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  1. Desert Battle Series Kit No.1 (MB35214) Skull Clan – Long-Distance Raid. An Old Raider. Vadim 1:35 Master Box Ltd via Creative Models Ltd Master box have various series of figures that have themes unrelated to history, film or TV series. The Desert Battle series is a dystopian future (aren’t they all?) that’s not too far away, and based more than a little on the facts of today. A climate crisis happens in 2023 and throws the world into disarray on a global basis. Better get stocking up on toilet rolls then, folks! No really, don’t. Not for the third time. If you check Master Box’s website, there are four individual figures being released, plus a few boxed sets to fuel your fevered dreams and fill your dioramas. They’d look equally at home in any slightly futuristic, slightly dystopian setting, so if you read the back-story on the back of the box, which you should be able to below, and it doesn’t suit you, stare at the figure instead and judge for yourself whether you can use him. The figure arrives in a slightly-too-large end-opening figure box, with a single narrow sprue inside, and instructions plus back-story on the rear of the box. He’s a big lad at 6’4” if I’ve done my measurements correctly, so while he’s a fine figure of a man, it’s entirely feasible he’d be that height. As usual, the sculpting is first rate and the recent nature of the tool shows in the detail, with the figure broken down into head, torso, arms, legs, and with separate open flaps to his jacket, a two-part hood, additional chest and thigh pouches, backpack with moulded-in bedroll, a long rope bundle, and a slightly futuristic weapon that’s a cross between a Galil and an MP5, with all the attachments. Painting of the figure is entirely up to you, as in the dystopian future you can wear what you want (who's going to stop you?). The box art gives you some useful clues however, and you don’t get the rat on his shoulder in case you were wondering. A strange inclusion or omission, depending on whether you’re a rat lover or not. Conclusion An interesting and well-sculpted figure for you to use and abuse as you see fit. Build him as a stand-alone model or as part of a diorama with or without others of the series. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Russian Tank Crew (84411) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd. This is new reboxing of this Tristar figure set, consisting of seven figures either in whole or in part for two of them who are legless and suitable for insertion into tight hatches of their tanks. The set arrives in a figure-sized box and inside are two sprues in tan styrene, one larger than the other. The parts for each figure are grouped together with a letter prefix identifying them as part of one figure without having to refer to the instructions, which are printed on the rear of the box in the usual fashion. Four of the crew are wearing overalls and two are wearing leather tankers' jackets that bear a passing resemblance to more modern biker jackets. The final figure is a female tanker in the standing position, as the Soviets were ahead of most other WWII combatants in allowing women to serve on the front line, decades before the other Western powers. Two of the male figures have alternative heads so you can build them wearing either the tankers' helmet or a fitted cap. You can see the various poses below in the instruction picture. Sculpting is good with the helmeted characters having three sections to their heads consisting of a narrow section with their faces and two side parts that include hanging straps that bulk out the head. The alternative capped heads have the usual seamline running down the backs of their ears, as does the female with her seam running down the front of her short bobbed hair. The table below the instructions shows the colours visually as well as in words, plus Mr. Hobby, Acrysion, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol codes for our ease. These are called out side-by-side with the part number on the instructions as you can see. Conclusion Quite a large set for a competitive price with good moulding that can be used to crew up a number of projects if you use them wisely. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Porsche Turret), plus Interior Set (SPS-062) and Zimmerit (SPS-060) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models The King Tiger needs little introduction to any armour lover, as it became one of WWII's iconic AFVs, even though it only saw limited action in the closing months of the war, and had a few serious flaw that were never fully fixed due to its short time in service before the factories and the Reich were over-run. As with any new equipment, Hitler stuck his oar in and always wanted bigger, which resulted in a heavily armoured tank with a massively powerful gun, but weight problems that put undue strain on its running gear, resulting in a high maintenance rate and frequent breakdowns on the battlefield. It has been said that more King Tigers were lost to crews having to abandon a broken down vehicle than were knocked out in battle. The design was complex, and although the simpler Henschel turret design was chosen over the alternative and more complicated Porsche offering to ease construction, it still took far too much time and valuable resources to create one. The Porsche company had already built a number of turrets however, so they were used up in the first batch of tanks, and the Henschel design should by rights be the "production turret", as they designed the chassis too. It took bravery on the part of the Allied tankers to take out a KT, as they had to get well inside the killing zone of the mighty 88mm gun in order to penetrate the frontal armour, and even the sides weren't easy to breach. You can tell the Porsche designed turret by the projection of the commander's cupola through the sloping side of the turret, which complicated construction and left a weak-point that could result in a penetration that would have glanced off a simpler Henschel side plate. The Kit There are actually two kits being reviewed here plus a Zimmerit set, as this is another of Meng's modular kits that have you paying only for what you want to buy. A lot of folks don't do interiors, so why pay for the plastic only to throw it in the spares bin? The same goes for the Zimmerit. If you choose an option without it, that's also wasted, so on balance it's good for your pocket and reduces your consumption of plastic (a little bit at least!). We'll cover the exterior kit first, and the other sets beneath the conclusion. This is a re-tool of the Henschel turreted King Tiger we reviewed here, so there are bound to be some similarities, especially from the hull down. What's different however is the colour of the sprues, which are moulded in sand coloured styrene this time around, and I've decided to use pictures of the shared sprues in primer red in this review for a few reasons. It makes it very easy to see which are the new sprues, saves a little bit of server space (which is important to us), and also saves me a little time during processing of the photos, which is always nice – I'll be honest. I'll add a caption to each one just in case you miss this part of the review for any reason. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the primer red colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the primer red colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the primer red colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the primer red colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the primer red colour shown here. What's in the box? A lot of sand colourer styrene. Ten sprues in all plus a lower hull part, a small clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two types of polycaps, a turned aluminium barrel, instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide on glossy paper, plus a large envelope bearing the words "Streng Geheim", which means "Top Secret" or something similar, and has a reproduction map of the Aromanches – Cabourg area of the Northern French coat in 1:50,000 scale. An unusual but interesting extra that might look good on a wall somewhere. It's construction time again, and you will be totally unsurprised that it's identical, with the exception of no choice of exhaust armour parts, right up to step 12 when a turret ring adapter is added to accommodate the Porsche turret. An additional scrap diagram or two has been added to ease installing the bow-mounted machine gun stub, and the mesh covers over the engine deck have different numbers, but it's all very familiar right through detailing and installing of the engine deck and crew hatch insert. Now all that's out of the way, things start to diverge with the commencement of hostilities with the turret. The inner shell is a new part, and all of the outer skins are too, with new (but similar) parts for the basic internals such as the breech and commander's seat. The cupola has the same clear periscopes fitted, then slides into place from underneath along with the fume extractor fan in the centre, after which the roof is closed up and the top armour section of the cupola is fitted along with the armoured protectors, the up-armoured rear crew/breech hatch, and if you are doing one decal option, hooks on the turret sides for spare track links, the little guide marks for which are otherwise scrubbed from the surface before painting. It's a simple kit, but manages to pack in a huge amount of detail by utilising plenty of advanced moulding techniques, and if you don't spring for the interior set to complicate things, it's time to get the airbrush out. If you did go for the interior set however, you will have diverged from the instructions at several points, which are mentioned in the instruction booklet, and you might find it easier if you make notes and cross-reference the instruction booklets during assembly so you don't get out of step. You can see our thoughts on the interior set below the conclusion, and the zimmerit set below that. Markings There are three markings options on the decal sheet, and each one requires application of Zimmerit to be accurate. It may initially seem churlish not to include that in the kit, but some modellers prefer to make their own using putty and zimmerit tools to get their own preferred finish to their models, or have a phobia about these new style of 3D decal. Whatever your feelings on the subject, you can build one of the following from the box: Tank 332, s.H.Pz.abt. 503, Wehrmacht, France, 1944 Tank 314, s.H.Pz.abt. 503, Wehrmacht, Hungary, 1945 Tank 101, s.H.Pz.abt. 503, Wehrmacht, Normandy, 1944 The decal sheet is printed in China, and consists mainly of crosses and numbers in black, outlined in white, which is slightly offset to the right, although not enough to cause issues. Option B also has the name Anneliese in a green cloud, which is a little pixelated under magnification, but should look ok once applied. Conclusion Another lovely detailed King Tiger from Meng, which portrays those 50 or so tanks that were fitted with the unused Porsche turrets that were built before they knew they weren't getting the contract. Read on for the interior sets and Zimmerit decals. Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Interior – Porsche Turret Interior Set (SPS-062) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models We reviewed the interior set for the Henschel (production) turret here when it arrived, and apart from them changing the styrene colour from grey to sand yellow, and re-designing the Photo-Etch (PE) which is also bare brass now, plus tooling a new sprue for the Porsche specific parts. Again, I'll reuse the other pics for the aforementioned reasons. Look into my eyes… all the sprues are sand yellow Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the grey colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the grey colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the grey colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the grey colour shown here. Note: The sprues in the box are identical except moulded in sand yellow styrene, rather than the grey colour shown here. The set builds up almost identically too, with the inner walls decked with detail, the floor covered in working torsion bars, superbly detailed engine, fuel and other tanks, tools, firewall with ancillary equipment and a fully decked out engine bay with radiator baths and hosing. With the lower layer built up the floor plates, ammo for the machine guns and the big shiny brass ones for the main gun are added, with a ton of stencils for the shells, showing their contents. The bow machine gun is full length with the interior set, with a pair of dump bags for the spent brass. A huge line of additional dump bags is distributed on a rack around the turret aperture, and complete periscopes are fitted to the crew hatches, plus the opening mechanisms, which project a surprisingly long way down into the hull. The turret is also very similar with just a few differences, mostly around the rim of the aperture, with the same breech details and internal spring that lets the gun recoil once completed. The coaxial machine gun fitting has been expanded to two diagrams for clarity, and the "ready rounds" ammo storage in the turret bustle is simplified, which I'm guessing led to rounds bouncing about on rough terrain, so more brackets were added for the true production turrets. Unlike the Henschel rear access door, everything was included in the main kit, so no additional detail is used in the new set. Markings As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of decals on a small sheet, with most of them to be applied to the shells so the crew know if they're HE or fragmentation etc., but there are also a few instrument dials and internal stencils that are applied throughout the….errrr… interior, and all that has changed is the title of the sheet. Conclusion Superb detail that you can leave on the shelf if you don't want to go to the extra effort, but if you do, you know it's going to fit just fine, giving you lots of options for open hatches, maintenance dioramas, or even a cut-away model. Very highly recommended. Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Porsche Turret Zimmerit Decal) SPS-060 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models We've seen 3D printed decals before, and Meng have taken to them for their Zimmerit decals, which are a quick and easy way of applying the anti-magnetic coating that was used by the Germans mid-WWII when they became almost unreasonably concerned about their use by the Allies. You might already know, but Zimmerit was a thick grey paste applied to the vertical surfaces of a tank using a tool that would impress ridges into the surface to save having to slap it on thick all over, thus saving important weight. During this period it would be applied at the factory, or reapplied at the local depot, with the former usually being the more professional looking of the two. There were a number of patterns used, but the one most seen on King Tigers consisted of rows of horizontal indents stacked vertically. It would be seen on the glacis; rear bulkhead; hull sides (rarely on the skirts); the four sides of the turret, and on the rear hatch and mantlet. This set is patterned to the different turret, and arrives on an A5 sheet of backing paper, with the Zimm printed in grey. My micrometer says that the printing stands approximately 0.3mm proud from the backing paper, which is just over 10mm at full size, and seems a reasonably thickness to me after seeing a few Zimmerited examples at the Tank Museum in Bovington a few years back. The parts have holes where brackets and bolts protrude, as well as around the sighting gear and coax machine gun on the mantlet. The Kugelblende is sectioned up to fit to the curved surface, and the section for the gun-shroud is shaped to wrap around and conform to its highly contoured shape. The instructions show the numbers of each part and where they attach, which should make application easier, and a small message at the bottom of the sheet advises you to glue down any parts that have lifted during drying, which I would imagine will be edges or corners. Super-glue (CA) is recommended, although modelling glue is also mentioned, but I'd test it on a spare piece (one of the numbers would do), just in case. Conclusion This is pretty much a must-have for the kit, as all the decal options use Zimmerit. If you're not convinced you could make your own, take the easy way out and use these clever decals. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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