This article compares two 737-300 kits, firstly the Minicraft 737-300 first released in 1998 and the newer Skyline model (by Daco) released in 2006.
When this kit first appeared on the market, I for one was very excited about it. Up to then there had been no mass produced injected moulded 1/144 scale Boeing 737 old generation. The model I’m going to review is my second Minicraft 737 build.
The kit comes in 35 parts so is not an extensive build. There are no windows moulded into the fuselage which makes it easier to use after market decals which I prefer. The door outlines are engraved and the cockpit canopy comes in one clear piece which includes a section of the fuselage.
The instructions tell you that you need .5 oz ( 28.5 grams) of nose weight to stop it being a tail sitter. The fit of the fuselage halves is good and there are some minor sink marks by the location pins top and bottom that need filling. You will now realise that there is no main gear undercarriage bay. I therefore scratched built a box section out of plastic card using lengths of sprue as mounting points. The APU exhaust in the tail has no hole, bit that is easily drilled out. The cockpit section fits well, but needs some filling and sanding in order to remove the join lines. I also filled all the recessed door and hold lines for decals later.
I very much like Minicraft’s wings and the way they slide in together in the fuselage which creates the same dihedral on each side. There are no lights on the end of the wings so I made these myself using perspex.
The engines go together nicely though the forward locating pins for each side of the engine need to be removed or they will be seen in front of the fan disc. The join line between the two engine halves needs to be filled and sanded on the inside in front of the fan disc. This is a somewhat awkward filling and sanding exercise. Each engine lacks a nacelle strake on the outside facing the fuselage, but it can be easily made from plastic card. The spinner cones are too pointy, so I sanded them down until they were more rounded which later provided a surface on which the spinner decals could be placed.
On my first build I attached the engines to the pylons and then glued both to the wing. I found this left me with some remedial filling and sanding. With this build I put the engines on last and also squared off the top off the pylon where it meets the wing using filler, parts 22 & 23. Minicraft have a curved end where these parts sit on the wing and that is wrong.
I replaced the front undercarriage doors with ones made from plastic card. The main gear doors need cutting into 3 sections as per the instructions which are very good. The ends of each of the 3 pieces need a little sanding down to make them fit better. I also sanded all the doors pieces so they were much thinner.
The main gear support struts, parts 14 & 15 seem to be the wrong way round on the instructions. I changed them round and found they fitted better.
Painting and Decalling
I chose to do another Western Pacific Logojet and having been painting too much white recently, decided on the all gold fuselage of one of the Sam’s Town logojets. I used an old Humbrol gold colour which sprayed on nicely, but seemed to pick up stains easily when I started decalling. I used Xtra Colour Canadian Voodoo Grey for the wings and tailplane. The leading edges were painted with Humbrol 27002 Polished Aluminium.
The decals came from the Skyline range, sheet SKY 144-38 “Sam’s Town2”. The sheet as per all decals from Skyline is a very comprehensive sheet including loads of stencil markings. There are two different ‘Cow Girls’, one on each side of the tail and large ‘Sam’s Town’ billboard writing on each side of the fuselage.
I started by applying the girl decals to the tail as they would be a good reference point for other decals to come. There was a blank white decal of the outline of the girls which I applied first. I believe that this is probably to avoid colour bleeding through the picture decal. For all decals I used Micro Set and Sol.
Once I had applied the tail decals, especially the starboard girl, it gave me a starting reference point for the remainder of the decals. I applied the starboard rear door, then with a pair of dividers measured the length of a group of 4 windows on the decal sheet. This gave me a rough idea of where to apply the large “Sam’s Town’ decal on the same side. The rearmost window is situated under the girls’s boot on the tail decal and four windows forward from that lies on the “S” of “Sam’s Town”.
I applied the large “Sam’s Town’ decal first and while it was still wet applied the “Las Vegas Kansas City Tunica” below. I found that the later decal was too low, the letters of “City” disappearing into the wing root. Therefore I raised both sets of decals higher. I could now place the rest of the decals on the starboard side. The fit of the windows, which comes in one strip, in relation to the “Sam’s Town’ logo is generally very good with some slight misalignment on some letters. You have to look pretty hard to spot the ones that don’t align exactly.
Having done the starboard side, it was easier to apply decals to the port side, using photographic references in conjunction with the very clear colour instructions that go with the decal sheet.
For the coroguard on the wings I used Liveries Unlimited sheet A4-G02. I had to trim the coroguard around the top of the engine pylon where it meets the wing.
Finally I highlighted the wing flaps and tailplane by using thinned oil paints or pastel powder.
Overall I am pleased with the finished plane which really is an eye catcher when put on display. Under the fuselage are some stains from where I believe the Micro Set and Sol collected and they won’t come off despite some rubbing and buffing.
Skyline Daco 737-300
I was happy with the Minicraft 737s, but when Daco’s classic 737 series of kits were brought out they really impressed me. The level of detail completely surpasses the Minicraft kit in all areas. The kit comes in 56 parts including a small sprue for the cockpit and light transparencies. The fuselage is moulded with the cabin windows closed, but the plastic here is thin and it is possible to cut them open. The cockpit area can be cut away and replaced with a one piece transparent part which I guess would then have to be puttied and sanded like the similar part in the Minicraft kit to make it fit. As an extra bonus, the kit comes with a decal sheet containing windows, stencils and coroguard for the wings. Other extras on the sprue include a tail skid for the 400 series and winglets which have been retrofitted to some classic 737s There is also a comprehensive array of antennae.
When you start the build the instructions don’t tell you how much weight is needed to stop the plane being a tail sitter. Once you’ve added some weight glue in the undercarriage bays in place and stick the fuselage together. Some of the differences between this kit and the Minicraft are now obvious. The rudder is a separate part. There is an APU vent on the starboard side behind the rear door. The back of the fuselage is thinner around the tail, the Minicraft kit is bigger and much more rounded. Also the shape of the nose resembles more a 737 than the Minicraft kit.
All doors are engraved on the fuselage. I filled them in as well as the cockpit windows which are recessed and need to be smooth for the later application of the window decal.The wings are moulded in two halves and the bottom part already has the engine pylon moulded on. The fit of the bottom part on to the top wing section is done in such a way that the leading and trailing edges of the wing are already on the top wing section and are not formed by the fusion of the two wing halves.
This leaves a very nice thin trailing edge.The wings have tail &logo& lights on the end of each wing as well as an area for navigation strobe lights. There is a clear part for the strobe lights which I didn’t use, choosing instead to use my own piece of perspex. Warning, the &logo& lights are very fragile and can easily be broken off.
One of the disappointing features is the poor instructions on how to fit the main gear doors which doesn’t tell you that the door must be cut into sections that overlap each other. This is clearly described in the Minicraft kit instructions, however when I came to build this model I had forgotten how the doors fitted. Subsequently I sanded down too much of the doors to make them fit.
I used the kits antennae and aerials, though it is possible to use an etched brass set which comes with some of the decals Daco offers for the 737.
Painting and Decalling
I chose to do this plane in the colours of Go Fly, a low cost carrier that was flying in and out of Bristol. I used to photograph these planes and their different colours and logos, so I always wanted to build one.
For the white I used a can of Halfords car paint. This colour stays white, but the pressure leaves a poor finish. I sanded down it down using different grades of Micromesh sandpaper until I had a smooth finish. The purple colour was an old tin of Humbrol purple, 68 which sprayed on nicely. I used Xtracolour Boeing grey for the wings and tailplane.
The Go decals come from the FCM sheet number 144-14 which give you a choice of 11 different Go 737s to build, each with a different belly colour and fuselage logos. They are slightly thick, however with plenty of decal solution they settle well, especially the Go logo on the tail which needed to be trimmed to shape. The serial number under the wing is much too big, but I used it anyway. The remainder of the decals, windows, coroguard etc are supplied with the kit. The model was painted all over with a layer of Johnson Klear floor polish which sealed the decals and gave a uniform shine.
Finally the model was weathered with thinned oil paint and pastels.
In conclusion, the Daco kit is certainly my preferred choice, however the Mincraft kit builds into an acceptable replica of a 737 and is much cheaper.