Way back in the Way Back, a couple of weeks ago anyway, we threatened to reappear with the second installment of what could easily become our very own version of The Never Ending Story (a movie well worth watching, that one, but we digress) and it’s time to redeem our promise. We’ve already flagged a couple of polystyrene issues for you and it’s time to pin the tail on another one, keeping in mind, however, that the kit isn’t really all that bad—it’s just that it could have been, and should have been, a lot better than it is given its price point.
Here’s the deal: The kit itself is mostly a good one, if hardly state of the art for the year 2024, and there’s actually a lot to commend it in terms of detail, some of which is unfortunately a bit overstated. The model truly does capture the look and feel of what was arguably the most beautiful of the World War 2 Italian fighters, which is a definite plus. As we mentioned in our last installment, the kit’s shortcomings lie in what seem to be tooling limitations at Italeri. At the risk of repeating ourselves, not that we/me/I particularly shy away from repetition, (after all, there is no horse so dead it can’t be beaten a little more), the kit employs quite a bit of photo-etch detail in lieu of the precision polystyrene moldings produced by nearly everyone else. It also has what, to us anyway, that most accursed and diabolical “detail feature” to be found on a plastic model airplane. We are, of course, speaking of removable panels, and the entire nose of this otherwise simple to build model is covered with them. That’s the price we pay for being able to display the engine, of course, but there’s a tendency to make things somewhat wonky as a result.
See what we mean by wonky fit? Ignore the highly unfinished painting and the necessity for a bit of cleanup since this is, after all, a work in progress, and take a look at the gap between the oil cooler housing and the lower fuselage. You might also have a gander at those coarse panel lines and big ol’ honkin’ rivets while you’re at it. Come on, Italeri! You can do better than this!
We’ve since cleaned up and filled that panel gap, as well as several others, and things are looking pretty good here, but while we’re on the subject of boxes that are stuck to the bottom of the model (the oil cooler is a box shape, right?) we ought to take a look at the radiator too. It’s a nicely detailed three-part assembly with easy to apply PE innards, but there’s no radiator core of any sort in there so anyone looking at the model from underneath can see right through that otherwise large and empty box. It’s like that old narrow-case Ducati we once shared our lives with back in the 60s; when this kit is good it’s absolutely great, but there are some things incorporated into it that surpass all understanding and might make you a little bit crazy. Those nose panels are one of them, and the inclusion of real wire to make the radio antenna from is another. Then there are the molded-to-the-seat-back shoulder harnesses, the bend them but we’re not going to tell you what they should look like rudder pedal “trays” on the cockpit floor, and the list goes on. We mention those things, a few of them for the second time in this review, because the empty radiator housing is all part of what we might call The Italeri Enigma. They’re like that Ducati; when they’re good, they’re great, but when they’re not they’re most definitely not great, or even close to it.
Then there’s the complication created by an apparent inability to produce tooling that’s up to contemporary standards. This illustration, which we shamelessly cribbed off the instruction sheet, shows the components necessary to build up the interiors of the main gear doors. Note also that the PE component identified as 34PE requires bending. It’s not a big deal unless you happen to be the new guy on the block, in which case that component could easily cause the utterance of naughty words rarely employed around beloved family members because said bending can be pretty tricky if you haven’t dealt with this sort of thing before. It’s a bit of a paradox in that we found Italeri’s PE to be extremely easy to use, better in fact than a lot of expensive aftermarket, but it’s used as a crutch in so many places where polystyrene parts would have done the job equally well if not better.
Second verse; same as the first. Let’s take that PE part and bend it around a tube, then stick it to that gear door. Once again it’s a simple concept unless the modeler is somewhat new to the hobby. If you’re good at abstract problem solving this one will be duck soup. If you aren’t, we’re probably going back and sample those naughty words again.
We still have a ways to go with this model, which means yet another cliffhanger you’ll have to endure, or maybe not, but the project is far enough along to lead us to some valid conclusions. First, you absolutely positively can achieve a good result from this kit. The proof is in the pudding as the internet builds we’ve seen will prove. Its non-removable pieces-parts fit like the proverbial glove, and up to this point we’ve experienced no issues whatsoever with the model’s photo-etched components. The engine is nicely done, and so far the airframe truly looks like an MC.202, albeit one requiring a bit more work than you might anticipate having to perform during the course of construction. When all is said and done, it’s a perfectly buildable model.
Our quandary then, admittedly predicated somewhat upon the list price of the beast, is a simple one: Is this kit substantially better than the only other 1/32nd scale offering of the Folgore, the now long out of production Pacific Coast Models MC.202? It certainly should be, but we’re going to save that particular revelation for what may, or may not, be the final installment of our ongoing adventure so stay tuned. We’ll be back before you know it!