Eduard have followed their now standard practice, releasing upgrades for the Roden Staggerwing in two forms - a simple Zoom set which includes the basics such as a new instrument panel and seatbelts, and the more elaborate set reviewed here that covers the airframe as a whole.
Set #49593 includes 3 frets, one pre-coloured and partly self adhesive, for a slightly daunting total of 219 new parts.
The first fret is identical to the Zoom set reviewed by HERE
by Jessica Cooper, while the others are all-new. I won't go over too much of the same ground as Jessie, other than to note that the pre-painting is well up to Eduard's usual standard with pin-sharp details on the instrument panels and seatbelts (incidentally, the problem she spotted in the instructions regarding the number of belts for the rear bench-seat has been resolved this time - there are now just two sets shown). As they often do, Eduard have finished the instrument panel fascia in a very dark grey, with the instrument faces in pure black - presumably so they "pop out" when the multi-layer panel is assembled. Looking at the range of photos available on-line of full-sized Staggerwing panels, you'll find a variety of instrument arrangements (particularly as there are so many restored aircraft) so there may not have ever been one "definitive" panel layout that's true for every aircraft built, but one thing is clear - Eduard's etched panel is really a "must have" improvement over lucklustre Roden decal version.
As well as offering new rudder pedals (I agree with Jessie that the co-pilot's are rather 2-dimensional for this scale), the expanded set re-skins the forward cockpit floor with a new metal overlay that has seat-mounts and rivet detail. Similarly, the cabin sides - totally blank in the kit - now get overlays to represent the padded insulation often fitted. The instruction indicate to burnish the indentations on the reverse side of the panels with a ball-point pen to increase the 3-dimensional padded effect. Re-skinning the sides will destroy the moulded door and window handles, so Eduard have provided new metal ones.
The engine is upgraded quite simply with an ignition harness, baffle plates to fit between the cylinders and a maker's data plate. The propeller hub is dressed up with a new cap and covers for the counterweights.
The exterior of the airframe comes in for some quite extensive treatment, with trim-tab actuators, appliqué fuel tank covers, servicing hatches, hinges and rigging points - some of which are to replace the original moulded versions, other to fill gaps that Roden missed entirely. Replacing some of the moulded items will require some delicate sanding to avoid wrecking the kit's fabric effect, but the effort should be well worth it.
Attention then turns to the mainwheel well, which is totally transformed with a new woodgrained roof panel to hide the underside of the cabin floor where the holes for the seat mounts come right through, a front wall and fuel tank, plus quite a complex framework to fill the interior of the well. Photo-etched parts have their limitations in areas like this - the woodgrain is a bit heavy, while the framework can't strictly replicate the original tubular structure. Of course, you could always use the metal parts as templates to construct your own framework from thin styrene rod or stretched sprue, or simply brush-painting with quite thick paint will help round-off the square edges.
The main undercarriage itself is detailed with new doors and brakelines, while the tail wheel opening is fitted with a new surrounding panel and doors.
Finally, the set includes flat-section flying and landing wires and spacers to fit where they intersect. The latter are each made up of three flat plates which have to double for the real cigar-shaped streamlined spacers so, again, thick paint may help smooth them - or else shaping new items from styrene may be a better alternative.
The instructions are neatly illustrated, breaking the modifications down into around 20 stages in a 4-page A5 pamphlet. None of the stages are too complex, and there's no major surgery needed and only a few fiddly folds to make, so anyone with some experience of etched sets should be OK, so long as they work steadily - it's really just the sheer number of small parts that make this rather too ambitious set to recommend for anyone to "cut their etched teeth on".
There's no doubt Eduard's details will make a dramatic difference to the Roden Staggerwing. The interior upgrades are pretty much essential if you want to show off the model with the passenger door open, while the exterior parts add a lot of extra detail. Highly recommended.
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