The postman arrived today with my Panda ZTZ-99A in her satchel, and the following is my opinion of the kit on opening the box.
The kit parts are as follows:
- upper and lower hull
- sprue B x 2 = track links
- sprue C x 2 = track pads
- sprue D x 2 = running gear, hull details
- sprue E = turret components including gun
- sprue F = upper hull details
- sprue GP = clear parts
- small PE set
- sheet of decals
The instruction booklet (or as it is called - user manual) includes a small colour painting and marking guide on one side, the other has a black and white diagram of all the vehicles from the 2015 parade, showing their position within the group of 19 vehicles; lastly is a full size (this is 1/35 full size) black/white painting guide.
The upper hull while simple (and I feel this is a fact of the actual vehicle) is of a good standard. I know I previously courted controversy with this statement but the underside of the lower hull shows its T-72 heritage (I compared this to the underside of both my T-90 and T-72M4CZ and they are similar Ė note, similar Ė not the same) and this is where the similarity with the T-72 ends, so please letís not go there again. The detail is very crisp and well defined.
Two sets of sprue B are individual track links, which are nicely detailed and the ejector pin marks will be covered by the track pads on 2 x sprue C.
Sprue D x 2: these mostly have the running gear with a couple of other bits such as fuel drums, hatch covers etc. These items are again well done with detail on both sides of the road wheels being clean and sharp. The drive sprockets are well defined and crisply detailed. In an interesting move the running gear is fixed to the vehicle with closed top caps which fit inside of each and are part of the D sprue instead of poly caps, however with strategic gluing the running gear should maintain an ability to rotate if you wish.
Sprue F contains parts for the upper hull, fuel cells, stowage boxes, track guards etc., and detail is good. One curious item marked as F1 (which is not listed in the instruction) appears to be a track jig (very handy).
The turret is on sprue E, and the only disappointment is the barrel; this is in two parts and is an upper and lower, so the join will be on the side of the barrel. In this day and age of slide moulds, other than ease of production and probably cost, I find it difficult to understand why companies do not produce a single piece barrel either in plastic or metal. That bugbear aside, the barrel detail is still good. Overall the turret seems well detailed, even the moulded smoke launcher wire is, to me, acceptable. The mantle canvas cover shows quite realistic folds and bolt detail. The hatches look very nicely done even with the moulded handles.
The last sprue, GP, has all the clear parts for headlights and other lenses.
The PE is simple (but not bad) and has the screens and mud flaps. Decals are enough to cover the parade vehicles and a couple of others; decals 3 and 4 - Iím sure I shall locate the purpose during construction.
The build is broken down into eighteen easy to manage steps, with no section appearing to be too complex.
Painting is covered by two sheets, the first is an A4 glossy with all five aspects of the vehicle visible. Thereís only one drawback, and this may seem picky, but what colours do I need? Yes, there is a lack of colour identification, and by this I mean only two colours are listed, Gunze H303 for the dark green (good), but also indicated for both the light and dark brown. The other is H18 (steel) for the track. The following link provides the best picture for the digi cam on TJ101.
At a guess, I would suggest for the base green FS34102 such as model master 1713 Medium Green; dark green FS34096 such as Tamiya XF61, darker brown possibly Revell 85 Brown, and the lighter brown, Model Master 1735 Wood. However, these are just my quick picks, and me being me, will angst over it for a few weeks before I come up with what I feel are good fits. The second larger sheet is a full size 1/35 black and white five view of the vehicle which will come in useful when trying to work out where to place your paint masks.
The kit includes three parts that are particular to vehicle TJ-101: F22, a star mounted on the front ERA, and E43 and 44, which make up a bank of eight speakers to be mounted on the rear right of the turret, though there are no wiring instruction and Iím not sure how this was wired in reality.
The only down sides I can see so far is the barrel, the lack of plumbing for the external fuel tanks, and the vague painting instructions. Unlike Pandaís Tunguska, this kit is not over- nor under-engineered, with a parts count of about 667, of which almost 300 are track parts. This is going to be a terrific kit straight out of the box for newbies as well as those with some experience.