Monday, February 19

Tools Tried n’ Tested: MENG Models MTS-026 Advanced Side Cutters

We got our buddy Andy Moore to test out the new precision sprue cutters from Meng Model,  and he got to using them in a "snip" - See what he thought about the cutters after two months or so of heavy use in his "Tried n' Tested" review today...

Tools Tried n’ Tested: MTS-026 Advanced Side Cutters
From Meng Models
Product Link on the Meng Website
Price -  ¥6,000 • $59 • £40 • €47 from Hobbylink Japan
Are those rusty bolt croppers that you borrowed from your dad for removing parts from sprues starting to seem a little heavy-handed now? Thinking it's maybe time for something with a little more finesse? Well, Meng has just released a new pair of side cutters as part of their expanding tool range that may be just what you're looking for.
There are a few tools where I believe you can buy the cheaper options and stick with them, as the cheap ones are often just as good as the expensive alternatives. With most though, I think it's better to invest in a good quality example as it will pay dividends in the long run, and sprue cutters definitely fall into that category. Cheap clippers can often damage parts when removing them from the sprue, and that leads to time spent on remedial work. In extreme cases, a part can even be broken beyond use by a poor set of clippers. These new clippers from Meng certainly aren't cheap, so let's see if they're worth the investment.
If you're in any way familiar with the famous God Hand clippers from Japan, then you may well recognise these new ones from Meng, as they have a  very similar design. Each blade and handle is a single-part steel casting with a sprung pivot. The handles are covered with a fairly firm sponge coating that gives a good grip. There's a small pin on one side to prevent the jaws from opening too far. They're quite compact in size and at first seemed a little too small to me. I usually use Xuron clippers which are quite a bit larger (see image below), but 

I very quickly adapted to the smaller size, and after using them for a few weeks now, I much prefer the more compact dimensions.
Like my old Xurons, these have a slight scissor action on the blades, meaning the sprue gates are sliced rather than compressed and chopped as is the case with cheap side cutters. When I first got back into modelling I was using the cheap type and often damaged parts while removing them as a result. When I switched to the Xurons the difference was like night and day. Well, I've got to say the difference between the Xurons and these new Meng clippers is almost as profound. The quality of the cut is very impressive. You can cut right up to the edge of a part with no fear that you'll be left with a scar, and very thin or delicate parts can be removed without placing them under any pressure which could otherwise lead to them snapping. That's something I couldn't do with the Xurons.
The biggest difference between the Xurons and the Meng clippers is in the thickness (or thinness in this case) of the blades. The Meng blades are a little shorter than those on the Xurons, but much thinner. That's a great help when you find parts that have very short stubby sprue gates that can be hard to remove with chunkier clippers.

Top-down view...
 A side on profile of both snips...
Just how good are these clippers though? Well, the proof is in the pudding, so I've done a little back to back test against the Xurons and the clunky old clippers I bought years ago. I cut a section of sprue with each of the clippers, and you can see the results below. This was a medium soft styrene that's fairly representative of the type you'll find in most kits these days. I should say that both the Meng and Xuron clippers are designed for removing parts from sprues rather than cutting through a full sprue itself, so they're both a little out of their comfort zone.
A close-up of the cuts shows just how much difference a good pair of clippers can make. The cut from the cheap brand is awful. It's essentially ripped the sprue apart and you wouldn't want to let these get close to any actual kit parts. 
The Xurons have left a neater cut without the jagged edges left by the cheap clippers, but the face of the cut is still a little rough. The Meng clippers though have left an almost perfect cut. That cliché about a hot knife through butter would be pretty apt here.

This and the new Meng Yun Mo High Precision Airbrush are the latest tools I am using to make my Panther with - I will give a report about the airbrush after I have used it on that kit..
I have to admit to being a little sceptical about these clippers before I got my hands on them. Generally, when a kit manufacturer starts producing a range of tools the results are often fairly average. These clippers do seem to be the real deal though. They're certainly not cheap, but as long as you look after them (don't use them to cut wire!) they should last for years. As you can see from the photos, the results really speak for themselves. I'll round off by saying this; I've used those Xuron cutters day in, day out for about four years now, and I've never thought about replacing them. I put them aside so I could test the Meng clippers when they arrived. 

That was nearly two months ago and I've never picked them up since. The Meng ones really are that good.

Andy Moore

Thanks to Meng Models who sent this to Andy to use to use on his new Panther (and many other) kits with. You can get these side-cutters from Meng's Distributors Worldwide.