Eduard's Fokker D.VII needs little introduction - it arguably set new standards in mainstream WW1 kit production and presentation when it first appeared almost four years ago; drum-tight fabric surfaces, full colour 3-D shaded instruction diagrams and, somewhat controversially, "weathered" lozenge pattern decals.
Now the kit is back once again in a new Limited Edition - the Sieben Schwaban. The moulding is as excellent as ever, with no signs of flash or sink marks, but the instructions are illustrated with much more conventional line drawings plus, of course, a truly spectacular new set of decals featuring the characters from Grimm's fairy tale.
The kit arrives in an attractive conventional box and comprises:
93 x beige styrene parts (10 unused)
115 x etched parts - some pre-painted
Painting masks for the wheel disks
Decals for a single aircraft, including lozenge patterns and rib tapes.
The kit is physically almost identical to its original incarnation
(note that the sprue-chart hasn't been updated to reflect the few minor changes). The detail throughout is very good, with a 13-part engine and 20 part cockpit with a choice of etched or moulded instruments, pre-painted seat harness and alternative styrene or metal gun cooling jackets. Despite the overall level of detail, the basic kit isn't overly complicated and (at least in its Weekend Edition form) the D.VII is a good choice for a beginner's WW1 model due to the lack of rigging. That said, I'd only recommend this Limited Edition version to quite experienced modellers, because its relatively high price means you'll want to make the most of everything included, including the comprehensive set of etched details - and that means working with some quite tiny and delicate parts.
Instructions & Decals
The assembly diagrams are clearly drawn as an A-5 pamphlet and the construction sequence is logical. While the plain line drawings are nowhere near as eye-catching as the original shaded colour illustrations, I must admit that I find them clearer to work with. Colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are provided throughout. A full-page diagram is included showing the correct sequence for applying the 4-colour lozenge decals and rib tapes to the wings.
The decals, of course, are what this particular release is all about, with no less than four separate sheets providing markings for Gefr. Wilhelm Scheutzel's colourful Jasta 65 machine featuring large fuselage cartoons of the Sieben Schwaben. The quality of all the decals is excellent, with the thin glossy items printed in perfect registration.
Everyone has their personal favourite lozenge decals, and Eduard's original version came in for a bit of stick from some quarters, not only for the "weathering" but also the colours chosen. Comparing the old and new decals, the new undersides are generally lighter while the topsides are strikingly different. P. M. Grosz stated how much the colours could vary in his Windsock Datafile, and I'll be quite happy to give them an outing. Not mentioned in the instructions this time, Eduard have again included sections of lozenge decal for the inner sides of the cockpit (best "knocked back" with a thin coat of off-white to give the impression of the dyes bleeding through the original fabric).
Obviously the Sieben Schwaben decals will be the focus of attention, and they really are quite superb - a real credit to Cartograph (the lozenge decals are Czech-produced). The pair of fuselage artworks are each printed in 10 colours(!) as a single, precisely registered item. Unfortunately, decals of this quality don't come cheap (I know from experience of getting decals custom-printed just how scarily the price shoots up with the number of colours used) and it explains the relatively high price of this boxing.
Eduard's D.VII series have always been fine models, ideally suited to average modellers looking to try their hand at a biplane, and are available in a number of forms if this Limited Edition is too pricey for you. With a production run of only around 1000, the Sieben Schwaben is like to appeal to specialist WW1 enthusiasts. Collectors will also probably see it as something of an investment to stash away, but that would be a shame because, with those superb decals, it really does deserve to be built for everyone to enjoy - and on that note, look out for my On-Line Build to follow... Recommended, if your budget can stretch to it.
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