I volunteered to give this OOB review two days after it was posted on Armorama, and I was wondering why it hadn't been snapped up already. I thought itíd be unique for me to make and review the kit as I have had no experience with Russian tank kits. I returned to 1/35 scale models 3 yrs ago, buying top of the line models such as the AFV
M1132 Plow or an ABV, complicated kits which turned into shelf queens. So in volunteering to review this kit, I was committing to finish the whole thing; shelving it was not going to be an option.
The BMD-1 was the first amphibious fully tracked vehicle that was designed for airborne troops. It could be either disembarked from an airplane in the usual way or paradropped from heights of 300 to 1500 m. As soon as it was on the ground it could join the battle. Design of the BMD-1P began in 1965 and included an antitank missile system. The vehicle is armed with a 73mm main gun and 3x 7.62 mm machine guns. Ammunition storage was 40 rounds of 73 mm and 4000 rounds of 7.62 mm, plus 2 AMTS missiles. The vehicle is powered by a 6-cylinder 240 hp engine and can travel at speeds of up to 60 kph. The maximum speed on water is 10 kph.
So here I go...the model I assume was sent to London from China...then parcel posted to me. The model box was not over protected inside, and when I opened it there was a little rubbing seen on the clear plastic bags, but I was amazed that not a single piece was broken or knocked off a sprue.
What you get:
You get eight sprues, upper and lower hulls, a sheet of PE and a sheet of decals. You also get 8 pages of instructions and a print with a copy of the box art on one side and a paint recommendation on the other.
My first impressions were that Panda
has provided a well molded and that this APC is a bit smaller than a typical tank kit. The kit consists of 540 parts, plus 50 pieces on the small sheet of photo-etched brass. Detail on the plastic parts is very nice and there is no flash to speak of. The instructions contain 9 main assembly steps, and detail painting is NOT called out throughout. Of the parts in the kit, 164 are molded in a medium green plastic, and the 376 individual track links are molded in mustard brown. There is a two piece hull (upper and lower) with details, two piece turret, and only four sprues of the good stuff, with another four sprues of individual track links that are supposed to be press fit (until you try to move them - then they are just pieces all over your floor).
This brings me to my first disappointment with this kit...I hand counted every piece: There are more than twice as many pieces
of track (376) as pieces of tank (164). I felt the kit should be called "Panda BMD-1 TRACKS ... Bonus tank included"
- Steps 1 and 2 consist of the assembly of the lower hull and the running gear.
- Step 3 is the total 352 piece tracks...oh and 7 pieces of periscopes and exhausts.
- Steps 4 and 5 are the assembly of the upper hull details.
- Steps 6 and 7 are the construction of the turret.
- Step 8 puts the hulls together.
- Step 9 is the final PE details of the hull.
As I built the model I noted the following mistakes in the instructions:
- Step 2 does not show the step for the second A17 placement. The part referred to as A9 is NOT LABELLED CORRECTLY.
- Step 3 shows a placement line for the guide horns; there is none, you have to guess correctly the placement of 176 pieces.
- Step 4 does not show the step for B5, and the option of the 2 x A6's in PE is missing.
- Step 5 shows a mis-numbered A9 (again) and the dot representing the part is so indistinguishable that I couldn't figure this out until I used all the parts in the kit. The 4 pieces marked A28 are also NOT LABELLED CORRECTLY.
- Step 7 if you follow the number given as B9...then you glue a shovel on the turret....obviously B9 is NOT LABELLED CORRECTLY.
- Step 9 does not explain why you are given 2 sets of the biggest pieces of PE, nor exactly how to bend these distinguishing pieces.
So here's how it felt to build it.
Step 1: There is no reasoning given for the alignment of the pieces of the inner wheel and outer wheel; I had to guess that one was supposed to see through the flanges on the wheels. I was horrified with the over spruing of parts A3 and A4, and the result I was left with made me...sad. Part A5 clearly shows there is a placement lock, but part A4 doesn't have a matching key to make the sprocket guides match.
Step 2: There is no explanation of how to fit the wheel arms and because the "D" plug and hole were not of the same size, they did not stay in any particular position, so it was necessary to hand hold each piece in a guessed position. This took about an hour on each arm, and I felt this was a waste of 10hrs of my time.
Step 3: The frustrating indie tracks...each guide horn was a trial. The thick end of the guide horn (the end attached to the sprue) is the end you need trim and then glue, and they are small pieces that can't be sanded easily. It was difficult to place them correctly because there was no corresponding placement outline on each track as it shows in the instructions. There is no easy way to glue them in a correct and even, perpendicular fashion. Each individual error in alignment didn't add up until you try to thread them on the thin gaps between the wheels. You end up with tracks coming apart and guide horns coming un-glued, along with a longing for a set of vinyl tracks.
Step 4: The hull assembly went well; the parts looked good and fit together well. The two pieces of curved PE went easier that I thought they would.
Step 5: More hull assembly; this was also a breeze, except for 6 mis-numbered pieces. I felt the connector pieces for the headlights should have been moulded as one piece each (C31 C25, C31 C26).
Step 6: The turret assembly was a bit of a challenge, but I enjoyed figuring it out.
Step 7: More turret assembly that went well, apart from one mis-numbered part. I really felt the gunnerís sight should have been rotatable.
Step 8: This step puts the top and bottom hull together. I thought it was an excellent fit, so good that I didn't glue them together for the final photos.
Step 9: This step involves the photo-etch mud guards and didn't seem to be explained well; I was hesitant until I just went for it. The pieces just needed a slight bend.
I put the masking taped tracks on the lower hull; placed the top hull on the bottom; and took the finishing photos. I only touched up the background and removed some dust and skin detritus.
Now after having my own intimate understanding of this model, I went on line to check for reference photos and historical info. Looking through all the online photos I could find, I found only 2 things missing, and those could have been variations between vehicle models. I did find one photo that shows a placement or structural issue as shown in the photos. When I read up on the history and specifications I found a few things that if they had been better explained in the instructions, might have greatly eased my frustration levels. For example, the 10 hours wasted for the wheel arms are a direct result of bad kit manufacturing, but Panda
could possibly have explained this away with the comment that the BMD was the first tank to have an independent suspension that combined a hydraulic system for altering the ground clearance and maintaining the track tension with pneumatic springs, which allows easier transportation in an airplane. Also, the indie tracks could be touted as better suited for the unique builds that the pneumatics can require. Panda's
box art shows covers for the forward machine guns, but there are no parts for this in the kit. The box art also shows a full antenna and the instructions don't even show the expedient of using a piece of stretched sprue.
The instructions also never mention why some parts are optional. There is no mention as to why the 13 prisms and 3 spotlights and one gunner's sight (all so carefully crafted) are not made of clear plastic. Yes, I would bet that the instruction for Tamiya or Trumpy's 4th kit issue were not that good either... but that was then; now there are so many examples a company could follow on how to deliver a high value experience to the customer.
As I sit here and look at a finely molded model, I know it will be a good answer to anyone who already knows that they need this vehicle for their collection; and they have great plans for all the wonder filled scratch building they have in mind. But in my fantasy...I'm standing in my local Brick and Mortar Hobby Store (I said fantasy) and a newbie teen asks for advice and I look at this model and the price is in the LOW $20ís plus $2 for tax, I'd say itís a frustrating model but you get a nice finished kit for that price.
But the reality of this kit is that it lists for between $35 and $50, and then add $7 to $15 S&H if ordered on-line. Yes, I would expect to pay a bit more for something not so mainstream, but a company that decides not to spend the 10 cents (cost) for the extra pages of a well made fan based instruction booklet is business suicide, because my reality currently is this: I just received a fantastic top of the line kit with interior, PE, and 24 pages of instructions... for $46 plus $7 S&H.
So I had to break it down in numbers...
Moulding, fit and crispness of details for the average 42 dollars of expectation. the build, lower hull 60, upper hull and turret 110.
KIT TOTAL: 85
Instructions (4 right out of 9 steps =) 60 for correctness, (resin kit instructions of arrogance...no non-professional built this for the company and gave them any feedback).
INSTRUCTIONS TOTAL: 60
OVERALL SCORE: 73
Those are the numbers. I'm sorry...and yet it still looks cool... finished on the table here.
Thanks to Panda Hobbies
and Armorama for the review sample.