So the latest 1/72nd scale release from The Plastic Soldier Company Ltd arrived at Kingsleypark Manor today - the M4A1 Sherman.
As it states on the front of the box there are enough parts to build 3 models. On the back of the box you get a couple of pictures and a helpful painting colour guide
Unfortunately, the blurb on the back of the box is mis-leading. It states
For those of you optically challenged left click to enlarge the photograph.
It states that there are parts to build the 75mm or 76mm gun variant and also has US and British Commanders. Unfortunately this is incorrect. The sprue only contains parts for the 75mm version and only 1 Commander figure is included, a British Commander. I suspect the blurb has been lifted directly from the text used for the 15mm version of the kit. And of course, the picture of the 76mm version on the box isn't relevant for what is in the box.
Inside the box are 3 of these -
And 1 of these -
As with the rear of the box, the instruction sheet is slightly misleading as it shows firstly, the turret having the narrow 75mm mantlet. No such piece appears on the sprue, it is in fact the wide mantlet variant that is supplied. Secondly, the cast iron arches at the front of the picture (anyone know what the technical term is for these?) do not appear on the sprue.
Building the kit is for the most part pretty painless. The only part that requires a wee bit of care is the track assembly.
You have to make sure that the two parts of the track have the links of the track going in the same direction. They are moulded in such a way that some of the teeth on the track are missing so they go to the back of the track when fitting it together. And the sprocket wheel has a moulded plug that if put in the correct way the teeth of the sprocket are visible as opposed to being hidden by the track.
Finished track assembly for the left hand side of the model.
A couple of dollops of glue and the bottom of the hull and tracks are complete
The upper hull and the front of the tank are added next
As mentioned above the turret provided is the 75mm version with wide mantlet.
As can be seen, I've built the turret with the commander in place. It has to be said that if you want to omit the Commander and have the hatch doors closed they are going to have to be trimmed to fit the ring of the hatch. Certainly from the dry run I had they did not fit flush, so using the Commander is the eastiest option and in any event no self resepcting British Tank Commander would skulk inside his tank just because Jerry was about!
There is a .50cal Browning machine gun and mount that can be fitted to the turret but I have left this off, so it will mean a wee bit of filler will be required to fill in the hole provided for the machine gun mount. There are also optional side skirts provided. Hull mounted machine gun was added and viola, a finished model -
Not counting the time it took to cut the parts of the sprue, I'd say it took about 10 minutes to put together. There are a couple of extra bits that can be stuck on as spare parts for the tank, for example, there is a some track, a bogie wheel and a jerry can. There are also these -
Any clues as to what they might be?
I thought initially they might be smoke dispensers but they look they wrong shape.
And then there is this piece -
Again, not sure what it is and where it is supposed to go.
Any suggestions as to where I should stick it? (Polite answers only please)
Here is a size comparison with an Armourfast Sherman and an Airfix Sherman -
The Armourfast kit is on the left. The smaller 1/76th scale Airfix model on the right.
Price of the kit direct from The Plastic Soldier Company is £12.95 plus postage of £1.30. Ignoring the postage cost that works out at £4.32 per model. The Armourfast kits retail at £7.99 for 2 models from Wonderland Models who are based in Edinburgh (they charge £3 for postage) so just under £4 per model. According to the Hannants online store there are numerous different manufacturers of plastic Sherman kits at many different price ranges but none working out as cheap as either the Armourfast or Plastic Soldier version. A resin kit from Under the Bed Enterprises costs £4.95.
Althought the Armourfast model works out slightly cheaper than the Plastic Soldier version and despite the misleading blurb on the box, instruction sheet and the mystery sprue items I do prefer the Plastic Soldier version. I thought the kit was detailed enough yet simple to put together.
According to the latest news release from The Plastic Soldier Company Ltd there are more 1/72nd scale goodies to come from them over the next months so it is encouraging to see that they are continuing to expand the range, so if 1/72nd scale/ 20mm WW2 is your thing then you should certainly consider checking them out.
I'll get the model painted up over the next few days and post some pictures up in due course.