Category: In-Box Review


With the release of a fantastic 1:48 kit of the mighty MiG-31BM/BSM ‘Foxhound’, it was only a question of time, when will the Russian decal manufacturer Begemot produce some nice marking options, to the three, already offered in the kit. It was a short wait indeed, as the new decal sheet hit the stores less than a month after the kit release.

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Decals come in a Begemot standard package – A4 zip lock bag, with several black&white A4 sheets of instructions and two larger (225x160mm) and one smaller (160x110mm) sheets. Decals appear to be finely printed and in register. Print of the decals is flat while the carrier film is glossy and appears to be really thin.

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Instructions give you option, to build 15 different aiframes, ranging from early BM prototype (592 Blue) up to the current operational airframes. Separate instructions are give for stencil application. Color callouts are given in FS numbers but I would exercise caution when using those – for example instructions suggest you should paint APU-73 and APU-170 missile pylons in aluminum, while they are dark grey on most aircraft (170s can also be white). I recommend checking references before painting.

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Where Begemot sheet really excels, is the number of option it gives you. I have already mentioned 15 options – those are just the printed ones. Actually, you can build almost any MiG-31BM/BSM ever build – you are given the big Bort numbers in 2 different shades of Blue and one in Red, three different styles of Russian stars (with and without the Blue edge) and you receive 3 different kinds of numbers for the RF- registrations as well as 3 different versions of VVS ROSSII signs. You also get a number of Guard’s badges and Hero of Soviet Union medal decals along with the names of different Soviet HSU decorated pilots that adorn some of the MiGs. Combining all these options, the options are almost countless – I suggest using aviation photo portals like russianplanes.net airfighters.net or airliners.net for choosing your preferred choice and check for references.

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There are also some omissions, that would make this sheet even better. Some of the ‘Foxhounds’ carry the bort number in white on top of the port rudder – decals for those are not provided – same goes also for nose wheel doors. Also Perm based MiG-31s have different style of markings on the intakes, which are not included on this sheet as are not several nose arts, found on photos.

Comparison with AMK decals.

Just a quick glance at the stencil placement instructions will show you, that there are a lot more of them on Begemot sheets. While AMK’s stencils don’t look bad at all, Begemot has gone one step further and made them even thinner, which should look even better as the final result.

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Bort numbers are slightly narrower on the Begemot sheet (7mm vs 8.3mm without white border) than AMK ones.

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Begemot Red stars have an off white color and slightly paler red color compared to a pure white borders and deep red stars. Checking the reference photos, both variants can be correct, depending on which airframe you decide to build.

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Savalskeya Air base flag with crest – neither company has nailed the colors, but I believe printing costs are the main reason. While the Russian flag colors are better with Begemot, Blue on Russian Air Force flag is better with AMK. Yellow is a little too light on both sheets. The crest of the Airbase looks much better on the AMK decal. In fact, it seems like Begemot’s decal was narrowed during processing – it is way too narrow as a whole, the crest in the middle looks oval and there’s a jagged edge on the bottom of decal. If you will be building one of the Savalskeya birds, use AMK decal instead.

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Red circular markings on the inner side of the vertical fins – there is a BIG difference in size of decals for those – Begemots are 17mm in diameter while AMK’s decal measures 23mm. Compared to the reference photos, I believe AMK’s dimension is more accurate.

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Despite some minor nitpicks, Begemot decals, with a little help from the AMK ones, will enable the modellers to build a vast pallete of improved Foxhounds, besides the often seen Red 34s, Blue 93s and Akthubinsk’s Red 25s.

You can get your decals from Begemot official site or use any of the listed stores, on their official page – http://www.begemotdecals.ru/

Special thanks to Andrey Kotkov of Begemot decals for sending me the review sample.

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And it finally arrived! The eagerly awaited AMK (AvantGarde Model Kits) 1:48 MiG-31BM/BSM ‘Foxhound’. The Macau based company really wet the appetites of the scale modelling crowds with CAD shots and later sprue parts of this iconic Soviet interceptor. By a stroke of luck and a good friendship, AMK provided me with the 3rd kit of the initial pre-release of this magnificent kit.

MiG31-1The big heavy box has finally arrived!

MiG31-2Serial number stamped on the inner side of the box lid.

MiG31-3The box is tightly packed with plastic, with little room to spare.

MiG31-4Example of great ingeneering – rows of neat rivet lines of different sizes and really sharp moulding.

MiG31-5While unfortunately included photo-etched fret does not include seat belts, the injection moulded seats should look the part when finished.

MiG31-6Tires, rims and exhaust detail pieces.

MiG31-7The huge upper part of the fuselage moulded in one piece.

MiG31-8Several under wing missile pylons.

MiG31-9The beautifully moulded cockpit tub – not much need for any aftermarket there.

MiG31-10Main wheel well details, intakes and cockpit tub.

MiG31-11While some may thing, full length engines are a bit of overkill, without the ability to show them off, they will be needed for structural integrity of the model.

MiG31-12Lovely details found in the front wheel well.

MiG31-13Other small parts…

MiG31-14Again, excellent instrument panel details.

MiG31-15Decal sheet offering 4 different markings options.

MiG31-16A full complement of stencil decals, including the weapons ones.

MiG31-17Front fuselage moulded in one piece!

MiG31-18Equally huge lower fuselage with front R-33 missile recesses.

MiG31-20One piece moulded missiles – R-33, R-77-1 and R-73, 4 of each. Level of details is just amazing.

MiG31-21Crystal clear canopies, well protected with raised sprue edges and option of either open canopies or single piece closed one.

MiG31-19And last but not least – how big this model is. A week or so ago, a photo was posted of a hand, holding the test-built model. Some comments arose that the size is probably not as big, as Asian hands are smaller than European/American and we have some sort of optical illusion. Well here is my standard Euro hand, holding just the lower piece of the fuselage – please be my guest and judge the size by yourself 😀

More photos at AMK Facebook page (you don’t need FB account to see them): https://www.facebook.com/avantgardemodelkits/?fref=ts

I would like to send my sincere thanks to AMK for providing me with this review sample, as well as Anton for playing the middle man.

Keep watching this space for the full review build of this kit coming very very soon. If you don’t wanna miss any update, please subscribe to my blog in the menu on the right of this text.

TOS-1A Buratino

TOS-1A is 24 barrel 220mm calibre multiple rocket launcher and a thermobaric weapon mounted on a chassis of T-72 main battle tank. It is designed to engage and destroy infantry and lightly armored vehicles as a part of larger armored force. Although first tested at the end of Afghanistan war, its first public presentation happened in 1999. The improved TOS-1A system entered service in 2001 and has increased range of up to 6.000m (some sources say up to 9.000m) compared to original 3.500m. It is believed around 15 units are in service with NBC units of Russian Army. TOS-1A official name is Soltsepek (Blazing Sun) while the nickname Buratino comes from the Tolstoy’s hero character in his Pinocchio style story – the launcher representing the growing nose of the character.

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To be honest, I’ve never before heard of either the TOS-1 system, neither of Modelcollect company. While you can find a few things about the first on the web, little can be found of the company itself. Their website http://www.modelcollect.com doesn’t offer much useful information and from what I’ve gathered so far, they are producing die-cast and plastic scale models. So far T-90, T-90A and TOS-1A have been released in 1:72 scale and for the price of 13.99$ you can’t go really wrong with it (similar price to Revell T-72).

So let’s see what’s in the box.

Note: Click on the photos will open them in higher resolution.

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Lower hull comes in die-cast metal form. This will certainly add some weight to the model (shouldn’t armor kits be heavy?). Details are crisp and well defined and the only ejection pin marks I’ve found are on the inner side of the hull.

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There are two sprues of main wheels and drive sprockets. Wheels seem a bit simplified. The edges on real ones are flat while these are round and there is no metal rim represented which extends a bit further than rubber parts. Painting these might become challenge but a swipe with sanding stick will make them flatter.

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Upper parts are nicely molded with sharp recesses and grills that should look nice after some wash application.

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Same goes for the side skirts and other parts of the upper hull.

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TOS-1A system makes for a separate sprue. Again not much to comment as all parts are crisp and without any visible flash or mould defections.

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Tracks are made of rubber and are my biggest concern. Especially for the painting as I fear paint will crack when bending them around the wheels.

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A small decal sheet rounds this package with a few tactical codes, unit badges and Gvardiya badges. Paint instructions call only for an overall green machine, though search for photos on google, reveals a whole lot of different camouflaged machines.

Stay tuned for work in progress.