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Zvezda 1/350 scale "Arktika" Russian icebreaker plastic model kit review

A fun, accurate, modern kit of a ship that isn’t combat gray

Kit:9044 // Scale:1/350 // Price:$122.99
Zvezda (Sample courtesy of mfr.)
Mostly clean moldings with few mold seams
Dovetail and groove assembly of large upper sections difficult to clamp or tape in place
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 602 parts; decals
On October 3, 2020, the Russian Project 22220 icebreaker Arktika reached 90 North (geographical North Pole) during her proving voyage. The first of five ships in her class, weighing in at a svelte 33,530 tons and capable of 22 knots, she is powered by two nuclear reactors that can run for seven years between refueling.

Zvezda has created an accurate 1/350 scale model to showcase this unique modern icebreaker designed to keep shipping lanes open for cargo ships of up to 100,000 tons. The kit comprises 602 parts — the box indicates the parts count is 597, but more on that later — and an 11-page instruction book with 40 steps and 30 subassemblies. A color marking diagram and excellent decals round out the contents.

Interestingly, assembly doesn’t start with the hull, but rather the superstructures. I deviated from the instructions at Step 7 because the rear panel of the forward superstructure (Part B10) was warped. Much of that was fixed when I attached the section to the deck, which would have otherwise waited until Step 25. The superstructure sections join along beveled edges with shallow tongue and groove locaters. That makes alignment tough, and I ended up with a few gaps.

Steps 10-11 add deck chocks and winches to the aft deck in shallow recessed squares. Finally, in Step 12, the hull gets assembled. Of note is the ship’s V-shaped stern with winches and bumpers that allow another ship to be winched tight while being lead through ice.

Amazingly, 30 parts are required to build the three propellers! Never have I ever created props with so many parts. What fun! Almost makes the rest of the kit seem ho-hum. With a bit of creativity, a diorama of divers changing out a blade underwater could be created.

The wide bridge has clear plastic for its expansive windows. Mounting the deck above the glass required finesse and clamping because of some warping, but, ultimately, it worked well. Most of the antenna and satcom pods have half-moon pegs to ensure proper orientation.

The kit’s plastic steps really beg to be replaced with photo-etched metal (PE), and the kit could benefit from PE railings. After attaching the flight deck, you can add what appears to be nice Mi-8 AMT helicopter complete with decals for windows, exhausts, and tail numbers.

I painted the base hull rust edged with a white water line. I used Testors Gloss Blue (No. 1211) enamel, a better match to the ship then the Tamiya Blue (No. XF-8) called for in the instructions. The upper superstructure was painted with Krylon Short Cuts Matte Rain Drop (No. 1702521) to match online photos.

The beautifully printed decals were thin and strong. For example, the large helicopter pad is a single piece with lots of clear film, and it went on without silvering. The long hull decals slide off perfectly while being held at one end.

Overall, I found the Zvezda 1/350 scale Arktika icebreaker plastic model kit to be a fun, accurate, modern kit depicting a current ship and a refreshing change from the constant combat gray camouflage I spend so much time building.
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