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TBF Avenger

21st Century Toys 1/18 TBF Avenger Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2006 Manufacturer 21st Century Toys
Subject TBF Avenger 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 You're going to need a bigger desk!
Skill Level Novice MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger

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, and F-104 Starfighter. Many of these have been released in several different color schemes.

One release that has been on the 21st Century Toys' schedule for a while is the TBF Avenger. I remember seeing an announcement on this gem a few years ago. According to 21st Century Toys, it took a while to work out some of the production bugs. It was certainly worth the wait.

As with previous releases, the model is packaged on a robust carrier that slips into the retail display box. The major parts are wired down in multiple places to keep everything secure during shipping. Even the crew figures are securely wired to the base. Just one object left loose to bounce around inside that box would ruin the nice finish on the model.

The main components of this release are the fuselage, left and right wings, left and right horizontal tails, three crew figures, a torpedo for the weapons bay, and a bag of eight rockets for under the wings. As I mentioned in my iHobbyExpo 2006 report, this release is the second batch from the manufacturer and does contain the screw caps and pitot tube missing from the first batch that went to WalMart. This is still missing the radio mast, and this will be rectified in the next production batch.

This is a huge model. Not as long in the fuselage as the F-104, but at nearly 37 inches, this is the largest wingspan they've done. In this release, they've put in quite a bit of working details:

  • front cockpit windows slide open and closed (left and right side)
  • dorsal turret and gun are movable
  • ventral gun is movable
  • propeller is movable
  • wings fold
  • flaps are movable
  • flight control surfaces (ailerons, rudder, elevators) are movable
  • landing gear is retractable
  • tail wheel castors
  • weapons bay doors are movable
  • rear crew entry door is movable

In the 'nice try' category, the tail hook does move but it doesn't deploy out of the tail cone as with the real aircraft, but they've hinged it to move in place.

As I mentioned before, three nice crew figures are included in the package. How you get one of them into that turret is an adventure for another day.

A pilot figure is also included complete with parachute pack, oxygen mask, and a nicely decorated helmet.

Assembly of this model is straightforward. Slide the wings onto the fuselage-mounted wing roots, insert two screws on each wing, and install the screw caps. The horizontal tails snap into place. The torpedo fits snugly inside the weapons bay. The rockets needed a little glue to stay in place as did two of the screw caps.

The aircraft is finished in the Atlantic gray over white paint scheme and looks very nice on this aircraft. I'm sure that there will be future releases with the overall dark blue or tri-color schemes used in the Pacific. That's okay, they released my favorite first!

The main landing gear comes out of the wells with no problems, and there are down-locks provided to keep them down. The tail wheel snaps into the up or down position, and the tailwheel castors 360 degrees just like the real thing. I believe the only other model they did this with was the F4U Corsair.

The wings fold and unfold with relative ease once you get the hang of the mechanism. The instructions show you how it is done, but they neglect to mention that you need to ensure the flaps are up before attempting to fold the wings.

I've been waiting for this release for some time and it is good to see it out, as this means the designers are now free to tackle other subjects. Don't worry, they've been multitasking as the 1/18 F-86 Sabre and MiG-15 are not far behind!

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