Saturday, June 27, 2015

Austin-Putilov Armoured Car by Strelets

This is a plastic kit, consisting of 3 sprues with some 50,000,000 pieces! It comes in a full-colour cardboard box that has what passes for instructions on it. Also in the box is one sprue of Strelets WW1 Russian Infantry in Winter Clothing (reviewed on Plastic Soldier Review, here). First glance - there's a lot of parts, they are not very crisply molded, and the assembly instructions (really just a couple of pictures on the box) are inadequate (to say the least). On second glance, you might notice everything is quite flat, ie this is a flat, somewhat 2D mold. The plastic is a hard plastic, but it flakes easily and sands very quickly; which is just as well because there is a lot of filing needed. There are no decals, and only the box art to suggest how to paint the model if you complete it.

The main body is made up of some 10 parts. There are no location lugs, just a beveled edge, and all parts have a seam through the middle (2-part mold?). Some parts are slightly warped, which leads to the inevitable consequence: the parts do not go together easily or well.

Some features of the mold are intensely annoying, such as the turrets. Each turret is made from 5 pieces of plastic and should have the MG inserted before being assembled. The MG sits in 2 brackets and then, on the outside, 2 shields need to go beside the protruding MG. Then there is a large "pin" to hold the turret on, so it can swivel. That makes 11 parts per turret, and each part has mold lines through the middle and no location lugs anywhere. What do you think the chances are of getting everything to line up nicely! The only excuse I can think of for designing the mold this way, is so that the sprues are relatively flat, but I would gladly pay more for a kit where the cylindrical turrets are molded as one piece.

Details are exaggerated, with some way oversized. The Maxim machine guns are too short and too fat. Because there are no location lugs, the placement of parts during assembly requires use of The Force. Computer generated views of the model are on the box, and you are also invited to look at more of such views on Strelets' website, here. However, there are many small parts on the 3 sprues that are simply not visible in any of the pictures, so I just left them on the sprue and it doesn't seem to have made any difference. With no instructions and no view of where these parts should go, I was left wondering why Strelets bothered to include them.

In conclusion, I'm sorry to say, the poor quality molding of the many parts, and the lack of an assembly sequence makes building this kit a torturous, frustrating and irritating process which ultimately doesn't seem worth the effort.