In this, what I like to think, golden age of modeling, it seems there is just about anything you need to build and paint your models. Whether it’s a DVD showing you step by step how to achieve a certain look that you desire, or one of the myriad number of aftermarket kit accessories that range from expensive multi-media conversions, to the very simple and basic add-ons that enhance the final look of the finished kit. It is in this last category that this small accessory falls. SKP Model has recently been releasing lenses and taillight sets for specific vehicles and/or kits, this particular one is for the IDF’s Merkava 4. Though it isn’t labeled as such on the package, it is made to fit the Academy kit, both the original and the newer LIC version.
Inside the ziploc bag which is stapled to a card backing, is a small photo-etch fret which includes eight pieces. There are no instructions, but the parts on the fret are self explanatory. You get the two rectangular headlight lenses and two tiny rear taillights. In addition to this you also get four pieces that fit into the gunner’s sight and the commander’s panoramic sight to simulate the tinted glass.
Both of the SKP headlight and taillight lenses are made so that the surface is slightly convex. For the taillights this is correct judging from actual photos I have. However, real Merkava 4 headlights appear to be flat, again judging from the one clear photo I was able to find. Also the “pattern” of the headlight lenses doesn’t match up with the one in the photo I have (please see image on right). Having said this I would like to point out, the close-up shot of the headlight is from the Merkava 4 at Latrun. This particular tank was a very early production model, possibly even the prototype. Merkava 4s in the field could very well have lenses like the SKP one. The photo of the Latrun tank was the only good clear shot I could find. The color of the pieces for the two sights is ok from what I have seen. Bluish green and dark red-orange for the commander’s sight windows, and the same bluish green for both of the gunner’s sight windows. Depending on the angle you view the gunner’s sight from, the windows sometimes appear to be different colors, but they often appear very close to the same color.
Now, having said all this, unless someone is just an IDF/Merkava “nut” very few people will know any of the above. The fit of the parts to the kit is very nice. In the photos I took they are being held in place by a tiny bit of yellow tack (very visible in the taillight image at right), so when glued in place they should sit flush. In addition to this they should be a big plus to the appearance of the finished model, and much easier than trying to get the same effect from painting these areas.
For the price, I feel this is a good little detail set that is easy to use and will enhance the final appearance of your Academy Merk 4 model. Yes there may be a couple of small inaccuracies but you would be very hard pressed to achieve this look by hand. I also would like to point out that the parts will not fit the Hobbyboss Merkava 4. I have one and tried, but there are small size differences that prevent their use. So…SKP if you read this please give us one for the HB kit also.
Highs: Inexpensive, simple to use set that will enhance the final look of the Academy Merkava 4.Lows: Small inaccuracies (if you're very picky or knowledgeable about the Merkava 4). Set will not fit Hobbyboss Merk 4.Verdict: Easy to use set that should really give a nice touch to your built up Academy Merkava 4.
About Mike Land (Kelley) FROM: GEORGIA, UNITED STATES
My story is like so many others, I began modeling as a kid, then in my teenage years I discovered more interesting things...girls, cars. I got married in my early thirties and got back into modeling pretty heavily in my mid thirties (I'm 46 now) I was amazed at the changes. As a kid I started with m...