by: Sean Langley [ ]
Valom has released two Brigand variants: the original TF.Mk.1 and the main B.Mk.1. The kits are essentially the same plastic, resin, photo-etch and acetate, with the addition of a torpedo in resin for the TF.Mk.1. So this review all but covers both.
First, the box art. You may be thinking it looks a bit odd. No, that IS what a Brigand looks like.
Parts breakdown is pretty conventional. Three grey plastic sprues carry most of the components, all with very fine engraved detail. A clear sprue carries very transparent alternative canopies for the two versions, and wingtip lights. In slightly shiny cream resin you get two one-piece Centaurus radials, which are very finely detailed, and four carburettor intakes. Not mentioned in the instructions is a clear resin D/F loop fairing as an alternative to the plastic part, which is useful as the Brigand often had a clear fairing in real life. A small photo-etch fret carries the usual assortment of seat belts, fine antennae, etc. If you buy the B.Mk.1 a lot of this will be spare, as it includes the torpedo fit. Finally, an acetate sheet gives you the instrument faces, which you sandwich with the plastic panel and a PE part. As the plastic has raised detail, you presumably have the options of using it as is, filing it flat for the sandwich, or even cutting out the dials and adding them to the panel individually.
The plastic is hard but not brittle, with a matt finish. The sprue gates are narrow; there are hardly any mould seams, and only minor flash; and I could find only a couple of ejector pin marks and some minor sink marks, almost all where they canít be seen. None of the sprues has part numbers but the instructions include a full sprue map. The flat components are bagged separately; while the clear sprue isnít, it seems to have survived in my box. Overall, this doesnít look like a traditional limited-run Czech kit Ė but then, few do these days.
Two marking options are provided. The first is VS584 ĎGí of 84 Squadron, Malaya, roughly 1954, in black with grey upper surfaces. The instructions give the upper surface colour as extra dark sea grey but this seems much too dark; medium sea grey may be nearer. The other is RH764 ĎBí of 8 Squadron, Aden, roughly 1952, in black with white upper surfaces. Thereís not much in the way of stencils but the decals are in register (on mine, at least) and seem fairly accurate as regards typefaces.
The instructions have useful full-colour diagrams for both, plus a full-colour list of colours, which is handy. Not all will be used on the B.Mk.1 and I suspect this side of the colour sheet has been provided for both kits. The rest of the instructions, plain line drawings, are slightly unclear as to the positions of smaller parts but generally helpful.
Surface detail is finely engraved and consists mainly of individual rivets plus the major panels as lines. This is a very long way from Valomís earlier kits, where the panels were represented as quite coarse lines without individual rivets. As is common with limited-run kits Ė though the reasons elude me Ė there are no locating pins and the wings and twin fins attach with butt-joints. The tailplane, though, sits across the end of the fuselage, which is a help. Otherwise, construction looks fairly straightforward. A quick test-fit of the fuselage halves indicates that fit will be good and the panel lines match up from one side to the other.
The Brigandís characteristic heavy undercarriage is well represented, and the roofs of the maingear wells are works of art. Cockpit detail is provided in the fuselage halves, plus side walls, with some additional equipment; but there may be scope for extra detailing, especially for the navigator and radio-operator positions, which face to starboard and are quite visible under the one-piece canopy. The under-nose armament of four 20mm cannon is represented only as large blast troughs which look as though they could be tricky to locate accurately. Other armament is confined to eight 60lb rockets with nice, delicate launch rails.
Perhaps the oddest part is the propellers. You may be used to separate propeller blades; but the spinners here are one-piece items into which you have to drill locating holes first. Happily, there are small indentations to start you off. But this will make it particularly tricky to align them correctly for spacing and pitch, and all in the same plane. You may want to knock up a small jig to help. As the spinners otherwise have good detailing and represent well the joint between spinner and back-plate, you have to wonder why theyíre built this way.
One other odd point is the ailerons. Many three-views of the Brigand show them to be longer in chord than the Buckinghamís, giving a slight sweep to the outer panels. The kitís are narrow-chord and match the Buckingham. Photographic references are less than conclusive. Itís possible that the ailerons were altered when the TF.Mk.1 was developed into the B.Mk.1, but Valom offers the same wings for both variants. Other, earlier kits seem to have the narrow ailerons too. Whether this is right I donít feel able to say. Anyone care to hazard a guess?
So, it adds up to a good package with few pitfalls. However, we do need to consider the price. Valom kits have never been cheap but this is currently £35.99 in the UK. Thatís VERY expensive for a 1/72 light bomber. I bought it alongside an Azur 1/48 Potez 630 which is several years older but every bit as good, with a lot more resin, and is about half as big again. It had a list price of under £30. Itís possible that this was because it too was limited-run, and was made years ago and so hadnít gone up, but still, the Brigand is steep. If it were available in 1/48 it would be a wonderful thing to have, but I shudder to think how much theyíd charge. Iíd shop around if I were you. (Models For Sale offer 10% off and they do free postage if your order is over £60.)
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.