The Leopard tank in its various forms has been in service since the 1960’s. This offering from Hobby Boss in 1/35th scale, of the Leopard C2 MEXAS with Track Width Mine Plough is a Canadian vehicle. This version of the Leopard has extra armour, and it is my understanding has nuclear, biological and chemical protection improvements. The C2 is an upgraded C1 and is a programme that was started in 2000. The Leopard C2 at sometime in the mid 2010s Canada retired the Leopard C2, and has made efforts to sell them to a third party and depending on what reference you look at they are either to become range targets or kept in storage.
This offering from Hobby Boss of the Leopard C2 MEXAS with TWMP, arrives in a substantial cardboard tray with separate card lid. The box despite its depth is pretty full, with the only space being the partition at one end of the box where some of the parts have been stored. An examination of the mouldings does not reveal any major concerns, other than some of the plastic is on the thin side and so could be easily damaged during removal. With that said, Hobby Boss has kept the number of gates between the sprues and parts low in number and so I think of it as being modeller friendly. The sprues are individually bagged, except where duplicated such as the track links and Hobby Boss has also taken the trouble to protect some of the mouldings with form sheet. I cannot help feeling that removal of some of these parts without breakage will prove problematic, but in these days when we demand greater accuracy and finesse it is a price we have to pay.
The lower hull of this release is a complete moulding bar the rear panel. The moulding is of a good quality, but I do wish when indicating that holes that need to be made, that a drill size is indicated for making the holes. I suggest inserting the blunt end of a drill bit into the indent where the hole needs to be made, when the drill does not move around in the hole you can be reasonably sure that it is the right size. The suspension parts, plus suspension arms are all secured in place and so the model is designed to sit on a flat surface. To show the model on an uneven surface, I believe would be beyond the average modeller to get right. The wheels have the tyre portion moulded in place, and the modeller will ideally indicate some damage to the rubber portions as it is exceedingly rare to see them undamaged.
The drive wheel is especially well designed, being made up of four pieces with the sprue gates being placed in the gullet of the toothed ring. The track links are provided as individual links, these are not workable and I am disappointed to see Hobby Boss state that “About 80 links for one side”, I personally was unable to find an exact number of track links but Hobby Boss has provided 164 links in the box. A little ray of sunshine as regards the tracks, for the modeller who does not like tackling individual tracks, is that two jigs have been provided - one on each sprue and there are only three connector points on each link rather than the usual four. Taking a look at the track links, there is slight sink marks in the rubber pad portion but there are no ejector pin marks. Once assembled the only thing that will not look spot on are the end clips which will not be in the correct orientation where the track is turning such as on the drive wheel, In all other regards I am very pleased with what has been provided here.
A very unusual inclusion with this release is a power pack for the tank made up from quite a number of parts including photo etch detail. But when installed in the model, there is not a way to really display it, beyond where the grilles are. So my advice would be to either display it separately or perhaps as a load for something like a M88.
The upper hull of the model is again very nicely moulded, with some good detail present. There are of course a number of parts that will need to be added, and I like the fact that the electrical cabling sleeve cover is one such detail. The driver’s position is provided with clear periscope lenses, which is something I always like to see - If you have a figure to fill the void, the drivers hatch could be displayed open. Photo etch usage has been kept to a minimum, but not at the cost of detail. Something that I cannot recall having seen previously is that the track guards are provided as separate mouldings that need to be assembled and installed, after the hull has been closed up. I think, this will make painting the finished model and easier prospect as access to the tracked wheel areas can be left exposed and the track guards added later than indicated. The towing cables have been provided with separate end clasps, and a copper wire provided by Hobby Boss. I make no secret of the fact that I do not like the cable provided by Hobby Boss and will always seek an alternative.
The track width mine plough, is I believe the same version used on the US Abrams MBT and is a particularly well tackled area of the model with good detail present. With that said, there is a lot of very fine detail that have been omitted, and the purest amongst us will I am sure be seeking out reference material, to super detail this area of the model, and if I am honest, I am wishing it was something that a ham fisted person such as myself was capable of tackling.
The turret of the model has again been provided with clear periscopes, and in the usual top and lower half. Again moulded detail is very good, with the mounting brackets and storage bins being added after, and is something that I cannot comment on the accuracy of. There are four jerry cans mounted on the back of the stowage bins, which have been finely detailed including the middle handle of each fuel can having to be added as a part itself. I believe that these jerry cans would contain water rather than fuel. The defensive machine guns for the turret have not been slide moulded, and it is a pity that that is the case, as otherwise I appreciate the detail. A plus point for this part, is that two different weapons systems have been provided as options. The armour plate around the turret has been provided in separate parts you assemble, and I am wondering if you could show one or both of these being installed or removed from the vehicle. The main gun of this release has been provided with two options, but I am at a loss as to indicate what the differences are. These have been slide moulded which I appreciate. There are a number of nodes present to prevent a short shot, but it will make clean up more of a task than it could have been.
The turret hatches are provided as separate parts and so could be displayed open, if you are going to fill the void. The mantlet of the gun is made up of a number of parts that will give you a very detailed area of the model, but the gun is fixed in a level trajectory. Due to the inclusion of a power pack, some parts that I had been trying to work out what they are for, turns out to be a lifting frame for the power pack.
This is not an easy model by any standards, and I would admit that only one finishing option is covered, and no details on what that represents are provided. As I have pointed out there are areas that could be better, and despite the missing detail on the TWMP it is I believe the best detailed one I have seen as yet. So a great starting point, for those who wish to add further details. Many of the concerns I have raised will not bother many modellers, and will only really be of concern to those that demand the utmost in detail, and so I do like what is offered as a package.