In the past year probably the injected plastic kit that has made the greatest impact is the Trumpeter release of the 1:200 scale kit of the Russian modern destroyer, Sovremenny. Initially the firm was known for releasing copies of Tamiya kits at a lower price but lesser quality than the Japanese originals. That past has clearly been shed with the production of their large model of this handsome warship. The Trumpeter Sovremenny is clearly highly original, big and beautiful. Although not without its faults, the workmanship is to high standards. The kit also includes its own photo-etched frets. 

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Enter White Ensign Models. One of the chief components of the WEM product line is its wide selection of photo-etched brass frets, available in many scales for a variety of commercially produced warship kits. It seems that for some time and especially in the past year, WEM has been very quick to produce a specialized brass PE fret, tailored for almost every significant release of an injection molded plastic warship model. WEM is known for tackling subjects that no one else addresses. Size and complexity do not scare them. At the release of the Sovremenny kit, WEM promptly announced that they would be producing photo-etch specifically to enhance this large kit. Within two months it was on the market. As befits a kit of this size, the WEM Sovremenny fret is also large. This two sheet fret is not inexpensive. At 40 pounds sterling (outside the EU) the set is the second most expensive PE product in the WEM line. Only the set for the 1:350 WEM HMS Sheffield exceeds it in expense. Is it worth the expense? To answer that question would depend on what is the final goal of the modeler in building the Trumpeter Sovremenny

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Sovremenny Fret A
The WEM set for this model consists of two frets, plus instructions. The frets are produced in different gages of thickness. Fret A is the larger of the two frets, measuring 10 ¾ inches by 7 ¼ inches, and also of the thinner gage brass. To me it also contains the big ticket items that would compel the acquisition of this product. First in pride of place is the Top Steer radar assembly. With the Trumpeter kit you get a solid plastic radar, clunky but functional. With the WEM fret you get replacements for the plastic parts in the form of beautifully etched brass parts that truly capture the delicate, spider web appearance of this intricate array. A quick look at the photo comparing the plastic versus brass parts is only one reason to consider the merit of acquiring the WEM set. 

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Of course in a fret set of this size, the radar is only one small part in the goodies that you receive from WEM. Not far behind the Top Steer array in beauty and in accuracy and fineness conferred on the kit are a host of other candidates. Just as the plastic Top Steer radar cannot hope to match the detail of the WEM radar, the kit’s plastic parts fall dismally short of duplicating the intricate brass Fregat radar, various lattice platforms, helicopter deck restraint net, among many others. As is true with other WEM photo-etched products, there is a plethora of highly detailed parts that are not provided in the kit. Other, more mundane factors to consider comes from comparing "generic" photo-etched parts. As mentioned earlier, Trumpeter does provide its own PE in the kit, the bulk of which is railing. The kit provides only four bar railing that has to be attached by individual stantions. WEM provides five different types of railing with gutters running along the bottom to facilitate attachment. There is a significant sheer at the bow of the ship. WEM provides curving railing to address this sheer, not so with the PE in the kit. The kit inclined ladders are represented with rungs, rather than treads and have no handrails. The WEM product has inclined ladders with treads and handrails. In a 1:200 scale kit, these are quite noticeable. 

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Sovremenny Fret B
This fret is of thicker gage brass than fret A and accordingly contains some of the sturdier items such as lattice mast, helicopter rotor blades, helicopter tail panels and watertight doors in two styles. The fret measures 10 ¾ inches by 4 ½ inches. Although the WEM parts are better, with some of these parts the Trumpeter kit does provide acceptable brass parts. Chief among these are the lattice mast and helicopter safety nets, both of which are also provided as plastic parts. Photos show the WEM mast and safety nets, the Trumpeter brass and plastic masts parts and the Trumpeter plastic safety nets. Not shown are the Trumpeter brass safety nets, which are acceptable, although not as fine as the WEM version. 

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True to form, WEM provides a very detailed, inclusive set of instructions. Seven pages in length. The first page contains general instructions for working and attaching the WEM brass parts. Two pages are the parts matrices with numerically keyed parts descriptions. The following three and a half pages comprise 18 separate part assembly direction with well drawn diagram plus text description. The last half a page is devoted to ten other, text only, assembly instructions. All in all, they provide an excellent, clear concise method of assembling the brass photo-etch. 

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Is this expensive set worth the price? If you want the most accurate, finest detailed 1:200 scale model of the Sovremenny that you can build, then the WEM set is most definitely worth the expense. Although Trumpeter does provide some acceptable brass parts, many parts are only provided in plastic, including the very large and prominent radar arrays. The difference between the plastic and the brass parts is difference between night and day. If you just want to build the kit from the box and would prefer to use the plastic parts rather than spend a sizable chunk of change on this PE set, then the WEM set may not be to your taste, due to its expense. Only you can decide the answer to that question.

When Trumpeter released this kit, I successfully fought down the urge to buy it. However, when I saw the White Ensign Models brass photo-etched fret for this model, I immediately bought the kit. To put the cart before the horse, this brass set was so nice, I had to have the kit to complement it.

The White Ensign Models brass photo-etched fret set (WEM PE 2001) is available directly from WEM

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