by Tony McSean
The first etched kit I ever built, some years ago now, was the D&S kit for the GER Lowmac. Like every D&S kit I've built it is nicely produced, decently packaged and, above all, fits together in more or less the way the designer intended.
The lowmac is soldered together matching the extremely easy-to-fold load deck against a strong and well-designed grid of transverse ribs plus the two longitudinal sideframes. Of course the quality of design and production is the big reason why it is such a good candidate for anyone's first etched kit.
For anyone uncertain of their ability to produce those delicate, invisible solder runs that make some MRJ articles so much like utopian fiction, this kit is a real boost to morale because almost all the soldering is underneath the load deck and up behind the sideframes. Basically you can be as blobby as you like and only you will know about it. There is a bit of outside detailing to tack on, but this comes right at the end and speaking for myself I was well into the swing of it by the time I got there. There is a simple but effective spring mechanism at one end and plenty of room to add a bit of lead flashing underneath.
In almost every way it's a lovely kit on which to cut your etching teeth. My one reservation is that it may raise unrealistic and unrealisable expectations that all etched kits will be like this. We should be so lucky. As I've said, by and large the D&S range is a delight – the more difficult prototypes take longer and require more patience, and sometimes the instructions fall into the "oh bloody hell" category of benchwork, but at least if they say "slide tabs on part 6 into the hole on part 12" you can be reasonably sure that: (a) there are holes and tabs; (b) they are the same distance apart and (c) if this isn't the case then it's you who's wrong.
© Tony McSean