This is a build review of the Magic factory kit, Air Defense System, Iron Dome, 1/35 scale

2023 - A celebratory year?

Build Review


As Israel celebrates 75 years as a state and an air force this year I imagine that I will be able to buy and build lots of new and exciting kits with an Israeli military theme. I realize that this is probably just a dream but this kit really got me excited. Iron Dome is a missile launching system designed in Israel to protect the nation from rocket attacks ever since 2011. United states has contributed a signinficant amount of funds to develop this system and during 2012-2014 the system intercepted some 800 rockets that were fired against Israel. It is said to have a 90% effectiveness against the weapons it is designed to combat. Well, If only I had that…

The materials

The plastic is really nice to work with, it is hard but not too hard, i.e. when I need to scrape or sand I actually feel the plastic respond to my actions. It is somewhat thick in certain parts but I will get back to that later. The details are produced in a life like way in terms of bolts and welding seams.

The photo etch is produced in a new way for me, I haven’t seen it done this way before. There is a plastic film on both the back and the front of the metal parts and they are punched so you don’t need to cut any of the parts off, you simply cut the plastic and peel it off and voilà. This minimizes the risk of bending the parts unnecessarily with shearing force. I am not regularly building with photo etch but I did  enjoy it this time, it’s thin enough to bend easily with the right tools. It is super user friendly and I love it.

The only thing I have a problem with are the hydraulic piston rods. They are a mixed media set and the overlap between plastic and metal is too short. The connection is weak and when the heavy container of missiles are to be placed it poses a conundrum. How can I put all that weight on those spindly rods without breaking them? You can, I couldn’t! I snapped two of them! Since the connection between the rods and the cradle is somewhat of a snap fit you do need to use some force. I would have welcomed litterally any other solution but this one. All metal, all plastic, metal sleeve over the plastic…literally any other way would have been better. Even thinning the plastic of the missile containers would have worked. Of course, I might have used the wrong CA glue and a better modelller would of course have been able to do this without a hick up, but I do think that this could have been realized in a better way. This is in fact the only complaint I have on the kit.

The decals are also partly new to me, at least the ones with the protective film. There are two decal sheets, the decals for the missile launcher are held together with a pink tinted, protective film. You need to leave the film on for 24 hours before peeling it off but the result is that you don’t have any carrier film. They are very thin, very crisp and the only downside is the time you need to leave them alone for but that can be worked around easily with some planning. The rest of the decals are laid down the same way as the usual are with the exception of them being clearly above medium quality. They are thin and with  crisp details. Be careful when you peel off the protective film, it won’t just simply fall off on it’s own and you do not want to scratch your paint work.

The fit

I have nothing major to report on this section, there are gaps, mainly in the construction of the base, the beam assembly, the stabilizers and the cradle. You will need to scrape the molding seams on the thicker parts and all the sub assemblies that contain two halves comes with ”pre molded” gaps that needs to be filled. This is not a bigger issue than with any other kits according to me, I have built many kits with a lot bigger problems, this is simply a part of the modelling work we do, to be expected even. The best part is that it is easily sorted and it won’t kill your mojo or hold up the work very long.

The instructions

Extremely clear and easily read. Clearly marked options, whether you are building the U.S. or the IDF-version, the launcher in operational or transportation mode. There are also visually helpful images of top views or orientational views so that you can, pre assembly, see if you are thinking correctly. The instructions contain an entire page of information about how to lay down these new decals. It is up there with the best.

The value

High value for the money. I just googled the cost of it and I would, without grinding my teeth, pay the approximate 80 USD that it is priced at. The overall length of the build, the entertainment and the challenges it presents is enough to validate the cost. I have somewhere around 40 hours into this kit, I lost track of the hours since I was preoccupied with falling down the stairs, but I felt entertained and challenged all through the build and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Well, what is there to say? This is one of the most enjoyable builds I have done in quite some time. There are small issues with gaps and molding seems but nothing you shouldn’t expect as a modeller. A somewhat complicated kit and not for the beginner. Keep in mind that you need to paint the sub assemblies ahead of construction since there are a lot of nooks and crannies that will be hard or imposible to reach with the airbrush if painting it like it was armor. Love the new photoetch, love the new decals, love the hydraulic piston rods a little less. 

This is an absolutely stunning kit! I hope that they will release the command unit as well… I hope so, I don’t want to scratch build that one. 

Thank you Jim Starkweather for sending me this kit. I hope I met your expectations with the build!

Magic Factory, Iron Dome, 1/35 Scale - Build review



You may also like