by: Sabot [ ]
At first glance, the Skif kit looks to be a winner. It is comprised of four medium green sprues, 2 vinyl sprues, one photo etch fret and decals with markings for 3 different vehicles including USSR and DDR. All sprues are bagged together with the PE fret and decals in a small zip-lock bag inside.
The Esci kit is molded in tan and consists of four sprues individually bagged (track sprue is molded in light gray). The bottom hull is loose in the box and the kit contains markings for a Red Army and Polish Army tank.
The big pluses to this kit is the over the Esci kit is the interior and the PE fret. The PE includes fender braces, engine grills, main gun breech guard, and engine cooling fan fins and assorted other exterior bits.
Tracks: The Esci kit has link & length injection molded plastic tracks. This allows the upper run of the tracks to displayed with “sag” without too much trouble. The Skif kit, on the other hand, has two identical vinyl sprues, each using two lengths of track to complete the side. The detail on the tracks is good and the tow cables are also made out of vinyl with injection-molded eyelets.
Turret: Not being a rivet counter or accuracy nut, I like the molded texture of the Esci kit better than the Skif one. The Skif turret looks to be a better shape and includes the offset main gun. The Skif kit also has the “hotdog-shaped” coax and auxiliary sight ports molded along side the main gun. The Skif’s main gun will elevate and depress, but the Esci kit’s fixed mantlet has the canvas cover molded on. The Esci kit includes two different types of turret hatches, most likely due to the commonality with the Ti-67 and T-55 kits. The Skif kit’s AA machine gun has some sink marks in it, but this may not be present on every kit. The Skif kit has a pretty good turret interior with PE parts.
Hull: Here again, the Skif kit’s interior makes this hard for the Esci kit to compete. The PE fender supports also help out. The Esci kit has nice wood grain on the splashboard and unditching beam. The hull is also a one-piece deal with petite weld detail along the edges. The Esci road wheels look better than the Skif kit road wheels.
Conclusion: The Skif kit is recommended for Soviet armor enthusiasts. It retails for $30, not an unreasonable amount for a modern armor kit, especially one that includes PE and an interior. The Esci kit is still a very nice kit, and although currently out of production, I managed to buy two kits in one box for $5 at a model show. Also with Italeri re-boxing the old (and best) Esci M60 kit, they may re-box this old kit too. If this happens and the MSRP is $25-30 like the M60 series, then the Skif kit will be worth the extra money.
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