by Massimo Santarossi
Everyone remembers their first time; their first kiss, first day of
school, first time away from home. My
first jet was the Boeing 727, and as such it holds a special place in my heart.
Amongst the models on my shelf are four other 727s in various states of
construction. So it was with a
sense of excitement that I awaited the release of KMC’s 1/72 Boeing 727-200.
Most modelers are familiar with KMC through their aftermarket resin
detail sets. They’ve made items
ranging from simple, like the tailplanes for my Monogram Typhoon, to the
intricate, like a 1/32 cockpit for an F-104.
Having seen and used their previous work, one just knew that their first
injection molded airplane was going to be a beauty. In truth, contradiction would be a better word.
The kit comes in a rather impressive box,
measuring 14” x 27” with a picture of an American Airlines 727 touching down
on the top. On opening the
container, you find a mix of plastic and resin pieces.
There are 18 plastic, 49 resin, and 101 clear parts to this kit.
There are no metal parts as has been suggested elsewhere.
There is also the four page instruction sheet, and all the decals for an
KMC has a reputation for detail, and their
first injection molded kit is no exception.
All the panel line are recessed and finely engraved, no heavy handedness.
A quick measurement reveals that the models is 25 5/8” in length, which
is actually 7 scale inches too long. Not
bad considering the real thing is 153’ 2” nose to tail.
What caught my eye about the detail was some of the small things that
are included. The external cockpit
window release handles are there, as are the evacuation slide flood lights, lav service doors, air conditioning pack exhaust grills, and oil filler
access panels, to name only a few.
The resin bits fall into the same category, again all highly detailed
and accurate. The intake and
exhaust sections of each engine are included, showing both the fan and turbine
blades, and the cascade vane thrust reversers.
The landing gear is all represented in resin, as is the nose wheel
compartment. Even the flap actuator
fairings are cast.
The glass, clear plastic, is another highlight.
Each cabin widow is individually molded, not all on one long track.
The windows also have a frame on the inside edge to ease the gluing
process. The glass is not overly
thick and has no air bubbles in it, save for the two outboard landing lights
which have one small bubble each. I’ve
seen Doyusha 1/100 scale kits that could not make this claim.
The aircraft is a scratchbuilders dream. Because it is so large and the windows so clear, building a detailed cockpit and cabin could be easily done. That’s about as far as I would dare go, but a person could just as easily open up the cabin doors, airstairs, and the cargo pits to really show her off. Hey, why not even plug in a ground power unit, a fuel truck, and a honey wagon (lav service truck). It’s all really up to the imagination.
KMC has a reputation for detail, and their first injection molded kit is missing some. Right off the top, or more correctly the bottom, there is no tail skid, not even a molded in one. The 727 is easy to over rotate on take-off, and more than one pilot has had to rely on the tail skid to keep from ripping out the aft lavs as he blasted off. Anytime the gear is down, so is the tail skid. The manufacturer went to the trouble of showing where the cargo doors are, but then put the hinge for the aft door on the bottom, meaning the door would open the wrong way. The eyebrow windows in the cockpit are there, but they are only engraved. It is up to the modeler to bore these out so that they are in fact true windows. And speaking of widows, as I said their glass in very nice. However, their nice clear cockpit windows have no frames. Again, the modeler will have to deal with this by careful masking and painting.
The fuselage has some other nagging qualities.
Along with some flash, it is warped.
There is some warping on both the top and bottom seam halves, but at
least the fin is straight. When
you’re done dealing with that, there are a number of sink holes to fill in
over the locator pins and inside the number two intake.
And have a scribing tool ready. There
is a panel line on one half of the airplane that isn’t continued around to the
The resin I found a little troubling.
Yes it has got detail, but you are going to have to work for it.
I discovered more flash than is normal for KMC, unlike some of their
previous sets, which basically plug into a kit.
And air bubbles. The largest
resin bits, the engine exhausts cones, are full of
bubbles and pin holes on the engine side.
The cascade vanes are similarly damaged.
The tops of the vanes are OK but the majority of the sides are
perforated, resulting in what looks more like a net than a grill.
The kit is a scratchbuilders nightmare. Because the kit is so large and the windows so clear, you
basically have to build a cockpit. Not
to do so results in a “black hole” located in the front of the model.
One could avoid this problem by blackening out the windows, but on a kit
like this that would be counter productive.
While you’re building the flight deck, go to
work on the airstairs. The kit does
not give you the option of showing these open, so they have to be built step by
step. Airstairs are needed if you
want to show what the airplane would look like when parked at a terminal.
The stairs are always put down for loading because they also act a tail
stand, lest the aircraft “sit down” while the passengers are getting on
board. When that is done, move on
to the main wheel wells. The kit
provides a nicely detailed resin nose wheel compartment, but there is nothing at
all in the main bays.
This is a good kit, but it’s not complete; it needs help.
Off the top, it must be repackaged.
All the parts basically float around inside this warehouse of a box.
The resin is in a zip lock bag at least, but the bag containing the clear
parts is not sealed at all. The
remaining plastic rattles back and forth, with the inevitable “hangar rash”
occurring. In my kit, both the main
gear doors had broken free, and both the full dump pipes were damaged.
The paperwork is adequate, though could be
polished. All the decals are
printed on one sheet, however there are no scribbles.
In this scale it is easy to read things like “Oil Filler Cap” and
“Beware Exhaust.” And although
American Airlines is a good subject to build, it means a lot of natural metal,
which in turn means a lot of work. The
instructions are crammed on to one piece of paper that is folded in half.
The manufacturer would be better off to invest in another sheet paper and
make the instructions easier to read.
Some pre-production articles indicated that there would be metal in the kit. Well, there isn’t, and it should be. The model has no pitot tubes, angle of attack vanes, antennae, and so forth. All this could easily corrected with some photo-etched brass. The missing landing gear plumbing could also be completed with PE.
As I said off the top, this kit is a
contradiction. The detail is finely
done, but some is missing. The
windows are nice and clear, but they expose the void inside the airplane.
There is a lot of resin, but it’s not up to the former standard of KMC
quality. And let’s face it, it is
because of the resin that this kit has a suggested retail price of over $100CND.
The kit was late in coming out, and it still appears that it was rushed
into production, some research not complete.
The aftermarket industry has the opportunity to fix some the kit’s
shortcomings. The resin
manufacturers could come up with some airstairs, a tail skid and a cockpit,
while the PE makers could address the missing details.
The 727 is used around the world by countless operators, so decal
manufacturers have numerous liveries they could reproduce for this kit.
My final analysis, I’m somewhat disappointed. For the cost of the kit, and who made it, I was expecting more. This kit will make up a very good looking Boeing 727, but be prepared to do some work along the way.
Model, Text and Photographs Copyright ©
2000 by Massimo Santarossi