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AMT 1/32 scale 'Star Wars: A New Hope' TIE fighter plastic model kit review

This TIE fighter will dominate your display cabinet
Kit:AMT1341/60 // Scale:1/32 // Price:$84.99
AMT (Sample courtesy of manufacturer)
Impressive size; lighting options baked in
Noncompliant and under-detailed decals; fit challenges
Injection-molded plastic (blue-gray, clear); 132 parts (1 metal tube; plastic base); decals
I’m going to come right out and tell you that I adore the AMT 1/32 scale Star Wars: A New Hope TIE fighter plastic model kit. That doesn’t mean that Round 2 has produced a flawless kit or that the result is not stupefyingly large or aggressively awkward. But, if you’re in the market for a “studio scale” model of the classic Star Wars, shrieking, terror ball, you are in the right place.

You may raise an eyebrow at $85 for 132 parts (of which you’ll use 128 if you include the stand). Don’t. The amount of plastic packed into this kit would stagger a bantha. And I’d call it well detailed, though you’ll have to contend with flash, and the TIE pilot looks like it got a touch too close to the Death Star’s reactor core. But that’s alright because it’ll be closed up in the notoriously dark cockpit — unless, that is, you light it.

You might be tempted to light this TIE, and Round 2 has you covered, in that case, providing a clear floor (Part 57), laser cannons (parts 60), and inserts for the twin ion engines (parts 56). Paint them solid colors or a combination of solid and clear to allow light to shine through. You can fit six 3mm LEDs into the fuselage and run the wires out through the bottom, though the fit can be a bit snug.

The kit would have you proceed from the pilot to the cockpit and the fuselage, but I wouldn’t have made it in Palpatine’s imperial ranks. I went for the wings. A whopping 13½ inches tall and 11 inches wide, they resemble hexagonal dinner plates. You’ll use 26 parts to make each wing — six solar panel wedges, two hubs, 12 spokes, and six outer frames.

The wedges puzzle together, but you’ll find that by the time you get the final wedge in place, the other wedges will buckle and bind. Sand the mating surfaces of each wedge with a sanding block and 180-grit sandpaper. Knock those back hard and test-fit the wedges to make sure they all lay flat on your workbench. If you don’t, you’ll have a warped wing.

The instructions tell you to do one side and then the other, but that’s bonkers because of how the attachment points work on the hubs and spokes. I tacked my wedges with superglue before cementing both the hubs in place. Then I worked my way around the wing, attaching each spoke with its correct mate on the opposite side. Be careful and take the time to mark part numbers on the spokes so you don’t confuse them. At this point, it’s back to the proper order of things.

The instructions suggest installing the back of the cockpit while assembling the cockpit interior halves. On the contrary, after test-fitting, I found that gluing the floor first allowed for a better fit of the rear bulkhead. Even then, some gaps needed filling from the outside to prevent light leakage. If you aren’t concerned with lighting the TIE, you probably won’t care about these minute seams and can carry on.

The cockpit front (Part 25) — I suppose you could call it a coaming, but then again, who knows what it’s called in the galaxy, far, far away? — has big positive locators, which is fine, except if you light it, then you’ll probably see them looking through the top hatch. To hide them, I suggest augmenting the molded greeblies with more nonsensical goodies, styrene sheet, or running a couple of thin lines of lead wire to model exposed cables like I did. Also, be sure to sand out the visible ejector-pin marks.

You’ll notice considerate, if subtle, hints Round 2 continued to think about lighting this kit, with space for LEDs in the rear fuselage half (Part 1) and impressions on the bottom side of the floor. If this doesn’t matter to you, then the assembly moves along quickly and without interruption. Just keep an eye out for flash and remove it when you see it.

Not apparent in the diagrams, the two prongs for Part 34 are supposed to touch the front viewport’s frame (Part 19), so I inserted the latter while attaching the former (keeping all this straight?), making sure not to glue the frame to the fuselage before I was supposed to two steps later.

The top hatch works wonderfully, the frames (parts 17 and 24) sandwiching the glass (Part 58) between them and then settling in place, keyed for proper orientation. You’ll find the viewport keyed, too, but twice, which still makes no sense to me. Make sure you use the key that points the frame true north right through the pilot’s line of sight.

The wing pylon ends (parts 44) need to seat entirely, or they will interfere with the wings fitting on the ends. This means test-fitting and possibly carving down the mating surfaces until you get a suitable fit. I didn’t realize this when I glued mine in, and I had to engage in creative filing to get a fit that looked correct on one wing.

Labeled optional, the bottom of the central sphere (Part 20) fits into the hole where the stand goes — thus, if you use the stand, leave off the part. Or forego the stand and insert the part. I said balls to that and, using the attachment point on the back of the part as a guide, reamed out the part to accommodate the stand’s post and then glued it to the sphere’s underside.

Throughout, I employed Archive-X acrylic paints and airbrushed as I went along. The only places I chose differently were Tamiya Clear Red and Clear Green for the engines and lasers and Vallejo Gunmetal for the laser cannons. Tamiya Flat Clear finished off the model.

“But,” you ask, “what about the decals?” Often praised highly in Round 2’s reissue endeavors, sadly, I must report that the TIE’s decals disappoint. Thick and resistant, I could get them to go down over flat surfaces, but any contours at all meant trouble. The decal for the pilot’s chest controls resisted high heat and repeated dousing with Micro Sol, Tamiya Mark Fit (Strong), and, in the end, undiluted Solvaset. Exhausted, I finally called it good enough and walked away. Gray dots stand in for the Imperial emblems, and I left them off. In this instance, I would suggest that this particular printer is not the decal company Round 2 is looking for.

Does Round 2 get everything right with its AMT 1/32 scale Star Wars: A New Hope TIE fighter plastic scale model kit? No. But where it might get low marks, it recovers by overall engineering and producing a kit that requires you to meet it with the skills you have at your disposal as an intermediate or skilled modeler. Get out your files and sanding sticks, test-fit, get rid of flash, and don’t be afraid to be creative. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a model that you love, perhaps almost as much as I do mine. Now, if only Round 2 would make an X-wing to match.
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