This should serve as an interesting thread, a direct comparison between the 1st and 2nd release of the Sr-71 Rapid Rabbit. Both models depict the same Sr-71 61-7978 Rapid Rabbit in 1972 and they both have the same item number, so what is the main difference? This thread would finally answer that.
First off, this is everything the newer (second release) comes with:
We can get the obvious out of the way, this one comes with pilots in white pressure suits whereas the 1st release have pilots in light gold suits. The white pressure suits are more realistic for the blackbirds (especially during the 70s). White was chosen to reduce the glare in the cockpit at high altitudes. At some point dark brown was also used but it was replaced by the light gold suit (yellow) in the 1980s. Considering the Rapid Rabbit flew during the 70s, the white suit is realistic.
Let's take a look at the production card and the background of each model:
The 1st release was a IRISAWA Special Exclusive for the Japanese Market (Limited to 1000 pcs). For those of us who bought it back then and had to get it imported to the US, it cost about $220+ shipped. Some vendors like historicaviation.com chose to import it and sell it at $250.
The Second Release was a special release for Xplus (HK) Company (Limited to 500 pcs). This was not exclusive to the Japanese market, rather it was a worldwide release. The cost was also more economical (ranging around $125-150)
Now Let's get into the technical stuff:
As you can see here, the 1st release has hi-vis markings, the yellow was brighter and the mission markings was larger. The second release was a bit more realistic, they toned down on the yellow markings and made the mission markings smaller.
Another positive note was that CW/Xplus finally fixed the shade of Red on the Sr-71. Originally it was too dark and they corrected it in the second release. Although they did tone down on the panel wash as well. Some could say this is a positive/negative attribute - I personally wanted to see more panel wash on the 2nd release.
Now let's take a look at the tail:
Of course CW/Xplus finally corrected the typo in the first release. It now reads "Rapid Rabbit" not "Rapid P
In addition they made the Rabbit head smaller as well as the font. So if you couldn't read the typo in the first release, you sure as hell can't read ANYTHING on the second release unless you get a magnifying glass.
In summary, I prefer the second release of the Rapid Rabbit, it's a bit more realistic: Pilots have white pressure suits, several markings are scaled down to more realistic sizes, the red panel lines are better...etc.
I'm not really going to go into the political side of the argument whether or not the second release should've been made in the first place...though it's nice to see an improvement. Hope this thread serves to answer some dying questions (it burned a hole in my wallet just to give you guys answer)