The Straw That Killed A Barney Builder: Bronco’s 1/48 P-40C

If you’ve not taken a look at Brett Green’s review of the newly tooled, soon to be released Bronco 1/48 P-40C, go take a look. Brett has some excellent photos of the kit, as well as some very helpful observations.

So we finally have a new tooled 1/48 P-40B/C.

Which I won’t be buying.

I’ve always considered myself somewhat a “Barney Builder”. Granted, that term may carry a slightly varying meaning for different modelers. I’ve always thought of it as someone who is perfectly happy building a model, regardless of whatever flaws it has.

And for the longest time, that was me. I knew when kits had flaws, I just overlooked them and continued on, because building them, I said to myself, was the fun part. I’d build a kit, flaws and all, just to see what it was like.

And I also thought that, hopefully, maybe, the manufacturers who didn’t pay too much attention to things like shape and accuracy would eventually improve.

Now I realize I was wrong. With few exceptions, model companies seem to be perfectly happy to hold the course in what they’re doing. Whether it’s good or bad- just pump out the plastic.

Trumpeter will put out ill-shaped but well fitting kits with little to no research, and details often rooted in fantasy. As will Hobbyboss.

Special Hobby will release kits that mostly kinda fit, but frustrate you and make you wonder “why?!?!”. But because it’s likely the only kit of that airplane, you deal with it. AZ Models is a step down from Special Hobby.

Revell of Germany releases some interesting stuff, and it’s pretty good. But they’re satisfied with “pretty good”. Revell USA has shown they can do good stuff (PV-1 and PT-17), but seem to prefer releasing the same 40+ year old kits because enough people build them based on the nostalgia factor to keep them afloat.

Tamiya’s stuff will be as flawless as you can probably find, but it seems they’ve all but given up 1/48 the last few years. (Although the upcoming Tomcat is a step in the right direction.) Hasegawa’s stuff is good, though not quite Tamiya standard, but they keep releasing the same kits with thick, new decals for way too much money.

Zvezda is one to watch. They seem to be quietly climbing their way up. Good stuff, generally. I really hope they continue.

Only Airfix and Eduard seem to really care about improving and expanding. Airfix, in my opinion, is at about the extent of what they can achieve with their current manufacturing equipment. It’s good, but the plastic is a bit soft, the details not quite as sharp as they could be, and the fit, while good, could use a little improvement. I think they need to work on fine precision more than anything. Still- they engage their client base, put out interesting and affordable kits, and in the end, you’re rewarded with nice with models that are a good value.

Eduard is probably at the top of the heap right now in 1/48 scale kits. Their plastic is good, their detail sharp, and their fit and engineering very good. They do often fall into the trap of over-engineering kits in places- and to their credit seem to have recognized this, and sometimes I think they rely too much on photoetch, but no one else in the market today can touch them overall. And like Airfix, they are still very affordable. (And the fact that they re-tooled their Bf-109G-6 says volumes about their commitment to the hobby.)

And there are plenty of others. All fit somewhere on the spectrum between haphazard efforts and flashes of brilliance.

But back to Bronco….

It doesn’t take more than a casual, occassional perusal of online modeling forums to know that the P-40B/C is a model that has been highly anticipated by a huge segment of the market, for years. And it doesn’t take a masters degree in marketing to research how previous models have fared- not good, overall. (And, yes I’ve built the Monogram kit.)

It’s not like finding drawings of the P-40B is hard. A simple Google search would do it, and even then if the ones found there aren’t perfect, they’re still shaped better than Bronco’s effort. Just a quick look at a rudder diagram would have revealed the problem with Bronco’s shape, for example.

And that shallow cockpit… I’d love to see someone compare its depth to Trumpeter’s old kit. I’d say its a fair bet they are the same depth. Simply trying to fit a 1/48 scale pilot in that ridiculous seat would have revealed the problem. (Oh, that seat…. awful…)

If this kit were the only P-40B/C to be released this year, well, some aftermarket parts would generally address all the problems. So after paying at least US$50 for the kit, you could also buy a (probably soon to be released) resin cockpit, control surfaces, wheels and a new canopy, and for about $100 have a decent P-40B. (Or buy a Hobbycraft version of it on Ebay for $20 and get about the same result.)

But Bronco ignored all that, and just…. well…. seemed to make it up as they went along. Any research would have shown they were in error.

Way to go Bronco.

Enough is enough. I’m done buying kits like this. It simply rewards the manufacturer with dollars for substandard performance. Like it or not, the fun is intermixed with a perception of value. And when my perception is that Bronco slapped some plastic in an extruder and dumped out something labeled a P-40B- then no, I don’t think that is fun.

It’s simply a waste of my money.

I have great respect for Brett Green, but I will differ with him on the conclusion: I don’t recommend you buy this kit.

I’ll wait for Airfix. They could vertically fornicate their kit and still do better, I think.

6 comments

  1. Well said and and right on the mark, Jon. There is no way to really endorse this kit with the blatant errors it has. I am sure it will build up nicely and look the part (by and large). But that is not good enough in today’s market. And with the obvious boo-boos done by prior manufacturers front and center it would have taken practically no effort on Bronco’s part to avoid prior pitfalls by Trumpeter and Hobbycraft. It’s funny…we seem to see more of this indifference now than we did 20+ years ago when 1/48 scale was THE hot ticket. Baffling to say the least.

  2. I’ve had the opportunity to see in the flesh the Airfix test shots of their P-40. While not perfect, it is very, very good. An for approximately $25 USD, it will be impossible to beat. The engineering and design of the kit, especially the interior is wonderful and generally appears to be accurate. I am sure when the kit hits the market in a couple of months it will be torn into, picked apart, damned etc like all new kits seem to be, but in the end, I think for my money it will at last be the long awaited replacement for the venerable Monogram kit.

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