by: Matt Flegal [ ]
Chesapeake Model designs solved that problem for us several years ago when they released a conversion kit for the new Tamiya kit that had blown all previous King Tiger kits out of the water. Since then, Dragon has taken that lead in regards to detail but they've not released a kit of this version. True, one's been rumored for years and they've covered most of the other versions but so far not even a CAD design has been seen. The conversion looks simple but it actually covers a new engine deck, front plate, turret, and cannon.
This is as good a piece of resin casting as you are going to find. I have a love/hate relationship with resin kits and conversions. On the one hand, they let you model those variants or rare vehicles that you'll not see in a mainstream kit. On the other hand, quality can vary greatly, with some kits being blobs of useless resin pockmarked in air bubbles and others and others being almost art in how excellent they are. This is one of the latter. In fact, after 20 years of spending way more money than I should have on resin conversions and kits of ships, tanks, and aircraft I can honestly say that while this may not be the only first place resin set I've seen it takes second place to none of them. The casting is flawless, all of the pieces including the hull are dead straight and unwarped, and except for the periscopes and various hooks none of the pieces even have a pour stub to remove. Flash is paper thin and limited. Truthfully, I have had less cleanup on this kit than the Dragon king Tiger I'm using as a base.
The hull is a single piece with separate engine covers, radiator fans, and machine gun ball. You will need to source the various tools, hull MG barrel, and tow cables from whatever donor kit you choose to use. Although it is designed for the Tamiya kit it is a drop fit for the Ardennes King Tiger from Dragon that I am using. All that was needed for cleanup was to sand 4 small 0.5 mm high ridges at the lip of the glacis. All parts are a drop fit with even the engine covers fitting perfectly with no sanding at all. Compared to plans in Thomas Jentz's book it matches perfectly, down to vent piping on the rear deck. There is even a subtle armor plate texture to the hull sides.
The same quality as the hull is again seen with the turret casting. Parts fit without sanding or fiddling and they have captured the raised roof of the design very well, something that might make this turret attractive to those building the Trumpeter E75. Heck, they even have the coaxial MG molded in place and individual periscopes for the commander's cupola. The only problem for those using the Dragon kits for a donor is that this turret is designed for the cannon and breech of the Tamiya kit, with the same clamped holder to allow elevation. Since I have little interest in this feature, I'm just locking the mantlet in place with epoxy putty and some superlue. The new turned gun barrel is very nicely done and you get casting numbers on the mantlet. Track hangers and such have a small ridged weld bead to serve as a locator and the pieces fit in them without sanding (a common theme with this kit).
While often a weak point in resin kits that's not the case here. You get a view of all parts with ID numbers along with 4 pages of exploded diagrams and informative text. It's clear, detailed, and leaves nothing to interpretation.
A nice sturdy box with picture, lots of individual wrapping of pieces and bubble wrap. Not that I would want to try it but you could probably drop the box down a flight of stairs and nothing would be damaged.
To put it simply, you can literally assemble this conversion with no more effort than if you were using kit parts. Clean-up is almost nonexistent except for cutting some smaller pieces off the sprue gates, which you'd have for the kit parts. Except for needing superglue to assemble this is as good as anything in plastic and would be a perfect choice for someone's first resin conversion. This is one of those sets that, short of being pre-assembled, I can't think of how it could be beaten.