Sunday, 17 June 2012

Shellhole Scenics T-20 review

Above: The SHQ T20 (left) and the Shellhole Scenics T20 (right).

In an earlier post - Keeping things in proportion - I discussed my purchase of a SHQ white metal T20 Komsomolets light artillery tractor. Although I felt it was slightly under sized for 1/72 it is a nice little - if simple - model, but I wanted to see if I could do better. So I took a look at another T-20 by a company called Shellhole Scenics.

Their T-20 was the right price for a war game piece - £5.50 (plus postage) - and as I wanted a few of these vehicles for my Finnish light artillery I thought I could save myself some money. But, as usual, it turns out that you get what you pay for.

Above: This view illustrates the difference in quality between the SHQ (left) and Shellhole T20 very well. Notice the very badly pitted and indistinct MG mantlet and the poor fit of the chassis to the track units. In fact the Shellhole T20 only vaguely resembles the actual T20 Komsomolets Armoured Tractor.

I've been tinkering with the Shellhole Scenics T-20 for a few days now, but I'll be honest - I don't think I can get this model to an acceptable standard without stripping back much of the detail and virtually re-building the model again. It is definitely inferior to the SHQ version, which is just 50p more.

There are a few problems with this model but the primary dissatisfaction, from my point of view, is the material itself - I just don't think I'm a fan of white metal, it just seems too volatile a medium.

Above: The Shellhole Scenics T20 has just 5 components, all of which are somewhat ill-fitting. Some details have been completely neglected, for example there is no MG included.

There are skilled experts in this medium that can produce delicate and sharply detailed models, but Shellhole Scenics are not in this category it seems. Their T20 is pitted and ragged and although I expect a little cleaning up to do the poor quality of this moulding renders it virtually unsalvageable without a large amount of work. But then why would you when SHQ has done a better job for just a bit more money?

Interestingly, if you look further up the cost scale then you find the exquisite MMS T20 - £9.95 plus postage - though you will have to consider if such a cost is acceptable when building an army where you may want a clutch of these models. For me, at this time, the SHQ model represents the right balance of cost and quality (but things may change as my modelling and painting skills improve).

Above: MMS shows how it should be done, but this level of detail comes at a price.
Photo: MMS Models - Comsomolyets Artillery Tractor Ref: 022

In any case the Shellhole Scenics T20 does not meet even my modest standards. I cannot recommend this model, even if you are on a budget.

Photos of the real thing - for comparison - can be found on these pages:

Next: My final choice of T20 for my army.


  1. After several very disappointing mail-order purchases from well known names in the hobby, I really appreciatet reviews like this.
    The MMS T-20's really are lovely kits. Good to know the SHQ offering can add a bit of variety and economy to my growing collection of tractors!

  2. I think the reason I was so disappointed is that I was trying out two unknowns at the same time. I knew nothing about Shellhole Scenics and importantly they do not include any sample photos on their web site (perhaps I know why now)! And secondly I don't have much experience with white metal - but this experience has really turned me off the material now.

    The SHQ T20 is OK - the tracks are a bit vague in their detail and will demand some cleaning up and creative painting to get the best out of them. But the rest of the surfaces are clean and detail is fairly sharp.

  3. I found you site looking for photos of the Shellhole T-60

    Here's the Skytrex T-20 for comparison:

    It looks like it's similar to the SHQ model, though the rivets and cleats on the tracks are more prominent. It comes with two strips of seated soldiers though I'll probably put them in a truck and model the T-20 with the crew deployed. The space along the centerline between the two rows of seats is much wider in the Skytrex one in comparison to the others.

    Here's the FAA miniatures T-28:
    Might be of interest if you're doing the Winter War. The pitting on the lower hull isn't as bad as the photo makes it look. I have some of their Romanian infantry too, which are good sculpts.