Revell Germany's 1:32 Arado Ar 196 has quite rightly been one of the aircraft modelling hits of the year so far. Beautifully detailed and, above all, astonishingly low priced, it just goes to prove that mainstream kits of such quality don't have to cost an arm and a leg. But even the best kits aren't perfect, and the Arado falls down from a design point of view in two areas in my opinion;
1. The questionable decision to mould the canopy as separate "flat" panels with locating tabs that will be hard to disguise on the finished model.
2. The clumsy moulded-on seat harnesses.
Eduard can't help much with the canopy (short of moulding a new one - now, there's an idea for them for a new range of accessories...), but they have been quick to offer an excellent set of photo-etched belts as part of their range of aftermarket add-ons for the kit.
Three harnesses are included on the small pre-painted fret - the pilot's and gunner's seatbelts, plus the sling support for the gunner while standing up.
The pre-painting is exquisitely detailed as usual from Eduard, and large scale allows the belts to be produced as separate straps with individual buckles for a total of 41 items. This alllows you to drape the finished harnesses more realistically and, while the etched metal belts can't match paper or foil for flexibility, the detail is second to none (and far beyond what most of us could ever hope to reproduce by hand), so it's little wonder that Eduard are clear market leader for this type of accessory.
The set is accompanied by a neatly illustrated set of instructions, and the large scale means that the etched components aren't too fiddly, despite the relative complexity of the harnesses. Ironically, the hardest part looks to be preparing the kit's seats ready to accept the new belts, because Eduard indicate that some rather awkward surgery will be needed to remove the original moulded-on harnesses. (Anyone really worried about damaging the seats may well be advised to check whether the new parts can simply be applied over the mouldings to hide them.)
Eduard's etched harnesses are a massive improvement over the kit versions. Some critics have bemoaned the fact that Eduard didn't include the seatbelts with their main cockpit set, but the decision seems logical when one considers that many modellers will be perfectly happy with the overall detail in the kit's "office" and will only want to replace the moulded-on belts. At over £12 in the UK, the set can hardly be described as cheap, but the beauty of Revell's low-cost Arado is that you can afford to splash out on some accessories without breaking the bank, and while these belts do cost half the price of the model itself(!), they provide exactly the icing on the cake that the kit deserves. Recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Beautifully detailed, with superb pre-painting and individual buckles.Lows: Quite expensive - but this is countered by the low cost of the kit they are designed for. Some tricky surgery may be needed to install them.Verdict: Eduard's etched harnesses are a very worthwhile investment for anyone building the Revell Ar 196, being a massive improvement over the kit's moulded-on harnesses.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...