In-Box Review
Douglas A-20
Douglas Boston Mk V/A-20J
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by: Zdenek Nevole [ OLDIEMOLDYLOVER ]

This only lately discontinued RoG release most likely caused some mixed emotions among modelers. Those who have been waiting for a new, state of the art-kit for a reasonable price for decades, surely expected a little bit more. Similar to the case of the Douglas Havoc/Boston up until now, the majority doesn't care much about this item. It seems to share the Douglas Attacker’s fate, since its glorious days as a popular topseller are sadly long gone.

Hard to say whether the clerks in charge in Bünde had already foreseen and condoned it? Although the legendary Douglas' classical warbird’s chances shouldn't be that bad, especially on the US home market, where it is still marketed, there were also opinions suggesting Revell rather focused on the Commonwealth and especially Great Britain in terms of sales of this particular item.

Nevertheless, the final result was somewhat ambivalent, or rather lackluster. Granted, it wasn’t all that easy in this case. The trouble started with the indications on the box already. It surely wasn't just a matter of space, which made the layout so difficult here. It was rather Boeing’s copyright on the trademark „Douglas“, which had to be evaded! In a way, this was quite understandable, although we have to ask ourselves how Airfix could manage to print „Douglas Dauntless“on their kit, while Revell could not? It seems that things had been easier in the nineties, when the original Revell Douglas Havoc/Boston was reboxed for the very last time, since the name was printed on an even smaller blue box back then!

Which leads us to this kit`s origin: The current box contains four resealable cello-bags with grey styrene frames inside, which were, in this case, made by MPM (Czech Republic) originally. As usually, RoG gives this information only in small print, which doesn’t appear to be a reasonable way to denote a „cooperation“! Sorry to all my fellow German reviewers: If you still talk about cooperation in this case, it rather sounds like marketing to me.

Anyway, now that the molds’ origin is clear, we shall take a closer look at the instruction sheet. Sadly, the explanatory notes dealing with the planes’ historical background do not provide as much clarity as the production origin. Surely, it isn't a simple task to be successful in that challenging area, especially in the case of a versatile multi-role combat plane like the Boston/Havoc. The use of translation software was clearly a poor way to tackle such a demanding job, so it’s absolutely no wonder that the result is rather bad!

Interestingly, both texts (the English and German one) are comparable in terms of phrasing and structure. However, some small gaffe like „Russia“ instead of „Soviet Union“ or „power“ instead of „luminosity“ should be regarded as forgivable. At Revell's internet sites, which usually differ in Germany and the States, they already tried harder. The German web page's text and derived translation was also used for the narrow side of the kit's box, while the US homepage describes this kit differently as the „Boston Mk.IV/V“.

Was this the supportive fact for the assumption that the RAF friends among the plastic modelers have been generally targeted? Quite possible, but not fully convincing so far, since there`s just only one equal model in the box. Apart from a British decal option, which is for the Boston Mark V, the only other decals included are for an A-20J, as that particular variant was in USAAF service. Notably, this American variant in British service actually would correspond to a Boston IV ship, but its construction has never been intended, as appropriate decals are not being offered!

Therefore, a possibility for getting the proper information regarding the provided painting option, in relation to the real marks or variants, is difficult for all visitors of the American website.
Perhaps that`s an intended suggestive incentive to buy, or could it simply be just a mistake? The photography of the so-called Prototype model which has been used (on the box, in the instructions sheet, as well as within the German homepage), shows the marking option from the MPM kit, which, even in good will, cannot be classified as an excusable error!
In my opinion, such confusion or even chaos is not acceptable for a company with tradition and reputation like Revell.

This indicates that the much smaller company of MPM has done it better, even without causing more costs to printing ink, etc. Ultimately, for the manufacturer of Prague only a brief glance at K. Munson`s well-known standard work has sufficed to make it look more professional. The same could also be said for the text itself, because the sources of information were evidently much more solid.
Revell`s instruction sheet is divided in 30 (including the part sprues arrangement, and painting and marking options) sections, which seems to be likely error-free, at least I did not find any at first glance. Only the symbols used, such as wooden clothes pegs and specialized liquid cement, are still not placed inside the corresponding sketches optimally, so everyone would be able to understand how to build. Besides, for unknown reasons, they have also forgotten to show instruction steps for assembling a retracted undercarriage.
This leads me to the skill level indication, which here just reaches the level of 3. In my opinion, this is quite low and therefore especially beginners could be easily over-challenged. This is why one should already have some experience with assembling multi-engine aircraft kits, or at least have someone experienced at your side.

My review must be, in view of the previous valuation, appearing less positive so far, but this is absolutely not the case; with such many frames amply filled with 118 parts. The parts feature almost absolutely no flash, and there are also no sinking marks visible. Necessary ejector pins were placed with expertise, because they are not visible. The fit accuracy can't be described other than exemplary. All parts are highly detailed throughout, which especially in the cockpit and undercarriage areas easily achieve a quantum leap to the previous original kit from California (comparison photos with the the old kit's wings and fuselage accompany this review). This can also be said for all moveable guns that Revell once completely ignored, whereas the two successive separate radial cylinder block replicas, surprisingly only achieve a comparable level (to the California model). This also largely applies to the, quite accurately created, main wheels for the time. The clear parts expectably represent a good contemporary standard. The only missing detail in the parts that I could see at first glance, are the typically American diagonally running tire treads of the original.
The two paint options actually correspond to once really existing planes, but do differ only slightly in camo schemes. In my opinion they also are somewhat unattractive, because there were some richly decorated originals around, especially for the USAAF plane. Thus, the provided decal sheet this time is rather small, although with many maintenance instruction stencils, and dashboard instruments.
To make matters worse, the responsible person most likely knowingly used a peculiarity of the American bomber in this context! Namely, on the right side of the front fuselage there was a second individual name ("The real McCoy") and a scantily clad, bare-breasted beauty as nose art. However, the more recent corresponding photograph is showing the left side of the machine nose with the inscription "Irene". So if one wants to make this model a bit more colorful, one would need to paint the pin-up girl and the appertain text because it has been actually added later according to reports.

In short - this Prague-offered kit under Revell`s label is ultimately still of a decent standard. Nevertheless, the final conclusion must be made here, not only in particular, regarding the overall impression, but rather more on average tendency. One should not underestimate the bare plastic model quality so far. Since the value for money is much better, the 100% form-identical MPM kit of this hitherto rather rare variant should be quite interesting for everyone. With this in mind, I am actually almost convinced that this short time Revell-kit is still laid out to find its buyer, hopefully. I would personally recommend it, despite the unnecessary, almost embarrassing, in-house created shortcomings.
Highs: Nice details right out of the box.
Lows: Uninspiring marking schemes, short-run mouldings, somewhat confusing instructions.
Verdict: A good kit for the money.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 04278
  PUBLISHED: Sep 11, 2016
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Zdenek Nevole (oldiemoldylover)

Copyright ©2021 text by Zdenek Nevole [ OLDIEMOLDYLOVER ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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