Thursday, August 10

Aftermarket update review: Six new 1/48th scale aircraft detail sets from Mini Craft Collection

A new company making what look like much needed & finely detailed 48th scale aircraft improvements, Mini Craft Collection sent six sets for Gary to review for you. See in detail the parts & comparisons to the real thing in his review...

Detail Set Review: Mini Craft Collection 1/48th scale Aircraft Detail Sets
3-D Printed Aircraft Detail Sets
From Mini Craft Collection
1/48th scale
Reviewed: Aug 2023
MINI CRAFT Collection are a new aftermarket 3D design and printing company who have released a small, but steady, stream of new 1:48th scale detail sets for aircraft over the last 12 months.

The modelling industry is seeing a large rise in small "one-man" companies entering the 3D printed market. With consumer grade 3D printers becoming cheaper with higher resolutions, professional results can be achieved with a very small investment by anyone skilled in 3D design.
In this review, I'll be looking at several of there existing sets, focused on wing folds and ejection seats in 1/48th scale. Each set is thoughtfully packaged in a small metal case to protect the delicate resin parts.

F-8 Crusader Wing Fold
From Mini Craft Collection 
1/48th scale
Kit No #4802
Price: $15.23 USD from Hobbylink Japan
Set #4802 is a wing fold designed to fit the 1/48th scale Hasegawa Crusader family. There have been many boxings of the Hasegawa Crusader over the years and the MCC wing fold set will be applicable to all of them, including the French aircraft.

Inside the metal case the resin parts are carefully packed in foam along with the assembly instruction sheet in black and white.
A good study of the Crusader wing fold on this French aircraft. Certainly not the most complex mechanism and one that seems ideally suited to designing and printing in 3D.
To protect the resin parts its common practice for the designer to add a "protective cage" around the outside. This is cut away when it comes time to expose the parts for use. It's also pretty common to see all sorts of colored resin in these cottage industry prints, often the reason for this can be as simple as it was the only color available for them to purchase at the time. I personally like a grey color resin simply because it's easier to cover with just about any paint color.
The instructions are adequate to get the job done. Compared to the likes of Eduard with their full color professional instructions these photo-copied ones look a bit basic but the layout and message is clearly communicated. As with any required surgery to the model I always like to measure twice and cut once.

A-1 Skyraider wing fold /w metal gun barrels
From Mini Craft Collection 
1/48th scale
Kit No #4810
Price: $23.69 USD from Hobbylink Japan
Set #4810 is a wing fold designed to fit the 1:48th scale Tamiya A-1 Skyraider. You should be able to use this on both the Navy and Air Force boxings of the Tamiya kit as the wings were identical. There is quite a few parts to this set and there is not much spare room in the standard metal case that MCC uses.
One of the interesting features of the Skyraider is that when the wing is folded the M3 20-millimeter cannon is accessible. MCC has therefore included two 3D printed cannons with turned brass barrels. Take note that the wing fold parts are "handed" meaning you have a specific right and left side parts. These are conveniently marked on the protective cage with the letters "L" & "R".
The wing fold on the Skyraider was very strong, designed to be able to leave the outer wing pylons loaded with ordnance during the fold.
The main MCC wing fold parts are beautifully detailed, with lots of accurately molded raised rivet and cabling. The prints are clean and the supports are placed in a way so as not to spoil the visible surfaces after removal. For these prints MCC switched to a dark grey resin.
The M3 cannons and barrels are included in the set. The thoughtful packaging of the brass parts is welcome rather than using a plain plastic bag like other manufacturers. 
When folded, the Skyraider wing (especially if loaded), needed support braces between the wing and fuselage. MCC provide these in brass as well.
The instructions are separated onto two sheets. The larger sheet details how to install the wing fold mechanism parts onto the kit wing whilst the small sheet contains information for "optional" parts depending on the specific aircraft and situation you are depicting. As always best practice is to check your references.

F-18 Hornet Wing Fold
From Mini Craft Collection 
1/48th scale
Kit No #4801
Price: $15.23 USD from Hobbylink Japan
Set #4801 is a wing fold designed for the "classic" F/A-18 Hornet family (i.e. the A/B/C/D). This wing fold is not suitable for use with the Super Hornet (E/F/G) as the wings are very different. MCC indicate that this conversion should work with both the Hasegawa and Kinetic Hornet kits. I'll be curious to see how well that holds true.
In general the F/A-18 wing fold is very simple in design compared to other carrier based aircraft. Only a small section of the outer wing folds so the hinge itself does not really have to load bear all that much.
It's very common to see USN Hornets on carrier decks with their wings folded. In fact it's rare to see them without the wing folds up whilst on deck.
The Hornet wing fold is basically a super sized "piano hinge" design. Very little "plumbing" is visible so the end result makes for a clean look.
The MCC parts are once again super clean prints with the main parts of the hinge designed to interlock with each other (just like the real aircraft). When the wings are folded, small auxiliary doors on the top of the wing open as well and MCC provide these as well. 
Once again pay attention to the L & R labels to make sure you don't put them on back the front.
As with any wing fold, you will be required to cut the kit wing and remove some material. The MCC parts are then inserted into the hollow section of the inner and outer wings. This is the bit where I suspect the Hasegawa and Kinetic kits will differ so you may need to do some on the fly shaping to get things lined up. Note that the wing fold is not 90 degrees, but actually "over folds" by 10 degrees to make the final angle 80 degrees to the main wing. It's a small amount but could mean the difference between your model looking right or wrong.

M.B MK.H7 Ejection Seats-air force type (2pcs)
From Mini Craft Collection 
1/48th scale
Kit No #4807
Price: $18.05 USD from Hobbylink Japan
Switching gears from wing folds to some ejections seats. Kicking off with set 4807 we have a pair of 1/48th scale Martin Baker Mk.H7 seats for use with USAF F-4 Phantoms of mid/late production.
Out of the box the seats are encased within a protective cage. You will need to carefully cut this away without damaging the seat parts within. I found the resin to be easy to cut with a good pair of side cutters or a couple of swipes with a razor saw.
During its operational history, the Phantom II has been fitted with 2 types of ejection seat. Between 1967 and 1968, the early Mk.H5 seats were replaced by Mk.H7 seats, which had the "Zero-Zero" ejection capability. Also, the soft parachute container located in an aluminum case of the H5 was replaced by a rigid-type container. This Mk.H7 seat would be appropriate for use in a F-4C/D/E/G and RF-4C/E of the USAF from mid 1969. This subtype differs from the US Navy type with its emergency oxygen system fitted to the back of the bucket seat, the shape of the survival kit, the shoulder harness reel and harness buckles.
The MCC seat is beautifully detailed with even the folds in the cushions being reproduced most realistically. My only observation is that whilst you do get two seats, they appear to be identical with even the harnesses being in the same place. It would have been nice to have some variation between the two seats, even in some minor/subtle way.
As would expect there is not much "assembly" needed, short of attaching the overhead ejection pull handles and seat pan handle. No color callouts are provided but a quick search on the internet will provide all you need in terms of reference.

Martin Baker GRU-7(A) 
From Mini Craft Collection 
1/48th scale
Kit No #4811
Price: $18.05 USD from Hobbylink Japan
Set #4811 is pre-release sample of the 1/48th scale MB GRU-7(A) as fitted to the mid/late production F-14A/B Tomcat. MCC provide two versions of the GRU-7(A) to represent the mid/late seats (this set) which had the canvas fabric cushions and set 4808 with the early ribbed cushion pads.
The seat is a small work of art with just about every detail of the real seat reproduced in 1:48. Even the pattern on the canvas cushions is reproduced most convincingly. The 3D prints are clean and minimal supports are used to make clean up as easy as possible.
The Mk. GRU-7(A) seat is a late model Mk. 7 family member. It is the direct descendant of the GRU-5 seat used in the early A-6 Intruder aircraft. That seat became the GRU-7 seat (with many modifications), which was followed by the GRUEA-7 for the stretched EA-6 Prowler aircraft. The F-14A required some other changes so its seat became the GRU-7(A). Features of the Mk. GRU-7(A) include a redesigned headrest and drogue container, a flatter, lower fiberglass parachute container, a survival kit with integral oxygen bottle, and an extended seat bucket shape (source:
It's not until you employ an extreme macro lens that the print layers become visible. The use of anti-aliasing when printing can often help to smooth out these types of artefacts but often at the expense of overall sharpness.

ACES II Ejection Seat wool pad for F-16C Mid/Late (1pc)
From Mini Craft Collection 
1/48th scale
Kit No #4812
Price: $10.15 USD from Hobbylink Japan
The final sample seat I was provided is the 1/48th scale ACES II F-16 version in set 4812. In addition to the seat itself you are provided with the rails which fit on the rear of the seat and guide the seat out of the cockpit in case of ejection.
The Advanced Concept Ejection Seat (ACES) Was developed to provide a standard Ejection seat to be utilized in all United States Air Force jets from the mid-1970s. The driving reasons for the development of the ACES II were to standardize on one type of ejection seat - this would lead to reduction in training of both mechanics and pilots, also the design was intended to provide better performance in low altitude/adverse attitude conditions as well as to improve high speed seat stablity. It also allowed the government to purchase larger lots of spare parts. The ACES II is a third-generation seat, capable of ejecting a pilot from zero-zero conditions up to maximum altitude and airspeeds in the 600 KEAS range. The ACES II has been fitted to several aircraft over the years including F-15, F-16, A-10, B-1B, B-2 and F-22.

The F-16 version differs from most of the rest of the ACES II seats in the configuration of the main ejection handles. The F-16 and the F-22 ACES II seats use a center-pull handle similar to that of the Escapac seats. They also vary in the angle of the seat back to the seat pan which is more obtuse to allow for better comfort in the cockpit. The F-16 ACES II is setup with a seat back angle of 30 degrees to allow for the pilot's physiological response to the G-forces of combat maneuvering. (The F-22 is closer to a 22 degree tilt for the same reason. The large bubble canopy of the F-16 is stressed to resist bird strikes and can not be effectively penetrated by the seat ejection force, hence the seat is not fitted with canopy breakers. (source:
MCC have designed their F-16 seat to incorporate the sheepskin woollen cushion cover, which up until 3D design was very tricky to reproduce accurately in scale. The center pull handles, air data senor probes (on the headrest) are included separately, with spares. The bright green oxygen bottle is mercifully provided separately which will make painting this part SO much easier. Thank you MCC.
MCC have provided the seat rails separately to the seat. This is a good idea as it will allow modellers to display the seat outside the cockpit should they wish to.
As provided, the MCC seat would be suitable for use in a mid/late production F-16 from block 30/32 onwards. No kit manufacturer has been specified by MCC for this seat but you could use it in any of the mainstream 1:48 F-16 kits from Tamiya, Kinetic or Hasegawa.

CONCLUSION - Mini Craft Collection 1:48 Aircraft Detail Sets
It's good to see another new manufacturer of high quality accessories enter the market. MCC seem to have hit the ground running and from what I've seen will continue to give us more goodies to feed our need for more detail.

Gary Wickham
You can see more of Gary's model making on his website