Leopard 2 A6/A6NL (03281)
Confession time: I'm not a big fan of modern armour, but I'm glad I've been given the opportunity to have a look at this kit. This variant of the Leopard oozes menace and in real life it's pretty huge, a feature that is perhaps exacerbated by the elongated turret and long gun - even longer on the A6. Leopard tanks have been around for a while, but the A6 is a variant the appeared mid-noughties and has numerous upgrades over earlier versions. I have to admit it looks pretty cool. For the modeller the Leopard gives you options in respect of it having multiple users and the Hellenic Army (for instance) have their Leopards painted in a very striking scheme that might appeal over that offered in the kit option. Let's have a look at the box art that shows a Leopard emerging from a forest glade with apparent intent.
This is a pretty big box (385x245x65mm) and it is crammed full of parts.
Sprue A contains the hull sides and lower turret moulding. The kit is based on tooling first produced in 2012, but with additional parts. The mouldings are crisp and well defined as you might expect from a fairly recently developed product.
Sprue B contains the hull top, bottom and transom (is that proper tanky jargon?), I've added a Mr Color jar to give a bit of scale.
There is 2 x Sprue C containing the nicely moulded wheels and other bits of running. I've captured both sides of the sprues in the same images.
Sprue E contains the massive turret components.
The remaining plastic sprues are G, H, K and L. Sprue G is the gun and replaces J that is left over from a previous release. This is not referenced in the instructions, but on a seperate correction sheet.
You get a bag full of vinyl parts that include tracks, cables and mudflaps. Personally I'm OK with vinyl tracks, the real tank has rubber block type tracks and these are reproduced perfectly adequately and are sharply moulded. They fit together well, with multiple pins and locating holes, although the pins go all the way through and you will need to ensure they're not in a visible place or are covered with some mud/gunge weathering. I'm not sure about the cables, I think replacement with braided wire would be a good thing. The mudflaps are probably pretty much in keeping with the real thing.
To round things off you get a short piece of wire (taped to the instructions header), some acetate for cutting into pieces to fit the 'scopes and a nicely printed decal sheet. The instructions tell you to cut the wire into 75mm lengths for the antennae, heat the ends and plunge them into their plastic fittings. I'd rather drill out the fitting with a micro drill and use a dab of superglue.
Link to instructions, but here is the header, paint list and paint/decal guide for your information. There are options for tanks in German or Dutch service. One thing I've noticed that not all the decals are referenced on the paint guide, so you might need to look out for them in the main body of the instructions. There's not a lot to choose between the two schemes as they use the same camo layout and there's not many decals to apply to make any real difference. The painting itself will require some skill to execute it effectively.
The correction sheet refers to the aforementioned gun sprue and also to incorrect numbering of illustrated parts in Step 28. this is welcome because it suggests that more attention is being paid to proofreading!
My overall impression of this kit is very favourable, it looks nicely moulded and crisp as you'd expect with relatively new tooling that has additional parts to render it as an A6/A6NL. A couple of minus points are the hatch m.g. that I feel could have had a little more detail on it, the turret stowage baskets that suffer from the limitations of injection moulding and the engine compartment vents that suffer in the same manner. There is however quite a lot of aftermarket available, including PE sets that address the issues of the baskets and vents, that would be a worthwhile investment to add to the kit. You can also get sets of individual track links if that is your thing. I've seen some nice builds of the original 2012 release on club tables at shows and given that this one is neither the most expensive, nor the cheapest, but somewhere in the middle ground I think it represents pretty good value for money and can be recommended to modern armour fans.
Review sample courtesy Revell.
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