As their website informs us, more than 30% of all injection-molded model kits are manufactured in Japan, by companies as famous as Tamiya, Bandai, Hasegawa, Fujimi, or, as in this case, Fine Molds.
The history of the injection model kit is a very interesting one indeed. Going from their inventor, the UK Frog company who manufactured the world’s first plastic model kits, they passed through many stages to the present day, which finds dozens of companies producing almost everything the mind can imagine or the heart desire. Cars, trains, planes, ships, rockets, animals, aliens, gods, and monsters can be found on the market. The worlds of science and architecture can be had and the realms of fantasy and fiction, realized by any with a few dollars to invest and a little passion to follow it up.
In Japan, where the injection model became a very profitable method of repurposing spent war production equipment (or allowing companies a way to keep machines designed for industrial purposes in profitable use when other business was fallow), the model kit served not only to sate the local appetite for toys and diversions, but also provide much-needed income by exporting to the foreign markets. Indeed, and perhaps rather sadly, it was a direct result of companies like Tamiya and Nichimo being able to export models so cheaply (and expertly molded) that it slowly ground many American and European companies out of the marketplace.
However, as Japan’s main companies began to succeed, other smaller concerns began to pick their own way into the scene, filling up gaps in the production line and in with them came a company whose normal business was in tire manufacturing and injection-molded components for cars – NGK, otherwise to be known as Fine Molds.
Building their initial reputation upon small scale tanks, warships, and planes, the company soon expanded into science fiction and anime, and has in recent years developed an exceptional reputation for the detail in their small, kits, which cover licenses as diverse as Space Battleship Yamaot, Girls & Panzer and, as in the case here, Star Wars.
Darth Vader’s Advanced X1 TIE Fighter
The model under consideration here is the 1/72 scale TIE Advanced Prototype, otherwise known as Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter.
Few who know and love the Star Wars universe do not love the mechanical designs of the series of films, and each one a legend in its own right: from the Millennium Falcon, which took the concept of the flying saucer to an incredible conclusion, or the X-Wing Fighter, which gave space a sort of bi-plane dog-fighter without equal, save perhaps in the practical, powerful lines of the Empire’s finest – the TIE fighters.
Though available to the Empire as fighters, bombers, scouts, transports, or rare shuttle and interceptor designs (with models available in various scales for most), what we have here is perhaps the most iconic and best beloved of all the designs. Darth Vader’s fighter (designed by the film makers to be recognizable as the Dark Lord’s ship) marks the prototype of several TIE systems, and oozes menace and power, even at this small scale – like a hamster with a plasma cannon.
Opening the box, one might be concerned at the small mount of plastic for the money, for the TIE fighters are small things indeed and scaled down to 1/72 they fit very easily in the palm. Indeed, looking at the meager collection of parts clustered almost defensively in their box, I initially thought that at such a scale, the kit would contain no detail worth speaking of at all. However, on examining the kit, I was pleasantly surprised at the detail cast into the various surfaces.
As you can see, there seems to be not one square millimeter of the kit which is not replete in relief and detail.
This promises to be a very interesting little build indeed…
Let’s see how it goes in part 2.
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