Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 7:04 PM



09/21/01- Accessories fill out the "world" of a figure, and can be very specific to the figure, or general enough so that they overlap the worlds of many, or all figures. The narrower the figure's classification, the smaller the pool of tightly associated accessories; This is especially true for the category of modern US jet fighter pilots. Buy a few figures and you've probably got just about everything that's directly relevant to their world. Pilots aren't routinely outfitted with newer, bigger guns. The weapons are on the planes they drive, which are a form of "accessory". Problem is, planes are damn BIG and aren't ideal for rendering in 1:6th scale. That really limits the options for selling add-on products for the figure. Nevertheless, BBI tries. Since in-scale jets are impractical, why not produce just the cockpit? So they did.

This isn't a monstrously huge piece, like 1:6th scale armor-- it comes in a 12"x12"x15" box, well-protected within fitted styrofoam packaging. Some simple assembly is required: The clear support pylons are screwed to the plastic base plate, and the clear canopy sections are superglued to the metal frame pieces. That's a dicey operation because we know that superglue will fog clear plastic if you glop it in the frame slot too close to the visible area. Pressure fitting the pieces almost works, if you don't mind the canopy frame sections falling off.

Strapping the pilot into the removeable ACES ejection seat isn't difficult. You do have to thread the pilot's lower leg straps through the loops near the ankles on the seat. (In real life, these yank the pilot's feet to the seat when the ejection handle is pulled.) Next, the lap belt is connected by mating two metal buckle sections. There's nothing high-tech going on here-- it's a simple friction fit. Curiously, there's a second set of belts which don't seem to be used. My guess is that it's there to secure a different type of parachute harness, probably the type that's on Dragon's F-14 pilot. Finally, the seat harness buckles are connected to those on the pilot's harness. Again, these are a simple metal-to-metal friction fit. Unfortunately on mine, one of the buckles didn't have enough friction to stay connected. That was the first sign of frustrations to come...

After replacing the ejection seat, it's time to connect hoses. The black and white photo instructions are a little hard to decipher, but it's not too difficult if you search around the cockpit for where stuff should plug in. That's assuming that the parts were manufactured to plug together! Unfortunately, it's as if the figure and cockpit were designed independently, with no one taking notes about the different diameters of stuff which was supposed to mate. The mask's oxygen hose doesn't fit securely into the cockpit's hose attachment, and easily falls out. Same for the inflation hose for the g-pants, except that it doesn't even connect. Arrrrgh. It's not a fatal flaw, but makes you wonder about BBI. Maybe they changed design specs for their F-15 pilot?

Once you get over that, there's no denying that it's an awesome display piece with tons of detail. I couldn't begin to show you all that cool detail on the interior-- the light-up dials (2 AA batteries fit under the ejection seat), knobs, toggle switches, the working handles, the hoses, the oxygen tank, the fabric-covered padded seat, the tiny and crisp lettering, and the unidentified gizmos... The only remedy is to buy one, I suppose.

The detail extends to the exterior to a lesser degree, from all angles except the bottom. The side panels are removeable and show additional skeletal detail. From the front, the pedals and pilot's soles are visible, flanked by some kind of non-operating pneumatic linkage.

The concept of a disembodied section of a vehicle is a little weird, but original. BBI's done a great job (aside from the minor puzzling aggravations) and deserves praise for taking a chance on producing something like this. I'm satified with the level of features-- I realize that some advanced electronics-- sounds/simulated HUD/animated displays -- would make this even cooler, but would add to the price tag.

This may not be everyone's cup o' tea, however. The best part is only visible when you're staring down into the cockpit. Having your pilot figure strapped to the ejection seat effectively takes him out of action, and with the seat stashed inside the cockpit, you can only see a portion of the pilot's outfit. So most of the time, our casual viewing will take in only the cockpit exterior with a pilot riding it, sort of like a kiddie ride. Admittedly, it does leave you yearning for the whole aircraft... and then you quickly come to your senses. Although it's not a huge display piece, it gives you a clear idea of just how humongous a complete F-15 would be at 1:6th scale.


(I figured that this would be a good place to bitch about UPS: They had a poor "batting average" from my prior experiences, and this order didn't improve it. This UPS Ground delivery from California travelled all the way across the country to Maine before they realized that it should go to Texas. A package in UPS's hands for on-schedule delivery can be brutal enough, without the extra pounding of an extended tour. Thanks to BBI's packaging, nothing was damaged-- but I was expecting the worst. Decide for yourself though. I know that I'll consider the shipping options offered when making future online purchases.)

10/18/11- I hauled this sucker out for a dusting and was amazed at the detail, all over again. Now that high-speed Internet is pretty widespread, it's worthy of some updated, higher resolution pictures to show you what you may have missed... Jeez! I'd love to get ahold of a spare just to cut apart and cannibalize the knobs and gauges for other projects.

BBI Cockpit 1:6

BBI Cockpit 1:6

BBI Cockpit 1:6

BBI Cockpit 1:6



BBI has produced other accessories for their aviator line of figures as well. At this time, this includes three sets of flight jackets and about six HGU-55/P helmet display sets.

The helmet sets differ in color and markings (I swapped out the tinted visor for my figure's clear one). The museum-like display concept is kinda neat... a little fufu-ish maybe, but it fits in with the cockpit-on-a-stand concept. I wanted the tinted visor and was intrigued by the little mannequin head which displays the helmet. I've read that the practice of decorating helmets with flashy designs in not especially practical, since it draws unwanted attention in a cockpit during aerial combat. Still, they look neat.

I also purchased the faux leather flight jacket which I haven't shown here. What can I say? It's a jacket. It's well made and they even put little ventilation eyelets in the armpits. What I didn't know was that it's a navy jacket, and is accordingly supplied with a shitload of iron-on naval patches-- for an F/A-18 Hornet. No big deal, really. Something else I didn't realize (or didn't think about) was that you can either dress the figures with all their "work" gear on or dress them for style, in which case you've got a heap of unused work gear. So the stylish jacket went to one of my lazier, fashion-conscious figures.

Besides the formal boxed accessory products (which are pretty slim pickens), you can take advantage of the "parting out" of boxed figures offered by vendors like War Toys and Justice Fighters. Despite the markup, this is an economical way to get specific pieces that you're curious about without accumulating figures and unneeded outfits.

Having bought BBI's F-15 pilot, I was curious about Dragon's-- particularly the helmet. Although I'm not crazy about the night vision attachment, I was nevertheless curious since they also provided a tinted visor. Well, I now know that the night vision mount is not intended to be removeable-- two glued pins hold it to holes on the helmet. Furthermore, the extra visor is kind of funky, like an afterthought. Two elastic straps with buckles are attached as a raw potential for attachment, and the helmet has two miniature screws inserted in the back. Presumably, you could screw through the elastic to the helmet. I think it would look lousy though.

I don't know if this is a valid point since I didn't buy their boxed figure, but this seems like a weird turn for Dragon. It reminds me of 21C's first WWII figures where they threw a bunch of straps and velcro in the package and expected you to work it out. That seems very unDragonlike, as if they were trying to create a lot of figure offerings from a core set of parts.

Using the piecemeal purchase approach, I was able to satisfy my curiosity about BBI's and Dragon's PRC-90 radios. The small one on the right is Dragon's and the other one is BBI's. Well, jeez! Which one's the right size? Maybe they're both correct? BBI's is a PRC-90-2 (without the morse code setting) and Dragon's is the older PRC-90. I suspect Dragon's is...

At any rate, both are good renditions, but once again Dragon amazes me with their tiny printing. Even more importantly, Dragon's is small enough to fit in the survival vest's pocket with room for bunches of other neat survival gear.



Review: BBI's F-15 Pilot     Review: DML's F-14 Pilot