Kit Review: Zvezda 1/35 scale Kit No. 3504; Soviet Tank Crew; 31 parts in tan styrene; retail price about US$10.50
Advantages: early war Soviet figures work well for tanks such as BT types, T-28/T-35 or early production T-34 and KV-1
Disadvantages: nothing major noted
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommedation: for all early war Soviet =93tankisti=94 fans
Zvezda has now been around for quite some time and has outlasted most of the other Russian model companies (or at least been able to keep its own molds). They now produce more than 100 1/35 scale kits - both their own and from molds provided via arrangements with Italeri - and have matured into an excellent company.
This set of figures is one of their older ones which was released shortly after they signed their cooperation agreements with Italeri and shows the influence of Western model engineering. Four figures are offered on one single sprue and are based on standard figure conventions =96 most consist of six basic parts (head, torso, arms and legs) with the helmets separate.
The kit offers four prewar/early war figures =96 a tank commander with signal flags, a loader, a driver-mechanic and a senior officer giving them their mission. The box art shows them arranged around a phantom T-34 Model 1941, but from what I recall this set was originally released to accompany their BT-5RT Model 1934 kit.
All four figures have a standard padded (three bar) Soviet tanker=92s helmet consisting of a crown and two side pad pieces. The crown and the =93hinge=94 section of the pads are provided as one part and the rest of the ear pads are molded onto the head. Only the commander figure has his unstrapped and spread out (apparently better to hear the word from the =93politruk=94 on the ground). All crew members are wearing coveralls and are shown in the painting directions (e.g. the box art) as dark blue or dark grey.
The senior officer is shown with a leather coat and map case, and comes as one piece with a separate front to the jacket. He is given a rank bar indicating a major and the commander has the two square pips of a lieutenant (=93battalion commander=94 and =93platoon commander=94 to t= he Soviets but they quickly went back to the old names once the war began).
The set assembles pretty well and not a great deal of putty is needed to get a smooth fit to the arms and legs. While they can be made to fit reasonably well into the BT-5 kit fitting them into an ICM (now Alanger) T-28 can be a bit of a chore as I found out when I did that about two years ago.
Overall while a bit dated it is a good and useful set for populating early war tanks.