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Preview: HobbyBoss’ 1/72 Bf-109G-6

One of the things I’ve noticed since getting back into the model building hobby is that most of the people that seem to be building models now are adults. 25 years ago when I was a teen, most of the guys I knew built models. Now, the teens who build models seem to be the exception.

No wonder though, as modeling is no longer a hobby that $5 from grandma and a bike ride to Kmart will get you 2 kits, a tube of glue, and a bottle of paint. And when a kid does have $50 to spend, it’s likely to go to a Playstation game.

All of which has lead many modelers to wonder about the future of the hobby.

While I don’t think we can call modelings future safe, if more companies follow the lead of HobbyBoss, we might see a new group of modelers carrying the hobby forward.

My 17 year old son is out of school for the summer, and wanted to build a model. I purchased this kit at my local hobby shop, Hayes Hobby House, for almost 70’s price of $8.99- a real bargain by today’s prices. I’d heard some good “buzz” about these HobbyBoss kits, and figured this would be a great chance to give my son something to do, and have the chance to check out the kit.

The box is a sturdy, top opening box. And thankfully, it actually has pictures of the built kit on it. I always liked looking at what it could look like when I was a kid- gave me a goal to shoot for. Nice box-top art is nice, but I believe you really need some pictures of what you’re buying. Inside the box, the parts are packed neatly and securely in a plastic tray- a very nice touch. The decals are tucked away in a small bag, and the clear parts are tightly held in the plastic tray, keeping them from sliding around the box and getting scratched.

The wings and fuselage are each single piece castings. The cockpit is cast in place- seat and stick, not much else. Some modelers may scoff at this, but it’s actually what appeals to my son. He likes painting the exterior, not spending lots of times with small, fiddly throttle quadrants and rudder pedals. Sure- I love that aspect of modeling. But if people- kids- have a choice that draws them into this great hobby, I say bring on the simple detail. There’s plenty of resin and photo-etch for us old guys. The fuselage and wings have recessed panel lines, with a nice level of detail, especially given the price range of these kits.

The rest of the parts are on two sprues, with connections gates that are not to thick to provide any problems with removing the parts. And there are no ejector pin marks, sinks or any of the other surface issues that you often see on kits- often some kits at a much higher price. (See…. it can be done!) Even the dreaded ejector pin marks on the gear doors are absent. The only place I did find them were on the inside of the extra fuel tank halves- perfectly acceptable, as they would not be visible at all. Seam lines are almost non-existent, and there’s not a trace of flash. Very nice work for a kit that costs less than $10!

The fuselage and wings fit together quite nicely. When I dry-fitted them for this photo, I didn’t push them together all the way, as I realized the fit was tight enough that I might not be able to get them apart again- and I didn’t want to ruin the fun for my son. So don’t let the pic fool you- the fuselage to wing fit is nice. Again- much nicer than on many higher priced kits, showing that high price does not always guarantee high quality. And while most kids probably wouldn’t get hung up on seam lines, I do recall that one of the frustrations I had was getting fuselages and wings lined up easily. As a “mature” modeler, I can appreciate the fact that it wouldn’t be frustrating to get a good fit.

The quality in the kit is also evident in the instructions. Printed on a small, single folded glossy sheet (in full color on one side), the painting instructions show quite clearly what paints go where. The other side of the instructions, showing the assembly sequence, is presented clearly and simply, without a lot of confusing symbols and lines. There are five assembly steps, though I chuckled that step #5 shows the completed model, almost like it’s saying “Ta-daaaa!” Again- this is the kind of quality I’d love to see in higher priced kits.

While these HobbyBoss kits are not up to Tamiya or Hasegawa standards in terms of details and options, if you’re looking for a satisfying, simple kit at a great price, I would highly recommend not only this beautiful little -109, but any of the line of these kits, which is quite extensive, covering a wide range of World War II subjects. (If my count is right, it’s a line of 30 kits!)

While I normally stick to 1/48 scale kits simply because I have trouble seeing the smaller scales, I am definitely going to be making a trip back to Hayes to pick up one (or four or five) of these kits for myself. Even in this super-detailed, resin and photo-etched world, I think it’s great fun to take a break and get back to the way modeling was when I was a kid- fun, simple….. and inexpensive.