Over recent years the constant ongoing quest for cockpit details has seen many different media used for aftermarket seatbelts with varying degrees of popularity and success, from moulded in place, decals, flexible resin and, of course, the recent innovation of pre-painted etched parts.
Radu Brinzan, the mastermind behind RB Productions, takes a different approach with his exquisitely detailed seat harnesses. He combines the traditional scratch-builder's method of paper straps - provided here die-cut on good quality coloured stock - with the precision of etched buckles. This mix of "old and new" turns out to result in the most realistic "off the shelf" harnesses I've ever seen.
Looking at the small etched fret and 3 pieces of paper (a choice of colours for the lap padding is provided) it all looks deceptively easy, but this definitely isn't a set to be rushed. It involves quite a lot of tiny parts and you're tempting disaster if you lack patience.
The first thing to do is to read the instructions. Now, I know this is quite an alien concept for many of us (me included!) but, in this case it really is important for two reasons:
1. Radu advises categorically against using either CA or PVA adhesive because they risk staining the paper belts (and the latter is exactly what I was all set to get cracking with!)
2. How the belts actually fit through the buckles is quite complex and not something you can guess. These belts assemble (and, indeed, "work") just like the real things - so, thread the belts through the buckles incorrectly and they simple won't fit together.
To assemble the belts you'll need a sharp knife and a hard smooth surface (I used an old wall-tile) to remove the etched buckles from the fret. I cleaned any remaining burrs off with a fine file, although most are actually hidden by the straps themselves. Be aware, there are no spares included, so be careful not to lose anything...
The straps are die-cut on coloured paper. They peel away neatly from a faintly gummed backing sheet. At first this prompted the question for me of why the belts aren't fully self adhesive, but it soon becomes clear that it would make assembling them harder and would also attract dust.
I found it best to part-make each belt in a sort of production-line manner to give time for the glue to dry (I used UHU all-purpose). If you try to rush things and don't allow sufficient time for each buckle to be firmly attached you'll soon be in big trouble as everything starts to come adrift (as I soon found out on belt #1!) The only other problem I hit was one small strap that was slightly too wide to pass through its buckle, so I cut a new one from the same paper.
Although fairly straightforward, making the belts is certainly fiddly and it's not a job for anyone ham-fisted. However, working steadily and referring constantly to the excellent diagrams provided, it doesn't take long before you see real progress and a definite wow factor sets in; I think I can safely say RB Productions' belts are the best aftermarket harnesses I've seen to date. They are almost uncannily realistic in the way they articulate and, of course, the use of paper for the straps means they are also flexible and can be draped realistically.
Radu advises caution when weathering the harnesses. Obviously, washes will stain them, so I'd use pastels - but, even then, I'd go lightly because just the act of handling the paper repeatedly as you make up each belt soon begins to give a subtly "used" look. With careful reference to photos you could add stitching with a very sharp hard-grade pencil.
RB Productions' seat harnesses are simply superb, combining the precision of etched technology for the buckles with the natural flexibility of paper for the straps. They are a little time-consuming to make up (although in my case this is in good measure to having to learn how the real-life straps thread through the buckles, so things will certainly speed up with familiarity), but the eye-popping resulting belts are certainly worth the effort. Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Highly detailed and the resulting harnesses are surperb.Lows: Quite fiddly and painstaking to make, so this isn't a task for anyone clumsy or impatient.Verdict: RB Productions' seatbelts are excellent, combining the flexibilty of paper with the crisp precision of etched metal, resulting in the most realistic aftermarket harnesses I've yet seen.
Our Thanks to RB Productions! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...