Hobby Boss's MS 406 arrives in sturdy cardboard box with the parts further protected in a black plastic tray liner. The kit is very simple, comprising:
26 x grey styrene parts
A clear canopy
A metal propeller shaft
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
As usual with this range of kits, apart from the style of packaging, the big surprise is how well moulded the MS 406 is. The parts are very crisp, with no sign of flash or sinkage on the review sample. Surface detail consists of engraved panel lines with a few raised details (the distinctive wing "ribs" are represented by engraved lines). The fabric rear fuselage is quite subtly depicted and, ironically, the Easy Assembly breakdown of the fuselage parts actually works better than conventional kits of aircraft like this, and avoids a nasty joint running across the fabric area; instead, the seam runs along the stringers and will be far easier to conceal.
In terms of details, there's a simple interior - the "tub" consists of a floor, bulkhead, seat, rudder pedals and control column all moulded as a single part. The undercarriage is simplified and the wheel well is marred by large locator-points, but the main gear does feature the '406's peculiar toed-in wheels. There's a separate radiator under the fuselage and a tail-skid. The propeller is cleverly designed to revolve as a plug-in unit. A couple of surprisingly neat touches are that the exhausts are moulded slightly hollowed-out and there's a ring & bead sight moulded integrally with the fuselage.
The canopy is thin and nicely clear. As with the other Easy Assembly kits, it features large locator tabs which cause a bit of optical distortion.
Instructions and decals
The assembly diagrams are neatly drawn and leave little room for error. On the back of the instructions is a full-colour painting diagram for the two colour schemes featured. Surprisingly, there's no option for an Armee de l'Air aircraft, instead Hobby Boss have chosen:
1. M.S. 406 No. 826 - AX674 serving with the RAF French Flight, Haifa, September 1940.
2. M.S. 406 MS-311 , Finnish Air Force.
The colour schemes are certainly attractive, but Hobby Boss have got in a bit of a muddle with the Gunze Sangyo paint matches they suggest; the RAF machine should have black under the port wing, not dark green and the suggested Finnish camouflage of IJA Green and RLM 71 topsides might raise a few eyebrows...
The decals are a bit of a mixed bag. They are thin and glossy, but both the RAF and Finnish national markings colours look very bright, and the registration of the roundels is a tad off. Wing-walks should surely be black - not blue, and the Finnish markings are infuriating in that the Hakaristi and serials are printed as one with the yellow wingtips and fuselage band. The Hakiristi are printed with separate centres - a pointless concession to the "politically misinformed", but it's something we're seeing more and more in kits these days, so it's not fair to single out Hobby Boss for special criticism on this.
Hobby Boss aim these Easy Assembly kits at younger and less experienced modellers and they make an ideal introduction to the hobby. The M.S. 406 is particularly praiseworthy in making a change from the endless round of Spitfires, Bf 109s and Mustangs. The choice of colour schemes is welcome, but rather let down by poor execution. Nevertheless, the '406 is a neat little kit that could be build into a real gem with some extra work and sustitute decals.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Well priced, very well moulded and easy to build.Lows: Simplified details and decals.Verdict: A great kit for youngsters and beginners. More experienced modellers will want to add extra details and find some better decals.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...