Thursday, 24 September 2020
Kit Build/Review: 1/72 Build & Play Sturmtiger
A few days ago I mentioned this kit in another post, and today it arrived, from the Tank Museum, Bovington, in Dorset. I also got their Dorling Kindersely Tank Book. I love both. In fact, I was so excited about this strange but very affordable kit I built it straight away! the brand, A to Z Build & Play is new to me. I'm only aware of a few 1/72 models by them, almost all of which are german WWII AFVs.
Just looking at the sprues you can see it's not your ordinary Airfix or Revell or whatever style of model. It's more like a kind of mutant Lego. The gray sprues, which seem to be good quality styrene, are lightly sprayed with some white paint, almost mimicking a camo' scheme. Hardly any, to be honest, thankfully!
The plastic itself feels great, and the quality of the casting is superb. Almost no flash, very few ejector pin marks, and cleaning off when cut from the sprues really cleanly and easily. Many seemingly nicer looking kits, with lots more parts and detail, can actually be a real arse-ache in that they require aeons of time and way too much energy spent cleaning up.
The first bummer is that the rubber band tracks are pretty crappy. But if this is destined for tabletop gaming, and not the model showcase or a museum quality diorama, one the model's finished, they could be used perfectly serviceably. But they would require cleaning up a little. Unlike the rest of the kit, there's some flash along the edges in places.
The instructions are verging on clear enough, but contain some hilarious gaffes. Some linguistic, some just plain silly, such as the picture of the Stug model being labelled with the name of the font! Obviously someone had simply forgotten to type in the title for that particular image. For a fraction of a nanosecond I thought, 'Wow, I never knew there was a tank called the 'Name Of Typeface'... it looks just like a Stug!'
Unlike most kits in this scale, which will have a mainly hollow interior, and weigh next to nothing, this is a solid and even relatively weighty affair, that builds up like a hybrid between Jenga and a mutant form of Lego bricks. No glue is required. But I slathered some Tamiya liquid cement on to various surfaces anyway, as I want the model to remain a cohesive unit.
Once the core of the body is assembled, the 'cladding' elements turn it from a nonentity, into one of my favourite looking German AFVs, all squat and mean, with that fat snub nose. And this kit is the best I've built in a while for the containment and functioning of the gun elevation. And unlike the AMC Models 1/72 Sturmtiger kit I built many moons ago - that one wound up having the gun glued in place, allowing no movement at all - this also has the cooling channel detailing in the end of the muzzle. How cool, literally, is that?
In next to no time, the kit is build. I found it tremendously fun, largely on account of how quick and easy it was. I do love the more detailed convoluted builds. But sometimes they can be pretty draining. And if they're involved enough, they may see one going through hills of joy and valleys of despair. this was pure unadulterated fun from start to rapid finish.
I think the following pictures - and the sheer number of them is a testament to how much I like this model - show the Sturmtiger in a pretty durn good light. If one so desired, and I might, one could have their way with this, and get in like Flynn on upgrading and detailing, etc. I think I'll do a few bits in that line. I might add some zimmerit, and there are one or two other minor details that could easily be improved. I don't think I'll bother with the ammo crane. Or, if I do add it, I'll probably have it in a stowed/out of the way manner.
Is this Sturmtiger pleased to see us, or has it just got a high-elevation gun in it's pocket? And check also the cooling vent holes around the muzzle. If I'm able to see clearly enough, I might drill those out a little deeper. I might also upgrade the machine gun, as the integrally moulded one is, per'aps a touch too basic. The rear engine deck detailing, and some of the welding seams are a bit overstated. But I actually like this, as I think at this scale, if that sort of detail were rendered in perfect scale, it'd practically disappear.
The tracks and running gear are the only area where this kit falls somewhat shorter. Viewed at a glance, or from distance, the crisply moulded side-view detail of the wheels is actually magnificent. But closer inspection reveals that the outer wheel surfaces are purely smooth tubular affairs, as is the inner face of the tracks.
These final two shots are taken in lower light... obviously! I think the model looked even more atmospheric, so I continued snapping away! I reckon I'll buy and build a few more kits from this range. Some of them are stooopid cheap, at £2.99 a pop! (At the Tank Museum's online shop, at any rate.) They may not be showcase quality models if simply built out of the box. But they suit wargaming, being chunky and very solid. And with a little finessing they will undoubtedly scrub up even better.
If I manage to find the time tomorrow, I'll do a bit of detailing, and maybe even get to painting and decaling... that'd be a first for me, in absolutely ages, turning a kit around in just two days. Hmmm!? We shall see...