by: Paul H [ ]
Takomís Mk 1 Female is one of those releases modelers have wanted for years. When it showed up at my door for review, I could hardly wait to get started! Upon opening the box, I thought this kit should build up really quickly; unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case. While it is not a terribly complex kit, it does contain more than 530 parts which means there are a lot of parts to clean up which just takes time.
First of all Iíll give you a word of advice; go slowly because the plastic is soft and the parts are easily damaged if you get too enthusiastic. Overall, the fit on the kit is good. I mention that here because the sprue attachment points on this kit are substantial. This is not necessarily a bad thing as they do protect the parts from damage in shipping, but you have to remove them completely or you will fight to get parts together. On the positive side, most attachment points are located in sensible places which allow you to remove parts without damaging them. As I said, care pays off.
The first step is the assembly of the superstructure/cabin. The kit parts went together well but I need to tell you that this is a major problem area for this kit. The structure on the Mk 1 Female should extend to the edges of the hull. The parts in the kit are sized for the MK II and subsequent versions which are narrower to allow for more clearance for larger tracks which were never fitted. For some, this will be a critical flaw and others wonít even blink at the news. Regardless of your view, I cannot do a build review and not mention a flaw that is readily visible to anyone who is familiar with the vehicle.
Step 2, the hull assembly step, has an error in the instructions. The diagram shows that you need to open four holes in the hull using a 1.2mm drill. Donít. I would recommend you use a drill of no more than .9mm. This will prevent the holes from showing beneath the grenade screen supports. Additionally, a word of advice is to assemble the hull using one of the track housings as a template. (PIC 3) This allows you to keep the hull square and solves the problem of gluing the hull parts at the wrong angle. With the cabin positioned on the hull, you can clearly see that it does not extend to the edge of the hull as on the prototype. (PIC 4)
Construction of the hull and track housings goes smoothly up to step 7. At that point I ran into a problem with the idler wheel half V14. One of the standoffs that represent bolt pass-through was molded short. To remedy this, I punched two 1.2mm discs from .040 styrene sheet and stacked them on the stub to complete the part. No big deal, but it bears mentioning.
Putting the track housings together is done in steps 6-19 and is an exercise in patience. The clean-up of more than 100 wheels is something that takes a while. (PIC 5) I used a piece of brass rod as a shaft to mount the wheels in a lathe and turned off the stubs of the sprue attachment points and the mold lines. This took me about 4-5 hours to complete and it could have taken much longer if I hadnít used the lathe. Of course a Dremel or any other motor tool, set on low speed, would do as well. The fit of the track housings is good overall but care and patience is required to get all of the wheel assemblies lined up with the holes in both sides. (PIC 6) Clamps and tweezers are the tools of choice to make this step a success. One additional note on the wheel assemblies; the shafts the wheels mount to are undersized, so there is slop that has to be dealt with. Once together, the track housings look the part. (PIC 7)
The tracks are assembled in steps 12 & 19. They are the plastic individual link type which are beautifully molded and come in a bag instead of on a sprue. I loved that about them, but in my kit 174 out of 180 needed links had a pinhole at what I assume is the sprue attachment point. The holes were readily visible when assembled, so I had to fill and sand each one. (PIC 8) Before you assume this is the way they will all come, I know of at least one other person who has the same kit and his track links were fine and just needed a quick swipe with a sanding stick to clean up. His tracks took under a half hour to build, mine took an encounter with super glue and about 5 hours to complete. (PIC 9)
Assembly of the armored machine guns in Step 22 is the next place where there is a hitch in the build. The guns do not fit together well. They require lots of filling and sanding to get a good result. (PIC 10) Once that is done you get to install them into the sponson gun shields. These too have to be glued together and then the seams worked to get them ready to take the guns. Slide molding would have made these processes easier, but the result looks fine none the less. (PIC 11)
The exteriors of the sponsons are made up mostly of individual plates and their assembly is handled in steps 25-31. The parts are mirror imaged so care is needed to ensure you donít make the mistake of putting all of the pieces in one containerÖ Take your time and test fit! Any misalignment you have on one part will multiply when next couple of parts are installed. (PIC 12)
Steps 32-34 address the assembly of the steering gear used on the MK 1. The parts are well molded, but there are substantial mold lines that need to be removed. Again, care and patience are the watchwords in this step. Once built, the assembly captures the look of the prototype very well. (PIC 13) A small recommendation is that parts T4 and T5, (the attachment points for the steering assembly upper spring attachment shaft part T10), be left off until final assembly. There are no keyways on these parts to ensure proper alignment so you will want to align them with the track housings when they are attached to the hull.
The ram assembly to lift the steering gear is built in step 35 and is very well done. I would recommend it be assembled on the hull instead of as a unit though. If you glue it all together and then try to attach the steering assembly, there will be fit problems. If you install the brackets that hold the ram to the hull and leave the ram assembly free to move, you can install parts T16 &T17 onto the steering cart assembly and then fit them to the shaft of the ram for a perfect fit. (PIC 14)
Step 36 covers construction of the grenade screen. There are no real problems with it, but the clean-up of mold seams is pretty time consuming due to the delicate nature of the attachment feet. (PIC 15) Once assembled it is very convincing. (PIC 16)
Final assembly is done in steps 37 & 38 and that is where my project ended. There were no issues and the fit of the large subassemblies is good, but I attached mine to allow me to disassemble the kit to allow for correction of the cabin. Needless to say, I wonít be painting this piece immediately, but I will say that I have purchased the AMMO of MIg WWI British Paint set, and I look forward to trying it out.
Takomís MK 1 Female is a bit of a mixed bag. The detail, the mold quality and the instructions are truly first class. The major let-down on the kit is the superstructure width. It is roughly 6mm too narrow on the kit which equates to about 9 inches too narrow in real life, or about 15%. As I said before, some people will laugh at the dimensional error and keep on building, others will wait on an update set to come out to correct the problem. Iím undecided yet, but I am starting to look for my sheet styrene.