by: Russ Amott [ ]
The Sci-Fi universe, for being an imaginary place, is filled with as many details and particulars as any real life historical subject could posses, with a wealth of information to be found when one investigates a given subject. Such is the case with the TIE fighter, the iconic fighter of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars Universe.
The following information was gleaned from Wookipedia in reference to the Star Wars Universe:
The TIE Fighter (formally TIE/LN), named for the Twin Ion Engine propulsion system, entered service with the Empire during the Galactic Civil War and continued in service long afterwards. The powerplant was simple and highly efficient, with no moving parts. Vectored propulsion allowed for exceptional maneuverability, and two L-s1 laser cannon gave it considerable firepower. Lack of hyperdrive limited its range and made it dependent on larger carrier ships as a base of operations. In the interest of simplicity of design and mass production, they also lacked shielding and life support systems, making them vulnerable in the event of a hit. The pilot wore a sealed life support suit and could eject from a damaged fighter, but would either slowly freeze or suffocate if not promptly rescued. This, and absolute loyalty to the Emperor, led many pilots to ride their damaged craft down, hoping to take an enemy with them. The TIE fighter maintained general parity with the Rebel Alliance X-wing fighter, but began to suffer against improved fighter types.
The basic design of a central, round-faced fuselage with two large flat radiator panels gives the craft its distinctive shape and earned it the nickname "eyeball" from Rebel pilots.
The TIE fighter is seen in episodes IV, V and VI in the Star Wars franchise. License to produce models based on movie props has been carried by different manufacturers over the years and now rests with Bandai. The kit is based on the larger scale props used in the motion pictures and is offered in 1/72 scale. Of particular interest with this kit is the fact that it is an easy assembly kit, or snap-tite if you will, including peel and place stickers, but also includes waterslide decals and enough detail to allow more experienced modelers to work over the kit to their hearts' content. A base, replicating a surface square of the Death Star is provided, along with a poseable stand.
The box is fairly dramatic in appearance---black with artwork depicting the subject TIE fighter in focus, firing lasers, with two other TIE fighters blurred in the background, one of them being Darth Vader's advanced model TIE fighter. They are in the trench, chasing Rebel craft as they attack the Death Star. Detailed photos on the side show the built up kit, highlighting details and options.
Inside the box, the sprue sets are carefully packaged in sturdy cellophane pouches to protect the parts from damage. My first impression is that if all snap kits were this detailed, most modelers would never feel the need to move on. Molding is crisp and exact, with detail shown on both sides of many parts. The cockpit is in two parts that fit inside the outer hull sections. You are given the option of a clear part for the cockpit glazing, with a decal to go over the frame work, or just the frame, with no glazing, to match the production models (they were built with no glass to prevent reflection from ruining screen shots). The main hatch is also provided as optional clear or grey styrene parts, depending upon what you want to show of the interior. While I don't have a technical manual, I have compared the parts to screen shot stills and to my eye all the details seem to match up quite well.
The framework for the "wings" is provided separately from the black molded radiator panels to enhance detail and allow for painting the parts with less hassle. The end brackets that fit along the edge of the panels are also separate. These parts are finely molded and incorporate additional details along the rails. The main panels are flawless in appearance. Two optional pilot figures are included, one standing and one seated. The seated figure has a fairly stiff appearance, but that could be due to rigid Imperial discipline standards or an inflexible flight suit as much as to basic poses in the scale. At any rate, it fills the cockpit and adds some life to the model.
The kit base is molded showing the varied surface features of the mechanical Death Star. The stand is a simple curved piece with a double hinged assembly that attaches to the kit, enabling the modeler to change the position of the completed kit to their liking. The base also attaches to the other bases included with the various other 1/72 scale Star Wars kits Bandai offers, which at present consist of the X-wing and Darth Vader's advanced TIE fighter (with rumors of a Y-wing coming in the future) and I believe they are also offered separately.
There was no flash anywhere in the kit that I could see, nor any sink marks or other molding flaws.
As mentioned above, the modeler has a choice of stickers or waterslide decals for markings. The stickers are printed on a thin plastic film rather than paper. Both sets appear to be very crisp in detail, and as a bonus, two sets are offered for some of the decals which is most welcome. Many small decals are provided for the cockpit and even the pilot.
The instructions are printed in a pamphlet style foldout with full color images of the completed kit. They are not too busy, but careful study is still needed to make sure things go where they should. A small box shows which part of the craft is being assembled. No painting is called out during construction. One major downside is that my kit was only in Japanese---even the paint guide, which shows the basic color in a box---did not offer any brand name or even color to work with. From a discussion at therpf.com, it would appear that the best exterior color to match the movie color is Tamiya TS32, Haze Gray. The original intent of George Lucas was to paint the TIE fighter maroon, but they were too difficult to spot against the blackness of space. A blue gray color was used, which changes in each movie due to different lighting techniques as the series progressed. The interior is suggested as a dark gray, such as Panzer or German gray.
This kit appears to be a perfect choice for the Star Wars modeler, or for anyone looking for a nice project. It can be built right out-of-the-box, or super-detailed. It is not parts-heavy and would make a good kit to work on with a child. The list price is $27.00 US, but I picked up my kit for almost half that at HLJ (Hobbylink Japan), along with an Imperial AT-ST (with a review to follow soon) as rewards for my son, though I am thinking I should have picked one up for myself. We will post his build here as well (he may allow me to help with painting). It looks like Bandai went "all out" with the kit and I think it is well worth getting.