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Blue Thunder Kit

Aoshima 1/48 Blue Thunder Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2009 Manufacturer Aoshima
Subject Blue Thunder Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48004 Primary Media Styrene, White Metal
Pros Nice detail in this scale Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (Yen) ¥4400 (about $48.00 USD)

First Look

Blue Thunder Kit
Blue Thunder Kit
Blue Thunder Kit
Blue Thunder Kit
Blue Thunder Kit
Blue Thunder Kit
Blue Thunder Kit

In 1983, a feature film was produced about a special mission helicopter that was loaned to the Los Angeles Police Department for law enforcement evaluations. The government agents that developed the helicopter have sinister plans of their own for the helicopter and their organization, and when the LAPD pilot and observer inadvertently discover the truth, the real adventure begins.

The subject helicopter was a bolt-on applique that was applied to two Aerospatiale SA-341G Gazelle helicopters for filming. The two aircraft, N51BT and N52BT ended up a challenge to fly with the added weight, and both were sold off for scrap after filming. One was reactivated briefly for another movie before the applique was removed from the Gazelle.

When I first heard about this kit, I initially assumed that this was a reissue of the Monogram kit before I remembered that Monogram's kit (copied by Kitech) is 1/32 scale. As we got closer to the release and sprue shots appeared at a few hobby shows, it was clear that Aoshima didn't scale down the Monogram kit. In fact, you can clearly see the Gazelle's lines in this release where you don't get that out of the Monogram tooling.

This kit is a completely new-tool production provided on three trees of very dark blue styrene, one tree molded in gray styrene, one chromed tree, one clear styrene tree, and several separately provided parts in black styrene or vinyl (for the display base). This release also includes the gatling gun cast in white metal.

This is definitely NOT the Monogram kit! The rotor head and swash plate are very nicely done. While this detail, I hope Aoshima will release an SA-341 Gazelle! The rotor blades plug into the rotor head and the main shaft slips into a vinyl tube that sits inside the transmission, making it a snap (no pun intended) to remove the rotor assembly for transportation or storage.

The cockpit layout of the movie helicopter is very nicely replicated with details and decals to represent the various control displays and consoles. The JAFO side console is really nice here. You'll have plenty to look at through the huge greenhouse canopy.

The chromed engine is plated with a dull finish so it won't look toylike, but some modelers will want to remove the chrome plating and metalize the engine after assembly to make it easier to remove seamlines.

The ventral ammo tray and ammo feeds are replicated as are the boom microphones, spot lights, gatling gun turret, and 'Murphy' pilot figure.

One other nice touch in this kit is a fully articulating display base that you can plug into the bottom of your completed Blue Thunder and pose the aircraft in flight. You can put the completed model on its skids if you wish as well.

The kit's decal sheet provides markings and stenciling for the movie version of the helicopter including the red emergency access stripes that surround the applicable canopy windows. The sheet also has the decals for the various console and panel displays to make this model very visually appealing.

It is interesting that Aoshima produced this exquisite model of the Blue Thunder more than 25 years after the movie first appeared in theaters. If this is an example of the level of detail they are going to apply to other subjects, I can't wait to see what they're planning next!

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!