have released a number of aftermarket sets for Tamiya’s excellent recent Ki-61 (reviewed HERE
). While I was mystified by a few of the design decisions that Tamiya took, the kit is very nicely detailed, but the aftermarket sets will still take it to the next level and address its few weak points. Here’s a look at a selection of the available sets.
648316 Ki-61-1d Exhaust Stacks
Tamiya’s exhausts are rather basic, so they were prime candidates for replacement and Eduard
have stepped up with a pair of Brassin castings that surpass the styrene originals in every way. Arriving in a blister pack and well protected by a soft piece of foam, the casting is basically perfect in the sample set and the new stacks just need removing from their resin blocks to be ready for use. The individual exhausts are hollowed out slightly and have convincing weld seams. As straight drop-in replacements they could hardly be simpler to use and will make an ideal first choice for anyone wanting to try resin for the first time. The set includes instructions, but you probably won't need them - more important is to read the safety guidelines for working with resin.
Price: 5.95 Euros
FE822 Ki-61-1d Cockpit Detail
You couldn’t fairly accuse Tamiya of scrimping on their standard cockpit, but this Zoom etched detail set will still transform it. The 49 parts include spares for some of the smallest items, which is a thoughtful idea that could save the day if (when!) a tiny piece you're working on decides to "go ballistic". (Note: The set is also available as part of an extended upgrade (Item #49822) that also covers the mainwheel wells and radiator).
Construction starts with new instrument panels and consoles. These are pre-coloured with some phenomenally fine printing (if that’s the process used?), and the detail on the instrument faces is far better than most of us could possibly hope to paint. The panels are built up in layers on the original kit parts after having removed the original details and should look excellent with a little subtle highlighting and weathering, finishing off with a drop of varnish to glaze each bezel.
There are straps for the rudder pedals and a standby bead sight to add to the reflector unit. The set includes a number of details to add to the cockpit floor, and a neat touch is that Eduard
have provided a metal template to drill the holes in the right places.
The sidewalls are dressed up with more panel fascias, latches and some cabling - although the latter would probably be better represented by wire, so you could use the etched parts as patterns to cut some fine wire. The inside of the canopy gets locks and a grab handle, and to attach these it'll be safest to use something like Gator's Grip
to avoid clouding the clear parts.
So, not a crazily complex set, but one which will make a real difference to the kit’s office - especially if you’re building the kit without the pilot figure and the canopy posed open.
Price: 11.25 Euros
49823 Ki-61-1d Seatbelts
In the “old days” Eduard
would have included seatbelts as part of the cockpit detail set and, from a modeller’s point of view, I wish they still did. I'm sure it makes good marketing sense, but seatbelts are such an intrinsic part of a cockpit upgrade, I find it slightly frustrating not to get them as standard.
Anyway, what you get? Floating around in a crazily large packet (why is it so
much bigger than the packs for the other sets here?) is a small fret with two sets of pre-coloured lap belts. There’s no shoulder harness, which seems to be correct for the Hien despite some other Japanese fighters being fitted with them.
Once again the colouring is excellent - and if you’re careful you should be able to bend the 2-part belts gently to sit quite naturally without it flaking off. Eduard’s
belts offer a simple and effective improvement over Tamiya’s decal harness.
Price: 4.45 Euros
EX548 Ki-61-1d Painting Masks
Why would you produce a set of painting masks for a kit that already includes some? Well, the simple answer is that Eduard
finished the job and die-cut them, rather than leaving the fiddly task of cutting out 27 masks included to the modeller. So, maybe something of a luxury addition to the kit, but certainly a great time-saver. If you're not too savage removing the masks when you're done, you should be able to save the masks after use for a second kit.
The set covers the canopy, landing lamp cover, plus the mainwheels and tailwheel hubs.
Price: 8.25 Euros
These upgrade sets from Eduard
will make a very worthwhile improvement to Tamiya’s Hien - already a great kit in its own right. The difficulty level of the main cockpit set will make it unsuitable for total beginners, but it’s not really complex by comparison with many etched upgrades, so any modeller with a bit of experience should get on OK with it.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE