Reviewed: Feb 2021
Galaxy Models are back with several new masking sets aimed squarely at the range of F-35A/B Lightning kits in 1/72 scale. In this review I'll take a detailed look at three of their latest offerings:
Each of these sets focuses on helping the modeller with that most daunting of tasks when building an F-35, the dreaded RAM panel masking. This single task has turned many a brave modellers heart to stone once the enormity of the masking effort dawns on them.
As a testament to the size of the task, each of these sets has an impressive 300+ separate masking pieces spread over two A5 sheets of high quality yellow kabuki tape.
All Galaxy masking sets are die-cut from the popular "Kabuki" tape which most modellers will recognise from their use of Tamiya masking tape. Unlike vinyl, the paper based Kabuki tape does not suffer from shrinkage and therefore has a very long shelf life. It's also reusable (if treated carefully).
This masking set is designed to specifically fit the Hasegawa F-35A kit, of which so far they have released no less than 12 re-boxings! In their kit, Hasegawa themselves deal with the RAM paneling by providing decals, which I suppose could work fairly well in 1/72 scale.
Whilst the bulk of the set does cater for the RAM panel masking, Galaxy have also kindly thrown in a few extra masks to cover the canopy and exhaust nozzle petals. The masking sheets are well labelled and logically laid out on two A5 sized sheets of yellow kabuki tape. Having used the Galaxy masks previously I found the die cutting process left a very clean cut and I had no problem separating the masks from the sheet.
The tape itself feels and behaves exactly like Tamiya masking tape, allowing you to lift and reposition the mask as needed. When separating the masks from the sheet I often had to hold it up-to the light to see the edges and then gently peel the mask off using sharp tweezers. Each Galaxy mask set includes a sheet of transparent "transfer tape" to assist you in removing the masks from the backing sheet and then positioning them on the model surface.
The second set is sized to fit the new Italeri F-35B tooling. The STVOL B airframe differs quite considerably from the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A variant so a specific masking set is needed.
Galaxy have previously released a masking set for the Hasegawa F-35B and now they have followed this up with a set for Italeri and Academy B airframes.
I only just recently completed the Italeri F-35B kit and unfortunately did not have this Galaxy mask on hand at the time. As a result I learnt firsthand how much time and effort it takes to manually mask an F-35B in 1/72 scale, it's a LOT. Pre-cut masking sheets are designed with one goal in mind, timesaving and when I used the Galaxy set on my 1/48 Meng F-35A build they did just that.
Like all Galaxy masking sets each sheet is well labelled and logically laid out on two A5 sized sheets of yellow kabuki tape.
The third and final set in this round of releases from Galaxy is designed to fit the Academy 1/72 F-35B. I guess as they had done the hard work to design the set for the Hasegawa and Italeri kits it was sensible to round out the trio for the Academy kit as well. As with the other sets, canopy and exhaust masks are supplied as well.
Just like Hasegawa, the Academy solution out of the box is to handle the RAM paneling with decals. That's great if you think the grey they chose for the RAM paneling is accurate to your build but painting gives you complete control and allows for some variations that you won't get with decals.
Again, each sheet is well labelled and logically laid out across the now familiar pair of A5 sized sheets of yellow kabuki tape.
As with all the previous Galaxy Models sets, these mask sets are great time savers for modellers who would rather spend time painting than cutting out masks. I happily used the Galaxy set on my Meng 1:48 F-35A build and it really was the difference between getting it finished and being consigned to the shelf of doom. Given the quality of the masking material and the accuracy of the size/shape of each mask I certainly have no heistation recommending them.
Many thanks to Galaxy Models for the review sets.