Tamiya's new A6M5 Zero kit (see review here
) is a fantastic kit. Having built two of them, I can say that the level of detail, out of the box, is extraordinary. This is why I was really surprised when I heard that Eduard was about to release a BigEd set dedicated to this kit. Since I'm very curious, I decided to postulate to write this review and I'm glad I did, because the Czech Manufacturer has again designed a fantastic product!
Eduard's new A6M5 set comes in a cardboard enveloppe with "only" three references. I use quotation marks because there are much fatter BIG ED sets available. However, the latter are destined to older kits which really need a lot of additional parts to bring them to today's standards. This is not the case with Tamiya's new Zero so Eduard did only concentrate on some aspects of the kit. In total, the BigEd set is composed of three photoetched frets, one sheet of masks and one small acetate sheet.
A6M5 Zero self-adhesive (49425)
This reference is composed of two PE frets, one mainly destined to enhance the level of detail of the cockpit interior and one mainly focused on the exterior details. The first one, which is located on a backing film, is pre-painted and "Self-Adhesive". This means that for some parts, you won't have to use glue at all. The second one is the more conventional variant.
The pre-painted fret will allow you to replace most of the injected plastic parts with finer metal ones. The instructions show you what has to be removed on the original kit's parts. The cockpit will sure look extremely busy once everything is in place. In total, there are about 60 new parts to add, including the seatbelts and the rear decking.
On the second fret you will find parts for the engine (ignition wires and bracings), the cowling (separate flaps), the gear legs (new gear doors with attachments and brake line) and the wheel wells. The latter are, in my opinion, the only bad point in Tamiya's Zero kit. They have a nice depth, but they are molded in one piece in the kit and this means that, with the limitations of the plastic injection technology, and while the detail is very nice at the bottom, the sides are completely devoid of any details. This wasn't the case on the real aircraft and with Eduard's photoetched parts, it is possible to make it look much closer to the real thing. In total, there are about 50 new parts dedicated to the wheel wells and gear legs!
A small acetate sheet is provided to replace the small gunsight's aiming windows.
The instructions are printed on both sides of a single A4 sheet. They are nicely done and easy to follow. Another A5 size page has some instructions on how to use the self-adhesive parts.
A6M5 Zero landing flaps (48603)
On the Zero, the flaps aren't very big, so Eduard managed to include all the parts needed to reproduce them on a single fret. This doesn't means that the Czech Manufacturer saved on the level of details. To the contrary, the new flaps are way better than the kits' parts which are simplified and you won't have to deal with the ejector pin marks which are present on the plastic parts.
Eduard's photoetched flaps look intimidating at first sight but they are most of the time clevery designed. You only have to bend the parts into position (A folding tool is recommended though) and apply small dabs of super glue and let it flow by capillarity action. Once finished, I'm sure the PE flaps will look spectacular in their Aoatke color!
The instructions for the flaps are printed on a small A5 sheet. I think the build won't take more than an hour. Only the small hinges will require special attention. Some plastic from the original kit's wings will have to be removed prior to installation of the new PE parts. This is clearly highlighted in the instructions.
A6M5 Zero Mask (EX258)
The last addition in this BIG ED set are die-cut fexible mask. Some are indeed included in the Tamiya but you have to cut them yourself(!?) This is not the case with the Eduard masks which are pre-cut. The masks are almost exclusively destined to the canopy but there are also some for the wheels. Instructions are of course included (A5 sheet).
Tamiya's new A6M5 Zero is a great kit and will please most modelers from the box. However, if you want to enhance it's level of detail even more, and don't mind to pay the price for it, then I highly recommend Eduard's BigEd set. Once fitted with the 200 new metal parts the finished model will surely look stunning.