by: Darren Baker [ ]
When Tristar ceased trading no one knew what would happen to some of the great models they had produced. Today we now know that hobby Boss has taken their products and re-released them under their name. Concerns were raised that hobby Boss would alter the contents and up the price, so take a look at this review and tell me if you feel that is what has happened.
The model is packaged in the standard cardboard tray and separate lid that Hobby Boss usually use. The artwork on the box is the same as Tristar used on their release, or at least I believe that is the case. The packaging should be up to protecting the contents against all reasonable handling that the postal services put it through. The contents are packaged individually in sealed plastic bags, except where sprues are duplicated and packaged together. The contents break down as follows;
17 tan sprues
A tan lower hull
3 metallic grey sprues
2 vinyl rubber sprues
1 clear sprue
5 photo etched frets
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
Several advertising flyers
Well first impressions are excellent, the contents are a bugger to get back into the box after you have caressed the plastic so to speak, and there is a lot of product for an asking price of £27.99 in UK money. So at this initial stage I see no issues with the mouldings and the contents look very good overall. Is this one of those mythical beasts where you get more than you paid for and feel you got a real bargain? Some of you looking at this will likely have tackled this model and so donít spoil it by shouting out the ending.
The road wheels included with the kit are supplied with separate vinyl rubber tyres and hub detail, they also have trapped rubber pieces between the wheel assembled for gripping the suspension parts and so can be added and removed as required. I really like this inclusion as one thing I have always hated about the Panzer IV is all the wheels that need painting, this approach means a spray job is on the cards for the wheels and the lines will be clean. The rubber caps that grip the suspension units worry me a little as they are thin and so I donít know how well they will grip. The only other concern here is that I cannot vouch for how good the vinyl rubber is with complaints about it breaking down on items from some manufacturers.
The suspension units are very well replicated and having great detail. If I understand the instructions and what I am looking at as regards the parts, these parts are workable. They may be a pig to assemble, but they will make displaying the model on any surface much more realistic. The drive and idler wheels are nicely detailed, with the idler wheels and return rollers being the only ones that will not rotate. These elements and the detail on the lower hull will I believe provide the potential for a great scale model.
Moving onto the rear of the model I hit an area of concern, the instructions look a little cluttered and could make part placement problematic, those well versed with the Panzer IV hull should be fine, everyone else look carefully. What I believe is the starter handle has moulded on tool clamps, but the release handles are photo etched parts, I believe this is a good way of adding finesse and detail without making the photo etch side overly difficult.
The fighting compartment of the model has been provided with a floor and a fire wall and this is then complimented with ammunition racks with ten rounds of two types of ammunition. The breech (Thank you Kurt) is very well detailed to the point of being a model within a model, I believe it is the most detailed I have seen in a model of this scale and I defy anyone not to be pleased with it. The internal details continue with photo etched radio mounts and separate radio units and machine gun ports with plugs and photo etched chains. I am very impressed with the internal parts included with this model, but how do you display it?
The rear engine deck has been well replicated with a lot of effort put into the various details. The engine access panels could be shown in a raised position should you have a desire to install an engine in there. The exhaust is a multi part affair, the only possible thing I can see against it is that they always look to be damaged and that is going to take some effort with this one on the part of the modeller. The track guards are very nicely thin and look the part scale wise, there are some ejector pin marks that should ideally be dealt with, but other wise good effort.
The fighting compartment is made up of separate panels and this is both a blessing and a curse. It is a curse as getting it together square could require more hands than a person has. The blessing is that the panels are joined where they would have been on the real vehicle and so removing a side panel to display the interior is I believe very doable. Add the transmission and a driverís station and you should have a very convincing interior. It will require some careful thought, but would be a nice touch.
The tracks for the model are supplied as individual track links and these are also sided. Being sided does mean you will need to be careful not to mix them up. The guide horns on the track links are hollow and very cleanly moulded, these are of a very high standard; I even like the gun metal plastic colour as a painting base. The only confusing part about these track links is that we have workable suspension and wheels that will rotate (mostly), but the tracks are not workable; still we canít have it all.
The shurzen for this model is supplied as individual photo etched panels, there is also photo etched mounting brackets for the rear of the panels. I really like this as while adding the bracket detail will be a pain; it leaves for the opportunity to add very realistic damage in both wear and tear and/or battle damage.
What happened? With model offerings of this grade how did Tristar fail? Still thanks to hobby Boss the models are still here and available at an excellent price, I would go so far as to say Ďyou will not get better value for money than this modelí if the other kits available are of the same or similar standard why have you not purchased them. Content wise this model offers it to you in spades and deserves to find a home in your stash. hobby Boss has done us all a favour of making these kits available and I not only recommend you pick one up, I also urge you to hurry as at this price I donít think they will hang around for long.