by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
One of the most unusual models to land on my review desk in quite a while is Hasegawa's new Vanship and Vespa. The kit is based on the 2011 Japanese anime series Last Exile: Fam, The Siver Wing, a follow-up the original 2003 series, Last Exile.
As the name suggests, the package is a dual kit, comprising a Vanship - a sort of all-purpose fighter/reconn/courier craft that looks like a sort of vintage sports car with wings, and a smaller Vespa. - a flying motor scooter. For anyone unfamiliar with the programmes (as I was until the kit arrived), the overall style is best described as a sort of Art Deco Steampunk, combining C19th-type musketeers, cannons and boilers with both 1930s-ish hardware and futuristic technology. All a glorious mish-mash, very Japanese and great fun! You can find Last Exile dubbed into English on YouTube.
The kit arrives in a very attractive top-opening box, with all the sprues and accessories bagged for protection. It marks something of a departure for Hasegawa in my experience, because the kit is moulded in three colours of styrene (plus clear parts), and the instructions are also partly colour-printed. The kit comprises:
16 x deep red parts
31 x pale grey parts
39 x dark grey parts
16 x clear parts (plus a further 15 which aren't needed)
The moulding in the sample kit is essentially perfect. There's no flash, and I can't find any sink marks. Ejector pin marks are light and kept pretty much out of harm's way - you may want to smooth the ones at the base of the cockpit sides, but I doubt that even these will be visible once the "fuselage" is closed up. To capture the prominent bulges along the cowl of the Vanship, Hasegawa have had to use a 2-part mould, so there's a faint line to polish off - a small price to pay for the crisply depicted louvres around the compound curves.
The surface finish is excellent, with neatly engraved panel lines and fasteners, plus a few raised details. The exterior of the Vanship is highly polished, while the other sprues have more of a satin look.
Test FitDry-assembling the main parts of the Vanship shows there are unlikely to be any problems and, if you're careful, you could make this a "filler-free" build. The use of different coloured styrene follows the actual colour scheme for Titania's Vanship, so it's possible to get quite a nice representation without painting - something that should certainly appeal to younger and less experienced modellers.
DetailsThe Vanship's cockpit is made up from 9 parts, with crisply moulded seats and flying controls. The instrument panels have nicely detailed bezels and the all-important gauges for the Claudia Fluid that fuels the unique anti-grav/thrusters fitted to Last Exile aircraft. A pair of multi-part figures depict Tatania and her navigator/engineer Alister.
The twin Claudia Units and Balancer Tube comprise 17 parts and there's a choice of raised or lowered tailwheel, depending on whether you want mount the model on the clear stand that's provided.
The clear parts are thin and free of distortion. One simplification evident is that the windows in the lower sides of each cockpit are moulded solid, but it'll be simple enough to drill them out and glaze them with Kristal Klear or similar.
The Vespa is rather simpler, but very nicely moulded with a one-piece main chassis/Claudia Unit onto which fit side panels, harpoons and landing outriggers. The multi-part figures of Fam and Giselle ride the Vespa tandem-style like a motor bike. Again there's a choice of tailwheel and the model can mount on its own clear stand. The stand for the Vespa is specifically designed for it, whereas that for the Vanship is seemingly used for other models in the series, and several alternative mounts are included with it - hence the number of unused clear parts.
Instructions and DecalsThe assembly instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The Vanship construction is broken down into 11 simple stages, while the Vespa needs just 3. Gunze Sangyo paint matches are keyed to details at each stage. Also included is a very nicely illustrated 2-page guide to Last Exile with modelling tips, but this is sadly only printed in Japanese.
A full-colour painting guide is provided, and is a bit cluttered - but it crams a lot in, as decals are provided for no less than 5 Vanship colour schemes and 4 Vespas. The decals look impressive, with beautifully printed gold and silver text. White trim is provided to save painting and decal gauges are included for the cockpit. One compromise evident is in some of the crests and logos adorning the ships, which are printed as fine dots - not ideal, but they look fine in photos of the completed models.
The choice of red styrene for the Vanship might be an issue if you go for any of the alternative colour schemes offered - while it's obviously appropriate for Tatania's all-red machine, the others are green, silver and white, so a good coat of primer will be the order of the day.
ConclusionHasegawa's Vanship and Vespa are very neat little kits and a great introduction to the weird and wonderful world of Last Exile. They are simple enough for inexperienced modellers to have no trouble building, and the coloured sprues mean they can still look attractive without painting, but there's also plenty of detail to satisfy the most demanding Last Exile fans. Recommended.
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