited-run" to "mainstream." It fits like an Eduard kit, has detail like an Eduard kit. And as I am currently discovering, it's a lot easier than it first appears.

Wingsy Bf-109E series: Quite simply, the "definitive" Emils. The Bf-109E-1 and E-3 are out so far, and the rest of the sub-types should appear in 2022. Not difficult to assemble and a great result is nearly guaranteed.

Clear Prop Hawk 75N - the first of their Hawk 75/P-36 series. "Definitive" of the airplane. Superb detail, ease of assembly. There's nothing to dislike here.

Clear Prop XA2D-1 Skyshark: Tied with the Pucara for "Model of an Airplane I Never Thought They Would Do." Superb detail, assembly is good. The kit is also out in 1/72, and as good in that scale as this.

Kitty Hawk FJ-3 Fury: Another "Model of an Airplane I Never Thought They Would Do." This and the FJ-2 are the best kits Kitty Hawk released, and it marked their demise. Somebody will pick up these molds. Not difficult to build, accurate in result, what's not to like?

1/48 scale (limited run)

The boys from Kyiv dominate this category; they're the "bleeding edge" of scale modeling nowadays.

Dora Wings has consistently come out with interesting kits of subjects nobody else is considering. I've been pleased with every one of them.

Bloch MB 152 - really, really nice.
Bloch MB 155 - ditto. These two are a bit more demanding of a modeler in assembly and clean-up, but if you take your time and follow the instructions, you are assured of a very nice result.

P-35 series - both kits have the detail differences (mainly different fuselages). They are accurate and "definitive." You can safely give the Hobbycraft P-35s to the kidz. Eugen tells me 2022 will also see the 2PA 2-seater and the racers.

Curtis AT-9: Also a contender for "Model of an Airplane I Never Thought They Would Do." As with the rest of Dora Wings kits, pay attention to detail, take your time, test fit, clean up parts, and you will have a model you'll be proud of.

Lockheed Vega: The best Vega kit in any scale. Lots of nice detail. Pay attention to the instructions and test fit and all will be well.

Curtiss SNC-1 "Falcon II" - another "Model of an Airplane I Never Thought They Would Do." Dora Wings just gets more and more interesting.

1/72 Scale:

Arma wins this category hands-down. I have the Hurricane IIb, the FM-2, the F4F-4 to do. The P-51B is by all accounts the best P-51B in any scale.

Special Hobby Bf-109E series: nicely detailed, flaps and slats separate, good cockpit detail for the scale. Not at all hard to assemble, with a great result.

Airfix Vulcan B.2 - Finally! The Vulcan done right. This one is "in process" here at Le Chateau du Chat, and it doesn't disappoint.

Reader reactions:
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15 additional images. Click to enlarge.

15 responses

  1. I like the Airfix 1/48 Vampire a lot. In 72nd scale the Airfix Beaufort is pristine. Merry Xmas to everyone!

  2. My version of kits of the year are the older twisted in need of some help kits….say it is great then complain of the horrible fits LOL.

    You have a great set of builds for 2021, they are all great. My two favorite are your two Tempests, the P-36 is a close second.

    And Merry Christmas!

  3. Lots of great kits this year, Tom. I was really impressed with the Airfix Beaufort. I snagged one back in the summer and built it immediately. I think that was the only 2021 release that I built this year. I am really impressed with the HK Lancaster and Kinetic Pucara in the box. Santa delivered the F-82 about an hour ago and it sure looks good too!

  4. Another productive year of interesting subjects of such interesting kits, build with your usual excellent standards, Tom!
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Very productive year Tom! You found a lot of very interesting subjects, I am looking forward to seeing your 2022 lineup.

  6. An impressive list, Tom @tcinla
    To me it is not possible to indicate which is better, your modelling quality simply turns every kit into a perfect one.
    Thanks for the always great supporting descriptions about the history and progressing of your builds.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  7. A great year Tom! Keep up the good work! Looking forward to more interesting subjects.
    Merry Christmas!

  8. Well done and congrats, Tom, on your 2021 output!
    Merry Christmas and Happy 2022.

  9. Right on the money Tom @tcinla! The boys from the Ukraine came through big time this year. A tip of Santa's hat to DoraWings, ICM and Clear Prop and don't forget - Halberd Models. Kudos to Kinetic and always to Eduard!

    Ho Ho Ho and here's to a much better 2022, TC!

  10. Great output For the year Tom.
    It is nice to see the Bloch fighters represented in model form. On my to get list for 1940 planes.
    2021 leaves very few days to get the kits completed that I started and had to put aside. Strange year. Overall not bad but out of the ordinary at the very least.

  11. All great - but the Pucara stands out - your research and execution for that one will have inspired many more builds for sure!

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