Review

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F-14A and Su-35 Paint Masking Sets
Scale: 1:48
Manufacturer: Galaxy Models (www.galaxy-models.com)
Galaxy Models is a relatively new Chinese based after-market company who are "aiming for the finest masks, decals and other accessories for your plastic scale models." The first of their products that became widely known was the masking set for the RAM paneling on the new MENG F-35A kit in 1:48 (D48003). It was via the purchase and use of this set that I personally became aware of Galaxy during my Meng F-35A build

I was extremely happy with the quality and accuracy of the "Kabuki" paper, die cut masks when using them on my F-35A. They saved me hours of painstaking work and I was more than happy to recommend them to anyone undertaking that kit.
Since the release of that F-35A set (D48003, not sure what happened to 48001 and 002), the team at Galaxy have been busy working on new masking sets designed for two of the most popular 1:48 jet aircraft kit releases in the last 12 months, namely the amazing Tamiya F-14A Tomcat (D48004) and the more recent Great Wall Hobby Su-35S Flanker E (D48005 and 006).

REVIEW - Galaxy Models 1:48 F-14A Mask Set (D48004)

This masking set is designed to fit the Tamiya F-14A and provides all the standard items we have come expect from a masking set (canopy and wheels) but Galaxy goes a step further and provides masking templates to cover aircraft specific parts such as
  • walkways
  • anti glare panels (two types as provided in the Tamiya kit VF-84 and VF-2)
  • intakes and vents
  • wings
  • lights
  • exhaust nozzles
  • base of vertical fins and arresting hook
This set is by no means as large as the one I used for the F-35A RAM panels but it still comprises 129 separate masking pieces over two A5 sheets of yellow kabuki tape.
Galaxy have carefully gone over the Tamiya F-14A kit and provided a mask for many of the awkward shapes found that at some point a modeller will need to mask off. A great example of this is the outline mask for the base of the two vertical fins. This looks like a nasty spot to mask by hand with all those curves and cut outs. I personally don't think that the walkway and VF-2 style anti glare panels are hard to mask (being basically just straight lines) but having them on the sheet is just another small time saver (something all we modellers could do with I'm sure).
I'm really glad to finally see masking sets coming out that cover the interior of the canopies. I've always masked off and painted my canopy interiors but it can be time consuming and tedious work in 1/48 and smaller scales. Curves are also a challenge for many modelers to mask accurately and luckily the F-14 in general does not have a lot of painted curves but the VF-84 "short" style anti glare panel is one very visible example.
The wing of a 'hi-viz' F-14 Tomcat has some particularly tricky masking to be done along the forward edge of the spoilers. You can see this masked edge on the drawing below as the demarcation between the white and gray sections of the wing upper surface. Likewise the leading edges of the wing and elevators are un-painted being left in natural metal. Galaxy provides masks for the spoiler masking and leading edges on their sheet.
The sheets are well labelled and logically laid out on two A5 sized sheets of yellow kabuki tape. When using the F-35A sheet 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 felt and behaved exactly like Tamiya masking tape. When separating the masks from the sheet I often had to hold it up-to the light to see the edges and then gently peeled the mask off using sharp tweezers.
Galaxy also throw in a tinted clear 'optical film' pieces. These felt to me like acetate sheet and have been pre-cut to fit the center section of the Tamiya F-14 windshield. These could be a time-saver compared to masking and spraying tinted paint but I'm not 100% sure how you would go about securing them to the model as they are not self adhesive. More research needed by me as I get closer to using them I think.

REVIEW - Galaxy Models 1:48 Su-35S SU-35 Color Separation Mask Set (D48005)

This masking set is designed to fit the Great Wall Hobby Su-35S Flanker E and provides the following masks items:
  • canopy (inside and out)
  • anti glare panel
  • intakes
  • gun barrel
  • engine heat resistant plating (top and bottom)
  • exhaust nozzles
  • vertical fins and horizontal tail parts
This set is slightly larger than the F-14 set comprising 153 separate masking pieces over two A5 sheets of yellow kabuki tape. It's worth noting that Galaxy have now released two masking sheets designed for the GWH Su-35 kit.
  1. Colour Separation Mask D48005 (this sheet)
  2. Camouflage Mask D48006
The bulk of this set is designed to handle the complex masking needed for the natural metal heat resistant sections which surround the twin Saturn AL-41F1S engines on the rear fuselage. Mind you, that's probably a sensible thing as getting this part right on any Flanker paint job is a definite "make or break" for the finished model. It's worth mentioning that Galaxy offer no paint guide to help you will color selection, just masks to allow you to mask off quickly and cleanly when you get to painting this area.
The layout diagram shows the placement for each and every one of the masks for the top of the model. I'm not even sure if each of these masks is appropriate for every operator of the Su-35S so as usual be sure to do your own research before applying paint.
Like the F-14A masking set, masks are provided for both the inside and outside of the canopy framing. Pre-cut masks for the leading edges of the wing and LEX will be very handy.
The bottom includes masks for the intake interiors and the lower panels of the heat resistant shielding. It looks quite daunting when you first see the sheer volume of masks for such a small area but as I found with the F-35, take your time and work methodically around the sequence and it all goes pretty smoothly (and quickly). Mind you, in these engine areas you won't be applying all these masks at once. You will need to check photos and layer the masks to build up the range of natural metal colors.
Here we see a side view to help visualise the placement for the myriad of masks at the rear of the airframe.
In addition to the engine sections you get masking for the distinctive variable geometry nozzles of the Su-35S as well as the vertical fins and horizontal stabilisers.
Masks for the intakes (both inside and outside) are provided as are masks for all the clear parts in the kit. As I mentioned before I applaud Galaxy for giving us masks for the inside of the canopy. Thank You :)
Once again each sheet is well labelled and logically laid out on two A5 sized sheets of yellow kabuki tape.

CONCLUSION - Galaxy Models 1:48 Mask Sets for Tamiya F-14A (D48005) & GWH Su-35S (D48006)

Often times when I first review a new product or kit I have to take much of it on faith (how well a kit fits for example can only really be determined by actually building it, not just looking at or measuring it). In the case of Galaxy Model mask sets however I have very much put them to the test during the build of my F-35. I was totally impressed with that mask set and have no reason to believe that their follow up F-14A and Su-35S sets shown here will be any different.

Mask sets are one of those accessories that most modellers can probably make do without. They fall into the category of 'convenience' or 'nice to have' addons and if I'm honest not one that I use very often. I have to say that to a certain extent my mind was changed after purchasing and using the Galaxy set on the F-35A RAM paneling. Now that was an exception due to the sheer volume of masking needed for that project, but it did show me that there is a place for accessories like this in my toolbox. Ultimately it's up-to each of us to decide how much we personally want to rely on 'ease of use' tools like mask sets (or pre-mixed panel washes etc) in our hobby. It's great that we have that choice and that companies like Galaxy Models are around to offer them to us :)

Many thanks to Galaxy Models for the review sets. Keep an eye out for my road test in upcoming builds.