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P-38 Lightning Special

21st Century Toys 1/18 P-38 Lightning Special Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2006 Manufacturer 21st Century Toys
Subject P-38 Lightning Special Scale 1/18
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

 

 

First Look

P-38 Lightning Special
P-38 Lightning Special
P-38 Lightning Special
P-38 Lightning Special
P-38 Lightning Special
P-38 Lightning Special
P-38 Lightning Special

21st Century Toys has been producing a magnificent variety of aircraft in their 1/18th scale Ultimate Soldier - Xtreme Detail line. While they continue to release new subjects in this series, they are also reissuing their existing line in a variety of colors and markings. While we've written in the past about how to repaint or accurize the colors of a given 21st Century Toys' release (look here), most folks are content with the aircraft as it comes out of the box. So for you 'out of the box' types, here is one that ought to catch your eye - Major Thomas McGuire's P-38L 'Pudgy V'.

Like their previous P-38L releases, this one comes packaged in an impressive near-bullet-proof package that protects the contents during shipment and shelf life. The heart of this packaging is a plastic pallet that stores the outer wing panels, horizontal stab and external stores on one side while safeguarding the main unit of cockpit and inboard wing panels and both engines. The rear of both tail booms are stored safely under the main unit.

Each of the smaller parts is protected in its own plastic bag. Everything is fastened to the pallet with plastic-covered twist wires. The bagged items are taped and wired to the pallet. The main fuselage unit is not only wired to the pallet, there are also two shipping screws that mechanically hold the main unit in place. In other words, if you pick up one of these packages off the shelf and anything is moving, something is amiss.

Once upon a time, I used to untwist each and every wire to remove the parts from the shipping pallet. I got smarter - I'm using wire cutters now. It only took a few minutes from the time I opened the box until the Lightning was assembled.

The outer wing panels snap nicely to their respective booms and are made in such a way that you really can't mount the right wing to the left boom and vice versa. If you install the horizontal stabilizer to the twin booms first, then installation to the main fuselage unit is also fool-proof.

The landing gear is shipped retracted, so I carefully opened the gear doors. The nose gear snaps down and locked. The main gear pivots out but doesn't lock until you slide the unit slightly aft and insert the lock pin into the receiver in the top of each main landing gear well. The landing gear will retract again should you want to hang the aircraft up later.

As you saw in the title shot, a pilot figure is included in the package and the cockpit opens to reveal its details as well as to receive the pilot. The top of the canopy hinges aft whereas the left side window slides down into the fuselage automobile style - just like the real aircraft.

The finish on this release is very eye-catching! The bare metal is sprayed with another shade to bring out the illusion of weathering. The distinctive markings are all sharply printed, right down to the nice pin-striping around the nose anti-glare panel. Of course McGuire's kill scoreboard is also nicely rendered on the left side of the nose.

As with the previous Lightning releases, you have your choice of external fuel tanks, bombs, and the P-38L's distinctive rocket tree. The rocket trees mount to the outboard wing stations, whereas you must select between bombs or external fuel tanks for the inboards. The inboard pylons come mounted to the bombs, but these are merely snapped into place and I moved mine to the external tanks and mounted them in place.

Each new release from 21st Century Toys seems to be nicer than the previous release as they improve their manufacturing processes. You can definitely tell that the company has a master modeler on the staff. His eye for detail shows in the results, as does his adaptation of scale modeling paint techniques on these aircraft out of the factory. Very nice.

This release is definitely recommended. You can find these at any one of the retailers listed on the 21st Century Toys website.

My sincere thanks to 21st Century Toys for this review sample!

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