21st Century Toys 1/18 F-104C Starfighter 'Smoke II' Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2006||Manufacturer||21st Century Toys|
|Kit Number||N/A||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent desk or 'hanging' model for the adult or young aspiring aviator. Nice finish and detailing||Cons|
|Skill Level||Novice||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
Many of you are familiar with the fantastic aircraft and armor releases from 21st Century Toys. Their early 1/18 scale P-51D Mustang and Bf 109E were simplistic, but still colorful hanging from the ceiling or sitting on the shelf. Since those early releases, in the aircraft category alone, we've seen some amazing subjects in continuously increasing levels of difficulty and detail. We have all in 1/18 scale: Ju 87 Stuka, F4U Corsair, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-38 Lightning, Spitfire Mk.I, P-40B Tomahawk, Fw 190D-9. Many of these have been released in several different color schemes.
So if that list isn't impressive enough for you, you will recognize that these subjects have one thing in common - they're all World War Two veterans. That trend ended with the earlier release of the German Navy F-104G. They're back again with 'Smoke II', an F-104C in Southeast Asia camouflage.
You can see in the title image that the Starfighter is packaged in the same rugged, bullet-proof box that the earlier releases. Inside, each major component is wired to the carrier box with one or more tie-down wires, ensuring that no harm will come to the aircraft in transit.
In times past, I've spent more time untwisting the tie-down wires than assembling the aircraft. With this release, I changed tactics - wire cutters! With a few snips, the Starfighter was free and clear of the packaging.
The main components of this release are the forward fuselage, rear fuselage, radome, wings, and horizontal stabilizer. The landing gear is up and locked for transit, but snaps down smartly when you're ready to set the aircraft on the gear. With a few snaps, the main components come together.
This release features the fuselage-mounted AIM-9 Sidewinder dual launch rail with a pair of nice AIM-9s that mount securely to the launchers. The wingtips receive tip tanks.
Note that 21st Century Toys didn't simply put US camouflage on their previous F-104 version. The F-104G has a wider chord vertical stabilizer that puts the rudder well aft of the J79 exhaust nozzle. The F-104C had a narrow-chord tail which put the trailing edge of the rudder nearly in line with the tailpipe. The other release is has the wide-chord tail while this one has the correct narrow-chord tail.
A pilot figure is also included complete with parachute pack, oxygen mask, and a nicely decorated helmet.
You can see in these photos how nicely done the aircraft finish is straight out of the box. I have done nothing to this model other than remove it from the box and snap it together. Well done!
Among the working features of the F-104, the landing gear operates very nicely, the leading and trailing edge flaps are movable, as are the rudder and ailerons.
The model also includes an air refueling probe and a pair of pitot tubes. I especially like that precaution as one of the pitot tubes was warped out of the box.
This F-104 is roughly 3 feet long from pitot tip to tailpipe.
This release is definitely recommended. You can find these at any one of the retailers listed on the 21st Century Toys website. Look for their next releases to come out fairly soon - the 1/18 F-86 Sabre and the 1/18 MiG-15!
My sincere thanks to 21st Century Toys for this review sample!