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MPC 1/48 scale Star Wars: Return of the Jedi TIE Interceptor plastic model kit review

A kit that’s good for quick assembly, skill-building, or Jedi-level detailing
Kit:M989-200 // Scale:1/48 (1/51) // Price:$33.99
MPC (Sample courtesy of manufacturer)
Quick and easy assembly; comes with a base and stand
Inexact locator pins; no paint callouts; thick clear parts
Injection-molded plastic (gray-blue, clear, black); 33 parts; stand and base included
Seeing the TIE/in (Imperial Navy) Interceptor for the first time in Return of the Jedi caused my 8-year-old head to almost explode. What are these totally cool new TIE fighters? I wasn’t the only one to immediately adore the upgrade and think a model was a must. At the time, MPC issued an Interceptor model in the “It’s a snap!” lineup, which saw reissues over the years from Airfix and AMT/Ertl. Now, Round 2 has released an updated version of the TIE Interceptor, and it should make almost any Star Wars fan happy.

This kit builds off the recently re-released AMT 1/48 scale TIE fighter kit (click here to read the review), transforming the model from a snap-together model to one that requires glue. Round 2 does this by repurposing the fuselage from the TIE fighter and modifying the original Interceptor wings to attach to the pylons properly.

You’ll use 30 of the 33 parts supplied in the kit to build the Interceptor—two parts are clearly meant for the TIE fighter, and a small plug for the bottom of the terror ball would prevent you from using the base and stand. The blue-gray parts look good, but you’ll need to go around and clean up ejector-pin marks on the front cockpit wall (Part 13) and numerous spots on the interior-facing sides of the wings. This last proves challenging because of all the details, so you may wish to disguise them with greeblies or lengths of styrene rod or strip.

Except for where noted, I used Archive-X paints exclusively on this model because they are color matched to the original filming miniatures.

The pilot builds up from four parts: front and back halves and two arms. You’ll want to clamp the figure together so its halves stay together. The pilot can benefit from detail painting, but I would have preferred a solid-molded body rather than the halves just to ease cleanup. The cockpit assembles around the pilot quickly, but you’ll want to paint before putting the parts together. I painted the interior Dark Reefer Gray (No. AX-005) and picked out details with Vallejo colors. The pilot was painted variously with flat, semigloss, and gloss black.

When removing the upper fuselage half (Part 1), be careful not to snip off the keyed ends that help align and provide positive attachment for the wings. While you may think that you won’t see much of the interior, it is big enough to let in light, so make sure to paint the inside of the ball section the same color as the rest of the cockpit, otherwise, the difference will be noticeable.

The top hatch is supposed to open, but the clear part is thick, and the hinge is a clumsy affair. I test-fitted the front window and noticed that the holes for the attachment points would be visible in the glass, even when glued in place. At this point, I decided to leave off the glass in both cases and run with a “filming miniature” appearance instead, gluing the hatch in place.

The fuselage halves sandwich the cockpit, which has one locator pin, so make sure it’s in place before gluing and clamping the fuselage. And clamp, you must! Or use superglue. Despite my best efforts, there was a gap at both ends of the wing pylons. I covered them with styrene strip, and you wouldn’t know under paint, except that I’ve told you.

I painted parts 15, 16, and 18 (the front cockpit frame) 1975 SP Dark Lark Grey (No. AX-008) off the model and hit the solar panels with 1975 Engine Black (No. AX-011). I glued the front window frame in place and masked it and the solar panels with tape. I filled the view slats in the upper hatch with Silly Putty and proceeded to paint the fuselage and wings with ILM Stormy Seas (No. AX-042).

At that point, there was final assembly, painting the laser cannons and exhausts, touchups, washes, and weathering — all of which can be done to your own tastes. There aren’t any paint callouts in this kit, so you’ll have to refer to the photos on the box and what references you can find.

In my opinion, you’ll want to use the stand because, unlike the TIE fighter, the Interceptor does not sit well on its wings. I suggest supergluing it in place.

As for scale, well, it depends on your point of view. The original kit was quoted as 1/51 scale. This one is said to be 1/48 scale. After slapping a ruler on it, the Interceptor is a bit short vertically but a little long compared to the measurements in the Star Wars TIE Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual. Let’s say Obi-Wan wouldn’t argue the point too hard and leave it at that.

I spent about 10 hours on my MPC 1/48 scale Star Wars: Return of the Jedi TIE Interceptor, mostly on painting and masking. If you wanted to build this as a quick afternoon project, you could get it together in a couple of hours. But it benefits from more time and builds into a cool model. Who’s it for? Star Wars fans, of course! But it would make a perfect project to work on with a Star Wars fan who is new to or less skilled in the hobby. May the Force be with you!
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