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A6M2 Type 21 Zero


Fine Molds, 1/72 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Fine Molds A6M2 Type 21 Zero (catalogue number not quoted)
Scale: 1/72
Contents and Media: See text and images below
Price: 2600 Yen from Hobbylink Japan
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: High quality injection plastic mouldings; superb level of detail; excellent quality clear parts including options for open and closed canopy;
Disadvantages: Slightly confusing instructions; limited availability
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Jega M

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The "Ultimate Zero"

I have just gotten my paws on the new 1/72 scale Fine Molds A6M2 Type 21 Zero Fighter.

Fine Molds and Model Graphix Magazine have teamed up to offer this new kit, including it as a two-part special in the November and December issues of Model Graphix. The November issue includes the fuselage and cockpit parts, with the December issue containing the wings and other details. The instructions for each phase of assembly are included in their respective issues.

I ordered mine through HLJ (HobbyLink Japan). According to the HLJ website, this particular Zero kit from Fine Molds will only be offered as a premium included with the two issues of Model Graphix and will not be sold as a separate kit.
You can order the magazines as separate issues (with their respective halves of the kit) or as HLJís special offering of both issues that includes the entire kit.


The kit parts come in sturdy brown boxes with line drawings of the Zero on the front. November parts are shown in the large photo below:


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The Kit

This new Fine Molds kit is undoubtedly the finest Zero kit in 1/72 scale. The current leader in 1/72 is Hasegawa. As opposed to their older, raised panel-lined, raised rivets, bathtub-for-a-cockpit, 1/72 Zeros, Hasegawaís newer tooled ones have nicely recessed panel lines, nice engines, a well detailed cockpit and are of a modular design. The cockpits have decals for the instrument panel. The canopies are all one piece, so you cannot view any work done in the interior through the kitís canopy.
The Fine Molds kit blows away the Hasegawa.
The details are exquisite and authentic all over. Flaps and ailerons are molded separately, as are the cowl flaps. This means that you have a choice of open or closed cowling flaps. Is that cool or what?



Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The canopy looks very clear and can be built as either in a one-piece closed position or as a three-piece assembly in the open position. My personal opinion is that most of you would want to build the canopy in the open position because of the fantabulous detail of the cockpit! And no, the instruction panel does not consist of just a one-piece decal. The various dials & instruments are given as sharply printed decals but the panel itself has recessed holes for the dials to give them a realistic look.


THE BEAUTIFUL COCKPIT (Yes, that IS 1/72 scale!)



The engine and landing gear feature fantastic details, and the kit includes optional parts for the propeller's spinner, wing gun ports, and underwing gun access panels.


Note the separate wing tips on the bottom left. The wings can be assembled with them folded.


Thumbs up for the attention to detail. I guess Fine Molds really IS fine molds.


Decals & Paint Schemes

The decals appear thin, sharp and very nicely printed.
Markings are included for three versions: legendary Zero ace Saburo Sakai's V-103 aircraft, Tetsuzo Iwamoto's EII-I02 aircraft based on the IJN aircraft carrier Zuikaku, and an aircraft from the 263rd Squadron.  Sakai-sanís and Iwamoto-sanís aircraft are in the overall light grey scheme. You may want to note that, in view of new research, the 'light grey' will actually have to be painted in ame-iro, a caramel-ish sort of colour.


The third option, the 263rd Squadron machine, is in the IJN green over light green scheme. Yes, IJN green over light green not grey. At least, thatís what appears to me when I look at the painting instructions. Although, when I think about it, it could be Grey-green (like Tamiya AS-29 Spray-can) I could be wrong but you will soon find out why. As for the actual paint numbers, there is a slight problem with interpreting them. More on this below.

The Magazine

Model Graphix is touted as Japan's most well-rounded hobby magazine, containing articles on all modeling genres including aircraft, figures, science fiction, cars, ships, and more. Very good photographs, both black & white as well as in colour. Unfortunately for the English-speaking only, almost all text is in Japanese.

This creates a little bit of a problem when you want to build the Fine Molds Zero as all the construction & painting instructions are in the Japanese-text magazine and not on separate sheets as is the norm in model kits.

This language barrier however, is lessened somewhat because of the numerous construction pics in the magazine. The instructions for building the Zero are given as rows of step-by-step pics, with the respective instructions (in Japanese) captioned below each picture.

Assembly Instructions

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and so it is with the instructions in the magazine. The problem I foresee is that their books/magazines start from the last page. At least thatĎs what it appears to be for those who arenít used to the Japanese way of doing things. You see, in most of the English-speaking world, we read our magazines & books starting from the right & flipping the page over to the left. Japanese reading materials however, start from the left and flip the page over to the right.  So, from a non-Japanese personís point of view, the first page of the Model Graphix magazine actually starts from the last page of the magazine.

And while we read a text from left-to-right, the Japanese read them from right-to-left (please forgive me if Iím wrong on this). This is why the step-by-step construction instructions for the Fine Molds Zero appear to be backwards (ie, starts from the right and goes to the left). This needs some getting used to, particularly when you go from one row of construction pics to the next. When most of us scan a page, our eyes move from left to right & then move to the next line to start from the left again. The Model Graphix magazine, however, shows the step-by-step pics from right-to-left and then your eyes are forced to move to the right of the next row and then follow the sequence of construction pics. This can be a little confusing at times and the problem is compounded by the fact that the pics are NOT NUMBERED. There are ďarrowsĒ that point to the next step but this isnít always the case. So, frequently, youíre left with your own deduction on what the next step should be. And it doesnít help if you canít read the language.



There are, thankfully, numbered drawings (as opposed to the numberless pics) that tell you what to do next. Again, however, the instructions for these drawings are in Japanese.

At this point, you may begin to understand my confusion about the paint scheme as stated earlier. The paint scheme numbers are not clearly stated and itís up to the modeler to track down what each number stands for and which part of the plane itís supposed to go on.

 (I gotta find me a model-building Japanese girlfriend and have her read the instructions to me.)

Anyway, while the step-by-step pics & construction drawings take a while to follow, it would have helped greatly if Model Graphix had followed their Aero Detail series of books which contain both Japanese as well as complete English texts for their captions.





This is, without a doubt, the best Zero out there in 1/72 scale. In fact, the Model Graphix magazine calls it the ďUltimate ZeroĒ. It says so in the magazine as well as on the kitís boxing. It may not be for the average modeler or for those looking for a quick build but if you only build one Zero in your entire modeling life (yeah, right  *snigger*) this should be it. Fine Molds/Model Graphixís offering of the Type 21 Zero is one fantastic looking model, with recherchť and jaw-dropping detail for this scale.

In fact, if I was an Orang Utan, I would give it FOUR thumbs-up. LOL!

Iím picturing mine in a diorama of a carrier-based A6M2 on an IJN carrier deck with the wings folded and undergoing maintenance. Canít let those open gun-bays & engine detail go to waste, right?

Sample purchased by reviewer

Review Text and Images Copyright © 2007 by Jega M
Page Created 21 November, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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