By John Klein - images & text © 2004
I have just opened my latest shipment from Hobby Link Japan - the brand-spanking new T.I.E. Interceptor from Fine Molds. Like Fine Molds' other Star Wars releases, Jedi Starfighter, X-Wing and T.I.E. Fighter, this one does not disappoint.
Image: Parts for the stand/base
Image: Pod Parts
Image: Wing Parts
Image: Clear bits
Image: Wing framing
Image: Closer look
Image: Canopy masks
Image: Size comparison with ERTL TIE (1/48)
The box top sports a painting of two T.I.E. Interceptors apparently fleeing the partially completed Death Star II and an in-depth history of the development and design of the T.I.E./In. Contained within are 5 separately bagged parts trees - two identical trees for the wings, one for the fuselage pod, one for the stand and one for the clear parts and decals. On first inspection the parts are all crisply molded with no flash and plenty of detail, the clear parts are distortion free and the decals seem well printed and thin. Also included are a poster for some sort of Star Wars Cartoon, a Darth Vader sticker imploring you to “Feel The Mobile Force” and a photo card of R2-D2 advertising “Star Wars Mobile” - I'm not really sure what any of that is about.
A closer inspection confirms one's first impression - this is a well-executed little kit. The plastic is thin and workable and the parts are well engineered and thought out. As with Fine Molds' T.I.E. Fighter kit, the T.I.E./In kit's solar panels and wing framing are separately molded - allowing the builder to paint these items separately and then assemble them for a clean paint line without masking. I build AMT's kit of the T.I.E./In and that was one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, even the most careful masking will allow paint to bleed under the tape into the waffle texture of the solar panels. Fine Molds' design is a vast improvement. While on the topic of AMT's release of both the T.I.E./In and the T.I.E. Fighter I should point out that both of these kits are in the same scale and are considerably bigger than the Fine Molds T.I.E.s, which are in scale with each other as well as their X-Wing, Jedi Starfighter and upcoming Slave 1 (1/72). This scale difference isn't very important unless you were planning to kitbash or create a constant scale display. It's just worth mentioning that if you don't like tiny parts this kit could be frustrating - note the size of the parts when compared to a clothespin. The rest of the parts are also well detailed and match perfectly with photos of the studio miniature, which I found in The Lucasfilm Archives book.
| There's even a tiny, but perfectly molded pilot figure. The only clear parts are the glazing for the front window and the upper hatch window. As with their T.I.E./F, Fine Molds supplies a sheet of self-adhesive masks for the tiny four sided window panes and the slats in the upper hatch - a nifty touch and much easier and neater than making your own masks.
Like the other Fine Molds releases, the instructions are printed totally in Japanese. However, the instructions are well illustrated and easy to understand; with exploded views of almost every step, they are simple to follow for all but the most inexperienced modeler. The painting guide is also in Japanese but color references are easy to find on the 'net or in the Lucasfilm Archives book.
There aren't very many markings on the T.I.E. and as a result there is only one small decal sheet carrying 20 decals. A set of decals representing the cockpit interior is included and should look pretty snazzy if they can conform properly to the convex interior of the cockpit pod. The cockpit is fairly visible through the large front window and the decals are much more interesting than a uniform coat of paint so hopefully they'll work out. The decals are well printed and thin.
I can't say enough about the quality of this kit and of Fine Molds' releases in general. They truly push the envelope of what can be achieved with injection molding. I built their X-Wing fighter and was totally impressed with the engineering and fit of the parts. I'm sure that the T.I.E./In will go together just as well - I highly recommend it.
Many thanks to John's 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 © 2004 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 25 March 2004.