by: Tom Cromwell [ ]
MasterClub, a Russian company, has released a number of resin “workable” track sets recently. This Panther set seems to be a new addition to the line since there is little info on the web at the moment. I picked them up from a friend who received them by mistake from a shop where they were heavily discounted, and at only £13 they were a bargain. (Normal retail price will be higher.) These are meant to be for the late Panther A or the G variant, and have ice cleats welded to the raised faces.
The tracks come packed in a clear zip-lock bag with a label on it. Inside are three smaller zip-lock bags – one containing 220 resin track links, and another two with 220 resin pins each. The links are very well cast with open guide horns, virtually no flash, and only a thin attachment scar to clean from one edge of each link. The pins come in light and medium grey colours.
The tracks are meant to be connected with a pin in each side to replicate the full-width track pin seen on the real thing. The label says to use a 0.6mm drill to clear the holes for the pins, and from reviews of the company’s Tiger tracks they should go together nicely with a little patience and dexterity. However, they also have bumps and hollows on the links that allow them to be “snapped” together without the pins! Doing so makes assembly very easy, but without the pins the tracks look a little odd. Besides, without the pins they are a bit fragile, separating under less than careful handling. Drilling all four holes per link was tedious - instead, I tried snapping the links together and then drilling the holes through both parts at the same time. However, I found that all the delicate handling negated any time saving, so it was just plain easier to pre-drill the links. It proved sensible to drill and pin the links in batches of ten at most just to preserve sanity…
As for tools needed, I used a pin vice with 0.6mm drill bit and some locking tweezers – no other tools are really needed. (I found the casting scars were so faint that they didn’t need cleaning.) However, a suitable work mat and some magnifying glasses wouldn’t go amiss. The pins can be slippery little fellers, but I only lost one (permanently, that is!) to the Void. Once the end was inserted I used gentle pressure from a thumbnail to click the pins home.
The reason the pins come in two colours and two bags is that they represent the different ends of the track pins. Panther tracks used the same cast link on both sides of the tank, but the connecting pins were pushed through from the “inboard” side so the resulting tracks were effectively “handed” left and right when properly mounted on the vehicle. Real pins had a domed head on the “inboard” end, and a narrower flat head with circular clip at the “outboard” end. The parts replicate these beautifully, but you need the aforementioned magnifier to tell the difference!
As I had a recent Cyberhobby Panther on hand (the Black Knights” rebox of the late Panther A Premium kit) that’s what I tested these tracks against. The fit of the tracks on the drive sprocket was spot-on, hugging it closely unlike the kit’s own DS tracks that were slightly “long” in pitch. The links can be a bit stiff, so I might need to gently persuade them to sag correctly, unlike metal links. However, once pushed into place they will stay there unlike vinyl tracks. Real runs should have 84 links to them for a total of 168 per tank, so the 220 provided mean that there are some 52 links left over to decorate the hull and turret sides. It also means I can afford to lose a few more pins to the carpet monster…
These are very nice tracks that should improve the look of any 1:35 Panther. Fitting the track pins is a real pain because they are so small, but they really do enhance the tracks.