by: Andras [ ]
I was very much excited when this model came out -after all, models with full interiors are always exciting news. Even ten years ago you were usually forced to use aftermarket resin products which were not always the best fit, and the details were often missing, too. (Not to mention the astronomical price tag.)
Anyhow after about two years I finished the build, and thought I would give a quick overview. This is not going to be a detailed step-by-step review; I would like to share my thoughts on the kit from the aspect of building. I deliberately leave the discussions on accuracy out as this model deserves a Panther expert to review it.
Overall, the model is well-designed. It comes in a huge box, which is not surprising, considering the part number. There are a ton of sprues, and it seems like Takom tried to solve every design issue to use as little PE as possible. This may or may not be an advantage -it all depends on the modeller. I personally like this design philosophy; others may prefer PE everywhere. There are also no transparent parts included: vision blocks periscopes were provided as normal, solid grey plastic parts. Overall, I found the design elegant, if one can use this word about scale models. It is well detailed, it is a complex build, yet it does not feel like a struggle to assemble. (There were some curious design choices, though, see below.)
The parts are well and cleanly-cast, there is no flash. The instruction booklet is good, easy to understand (with a caveat), and uses color effectively to show the painting of the interior. There is a question of the use of primer red on the bottom of the hull; Takom went with this scheme. The problem with the instructions is the following: sometimes the drawings are too small to see. With the assembly of the transmission I actually had to take a photo of a step and enlarge it because I simply could not see what goes where and in what orientation. Some bigger drawings should have been a bit better.
The decals are very well done; we get plenty of decals for the interior and for the ammunition as well.
I really liked the fact that the fume extractor hose in the turret is a flexible part - a very good solution. Another of the elegant solutions was how the ready-racks of ammunitions were designed: these racks sit around the turret basket, with only the end of the ammo sticking out. You are not required to use individual projectiles: you get a single piece you have to insert into the rack with all the ammunition moulded on top.
The tracks were one part I did that I liked the least. They are link-and-length tracks (the suspension is static, so this is also something people need to know before making a choice between the available Panther models), and Takom provides a jig for the assembly; this part is well designed -building the tracks was a breeze. What I did not like was the little guide teeth provided with the tracks. You are supposed to glue them onto the track sections in sections, which, in theory, sounds good. However making sure that every individual teeth is solidly glued onto the tracks is a different matter. I used extra thin glue, and went through the sections twice, but I still kept losing teeth left and right during the build.
The muzzle break, however, was a bit disappointing: it is made out of two halves- just like the old kits from the ‘70s. Same with injection pin marks - some are at prominent, visible places; they are not difficult to fill in, but not having them would be even better.
Overall, I really enjoyed the building process; I do have some pieces of advice for the building.
Number one: follow the building sequence. It is not always easy because it will make painting of the interior more difficult, but if you decide not to do so, you will have to look out for the following especially:
Do NOT attach the hull sides before installing the transmission. The transmission needs to go in first. (For painting reasons I wanted to add these details last.)
Also: do NOT install the torsion bars before the transmission. Again… follow the order of assembly.
However, I do advise you to deviate from the instructions in one case.... Do not attach the torsion bars to the sides as the instructions show (you are supposed to slide them in place when attaching the side). I found the installation frustrating since the side does bend a bit, and it makes sliding the torsion bars into place really tedious. I think inserting the torsion bars before adding the sides would simplify this issue tremendously, and once they are in, you can glue them onto the side panels.
I messed up a bit with adding all the details onto the hull bottom (again, makes painting easier); they covered the attachment points for some of the torsion bars, making installation a bit more difficult than necessary. Again… just follow the order of the build in the instructions.
Do not attach anything to the interior of the sides before painting. It makes masking a nightmare. (But you will have to paint the smaller parts with hairy sticks…)
Do add the batteries before installing the drive shaft and the firewall. Do not ask me how I found out the order.
The commander’s cupola is easier to assemble if you first glue K2 and K24 together (top of the cupola insert), then add the periscopes, and finish off with K3. It is really difficult to fit the periscopes in if you follow the instructions. The periscopes, by the way, are not clear, so they will need to be painted for lens effect. (RFM provides clear parts for the periscopes.)
you get more ammo than you will use. Do not paint them all… just paint as many as you need. In fact I made the sacrilege of not removing the seam lines on the ammunition that went into right in the middle of the rack.
As I said I really enjoyed the building process. It took a long time because I was stalled at the stage where I tried to decide how to display the interior best - I did think of making a cutaway, but then being the coward I am I ended up ditching the idea. (There is a lot of planning needed for a proper cutaway, and also not a small amount of bravery to actually cut into the parts.)
In conclusion, the Takom kit builds up like an “ordinary” model. It does what it says on the box, and builds into a respectable model of the Panther. There could be some more detail included, true, but in general it strikes a good balance between “build ability” and detail. If it is any recommendation I did buy the Jagdpanther by Takom (which shares a lot of parts with the Panther) to build.