by: Jim Starkweather [ ]
This kit arrived from Hong Kong a little worse for the wear. The box had collapse and looked even worse than the image above shows. Several of the sprues were actually warped. Luckily nothing was really damaged on inspection. The box art is by Ron Volstad and it's another great depiction of this 1940 era SPG crew wearing field gray panzer uniforms with red piping. The kit art depicts two of the crew with headgear and throat microphones and those are included with the earphone bands and throat mics being done via PE. The mic controller or any wiring were not included but as this is not a Premium or Gen2 kit that is not surprising.
This review inspired me to do two new things. One was to finally lay down some money on a decent macro lens (the Canon EFS 60mm w/ Ultrasonics) and also to actually assemble some plastic. Something I have been meaning to do for some time but just kept putting it off. So this kit marks a re-entry of sorts into modeling for your publisher. Ironic eh? Now let's just see if I actually paint the little buggers. And I say little because my eyes were straining a bit just to assemble what I did. A large lighted magnifying glass is next on my list!
The kit consists of 2 sprues of plastic parts, 1 panel of photo-etch, and 1 decal sheet. As usual with Dragon figures the assembly and painting directives are on the back of the box. In addition to the four figures there 8 rounds of ammunition, 8 round containers, 3 spent rounds, and 2 ammo carrying cases. The kit also offers one alternate head position for the driver (forward, looking right) and also an alternate kneeling position for the loader.
While I was working on assembling the figures I was sanding away some flash on the binoculars when ::slip:: they fell out of my fingers and onto my lap, the thru my legs and hypothetically onto the floor. 10 minutes and 200 watts of hand held lighting later and they were nowhere to be found. My re-initiation into modeling had officially begun.
Overall the figures went together very easily. There was the smallest level of flash at the mold separation points. Small but still requiring sanding. I also filled one section on the back of the tank commander to seam his jacket together properly. I decided not to use any more filler so what you see is what this modeler got gap wise. Taking into consideration my being a bit rusty (and some over sanding with one of the 3-sided metal sanders) it was pretty easy to finish them up in less than an hour. Of course before painting I will fill and re-sand and then prime them.
For a newer and less expensive kit this Dragon release seems a good value to me. The folds and detail on the tunic are very good even if one discounts them for minor issues like spidery veins only viewable by my macro lens or under a magnifying glass. Indeed as these photos show many little sanding strokes are apparent at the moment. The miniature world is very unforgiving, but I guess that is why we like the challenge.
My only other observation was that the gunners pose on the box art is not what you get in the final build. I am not sure which SPG vehicle Dragon had in mind for these figures (if any), but the final stance of this figure is much more leaning back (see photo at right). Maybe Ron can shed some light on this aspect of the figure making process.
Stay tuned though. I will likely have to buy something to put them in. Won't that be fun.