Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. A Early Production
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6289; Pz.Kpfw. I Ausf. A Early Production - Smart Kit|
|Media and Contents:||381 parts (192 "Magic Track" links, 137 in grey styrene, 44 clear styrene, 8 etched brass)|
|Price:||price around US $45|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|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|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for all early WWII and German armor fans, plus other venues such as the Spanish Civil Wa|
Everyone has to start somewhere, and the Germans started their legendary armored forces with this little tank. While the original was only designed as a trainer, it wound up being pressed into service as a reconnaissance and light infantry support tank in both the Spanish Civil War and other minor wars, and was still in service in 1939 when WWII proper broke out.
This is the second new kit of the little beastie to come out in recent months, and it is interesting that DML chose it to be its second "Smart Kit" release. "Smart Kits" are defined by DML as kits which permit the builder to get as much detail as possible without the usual hassle of multimedia or insane numbers of parts involved in the assembly of the kit. This translates as upon opening the box, surprise! a DML kit NOT packed all the way to the rafters with separate parts sprues. In point of fact, DML gets all of the kit's parts into a bare six sprues and the lower hull pan.
The kit is interesting to compare with the recent Tristar release that provides both sufficient parts for the early or late model Ausf. A tank in it – DML's kit only makes the early model. But given the overly complex Model Kasten tracks provided with the latter – and one of the reason for that kit's high pricetag – this one comes with DML's popular "Magic Track" snap-together dry-fit tracks that only need minimal cleanup before assembly. There will be some arguing, however, that this kit probably should have used DML's DS plastic tracks as it is such a small vehicle they would have solved the problem of track installation, but the selection of "Magic Tracks" is not so bad. They are very tiny, however, and if you are all thumbs or suffer from any sort of joint problems they will not be fun to assemble.
Surprisingly, while DML just came out with a nice new chassis for the Pkzw. I Ausf. A with their Flakpanzer I kit (No. 6220) this kit does appear to share it's A and B sprues with that one. The rest (C- upper hull details and D - upper hull, as well as the K and W clear sprues) are all new, as are the "Magic Tracks." As a result there are some holes that have to be opened up on the fenders (parts B-12 and B-13) in Step 2.
The kit uses the same nice suspension provided with the Flakpanzer, including three-piece idlers and separate springs.
While the kit provides none of the interior bits that came with the Flakpanzer, it does provide a large number of clear parts for the various observation ports and brackets inside the upper hull and turret. Assembly is accomplished by "trapping" the clear pieces between the upper hull casemate former (D-11) and the sides (D-1, C-10, C-11 and C-13). Even the turret race comes with gear teeth molded in place. But oddly enough, the MG34 machine gun barrels did no receive the "Slide Molding" treatment nor are any breech details provided. A basic "stick-on" seat, essentially little more than a base for a standing figure in the turret, is provided.
The upper hull is nicely detailed, and all of the hatches are loose parts permitting an optional setting for each one; however, there is no interior to display if opened.
As this is a "Smart Kit" etched brass is held to the minimum, consisting primarily of the muffler guards and mounting straps and two small cooling vents at the rear of the hull top.
Finishing instructions and decals are provided for three different tanks: Pz.Regt 5, 5th Light Panzer Division, Libya 1941 (sand); 3./Pz.Abt.z.b.V. 40, Norway 1940 (grey); and unidentified unit, Nuremberg maneuvers 1935 (camouflage brown and green over grey.) Decals from Cartograf are "targeted" to these three vehicles.
Overall, this is a nice kit and while not as detailed as the competing Tristar kit, it is much easier to assemble and will probably retail for around $20 less in the US. Interior components, many previously developed for the old Italeri kit, will probably be reworked for this kit by the after-market boys and there are many different painting and marking options for "third world" armor fans as well.
Freddie Leung for the review sample.