by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
The demise of Tristar went by with very little acknowledgement, I suspect they passed so quietly as their products were in direct competition with the products of Dragon Models, a company that was at its zenith then. Due to Dragon Models having been so powerful as regards to World War Two German armour, I suspect many of you have never seen what is included in the Tristar kits offerings, well now you get a second chance. HobbyBoss has begun releasing the Tristar models again under their own name and I have to say I am glad that they have.
The model is packaged in a sturdy cardboard tray and separate cardboard lid, this packaging should hold up well against the postal services of the world. The contents are packaged individually in sealed plastic bags, except where the sprues are duplicated. There is quite a few parts to this model and so packing is tight with very little movement that may cause damage. The contents break down as follows;
15 tan sprues
3 metallic grey sprues
1 vinyl rubber sprue
1 clear sprue
2 brass photo etched frets
1 steel photo etched fret
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
Taking a look through the contents of the model and noting the moulding quality I am left wondering where it was that Tristar went wrong, the only thing that could be included to improve it from the box is a metal barrel, or at least that is my opinion. The plastic mouldings have a lot of plus points in that they are thin where needed and so look the part. There is a small amount of flash present in some places, but it is not excessive and so it can be easily dealt with by any modeller. It should also be said that despite the number of sprues and parts, very few of them are marked as not for use and so this model will take some time to build.
The suspension of the Panzer IV hull is a quickly identified area of the vehicle and this model captures that detail to a very good degree. The bogie assemblies are a multi-part affair, and if I have correctly understood the instructions and look of the parts the units could be workable or at the very least cemented at the position you require or surface on which it is to be displayed. The look of these parts tells me straight away that this is a kit that should appeal to those who want the most from their models in terms of detail. The wheel units have a vinyl rubber disc at their centre and so can be added and removed from the model. The detail from little I know looks the part with four steel wheels at the front and rubber rimmed wheels on the two rear station of each side. ‘SEMPERIT’ and tyre size is embossed on the tyres for the rear wheels, SEMPERIT does produce tyres, but I am more use to the Continental label being more usual and I have been unable to find information on if this is accurate. I do like that the tyres for the rear wheels are separate vinyl rubber as it makes painting a breeze.
The tracks provided for this model are individual track links moulded in a gunmetal grey plastic, the tracks are also left and right handed, so don’t mix them up. The detail of the track links is very good and the finished result should be pleasing, there are also 72 grousers supplied should you wish to use them. One surprize for me is that with the workable aspect of the suspension units I expected the tracks to also feature a workable nature which they are not, so what are your options? You could glue the tracks in the orientation required for the surface the model is going to be displayed on, or if you prefer seek out a set of workable tracks, it really just depends on your needs.
The rear of the vehicle is nicely detailed and as far as I can tell accurate. A fire wall has been provided for the interior between the fighting compartment and engine bay and this is detailed on the fighting compartment side. The engine deck is equally as nicely detailed and all of the access panels can be left open if wished. While there is no engine for the bay I am sure that after market offerings are available to fill the area. The tools that are supplied have moulded on clamp detail, but the detail is reasonable. The vehicle jack is very nicely detailed and a match for any that I have seen offered in plastic from any other company. The track guards have good detail on the upper surface, but they are on the thick side and have ejector pin marks on the underside that will need to be fixed.
The main gun is a very nice piece of work despite not having a metal barrel. It has been slide moulded with a nice depth to the muzzle, there is a slide mould seam down both sides and there are five sprue gates that will need to be cleaned up. A turned metal barrel would be easier to use, but I question the expense of one in this case as the barrel is that good. The breech detail of the gun is also very good, and will make for a nice starting point for anyone considering a full interior build for the model.
Inside the fighting compartment there is some nice internal detail provided with the model, nothing like enough to be fully exposed, but there is enough for the hatches to be opened. If you place figures with the model the detail that can be seen will be more than enough to please most. The fighting compartment itself is made up with what I believe are scale thickness armour plates, the design of this means that someone who wishes to add a full interior could display it by leaving one of the side panels off or leaving the roof of the compartment so that it can be lifted to display the interior. The mesh schurzen is supplied as steel photo etch parts with plastic mounting brackets, it is these parts that cause me the most concern due to the need to attach another photo etched angled part at the front; this will be a pain I believe.
The finished model is supplied with three finishing options from the box, these are;
Führer Begleit Brigade, Ardennes Offensive, 1944
23rd Panzer Division, He jmakser, Hungary, 1945
Red Army Operated, Vienna, Austria, 1945
I am very impressed with what HobbyBoss has given us curtesy of the Tristar moulds. The quality of this product easily matches up with what is available detail wise today, and in many cases now supersedes the products of the company that possibly caused the demise of Tristar. The price of the model at £27.99 makes it in my opinion an unbeatable model for the money if the Panzer IV/70 (A) is on your shopping list.