is perhaps the best known name in plastic models, and while they have lost the crown they once owned to Chinese manufacturers they still produce a small number of armour and armoured fighting vehicles. Some of the releases Tamiya
has made as long ago as 10 or 29 years ago are still sought after models such as their T55, B1 bis, M26 Dragon Wagon, and German 18T Heavy Half Track - "Famo". This build will look at the Sd.Kfz. 184 Schwerer Jagdpanzer Elefant from Tamiya
, and the build for the review will be out of the box.
This stage deals with the front upper portion of the hull and front bell housings ; the instructions indicate to remove a lug I believe from part 31, however I was unable to work exactly where this lug is located and so did no bother. Despite not removing the lug no fit issues were encountered and everything went together well. The bow machine gun is moveable if care is taken when attaching it, however I will glue the gun in a set position when I have decided where I want it. One thing that Tamiya
has started to do which meets with my approval is to hollow out the end of the machine gun barrel. Everything goes together well despite the fact that the hull sides seem to be bowing in very slightly. It is up to you but I attached G7 first as it then gave B30 something to butt up against meaning it is in the correct position.
This stage covers attachment of the rear wall and rear bell housings for the rear drive wheels. This is another easy stage but remember to drill out the four 1mm holes in the rear wall as it will be a pig to do after it is attached. You cannot mix up the front a rear bell housings as the rear ones have some bolt detail which shows below the hull.
This is where you start assembly of the fighting compartment. You begin by building the pan and tilt assembly for the main gun, it is easy to retain the movability of the main gun as Tamiya
uses poly caps for the tilt and a slide which locks without the need for glue. The assembly is then attached to the interior of the turret but make sure for ease to attach the periscope first. You the attach the armoured ring on the front of the fighting compartment. Now you turn your attention to the rear of the fighting compartment where you add the port for ejecting spent rounds within the larger port which would be used for removing and installing the main gun. The only other additions here are the platforms for the figures to stand on. When adding the shell ejection port be sure to remove one of the 3 lugs as clearly identified in the instructions.
This stage is where the top of the hull is attached along with the fighting compartment to the lower hull, and by this stage you already have the basic model. You will need to attach the top of the hull first as there is a lug that locates into the front of the hull and there is also another platform for one of the figures that needs to be attached. Attaching the fighting compartment is the first time where I had a struggle as the fighting compartment did not want to sit as it should, it took some applied pressure for it to sit right and hold that pressure while the liquid poly set.
I am sure you are thinking what about stage 5 and 6, there is a reason I have jumped ahead and that is that I believe the tracks will be harder to install once the mudguards are fitted. Stage 7 covers assembly of the wheels; including road wheels, idler wheel and drive wheels. You also assemble the suspension mounts which with a little care remain articulated. One aspect of the suspension mounts I do not like is that they have an outward facing hollow groove, which while not seen when the wheels are in place I know they are there. All of the wheels have poly caps which are an aspect I do like as it means the wheels can be removed and that the teeth on the drive and idler wheel are easy to move to engage the track.
This stage covers installation of the drive and idler wheels and the suspension arms for the road wheels. The drive and idler wheels fit easily just make a point of remembering which is the idler and which is the drive wheel and fit them to the correct end of the vehicle. The suspension have a locater pin on them however it does not set the arms in exactly the right position, the movement that is there means you will need to set them yourself to ensure all road wheels touch the ground. The mud scrappers are straight forward to attach but again make sure you get them attached at the correct end of the vehicle, I have not added them at the moment as it makes it easier to remove the track for painting.
This stage only covers the attachment of the road wheels which again due to poly caps are easy to attach. As there are two types of road wheel the easy way to attach them correctly is to remember that the wheel with the large centre boss fits on the articulated joint.
Stage 10 and 11
These two stages go into great detail on the track assembly. Stage 10 tells you to assemble the tracks into four parts and this I suspect is necessary if you are strictly following the instructions and have added the mudguards by the time you get to the tracks. Stage 11 shows exactly the same process as stage 10 but this time as a single run. The rest of this stage covers the addition of the tracks to the model if assembled in four parts. One thing which confuses me here is that in one segment of the track the instructions place two identical track links next to each other with no guide horns, this to me says that Tamiya either have the tracks wrong in terms of link count, or the Elefant had an odd number of links making this necessary. I suspect Tamiya
has it wrong as they hide this anomaly on the idler wheel s on both sides of the vehicle. Something worth noting in the pictures showing the sides of the vehicle with the tracks fitted is how the gap closed up between the fighting compartment and the hull when glued with some applied pressure. When looking at the review Jim Starkweather provided there were push out marks on the tracks that I commented on in the forums, well the marks are there but are a lot smaller than I believed and will not readily be seen. A link to the video review by Jim Starkweather is at the end of this build review.
This is really two stages displayed as one in so much as it covers the addition of the mudguards on both sides of the vehicle, applying the support brackets for the tow cables, lifting hooks for the fighting compartment, front towing eyes, and the run gutters on the front of the fighting compartment. The attachment of the detail parts is straight forward with attachment of the rain gutters being the only difficult part, I say difficult because the connection points are very small and I believe they are too long. The mudguards fit easily enough as long as you clean up all the connection points where the parts were attached to the sprue. Parts G25 of which there are two on each side of the vehicle and which make up brackets have push out marks on one side, but as the push out mark is on the opposite face of each part a bit of forward thought does away with the need to fill these marks. Talking of push out marks there are some very large ones under the parts that make up the front portion of the mudguards these however cannot be seen with the tracks installed.
This stage covers assembly of the rear tool box for attachment later and various detail parts such as the towing eyes and brackets for storing the jack. Starting with the tool box assembly which goes together very well, but remember to drill the 1mm holes as indicated in the instructions before assembling. Parts B43 and 44 are very thin mouldings and Tamiya
have connected the parts to the sprue with an overlapping gate, this does mean that care needs to be taken during removal and clean up but it does allow for very thin mouldings.
This stage more or less is where you add the last of the detail parts to the main body of the model. The jack is much improved of earlier efforts from Tamiya
with detail being of a good level while retaining the ease of construction. The spare truck run that is assembled during this stage is improved by the addition of a 0.5mm wire to replicate the track pin. Tamiya
does tell you the cut the pin detail moulded on the track run off and this removal provides the guide for drilling the needed hole should you follow what I did. Everything else that is attached fits well and easily.
At last we get to the main gun barrel and while Tamiya
has made the barrel in two pieces the fit is good, but as always with plastic barrels it will take some work to hide the join to a satisfactory degree. The muzzle brake goes together well and shows that Tamiya
has advanced with small details such as the ring that fits inside the muzzle brake. The collar for the gun is also assembled and the only part that bothered me was the collet behind the collar due to the engaging detail on its rear face. This detail is different top and bottom but it does not seem to matter which way up it is placed. You also add some detail to some of the hatches with the part that caught my eye being the subtle detail replicated on the level cushion that sits on the inside of the commanders hatch.
The Elefant finally gets its gun fitted or does it! At this stage I added the hatches as directed in the instructions and I also fitted the collar for the barrel. No issues where found but I did leave the main gun unglued as it was my belief that it would make the travel lock in the next stage easier to fit.
As mentioned this is where the travel lock for the barrel is tackled, the parts are well detailed and go together well. I stand by my belief that it is easier to cement the main gun in place after the travel lock is placed, this being especially true if you opt to show it in its deployed position.
Stage 16 the Figures
One area where Tamiya
gets knocked more than any other is their figures, on this occasion I was pleased as the figure detail is in my opinion fair to good. The figures do suffer from flash which is a surprise as I was confronted with flash anywhere else. Face and hand detail is good and with a little work will make very good additions to the model. The figures go together well once cleaned up and see no reason for hunting down or paying out for alternatives.
This stage was a disappointment for me as it is where the tow cables are assembled and mounted on the vehicle. There are two reasons I did not like the provided parts which are that the tow cable is supplied as a corded string which just does not look the part in my opinion, the second issue for me is that the loops have been slotted rather than a hole which just does not look good. This does bring assembly of the model to a close.
This model of the Elefant from Tamiya
does look the part and builds up into an impressive sized model, the fact that a three man crew is supplied is another high point for me and I wish more manufacturers supplied a crew with their kits. There are some downsides such as the hollow suspension parts and the string supplied for the tow cables, however there are some high points as well such as the hollowed machine gun barrel, the jack, and the muzzle brake. I will say that this model from Tamiya
will not satisfy all but should satisfy those that want a model that looks the part and is easily built. The model will be great that are new to the hobby or have not built many models.
Unboxing the Tamiya Elefant Sd.Kfz.184