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.
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.
Sovremenny Fret A
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.
Sovremenny Fret B
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.