Sunday, June 12

In-Boxed: Bandai’s 1/72nd scale A-Wing Starfighter

We have been a fan of the new Bandai Star Wars kits, and now Andy his hot little hands on the hotter and littler A-Wing Starfighter kit in 1/72nd scale, he thought he might show us all what’s in the box before he builds it. Let’s see what it looks like in his review.

In- Boxed: A-Wing Starfighter
Manufacturer - Bandai
Kit Number - 0206320
Scale - 1/72nd
Availability - “Officially” only available in Japan – look for distributors on the Bandai Website
Bandai continues to spoil us with yet more Star Wars releases, and the latest to hit the shelves is the RZ-1 A-Wing Interceptor, which made its debut in Episode VI The Return of the Jedi. It's a bit of an understatement to say that Bandai's Star Wars kits have caused a bit of a storm since they first appeared a couple of years ago, party down to their superb quality and attention to detail, and partly due to the licensing constraint which has meant they're only “officially” available in Japan. They are, however, very easy to source through a certain auction site, and also through Japanese sellers on Amazon.

Sprue shots coming up, but first a little history from a galaxy far, far away...

Like many of the starships from the original trilogy, the A-Wing was designed by legendary Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. Initially, it was to wear a blue and white colour scheme but, due to being filmed in the early days of blue screen, when the technology wasn't as advanced, the colouring was changed to white and dark red.

The initial backstory for the A-Wing had them being developed after the Battle of Yavin (Episode IV) by Kuat Systems Engineering. This backstory has since been revised, and A-Wings have featured in the Rebels Animated series, which is set a number of years before A New Hope, resplendent in their original colouring.

The A-Wings were the fasted ships flown by the Rebellion, faster even than the Empire's TIE Interceptors (which will be coming soon from Bandai, incidentally), and were instrumental in the victory over the Imperial Fleet at the battle of Endor. Vader's flagship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor was disabled, and ultimately destroyed, when an A-Wing, flown by Rebel pilot Arvel Crynyd, crashed into its command bridge.

Tantalisingly, it would appear that the A-Wing will be returning in the new films, proof came to us as a picture of Prince Harry, seen sitting in a cockpit set during a visit to the Star Wars sound stage at Pinewood Studios.

The Model
OK, now you know about the A-Wing, let’s have a look at Bandai's kit. It all comes packaged in the standard black box, with a great illustration of an A-Wing engaging a Star Destroyer. Inside you'll find five sprues, each moulded in the appropriate colour for the respective parts, and each individually wrapped for protection. There are different possible sizes for an A-Wing, as the studio model used an over-large pilot figure when compared to the full-size cockpit set used for filming close-ups. The generally accepted correct length is 9.6m, and Bandai's kit matches this size perfectly.

Sprue A
First up we have the main components for the red sections of the fuselage and engine nacelles, together with parts for the landing gear in white. Here you'll also find the clear components which comprise the engine inserts and a choice of two cockpit canopies.

Sprue B
This one has the main upper and lower hull, the large rear stabilizer fins, and other detail parts all moulded in an off-white, together with a very nicely detailed pilot figure.

Sprue C
A smaller sprue in black concentrating mainly on the cockpit components, along with the guns and other small details. This sprue also contains one of the more bizarre additions I've seen in a kit. Bandai has decided to provide us with a flat 2D pilot figure with integrated stand. The reason for this figure will remain a mystery as Bandai make no mention of it in the instructions.

Sprue SWB-12
Here we've got the flight stand in the form of a Death Star tile. This can be connected with the equivalent tile sections included in previous releases to form a larger diorama base. This sprue also includes the added extra that comes with this kit, a Death Star turbolaser turret. This isn't in scale with the A-Wing, as a 1/72 turret would be a huge kit in its own right, but it makes a nice addition, and can be displayed separately, as well as connected to the main flight stand.

Sprue SWE-1
The smallest sprue contains the two clear red laser blasts that can be attached to the main guns. These are included with the majority of Bandai's Star Wars kits, though most builders tend to leave them off.

That covers the sprues, so let’s have a closer look at some of the details in the kit. One of the hallmarks of Bandai's Star Wars kits has been the moulding of parts in the correct colours, meaning they can be assembled without the need for additional painting. Great for younger or first-time modellers, or anyone looking for a quick, fun build. Here the main fuselage is in pale white-grey, onto which the central red section will clip

The quality of the surface detail here is excellent with fine, recessed panel lines and equally fine rivets. The raised detail is also sharp and cleanly moulded.

The central red section features the well-known replacement panel on the left hand upper fuselage. Of course, that panel was only on one of the A-Wings, and that is one of the disadvantages of having the parts moulded in colour. If you want to do an alternative scheme, you'll need to prime the model well to cover the strongly coloured plastic.

The rear stabilizer fins are beautifully slide moulded, and feature internal rib detail on the engine nacelles. As with all the parts, these a very cleanly moulded, with no flash and very small sprue gates which, were possible, are on concealed areas.

The fuselage sides are separate pieces to avoid the seam you'd get if these sections were moulded on the main upper and lower fuselage halves.

The wedge shapes nose cone comes in its own boxed in section on the sprue. This is a nice touch by Bandai, as protruding parts like this can otherwise be easily twisted and damaged in the box.

The cockpit is nicely detailed, if a little basic. Not much of this will be seen if the pilot figure is added. If you choose to model the A-Wing on the ground and leave the pilot out, you'll need to trim down the lug on the seat.

Speaking of pilots, here's Mr. Flatty. Make of him what you will

By contrast, the seated pilot is very good, and features the correct helmet design for an A-Wing pilot.

The transparent parts are absolutely crystal clear. The decision to supply the engine nozzles as clear parts will make lighting the kit much easier, and I have to assume this is the reason Bandai have done it, so full marks for that.

The two canopies are identical in shape but one has the framing moulded in place, while the other has an indentation to take a separate frame, which is supplied on sprue C. For those who don't like masking canopy frames, this will make life much easier. There's no option in the kit to have the canopy open.

The Death Star tile that's included as a base for the flight stand features some truly incredible detailing, and shows the quality that Bandai is capable of. The design of this tile is unique to this kit, as is the case with the previous releases, so quite a varied section of Death Star surface can be created if you have all the Bandai kits.

The turbolaser turret may be seen as an afterthought, but it's very nicely done all the same, with a couple of lovely slide-moulded barrels. Perhaps, if we're lucky, Bandai will issue a true 1/72 turret one day.

Markings come, as usual for Bandai, with the choice of waterslide decals or stickers. Some of the included markings are for different coloured panels on the fuselage and, as such, won't be required if you're painting the model.

The instructions are in a fold out, two-sided sheet, black and white on one side and colour on the other, featuring 3D CAD style build steps.

One thing that's changed for this release is the inclusion of information in English throughout the instructions. Previous instruction manuals were entirely in Japanese. Is this a hint that these kits may become more available in the west in future? For now, at least, it means the instructions are a little easier to follow than before.

For quite a while now, I've rated Bandai's Star Wars kits as some of the best models out there. The fact that they've been able to design them to have a super-easy snap fit construction, yet still have remarkable levels of detail make them suitable for modellers of any ability or age. Add to that the bargain price that they retail for, and it's no surprise that they've become so popular, and helped introduce a lot of non-modellers to the hobby

The A-Wing looks as good as all the previous releases, and should build into a fantastic replica. All we need now to complete the set of rebel ships is the B-Wing.

Very highly recommended

Andy Moore

To see more of Bandai’s kits, take a look at their Website…