Construction Notes, Modeling project, Product Review

Joycraft F-16D Viper Toon

Last year, Joycraft launched a new series of products: fully 3D-printed aircraft kits. You may recall a review I posted here a while ago of a book from that company, written by master modelers René Joyal and Jarek Rydzyski.

When Joycraft announced its first kit, I jumped on it for a number of reasons. First, it was a fully 3D printed kit, and I wanted to see firsthand how they would go about producing that, Second, well, Joycraft is awesome and I was pretty sure anything it would come up with would be interesting. So I preordered a kit, got it, and built it. Here’s how it went.

What’s in the box?

The kit came in a super neat package, a work of art in itself (which apparently will change a bit in future offerings to make it more efficient). All the parts were neatly glued on a sturdy cardboard plate. Right away I could see that the definition of the print was pretty crisp.

Getting down to work

The first order of business was to clean the parts. Now, let me tell you right away, it looks much worse than it actually is. It took me about an hour to prepare all the parts down to basic cleanup so that I would only have to finish cleaning up each part more precisely once ready to put it into place.

You need to be extra careful, however, to avoid breaking parts. It’s not a huge deal, but this is not like cast resin, and certainly not like injected styrene. 3D printing resin is brittle and fragile. In the course of the project, I broke a number of parts that weren’t too complicated to fix, but it was self-inflicted pain nonetheless.

The Kit

The kit is a pretty cool design of a pretty cool jet fighter. I am not, myself, a huge fan of toon planes, but this one struck a note and grabbed my attention. Contrary to most toon planes I’ve seen, this one keeps the right ‘vibe’ of the F-16, and even though it is a vastly simplified version of the original, it keeps its awesome aerodynamics and signature lines. It comes with a centerline tank and two wing tanks, two AIM-9M, two AIM-120C, and two AGM-88. In other words, it is armed to the teeth.

In the end, I went for a more sleek loadout, but that isn’t exactly a voluntary choice. Rather, I was the victim of my own inexperience.

The kit is pretty well engineered. The cockpit is not only very detailed, but it fits pretty well without any issues to speak of. I didn’t take pictures of all the kit’s details, but the flight stick, the throttles, and a bunch of switches are all fully present. This level of detail and crispness makes it very promising for the future: a kit of this level of quality won’t require additions.

The instructions are pretty clear as well most of the time, and the decals are from Cartograf and are of excellent quality. You get two options in the kit: a Polish and a Greek aircraft. (I decided to add a fictional squadron insignia on mine and cut a Corinthian Helmet I found on the Internet. )

There are two things that aren’t quite awesome, though. The two-parts fuselage and the canopy. The former requires a pretty hefty putty job while the latter implies that your sanding and polishing chops are up there. I guess this had the benefit of forcing me to put those skills to practice. Joycraft told me that their next offering, the F-16I Sufa, will come with a one-piece fuselage.

In addition, I think it is fair to say that while a cute little toon plane, this kit isn’t for beginners. Like I said, parts are fragile to prepare and handle, you need a solid knowledge of CA glue handling, and PLEASE DRY-FIT EVERYTHING.

Yup, this is why you don’t see my ship bristling with missiles. You not only need to clean the wing hardpoints locators, but you need to make absolutely certain they will slip-fit in those slits. I didn’t do that and, right at the end of the project, I started to try and wrestle them in, coming dangerously close to some catastrophic breakage. I deemed it safer to leave those ordnances alone.

Oh well, some more experience.

In the end, this project was a very satisfying change of pace. It wasn’t as simple a build as I had expected. It drilled home some basics that I, as an armor modeler, am not often required to put into practice. It was also an excellent demo of what 3D-printed modeling is likely to look like in the future, and I cannot wait to see what Joycraft will come up with for their next kits. I was so impressed with the quality of their kit that I ordered their Sufa right away.

Project Specs

Joycraft F-16D Toon

Product Review

3D MicroCosmos Small Arms 3D Prints

It’s been a while since a did a review per se, but recently I made a substantial order from a small Greek company called 3D MicroCosmos and I received it today. I figured it might be interesting to look at it more closely for the benefit of my modeling colleagues around the globe.

3D MicroCosmos

I became aware of this company through its Facebook presence. Like many other modelers, I was intrigued by their offering: mostly 1/35 small arms, but also a bunch of accessories seemingly focusing on Greek vehicles (Humvees, M113, mostly) and some diorama items like tools and containers.

When I saw that they were working on M16/M4 base weapons, I reached out to them to suggest they produce a C7A2 and a C8, and, to my delight, they promptly went about doing just that, created both, and, well, I had to order them. So I did that along with many more.


There are two ways to order if I’m not mistaken. Directly via Messenger from Facebook or via Hobby Market. I ordered my stuff through messenger, paid via Paypal, and got my things a few weeks later in a low-profile cardboard box.

What’s in the Box?

I had ordered a bunch of things, about twenty references in all (not all on the pic below). Everything came in small Ziplocs bags. For the most part, the parts were still on their supports. More importantly, there weren’t any damaged parts whatsoever, despite some very delicate parts such as barrels.

The Parts

Now, this is where this gets interesting. As far as 3D printing goes, this stuff is top of the line. The prints are extremely crisps, printing resolution looks like it’s under 0.01mm, you really have to look closely to see any sort of layering. On my batch, I did not have any sort of warping or misalignment. The quality of the sculpts is also very, very good.

An M60 with its supports.

Evidently, these guys know 3D printing. The prints are not only clean like I said, but they’re also cleverly supported so that cleaning them is relatively easy.

The same M60, quickly cleaned.

You have to be careful, however. The nature of printing resin is such that once cured, the resin gets somewhat brittle, and if you try to clean the support too quickly, you can easily damage the parts (just like I did here, I was a little too enthusiastic and broke the left footplate of the M60’s bipod). Of course, it would be even cooler if the parts were already cleared away from their supports, but then I suppose the price would go up. Maybe they could offer customers to buy cleaned parts for a slightly higher price. I think I would rather buy that and spare myself the trouble.

Now, I don’t intend on taking detailed pictures of all I’ve bought, but the important point is that whatever MicroCosmos is showing on its page is pretty much what you get.

Oh, before you ask, they do NOT sell .stl for to print on your own. They sell the actual prints. After seeing the quality of those prints, I think it’s a sound proposition because I would peddle quite a bit to achieve this level of quality, I’m afraid.

The Canadian C8 carbine and C7A2 rifle, w00t!

In terms of accuracy, I haven’t challenged the parts, not yet anyway. I would say it looks pretty much spot on, but it would be interesting to take a good look at these offerings from an accuracy standpoint. For instance, the M4/M16 30-rounds magazine for their earlier M4 looks slightly off, but like I said, this is purely based on eyeball mk.1. The magazines of their M16A1 series (shown below) looks spot on.

1/35 guys, 1/35. Look at those flashiders.


Pros – Very sharp, crisp 3D prints, seemingly accurate models (will require further examination on this point but clearly proportions are spot-on), and a quickly growing range of items. Very reasonable prices.

Cons – No cons per see, but a simple word of caution about cleaning the parts. We do this all the time with styrene, so that’s no big deal, but I mention this because it’s not obvious when looking at their FB page and if you’ve never cleaned a 3D part, you need to be extra careful doing so.

Very highly recommended. I hope they keep going, so far it’s a very interesting little company that I am sure to keep following in the future.

Not the best quality picture, but that side-by-side shot should help you get a bearing on the overall quality.