Yesterday I bought the latest release of Revell: The Leopard II A6 / A6M. It's the only really new release of 1/72 armor in 2011 of Revell and it is finally here! So was it worth the wait? To be short: Yes, it was. Time to take a look at what we preciesely get. I haven't build the whole model yet but did assemble the most important bits. I still have to add quite some parts but these are the smaller details which will always fit because there simply glued 'on top' of the turret and hull. All parts which require a critical fit have been assembeld.
Revell has 4 leopard tanks in there range at this moment, the Leopard I A5 (no. 03115), the Leopard II A4 (no. 03103), the Leopard II A5 (no. 03105) and now also the Leopard II A6 (no. 03180) with extra parts to make a A6M version.
The most odd thing about the box is the fact that is 'licenced by Krauss Mayweg Staffel' which is the manufacturer of the real Leopard II. The Leopard II A4 model is a model made by Matchbox and the mold was taken over by Revell, later Revell added a sprue to make a Leopard II A5 version and released this as a seperate model. The model of the A6 is a completely new model however and no parts are taken from these other kits. A few flaws of the older kits are the missing non-slip patches over the hull of the tank, missing wheel rims, over simplyfied turret baskets and unclear instructions on how to place the smoke dischargers. These things all have been fixit with this latest release, in addition the overall detail is simply stunning as can be seen for the upper hull in this photo:
The kit has quite a few parts, the hull is made out of several different parts, an underside, two sides for the lower hull, the rear, the top & right side of the upper hull and the left side of the upper hull. This kind of way to make a hull requiers a very good fit of the parts. The fit is in one word 'perfect' and the result looks like the real thing.
The suspension is very detailed and complex. Each swing arm has to be fitted separately and each wheel is made out two separate tires, what a difference from the earlier models! The fit of the swing arm is quite delecate, be carefull when you have asembled it!
The turret is also an affair with many parts which all go together like Lego. The add-on armour on the sides of the turret can be made moving. In reality this is needed when the engine has to be replaced. (unfortunately I was not able to find a picture of this procedure)
The most noticeble thing of this model are the tracks, these are made out of two long pieces per side. These pieces have to be bended into shape and Revell recommends to do this with WARM water if you don't get it right. There is an explicite waring not to use boiling water since you will burn your hands. At first I was a bit sceptical about this procedure but it works quite well actually. The model is made in green plastic and this is always a bit softer then plastics of other colors. This requiers care when cutting the parts from the sprue but makes it easy to bend the tracks in shape. I used hot water and the procedure went quite well. It just seems to be very difficult to bend the tracks over the front idler wheel, there they breached a little which is not a big deal since the tracks can be glued back again like a link & length track. You have to de the bending before you paint the tracks ofcourse. Finally the tracks are a bit longer as needed so you don't have to align things perfectly.
As said before the suspension is quite fragile but I has no trouble bending the tracks around it. You also don't need to fit all the road wheels for this. It does is important to follow the instructions however. I glued the parts containing the front end of the fenders to check their fit. This is a problem when you try to put on the tracks in their turn since you can't check how it bends around to front iddler wheels. Make sure you follow the instructions on this one!
So is this a perfect kit? Not completely. The wheels are slightly off center. The tires are also a bit conic which actually helps when to try to sand the wheels round. This was again not as difficult as I thought but the off centricity is the odd man out on this model. I also don't really understand how an experienced kitmanufacturer like Revell can make such a mistake. A picture to make things more clear:
Also the softer green plastic is prone to sinkmarks and a few can be seen here and there but this is not a real problem in my view since non can be seem when the model is completed. Some people might be dissapionted with some tiny sinkholes in the middle of the innerfaces of the tracks.
So what is the final verdict on this little gem? It can be recommended, the new way Revell made the tracks might be a bit of a challenge and the wheels are a bit off centric which is the biggest flaw in my few. These are not really big issues however. This is a very good release from revell of an interesting subject and I recommended it to all modern armor fans.