Tamiya 36203 1/16 Tiger I Early Production
Tamiya has released a static version of it's 1/16 scale RC Tiger I and it's a monster. This kit makes the 1/35 version look like a small scale kit, it has to be seen to be believed! Packaged in a huge box and wrapped in a nice canvas duffel bag decorated with the 501 Stalking Tiger logo, the kit is comprised of 14 plastic sprues, metal drive sprockets and idlers, rubber tires, metal suspension arms and a huge amount of screws, bolts, clips and other parts required for assembly and pre-assembled tracks. Molding is as sharp as youíll ever see and the level of detail is breathtaking.
One of the main differentiating features of this version compared to the RC version are the parts included to model the Afrika Korps version. These parts include early style feifel air cleaners, gun mantlet without the gunner's sight re-inforced area, revised exhaust covers and a nice commander figure. In case you're wondering, these parts allow you to model a sPzAbt 504 vehicle - the parts to make a 501 Afrika Tiger I are not included, but I'm sure that an enterprising aftermarket manufacturer will eventually offer the appropriate front and rear fenders, side skirts and headlight mounts to build one of these.
Assembly is very straightforward and a well done 28 page instruction booklet clearly illustrates each step. The tracks are already pre-assembled and workable which should save some time, they are made of a more flexible plastic than the rest of the kit. Guide teeth are solid, but I'm sure that they can be easily drilled out in this scale. The kit also features a simple motor (batteries not included) to allow the Tiger some degree of forward movement as well as a torsion bar style suspension which is workable.
Markings are included for Tigers #141 & 132 of sPzAbt 504 in Afrika, Tiger "II" of sPzAbt 503 in Russia (panzer gray scheme) and Tiger "S33" of Das Reich in 2 colour scheme. Decals are well printed, perhaps we can convince Archer Transfers to create a sheet for some other marking options (ie: sPzAbt 502, Wittmann's early Tiger I etc..) to add to our marking choices?
Overall, this kit is a tour de force and Tamiya has shown every other manufacturer who is boss with this one. Additionally, if you're prepared to invest the time and money in a kit this large and well detailed, a little bit of extra detailing from styrene and/or the available Aber detail set will yield a staggering Tiger I model. Itís worth every penny.