Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Review: Armourfast's Hanomag SPW Sdkfz 251/1

Armourfast Sdkfz 251/1 box art.
I have decided that  Frontkämpfer reviews will follow the same format as those at my Beimbach-Schönau blog - I hope the WW2 version will be as well received!

Armourfast produces a selection of simple injection moulded plastic kits in 1:72 scale.  These are priced at £7.50 (April 2011) for a box of two identical models.  This line was started by HäT Industrie but now appears to be autonomous.  Due to the simplification of components, the models are aimed toward wargamers rather than the scale modelling fraternity.

The box contains two of these sprues.
Today I received the Sdkfz 251 box, purchased directly from the Armourfast website.  The model depicts a riveted "C" variant  (there were also some welded vehicles) suitable for the entire 1941-45 period.  Out of the box I am pretty impressed.  The first thing that struck me was the relatively high number of parts compared to some of their earlier offerings - each kit comprises 26 pieces.  These are moulded in high density styrene and are suited to assembly with liquid polystyrene cement.  I would advise against super/crazy glue or tube cement - neither work as well as the liquid.

Upper hull and track units.
The quality of moulding and the level of detail are very good.  The upper hull sports some very subtle rivet detail that will reward careful use of the brush or airbrush.  The location of moulding "gates" is well thought out and will necessitate minimal clean-up.  I was especially pleased with the front wheels and MG42s - these are very well realised.  I have not yet assembled the models but they certainly appear to have captured the look of the original.  The track units are less impressive but thoroughly acceptable.  Many people complain about the greatly simplified track patterns.  To me these are not of great concern especially when covered by the long mudguards.  Interior detail is limited to four cushion bench seats and a rudimentary floor plate.  Both moulded with minimal texturing.  No front seats are provided.

Front Wheels and MG42s.
When it comes to negatives, a few areas stand out.  Firstly, the view ports are supplied as separate parts.  This is plain silly.  All the Sdkfz 251/1 C variants are going to need these so why not mould them attached to the hull?  It is just "making work" for the customer.  Although headlamps are provided, for some strange reason the ever-present "Notek" light is missing.  The exhaust muffler and indicator lights are also AWOL.  Some people will find these major niggles.  Additionally, the lack of drivers' area details may gall some people wanting to cram the compartment with detail.

To summarise, these models earn an unequivocal "thumbs up".  They are nicely detailed, easy to convert and CHEAP!  To decide between these models at £3.75 each or an over-scale resin and metal hybrid at twice the price is a no-brainer.

Finally, apologies for the photos, typically overcast day with 60w lighting.

Postscript: "Number4" at TMP has pointed out that whilst the half-track is suitable for the entire 41-45 period, the MG42 is not.  This is quite correct.  Source replacements if you intend using this in Barbarossa or Blau! 

Scores out of 10 - thoroughly personal ratings explained:

Sculpting - Quality of detail and accuracy
Casting - Mismoulds and flashing
Variety - How comprehensive is the range
Service - Was the seller easy to reach, polite and helpful
Delivery - How long did they take to get to me
Value - Are they a good deal overall

Delivery time based upon my experience.

Sculpting:                        8.5/10 
Casting:                            10/10 No sinkholes no flash.
Variety of Subject:    6/10  Relatively small selection but expanding.
Customer Service:    */10  Dealings automated, therefore no rating.
Delivery Time:            9/10 Six days UK-UK.
Value:                                10/10

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