ICM's quarterscale Friedrich is an old friend, first appearing in 2006 as an 'F-2 (reviewed HERE
) by Jean-Luc Formery) and an F-4 a year later (once again reviewed by Jean-Luc HERE
As you can see from Jean-Luc's build of the kit, despite a few shortcomings, it certainly produced a very attractive and basically accurate model, and represented fair value for money compared with the competition at the time.
Now the Bf 109F-4 is back again, this time combined with a set of ICM's really excellent Luftwaffe figures. So, some 8 years later, how does the kit hold up, bearing in mind that the definitive Zvezda kit has appeared in the meantime? I'd have to say, ICM's Friedrich can't really challenge its later rival in any department except value for money – which, in this boxing, is quite remarkable.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. What do you get in the colourful top-opening box?
The Bf 109 comprises:
87 x grey styrene parts (plus 6 unused)
5 x clear styrene parts
Decals for a single colour scheme
The same moulding problems that Jean-Luc noted on the wings are still present – small pin-pricks on the top surfaces, and a soft “orange peel” effect on the undersides. The former will be simple to fill and the latter polishes off quite easily without damaging the underlying detail, so neither is the end of the world - at worst, a minor inconvenience that modellers with a little experience (certainly of short-run kits) will take in their stride. But there’s no flash worth mentioning, and no sink marks (even on thick items that would defeat some of the big names in the business). Overall, the kit is definitely more promising than its price might suggest.
Panel lines are engraved - perhaps a touch softly. The fabric-covered control surfaces are a bit of mixed bag. While the rudder looks very exaggerated, the ailerons and elevators are much more subtle
Just to prove it's always worth doing a dry fit, I did find a couple of differences compared to Jean-Luc's full build of the 'F-2 from all those years ago: the wing/fuselage fit seems better and the wheel wells aren't quite so tight, and the "trench" along the base of the fuselage now is more of a "lump" (sanding down is always preferable in my book to filling, so I guess that's progress). The slight "squareness" of the rear fuselage that Jean-Luc noted remains, and the fin looks a bit thin too me, so I'll add a spacer.
a few more details
Construction starts with a 29-part engine, plus cowl guns and ammunition boxes, which is a real surprise in any kit in this price bracket. It’s nicely detailed and well worth the effort of painting and detailing it. The cowls are separate to allow you to display your work, but the engine could also be used on its own in a diorama. If you do that though, you’ll need to take extra care assembling the 5-part nose, because the engine provides a foundation to hang everything on.
The cockpit is built from 11 parts - which actually sounds more promising than it really is, because some of the details are rather basic. The instrument panel in particular cries out for replacement, and the rudder pedals are a bit crude. However, with some parts scrounged from the spares box or a simple upgrade set, plus a seat harness, there’s the basis of a decent enough “office” provided.
The cockpit canopy is well moulded and nice and clear. A separate external armoured windshield is provided which will need adding carefully with PVA adhesive or similar.
In terms of accuracy, the kit sits quite nicely on Kagero’s drawings, and the furore surrounding a certain recent Gustav puts any perceived discrepancies firmly in context. In fact, the only points that stood out for me when comparing the kit with Squadron’s “In Action” were the bald tyres, the thinner early-style supercharger intake, and the rather pointy looking propeller blades. (To be fair though, Luftwaffe propellers seem oddly hard for many manufacturers to get right, so at least ICM aren’t alone...)
Instructions & decals
The assembly guide is neatly printed as a compact folded pamphlet with construction broken down into 8 stages. The diagrams are a tad small, but clearly drawn and shaded to show areas to be painted. ICM provide colour matches for Model Master paints, but some of the suggestions seem very odd - i.e. 1716 Pale Green for all interior areas. Perhaps it's supposed to represent RLM 02, but the cockpit would be most likely finished in RLM 66 Black Grey.
Decals are provided for just one aircraft:
Bf 109F-4 "Yellow 7", flown by Oblt. Victor Bauer, Staffelkapitan 9./JG3, Szolzy, Russia, March 1942, wearing a field-applied coat of white distemper topsides.
The decals appear to be printed by Begemot and look good quality, with a glossy finish and sharp printing and registration. Stencil markings are provided, but no Swastikas. Some may moan that the inclusion of just marking option is stingy, but it presumably helps to keep the cost of this combo set down. Anyway, the chosen winter scheme presents an interesting challenge that should more than satisfy most modellers, and Luftwaffe “Experten” will no doubt have a stash of aftermarket sets ready to hand anyway.
Overall, ICM’s kit probably won’t win any prizes as the best ‘109, but it certainly isn’t the worst - and with a little refinement can look very respectable indeed.
If the aircraft part of this combo set is arguably a little average, then the figures are truly excellent. ICM have built a well-deserved reputation for the high quality of their figures and these are no exception. The set provides a further sprue containing 73 x tan styrene parts.
These allow you to construct the following figures and accessories:
2 x pilots
A ground crewman holding a spray gun, with an accompanying compressed air bottle
A ground crewman shouldering what looks to be a 50kg bomb
A sentry dressed in a fur-lined greatcoat
A sentry box, barrier, oil drum, tool box and small set of steps
The quality of the sculpting is superb and the parts are cleanly moulded. The facial expressions, details and overall proportions are excellent - among the best you’ll find in mainstream moulded figures in this scale.
Once again, the instructions are adequate, this time a single folded sheet with a parts layout and views of the assembled figures and accessories with Model Master paint matches.
I struggled to give a single percentage rating for this release, as the two component elements of the kit are so different. But, with both the Bf 109F and the Luftwaffe Winter Figures selling separately for £8.80 in the UK, the price of this combined set represents great value for money. One way of looking at it is that if you buy the set for the figures, you can say you’ve got a perfectly decent bonus Bf 109 for just £3.60 - or vice versa! Either way, you’ve got the basis for a very neat Eastern Front vignette in one very affordable package.
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