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Built Review
MasterClub initial Tiger Tracks

by: Steve Eslinger [ JPZR ]

If a kit contains individual links that I find flawed, I will always try to replace them. If a kit has reasonably good quality one piece band tracks, I'll often use them (call me lazy); however, if I am going to go to the trouble of cleaning and assembling individual links, they better be accurate and not too much trouble to prepare.

Initial tracks
Dragon's Magic Tracks included in their initial Tiger aren't bad, but they have a few shortcomings in my opinion. Firstly, while they may not have sprue attachment points to clean, they do have two raised ejection marks on each link. Secondly, and more importantly, they don't have the small cutouts in each guide horn. Neither of these faults render them useless, after all I can easily clean the ejector marks and drill out the guidehorns that will be seen which aren't that many on the early Tigers. Neither is an insurmountable task. One thing these tracks are not going to provide is workability. What's the point of having working (or at least semi-working) suspension, if you don't have the track to accommodate the feature?

Clearly, since I wanted workability, my only solution was to use aftermarket tracks. Turning to the usual suppliers Friulmodel and Model Kasten, I discovered there were limited options. In fact, the only mirrored Tiger tracks I initially found were from WWII Productions. While I have read very good things about this company, I have no personal experience with them. Surveying the prices for these tracks from various retailers, I was less than thrilled with what these were going to cost me. I'm no cheapskate, but something about crossing the $40 barrier chafes me a bit. Just then I stumbled across a line of resin tracks from a new company from Russia called MasterClub. My interest piqued, I googled reviews and found that Perth Military Modelling did a review of their tracks for the BMP and found them to be of very high quality. This bit of feedback, coupled with the more reasonable price of $32, convinced me to take the plunge. Fortunately, I don't regret that decision.
the tracks
Here's what you get for your money. A small bag with a simple white label bearing the company's name and description of the contents. Indescript, but efficient and professional. Inside are four smaller bags, two bags containing links for each side of track and two bags with track pins. Initially, I thought the pins were the same in each bag, but soon discovered that they are different with one bag containing the domed heads representing the hull side of the track pins, while the other pins represent the exterior end of the pin with the cotter ring. More on this later. The label says you get 220 links and 440 pins. The former I found to be an accurate count, while there are many more than 440 pins, which is good considering their size makes them outstanding 'ping' projectiles. No instructions are included other than the statement to "refresh perforations with a .6mm drill". The package states no glue is required and I found that to be completely accurate.

In a word, molding quality is excellent. In building the two full runs of tracks, I only encountered two links with airbubbles. Using a medium gray resin, the molding is very crisp, sharp, and consistent. There is very little flash. There are no large pour plugs to clean, only a very thin seam that runs the width of each link along one side of the track bar. The pins have no flash at all and are consistently molded, no spoilage at all, in fact. Quite honestly, MasterClub's molding quaility in this set is on par with anyone's.
The tracks closely match the drawings in the Modeller's Guide to the Tiger Tank. Not only do the guidehorns have the oval openings at their base finely molded, there are also three oval openings in the recessions where the links join. While not visible when a run is flat, these are visible at the front and rear of the runs where the tracks wrap around the drive sprocket and idler respectively. This detail is a very nice touch.

Special mention should be made of the track pins here. They really look the part. The domed-head pins fit perfectly into the rings on the hull-side of the track links. The pins for the outside of the track links capture the small detail of the cotter ring very well. The pins are roughly 3mm long. The tracks fit Dragon's initial Tiger's sprockets perfectly, which is not surprising since I presume the set was designed for the kit.
Since there is very little flash, and because the pour attachment seam is very fine, cleanup of the individual links is quick and easy. A sharp hobby knife will take care of this task in just a few seconds per link. Many of the links require removing the seam only as roughly half of them in my set had no flash at all. The only time-consuming prep is drilling out the partially blocked holes in the links. Even with this, time is saved because there is no need to drill through the entire width of the link, only 3mm on each side.

Once the holes are cleaned, the pins fit snuggly, but easily, finishing with a nice little click in most instances. I can attest that glue is not necessary. I confirmed this because of an error I made in starting construction. I failed to notice that the pins in each bag were different and meant to go on respective sides of the links. I discovered my error midway through completing a run. This meant I had to remove all of the pins on one side of those links. Fortunately, I erred by using the domed head pins on the outside of the links (you may be able to notice this error in one of the pictures of completed links) rather than vice versa. These proved far easier to coax out of their holes than if I had been forced to remove the external pins from the inside of the track as those would have been recessed inside a small ring. This is where the set suffers from a lack of instructions. Even if one is careful enough to examine and notice that the pins are different, without decent sources or familiarity with German tracks, it may not be readily apparent which pin goes in which side of the track.

These two runs took me about the same length of time it takes me to assemble Friuls, or some sets of Model Kastens (not the ones with separate guidehorns, however, as those take longer). I'm sure the clickable tracks like the WWII Productions offerings take far less time. However, the robust construction of these tracks more than offsets that advantage in my opinion. These tracks are sturdy, with only Friuls being more securely joined.

In addition to the lack of instructions, I must dock the set slightly for a slight warpage in one of the track runs. After assembly, one run of track exhibited a slight horizontal twist. This type of thing is not unheard of with resin tracks, and it was easily remedied by pressing down the side of the track that was lifting off the ground with a straight edge and heating the run with a blowdryer for a few seconds. I did find it somewhat odd that only one run had warpage, however. The other was perfectly flat.
This is a very nice set of tracks. Consider me a fan of MasterClub's pin sytem. While more labor-intensive than clickable tracks, they are far more robust. The pins are superior to Model Kasten's as well, being much larger and stronger. Finally, they score appearance/accuracy points over Friul's wire or pin solution. I was similarly impressed with the apparent quality control the company exhibits with this set in terms of the consistency of molding. A spoilage rate of roughly one link per hundred is a good tally. I will not hesitate to consider other tracks from this company. The online retailer from whom I purchased my set (Model Point US) lists over a dozen track and wheel sets. Their price point places them roughly in-line with Friul and Model Kasten, and considerably less than WWII Productions tracks. Quality wise, they are easily on par with anything I have seen from the former two companies, while as mentioned, I have no personal experience with the latter.
These tracks from the new Russian company MasterClub are one of the few mirrored tracks available for Dragon's initial Tiger kit #6252. Fortunately, the quality of this set is very high.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: MC135007W
  Suggested Retail: $32(US)
  PUBLISHED: Jul 02, 2006

About Steve Eslinger (jpzr)

Copyright 2020 text by Steve Eslinger [ JPZR ]. All rights reserved.


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