Meng PLZ05 (TS-022)
Opening the box reveals not huge amount of sprues, a metal barrel, polycaps, a sprue of clear parts, decals and two sheets of photo-etched brass all in individual bags.
Instructions are clear, colour callouts are for Vallejo only so have a conversion chart ready for other brands (Iíll be using mr hobby aqueous). Painting guide is for three versions.
Details are crisp, sharp even on small parts however thereís a considerable amount of flash and moulding lines on some of the sprues which can be awkward to clean up properly. The other noticeable feature of this and other Meng kits is the generous use of release agent. Therefore a warm, soapy bath before assembly is highly recommended.
Decals are nice and in-register.
Instructions recommend to start with the road wheels and tracks... letís not ruin all the fun so early.
Iíve started assembly with the lower hull and suspension arms:
One slight issue; the gates are quite thick and placed at a visible spot:
A sharp pair of cutters, a sanding stick and patience will be needed. The arms themselves fit nicely and the whole setup feels sturdy however:
I also noticed a few ejector pin marks on the bottom. Iíve decided to not to clean them up, because they are tiny and Iíd lose the surface texture:
Next up, tow hooks, handles, and covers for the sprocket base:
There was not much else to do on the lower hull (ignoring the back) so Iíve moved on to upper hull. This part was mostly photoetch work. Details are nice however the brass is on the thicker side which makes bending some parts tricky. Upside is that mistakes are easily fixed and wonít break the piece. I also glued the upper hull to the lower at this point. I didnít want to risk doing it later (as the instructions recommend) with all the small details in place.
This one was a nightmare to bend to shape (you can probably still see that itís not a perfect fit but Iíve given up):
Installing lights and drivers hatch, then some more PE work. Kudos to Meng for including a jig:
Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of finishing the lower hull but this is what it looked like in the end:
Next, the gun (this is why youíre all here for . Dare I say the weakest part of the kit? Meng has included a metal barrel, however most parts to ďdecorateĒ it are plastic and they placed horrible ejector pin marks in places where itís difficult to clean up but essential for a prefect fit. It took a lot of dry fitting and brute force to make it look acceptable. Iíll still probably have to go back and use filler
This is it so far. Enjoying the build despite of the hurdles. Parts all really well laid out, the whole upper and lower hull is 3 sprues basically (A, B, C) ó looking at you miniart T-54. The amount of PE is just in my sweet spot as well, not too much, only used where it adds detail. Fits like Tamiya (for the most part).