By Kevin Kovarcik - images & text © 2003
Controlled Energy Designs delivers it's first release -- the Bonehead Fighter in 1/72 scale.
When assembled, this impressive chunk of resin bears a striking resemblance to the Minbari Nial heavy fighter from Babylon 5®.
What You Get
The kit is comprised of 20 resin pieces cast with a light blue tint. There are 4 sub-assemblies for the fighter: The first is the main fuselage, which consists of a main body, vacu-formed canopy, canopy "plug", cockpit halves, and pilot figure. Stated scale is 1/72, which would make for a 12" kit, based on the data I found on the Web. CED's kit is just shy of 13", so it's a bit big. The overall shape of the fuselage is well defined, with only slight warping towards the tapering rear end. Cockpit halves form a cylinder which is inserted in a socket in the front of the fuselage. This hole is somewhat rough and needs to be cleaned up a bit. The halves do not form a complete cylinder, as the gap between the halves is for positioning the pilot. Detail inside the cockpit cylinder is sparse, but appears to be fairly accurate to the TV show. Additional details could easily be painted on. The pilot, in a prone position, is also fairly rough, but the basic shape of a Minbari warrior is clear. Nine fairings surround the canopy, though screen captures from the series suggest 12 -- six identical fairings alternating with 6 marginally larger ones. The vacu-formed canopy is excellent and free of distortion.
The wings each consist of a main spar, outer stabilizer/gun mount, 2 engine pods, and smaller petal-like winglet. The spars all have a similar casting flaw along the main fuselage attachment area where two small nubs of excess resin have accrued as a result of what appears to be slight warping of the mold during the casting process. Since it's excess resin, it'll clean off with a sharp knife easily. The tapered rear of each spar is slightly warped as well, but like the main fuselage is easily corrected with a boiling water bath reshaping and cold water setting. Small sinkhole/gaps are present beneath and behind each gun barrel, but are shallow enough to fill with superglue and sand clean without too much trouble. The engines and smaller petals are well formed, but the thinnest tapers of both the petals and outer stabilizers have a few sub-surface pinholes which will become apparent if you trim the tapering sections to identical relative lengths and thicknesses. One of each of my kit's stabilizers and petals came up short and needed a bit of superglue extending. Cowling and gun holes were a bit rough around the inside edges, but only require quick trimming and sanding. Sensor pods between the guns have multiple pie-shaped cutouts which may require slight re-excavation.
The sub-assemblies for the wings seem to fit together quite well, with only a tiny amount of filler required to eliminate narrow gaps. The fit of the wings to the fuselage, however, is slightly more problematic, as the locator pins are off by about an eigth of an inch. Shaving down each locator pin by half from the outside allows for correct mating. The positive curve of the fuselage is meant to mate easily with the negative curve along the bottom of the wing spars, but due to excessive resin on one side of the wing towards the rear, each wing veers slightly to the left. Again, hot water reshaping reduces this, but there remains a slight offset that may require trimming the wing joints to fix.
Directions consist of 2 pages of typed instructions accompanying roughly drawn schematics. The schematics, though somewhat crude, sufficiently illustrate proper positioning, and the text adequately explains overall construction. The kit contains no decals, and refers to the box illustration for painting guidelines. The illustration included with my kit was a fairly low resolution image, but still provided enough detail to get an idea of what patterns to use. For more ambitious modelers, there is a wealth of information online for most of the B5 ships including screen caps and 3D renderings.
ConclusionsOverall, this is a decent kit of a subject that has been absent from our hobby for quite a while, and should make a perfect companion piece for the Revell/Monogram Starfury. The only disappointing areas would be the inaccurate fairings of the forward fuselage and the casting quality of the pilot. Most fighters in this scale have little of the cockpit visible, but due to the design of the Nial, most of the cockpit IS visible, so extra attention to detail is required. As with most garage kits, the Bonehead fighter is a bit pricey for what it is, but with that said it is well within the average price for such a model. The organic lines of the Minbari design are well reproduced, and once painted, the kit should look great.
Only one issue remains...how to mount it to a stand?
Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!
This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 22 September 2003.