It is not that long ago, that I believed that bridge layers would be moved into the mainstream from the realms of the resin manufacturers, and special releases. Today we have AFV club releasing a Churchill bridge layer, and Hobby Boss has gone to the present and larger Iguana PSB-2-28 (m) Bridge layer. This model is designed and built on the Leopard II hull. It has been pointed out to me that this is a prototype vehicle rather than production, but so far no one has pointed out to me what needs to be changed to address that.
This offering from Hobby Boss in 1/35th scale of an Iguana bridge layer arrives in a substantial cardboard tray with a well, protected portioned off area and sturdy cardboard box. The sprues are individually packaged unless they are duplicated, with some of the more fragile items protected in the portioned off area. Bubble wrap bags have been utilised in some cases and the result is that the model should reach you in the condition intended, unless abused. There are no moulding issues out of the norm, and the modeller has been helped by ease of access to the parts, and small moulding gates.
The hull of this model has been moulded as a single piece, with only the need for the rear plate to be added. The suspension units are fixed in a neutral position, which to my mind does create a potential issue. My reasoning being that the vehicle does tend to sit heavily on its haunches with the bridge on board, and when the bridge is extended to be ford a crossing the spade is placed onto the ground to help prevent the vehicle from tipping forwards and that aspect is not covered in the instruction booklet and so the modeller will need to do some research of the various elements and how everything looks depending on how you wish to display the vehicle. I am perfectly happy with the detail of the road and idler wheels and the drive wheel. The tracks provided in this release are the rubber band style, rather than individual links. These do appear to have good detail, but for those who were wishing for individual links the box would have had to be bigger to accommodate the tracks. I will say, that considering the high price for this release, I would have liked to have seen the option as regards the tracks, but it is what it is.
Moving to the upper hull, and there is very little for the modeller to tackle here. There are some hatches, and tools to add but you don’t really do any work until you get to the front spade and the bridge propelling portions. The shovel/support has been well replicated in every detail with the exception of hydraulic lines. I am sure that this support structure could be lowered to the ground as the pistons and hydraulic shafts have been moulded as separate parts, as have much of the brackets. As I say it is just going to be trial and error to get the result you need, and I also highly recommend that the support is cemented into position when decided upon. The rear bridge support and deploying platform is I believe going to prove a headache, with the modeller needing to take extreme care when assembling this module of the model. I personally find myself wishing that Hobby Boss had covered assembly of this module in much larger line drawings, as to me it would be all too easy to make a mistake.
The turret mounted portion is an easier aspect of the model to tackle, but I again am of the opinion that the instructions should have been shown in much larger drawings in order to get right all of the parts on what is an expensive model. Once these bridge deployment elements are added to the model, I was looking at the tow cables provided and while I am perfectly happy with the eyes, the metallic cable provided I feel could be replaced by something far more superior. Moving to the bridge which despite being the major element of this model are a fairly straightforward build. The bridge can be shown in a stored ready to be deployed or deployed and is a surprisingly easy progression, with my disappointment being that Hobby Boss has not shown the model with the bridge extended for deployment. This means the modeller will need to do some research to get that aspect correct in all regards. Anyone displaying this model with the bridge in the process of deployment will need to consider that the overall length will be that of four Leopard II tanks, I find myself wondering if the reason that Hobby Boss has not shown the model with the bridge in the deployment setting, is due to the equivalent of aircraft modeller having a tail sitter and so prior to closing up the hull it may be worthwhile to consider adding some extra weight to the rear of the model using something like liquid gravity so that the vehicle sits correctly and the extended bridge is not lifting the back of the model up.
This offering from Hobby Boss is what I consider to be a truly original main manufacturer product release. But, as mentioned in the review, I do have some concerns when it comes to building and displaying this model as I expect Hobby Boss to have done more of the work when it comes to displaying the finished model however the modeller chooses within reason. With those negative thoughts out of the way, this will be one of those big is beautiful models that will attract admiring looks.