Joaquin & Linette Torres (jltorres@bellsouth.net)
Thu, 13 Jan 2000 21:31:29 -0500


Looks like he posted a second part to his review.

attached mail follows:


At first I wondered if one of the several sub-assemblies which sit
inside the backpack shell might have been incorrectly placed or
otherwise preventing the shell from aligning properly. Well, I snapped
the shell halves together minus any of the stuff that goes inside it,
and the fit was just as bad. We are talking not only a serious warp in
the parts, but the actual design of the parts is preventing them from
seating properly. This, to say the least, is a serious irritation.

The worst fit is evident on the lower outboard sides of the shell, just
below the beam saber mounts. The lower panels on the outside of the main
shell do not fit flush to the inner shell, but instead angle out VERY
noticably. Putting pressure on these areas to force them inward is just
barely sufficient to bring them flush, and of course they spring out
immediately when released. In an unmodified state, there is far too much
tension here to facilitate a glue fix. If you could even get the parts
to set up correctly (unlikely), a stress break along the seam would be
almost inevitable. So, arming myself with files, sanding sticks, and
X-Acto knife, I set to work eyeballing the problem areas.

First off, this molding is so bloody complex that it is hard to spot
just where the problem lies. I started with the inner shell piece,
filing down the 8mm trench that sits just below the seam line (the
problem seam as viewed from the side is an "L"-shape. This trench sits
just below the lower bar of the "L"). this produced a much improved fit
on the left side, but no improvement whatsoever on the right.

Close inspection of the inside of the main shell (right behind the lower
bar of the "L") revealed a raised lip of plastic. Why it is there I
don't know, but it appeared to be actively interfering with the fit of
the parts. I removed this lip with a flat file and the X-Acto knife, and
did the same for the other side. This noticably gave the side areas more
room to flex inward, but they still refused to fit properly. I again
sanded the trenches on the inner shell, as well as the inside of the
left outboard panel (the 1" long polygonal shape that that is supposed
to mate to the inside of the main shell). Again, no real luck.

It became clear to me that the main shell was going to have to be
reshaped. I had to at least get these surfaces to fit flush if there was
to be any hope of bonding and filling them properly. So I took a risk
and took a hairdryer to the main shell. Note: be VERY careful if you
choose to do this, because not only can excessive heat completely ruin a
part (especially one whose walls are this thin), but having your fingers
near the airflow can result in a nasty burn. Fortunately, in a rare
stroke of good luck, I avoided both these outcomes. I was careful to
apply pressure mainly to the bottom of the "L", and to avoid warping the
fairings that house the rear wings. After pinching the sides inward like
this for a few seconds, I ran cold water over the part to lock the
change in place. and whaddya know, I snapped the halves together, and
the sides were now flush. Bingo.

Things were not 100% solved however. Though the outer sides now were
aligned properly, the aforementioned inner panel now bowed inward at the
bottom. It is thin enough to press into proper alignment, and glue would
probably hold it, but it doesn't look so hot at this point (the part
sits a little bit above the inner surface of the main shell, on 3 narrow
"ribs". This is suppose to create a kind of sandwiched-armor look, but
to be honest, it doesn't really come off too well). I think I am just
going to cut these parts off and make replacements from sheet styrene.
They should fit better as independent units, as opposed to being
attached to the inner shell. I think I am also going to slice all the
"ribs" off and replace them with strips of styrene (don't mess with the
three big ribs that aren't covered by the panel... they remain visible
on the finished kit, and they do not appear to affect the fit in any
way). Hopefully this will improve the looks of this area, as right now
it's a mess.

So as it stands, at least the outer surface is now level. There are
still some very sizable gaps between the parts, though. I am undecided
whether to bond this area with super glue or epoxy putty. If I choose
the latter, I my actually file the mating surfaces down a little more to
produce a bigger gap, so the putty can get in properly. I sure do not
want to painstakingly finish and paint this part only to have it crack
open somewhere down the line. As it is, I'm not sure I'll ever trust it
completely.

The small bit of good news is that the hard-to-reach seams on the
inboard surfaces of the backpack unit (between the missile pods) is not
as bad as I had thought. I went at it with a medium-grade sanding stick,
and for the most part the surfaces are fairly level. There is one area
that will need a little putty, and a sunken rectangular area buried way
in there which I am not sure how to deal with yet, but it looks doable,
at least. Time will tell.

Still, bottom line is that I paid $60.00 and change for a kit that has
parts that don't fit. I know big moldings can be tricky, but that is
still no excuse for this kind of slipshod workmanship. Also, while the
backpack was being pulled apart for the first time, the lower stabilizer
arm (which, admittedly, I should have removed first) snapped right in
two. A little later on the pin on the fairing that holds one of the rear
wings in place broke off. This has been the breaking-est kit I've built
since the 1/100 SHINING GUNDAM, and THAT one had the excuse of being so
wackily posable that it kept plunging off the shelf.

No sir, I am NOT pleased, not in the slightest. This experience has
actually been sufficiently unpleasant to sour me on model-building a
little, and I will be looking at my next expensive purchase with a
rather more skeptical eye. As it is, the MG ZZ is the first kit I can
remember that didn't go straight from my workbench to some sort of
display. I doubt I will be inclined to mess with it for some time to
come, frankly.

J.E.D.

-- 
"I predict that handguns will be the American Express of the 21st century"

B.Hodge

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