Jim James’ AMT Jedi Starfighter Review

AMT/ERTL/RC2 “Star Wars” Jedi Starfighter

In-box review by Jim James

I am almost convinced that AMT/ERTL/RC2 designs model kits by Jedi council. Some council members are string with the force, the others are from the dark side. AMT/ERTL/RC2’s “Star Wars” Jedi Starfighter kit was designed by this council.

On the plus side, this is a nice model kit. Good detail, optional parts for different versions, nice stand with the Jedi logo embossed in it, nice size, opening cockpit and moving cooling vanes (wow). But let’s see how the dark side turned this potentially great kit into a mediocre one.

 Overall

No flash. Most sink marks seem to be on the inside. Sprue connections all seem to be in non-critical points (there are none on the wing edges). Detail is soft – particularly the edges. Panel lines are heavy.

 

The cockpit

The detail here is a great improvement from the Revell-Germany kit. Separate foot rests, little gas bottles, roll bar (?), better engraved detail on the walls and three optional headrests. The cockpit walls are separate which is good but the gap between the wall and the cockpit rim might be awkward to fill. But wait, there’s less! Why there’s no pilot is a mystery. This kit is meant to be displayed in flight mode and a pilot would seem somewhat important. There are also three different headrests (a good Jedi idea) but no clue as to which headrest goes with which ship (welcome to the dark side).

 Fuselage and wings

Parts seem to fit well although the panel lines are much deeper and softer than the R-G model. There are a couple of seams that will be hard to work on – the recessed leading edge of the wings, for example. The guns are held in place with pins and I suggest that you cut the tabs to these parts across the holes so they can be painted separately and inserted after the fuselage and wings have been painted. One downside is the large hole in the underside that accommodates the stand (dark side). On the plus side, the stand allows the ship to be positioned at different angles (light side).

Cooling vanes

These are much nicer than the R-G model. First of all, you get three versions of fins. Secondly, the hinges are steel pins – much nicer than the clip-on fins the R-G model has. The real problem is that there’s no reference as to which fin belongs to which ship version (feel your anger).

 

R2 unit

There has to be an easier way to do this. Both AMT and R-G split the R2 unit down the middle resulting in a seam across the dome that hard to remove with removing the scribed detail. At least, R-G didn’t put the seam right through the dome sensors. On the plus side, two of the sensors on top of the dome are separate parts.

Canopy

A weak spot. First of all, it’s not a very clear plastic. Secondly, it doesn’t fit very well to the fuselage. Thirdly, there’s a gap/hole at the back to accommodate the hinge. But the canopy does open – exactly what you’d want with a kit with no pilot, in flight display and no landing gear.

Decals

Look OK. Decals for the R2 unit and instrument panels would have been nice.

Instruction Sheet

The light side of the force must have left the room at this point because the instructions really, really bad. Page one of the instructions has the key (in 9 languages) for all the symbols normally used in the instructions. Unfortunately, the dark Jedi artist who drew the remaining pages didn’t get beyond the first two symbols even though most of the other symbols should have been used (he/she even used the word “or” when there’s a perfectly good symbol for optional parts).

And there’s nothing about the subject. You get “Star Wars Jedi Starfighter” and that’s it. Not even a “Revenge of the Sith” tag-line to avoid confusion with the Episode II Jedi Starfighter

Painting

The paint guide is essentially lifted from another kit – what on earth is there to paint “flesh” on this kit? You can ignore this completely. There are no color references on the instruction pages. There is no plan view for paint or decal placement. There isn’t even a “see box for paint reference” notation. The photos on the box are of actual models (again, wow) but they’re so small, they’re not much use.

Admittedly, you can find resources online that will give you more information but that’s not the point. You shouldn’t need to be a Googler to build a model kit. The best I can give you based on the kit information is:

  • Anakin – yellow paint scheme; use fins 49, 50, 51, 52
  • Obi-wan – red paint scheme; don’t use black Jedi symbol decal; the photo has the only open cockpit but you can’t see the headrest choice; use fins 53, 54, 55, 56
  • Mystery Jedi #1 – green paint scheme; use fins 53, 54, 55, 56
  • Mystery Jedi #2 – light blue paint scheme; use fins 53, 54, 55, 56

You can’t determine which headrest goes with what and the fuselage/wing color patterns are not consistent from color to color.

Summary

So who won? This kit is like Anakin/Darth Vader. Starts out as an interesting kit with great promise but goes downhill at the end when the dark side takes over. Skilled modelers will take this all in their stride – this model is a great excuse to scratchbuild landing gear. Less skilled modelers with moan and gnash their teeth as they discover that you can’t build an anywhere near accurate model and their best bet is to just make it up as they go along.

Better model kit than the R-G Starfighter but you’ll need an R-G model as a paint reference.

Good model at a good price. Lousy Christmas gift for your ten year-old nephew.

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