This is the Hobby Boss 350-scale Chinese Type 033 diesel attack sub - in real life, a copy/refinement of the Soviet Romeo, from the Cold War.
And (with apologies to Willie Shakespeare) this is one Romeo you just have to love - starting with both the watercolor(ish) box art (top) and even better painting guide (bottom) - the latter of a quality to rival any color-guide from the best decal- and/or aircraft kits.
Speaking of which, a true pearl included - in the tradition first established by Pitt Road and Dragon/DML - is an accessory patrol aircraft:
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Also packed under foam were pieces comprising the Type 033 sail - just two from the absolutely top-notch sprues for the sub, itself:
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Together, the above is already (well) more than good enough, but Hobby Boss continues, truly Over the Top, with a nice little PE fret - mostly containing (redundant, yet still-finer) details for the SH-5, but also a couple tasty tidbits for the 033, including snorkel-fairwater cap-plate and custom-railing for the sail and (again, redundant but finer) propellers. Whichever detail option(s) you choose - the plastic or the PE parts - you're going to end up with top-notch leftovers, for your parts box.
With no prior hint of any of the above, I discovered this kit at my LHS for under $17 - and immediately grabbed it off the shelf, as an affodable Hobby Boss sub to chop-up, for one of my various "scratch-bashes". But now - No Way: this just has to be built OOB, to see just how good it can look. And (especially at this price) what I'll do is simply get another one - perhaps even mold some of its more awesome parts, for resin-casting - and use in multiple, future builds…
To understand how such quality could end up in such a kit, at such a price, one and Only One explanation comes to mind: that a(n ex-) Chinese sub commander had the job - or, at the very least, had the ear of - final quality-control decision-making at Hobby Boss, for this kit. Perhaps even in an official government capacity - as the subject matter (including the Harbin flying boat) is no doubt emblematic of the Rise of the Modern Chinese military. In any case, this kit - from its artwork to its packaging to its moldings to its PE - is clearly a personal expression (even if by a whole team) of pride in workmanship - which absolutely shows, in the final rake-off.
I hope you enjoyed this look at it.
And if anybody can make a liar out of me, above - and show us any other kit(s) this good, at this price, from Hobby Boss (or anybody else, for that matter), do pipe up and let us know!