ARM: Review - DML Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. A Modified Version - Smart Kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.
6356; Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. A Modified Version - Smart Kit; 487 parts (192
"Magic Track" links, 220 in grey styrene, 46 clear styrene, 29 etched
brass); price estimated at US $28-31
Advantages: "Smart Kit" concept provides fine details in a nearly all-
styrene kit; "Magic Track" will please many modelers...
Disadvantages: ...but track links are quite small and not intended for
the multi-thumbed
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all early WWII and German armor fans, plus other
venues such as the Spanish Civil War
There are times that model companies get stuck in an "in your face"
rut and, while the subjects of choice are sure to please a niche of
the market, leave the rest of us stumped. DML came out with a very
nice "Smart Kit" early model Pzkw. I Ausf. A a year ago, but it was
met with some snitfits by a few modelers due to errors and "it's not
as good as the Tristar kit: whinges. Whatever that does to the DML
management causes them to strike back and strike hard, and as a result
they have now released this kit as "counterbattery" fire against
To be sure, they have apparently taken much of the criticism to
heart, as this kit shows that it has only two unchanged sprues (main
suspension sprue A and upper works/turret sprue C) from the 2006
release and a modified hull pan. The rest of the sprues are either
slightly reworked, modified, or new to this version. Most of the new
bits are the requisite ones for the interior, turret fittings and
engine bay, but the kit also includes new wheels with brass overlays
to give the road wheels a "lip" on both sides as per the original.
(This technique seems a good idea, and it would have saved one of the
worst flaws in the Academy Sheridan kits, but I digress.)
The kit simply adds new bits for those sprues where needed; there was
apparently some problem with the glacis access panel to the
transmission but a new hatch (B44) is provided.
The interior is relatively complete and includes internal bulkheads,
controls, batteries, foot pedals, a brass radio mount, copious amounts
of magazines for the machine guns, two breech ends with fittings for
the guns, very complex but complete clear view ports and frames, and
all hatches and ports on the upper side of the vehicle are optional
position bits.
The tracks are again "Magic Track" links, which in this scale would
be fine except for the fact that they are smaller than most 1/72 scale
track links. This is one area where the use of DS plastic flexible
track would probably have been more popular!
Finishing instructions and decals are provided for three different
tanks: HQS 6th Panzer Division, Western Front 1939-1940 (grey); 3./
Pz.Abt.z.b.V.40, Norway 1940 (grey); and 1st Abt 15th Panzer Regiment,
5th Panzer Division, Sandomierz, Poland 1939 (grey). All are provided
with white decals from Cartograf.
Overall, this is a nice kit and is now likely at least as detailed if
not better than the competing Tristar kit. But did we really need
another Pzkw. I Ausf. A kit?
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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Umm ... when DML hype their kits as being unsurpassed in accuracy, and then release a kit that contains some pretty darn basic inaccuracies (regardless of how nice a build it might be), so that the unmodified kit can't build ANY accurate version, it's hardly fair to say that to complain is to "snitfit". And, frankly, the kit was NOT as good as the Tristar, despite being released afterwards (although I don't know why anyone would "whinge" about that; you just don't buy the Dragon kit).
Of course this is the part that makes no sense at all. Tristar seem completely uninterested in releasing any Pz.I.B kits, and there are several I.A variants that they seem happy to let Masterbox cover. (In fact the Tristar and Masterbox lines are very complimentary, with the caveat that the MB kits are not as good as the Tristar kits.) Dragon could exploit any of those gaps very handily -- their basic I.B kits are very good, and there are several I.B variants that are currently only addressed by old and/or crude Italeri/Zvezda and Alan kits. Instead they try and entice the consumer with I.A kits that Tristar have already done (several times, even!) and done very well. It all seems very counter-productive.
Frankly I'd be astonished if it's better than the Tristar kit, simply because that kit seems as good as one could ever hope for. I'd be happy if it's "just as good". It certainly wasn't what any Panzer I enthusiast (such as myself) was hoping for though.
Bruce Melbourne, Australia
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Bruce Probst

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