Sunday, 6 April 2014

Four T-34 'quick build' models compared - Part 5

Number of hull parts: 9

Moving on from the turrets to the main component group in the kits - the hulls - let's look at the least complex of all the quick build T-34s I am reviewing - Plastic Soldier's T-34. Despite the fact that this is the simplest model in this review it is also the only model which offers a option to build two different variants of the T-34, the Model 1943 or the T-34/85. As such what few parts there are do include an optional item. If you chose to build the later war T-34/85 tank then you can pop on the front mounted spare tracks links. (LOL - whoopee-do!) :wink:

There are two things that impressed me about the PS hull components, the external fuel tanks and the engine deck. The fuel tanks are moulded in one-piece, most other makes go for a design which is composed of two halves and as such have to have some filling and sanding to create a smooth looking one-peice tank. The engine deck is very crisply moulded, with all the various ventilation ports nicely crafted. I'd venture to suggest that PS has done a nicer job of the vent ports than Armourfast has with theirs - *although* it should be noted that while they look nice the five rear-most vent ports are completely inaccurate as the real thing had a mesh inner-section and not these horizontal ribbed spars. Still, it looks nice and will look OK after some pin-washing (and is far better than the horrendous Armourfast 'stippled' rear vents)...

The hull component itself is very spartan and bereft of a lot of the smaller details (much like the Armourfast models) though Plastic Soldier did have a crack at representing tow hooks, grab rails and two cables - though they are dreadfully simplified and I prefer Armourfast's philosophy of simply leaving out such detail rather than including it badly done, as PS has done. The tow cable and grab rails are particularly horrible and will have to be shaved off if you want even the most basic level of accuracy...

The rear hull is OK, and actually not badly attempted, even some rivets have been included. But the exhaust pipes are moulded as part of the hull component, this is perfectly acceptable in terms of it being a wargaming model though I think PS have overdone the seam around the rear access hatch...

The overall look of the completed hull is a mixed bag and I don't think it will look all that bad once painted and at a distance. But I have to say that I much prefer the Armourfast hull design to this, the dreadfully half-hearted attempts to represent some of the detail on the Plastic Soldier T-34 hull let's it down badly and combined with some obvious over-exaggeration in sizing (the external fuel tanks and cupola MG are much too large) let down the care they have taken in the areas of the engine deck and the spare track (which has a nice track pattern on it).

Above: The Plastic Soldier T-34 hull components built in T-34/85
configuration (with spare track on front).
I'm afraid that even if I were a war gamer the inaccuracies produced in this component would niggle me far too much to have this model in my collection, and as a display modeller I would feel too obligated to spend far too much time repairing the 'damage' done by the bad design to make this hull worth even the low price it goes for. Sorry Plastic Soldier - at least in the areas of the turrets and the hull you have quite a way to go to beat the Armourfast equivalents.

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