ARM: DML 1/72 Scale Armor Kits

Kit Review: DML 1/72 Scale Armor Series:
    Kit No. 7201, Sd. Kfz. 184 Elefant; 83 parts (79 in grey styrene, 2 stick-on
heavy paper rectangles, 2 black vinyl track runs); estimated retail price US$8.95
    Kit No. 7215, M1A1 Abrams, 3rd Infantry Division, Iraq 2003; 129 parts (97 in grey styrene, 28 in grey vinyl, 2 steel axles, 2 black vinyl track runs); estimated retail price US$8.95
Advantages: Simple, easy-to-build kits great for younger modelers and beginners
Disadvantages: "Motoritis" in a 1/72 scale model?
Ratings:     Elefant – Highly Recommended         Abrams – Recommended
Recommendation: For small scale fans as well as younger modelers
    Small scale armor modeling – 1/72 and 1/76 scales – is currently undergoing a renaissance and a big time comeback among modelers. It may be that people are tired of paying $40 for a kit that immediately needs new tracks and etched metal to be impressive, or it may be people ran out of shelf room, but the bottom line is that over the last 10 years there has been a real boom among the little fellas. And they don't give up much any more to their older brothers – some of the PST kits out of Ukraine have well over 200 parts per kit!
    DML is now entering the small scale market, but this is an indirect entry. Both of these kits are either offered or forecast in DML's line of 1/72 scale remote control armor. As such, once the boxes are opened there are some compromise.
    The M1A1 is at least as detailed as the original Tamiya kit of the M1 released 21 years ago was at its time of introduction. It does capture a good bit of the appearance of the Abrams, and thanks to Yves Du Bay it has very accurate decals and markings.
    That said, since this kit was designed to be motorized it has some serious scale compromises made to it, namely the "pregnant" look of a bulged belly to accommodate the motor and radio steering gear in its upscale brother. The belly is pierced for two screws to access the motor and batteries in the original, and the hull is also a bit deeper to get the motor inside the thin space of an actual scale M1A1. While it does come with scale parts to replace the motorization compromise ones, it does have some serious flaws to most scale modelers, the worst of which is the solid bustle rack and side rail arrangement on the turret. Also, for no apparent reason, the APU from the late model tank – flush with the top of the rear turret on the actual vehicle and DML's 1/35 scale version of the tank – now gets a "periscopic" view and looks very awkward.
    Markings are included for a tank from TF 1-64 Armor named "All Bout The Boxes". Not quite sure what that means, but the markings match the photos to a T. Two stick-on simulated thermal panels for the front of the turret complete the kit.
    The Elefant has a different arrangement and as such appears to be less compromised, but then again it may have a dedicated non-working chassis. Overall it is far closer to scale and appears to be very nicely molded with a lot of open work and parts (the engine grilles are see-through, but that means you need to paint the inside black to hide the fact it is empty. Overall the biggest flaw with this kit is not the kit itself but the directions, which if followed make it impossible to assemble the main gun! The gun only assembles if the barrel (part D9) is inserted into the mount (D10) from behind and THEN the collar (D11) is attached; the directions show it with the gun being stuck through the mount from the front (no way GI!) and then the collar is attached.
    This kit is a bit spartan but clean and nicely done. Only one set of markings, 3 Kompanie sPz.Jg.Abt 653 in Russia 1944, are provided.
    Both kits appear to come with gluable vinyl track, as that what the directions indicate.          Overall, the best thing to say for these two kits is that they are really ideally suited for younger modelers. It's not that expensive (less than $10) and in the case of the M1A1 will provide a certain level of "play" value to the 8-10 crowd as all wheels roll and the tracks work. They should be seriously considered for events like "Make and Take" programs as they are simple enough for a kid to get one together in short order without too much misery and inexpensive enough to allow club bulk purchase.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review samples.
Cookie Sewell AMPS
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