Kit Review: DML 1/72 Scale Armor Series:
Kit No. 7202, Sd. Kfz. 184 Ferdinand; 71 parts (69 in grey styrene, 2 black vinyl track runs); estimated retail price US$8.95
Kit No. 7204, German 38 cm Assault Mortar Sturmtiger; 115 parts (109 in gray styrene, 2 in black vinyl, 2 in etched brass, 2 in diecast metal); estimated retail price US $8.95
Kit No. 7205, Sd. Kfz. 171 Panther G Early Version; 138 parts (132 in gray styrene, 2 in black vinyl, 2 in diecast metal, 2 screws); estimated retail price about US $8.95
Kit No. 7206, Sd. Kfz. 171 Panther G Late Version; 141 parts (135 in gray styrene, 2 in black vinyl, 2 in diecast metal, 2 screws); estimated retail price about US $8.95
Kit No. 7212, Sd. Kfz. 173 Jagdpanther Late Version; 115 parts (109 in gray styrene, 2 in black vinyl, 2 in diecast metal, 2 screws); estimated price about US $8.95
Kit No. 7216, M1A2 Abrams, 194th Armor Brigade, Task Force 1-70, National Training Center; 112 parts (80 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: Ferdinand, Sturmtiger, Panthers, Jagdpanther ? Highly Recommended Abrams ? Recommended
Recommendation: For small scale fans as well as younger modelers
DML continues on with its new small-scale armor kits, adding a new twist: diecast metal hulls or components. Surprisingly, while I am not a big fan of multimedia kits, they appear to be very nicely done and hold incredible details for what was once thought to be the purview of the "toy collector."
The M1A2 is basically the same kit as their eariler M1A1HA in Iraq kit, but minus the Iraqi parts. 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 1-70 Armor on a rotation out to the NTC ibn California.
The Ferdinand is the earlier Elefant kit but with the previous parts for the version without the bow machine gun and other later additions. 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 are provided.
The three Panther kits are similar, providing the same type of upper and lower chassis out of diecast metal. The engine bay is separate (and opens!) but it does have the major drawback of cementing styrene parts to diecast metal. DML pre-primes the metal, at least, so modelers will be able to get a good paint job on it regardless of paints used. The kits provide different fan towers and mantelets, so the correct variant can be modeled. All come with only one or two finishing and decal options; needless to say the late G comes with the "ambush" scheme, and the other two the popular tricolor schemes of sand, brown and green. Note that while the upper and lower hull screw together ? and screws are provided ? the directions make no note of it.
The Sturmtiger likewise comes with the diecast upper hull but a conventional plastic lower hull, most likely shared with its mini-RC brethren. The mortar is assembled and installed on the lower hull BEFORE attaching the upper hull, which is a bit different in this scale. Decals are included for only one variant.
All of the kis appear to come with gluable vinyl track, as that what the directions indicate. As I previously noted, they are nearly ideally suited for younger modelers.
Parents should note that now Wal-Mart is offering a line of semi-assembled model "kits" for about $15 that cover many favorite subjects. Each of these kits ? covering subjects like the Sherman, Panther, Tiger, M18 Hellcat, and US and German halftracks ? come pre-painted with two figures and only require screwdriver assembly. While not bad (at least from their boxtop appearance, they are "semi-scale" 1/32 and have a lot of working parts for the kids to get play value out of them. These look best suited for about 5-8 year olds.
The new DML kits should be considered the next level of modeling for youngsters. 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