Panzer I Ausf. A
Reviewed by Brett Green
Tristar is a new Hong Kong based model company. Their first releases were two very impressive German WWII armoured vehicle crew figure sets in July.
Tristar's debut tank is a 1/35 scale Panzer I Ausf. A.
Despite the popularity of WWII German armour modelling subjects, the early war era has been largely overlooked by mainstream kit manufacturers. Tristar's subject choice is therefore very welcome. However, the remarkably high quality of this model is an even bigger reason for celebration.
Tristar's 1/35 scale Panzer I Ausf. A is presented on five grey sprues. More than 100 tiny brown sprues contain the individual track links and connectors. A final grey sprue includes two very nice figures with alternate head gear. A small fret of photo etched parts and a decal sheet complete the package.
Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:
The model bears all the hallmarks of a "mainstream" kit. It has a one-piece lower hull, narrow sprue attachment points and all of the fine detail is presented in injection moulded styrene with the exception of the photo-etched muffler guards.
The quality of moulding is first rate. None of the visible faces of the kit parts have imperfections of any kind.
The level of detail is excellent. From the crisply engraved surface features on the upper hull and turret; to the terrific detail on the head of the bolt cutters, this kit represents state-of-the-art plastic finesse. Textures such as flexible exhaust hoses and the rear grille are also well done. The bogies and wheels are worthy of special mention, with detail moulded onto both sides of every part. The determined super-detailer may wish to add an extra tool clasp or wing nut here and there, but the detail straight from the box should satisfy most modellers.
Engineering breakdown is logical. The roadwheels are trapped between the two parts of each leaf-spring bogie unit, which are in turn glued to the lower hull. The drive sprocket is secured to the side of the hull with the conical final drive housing. The relatively large diameter of this housing will help maintain vertical alignment of the drive sprocket. The lower hull part has sponsons moulded on to block off the fighting compartment from daylight. Some detail is moulded onto the fighting compartment face of the engine firewall bulkhead, suggesting an interior detail set may be on the way. All visors and crew access hatches are moulded separately so they can be positioned open or closed.
The forward mudguards look great. They are each made up of a curved main section, and a finely moulded piece on each side. The edge of each trackguard is also moulded as a separate part.
Individual working track links are supplied. There is no option for single length vinyl tracks.
The tracks are delivered in a brown colour similar to Model Kasten products. The breakdown of the parts looks similar too, until closer examination. Each link is supplied as a single piece with the solid guide horn moulded on. The style of guide horn is absolutely correct for these tracks - they were not hollow on the full-sized vehicle either. The links are connected to the sprue at one point, with two more pieces of scrap sprue to remove from each link. Each tiny sprue contains just two links.
It is important to note that the links are left and right handed. You will need to stack them in separate piles as they are removed from their sprues.
Tristar has come up with a clever, labour saving method for connecting the workable links. Each link is moulded with a short pin on the inside rear. The modeller slips this moulded pin into a corresponding hole in the front of the next link. To complete the connection, a separate pin is glued then slid into a hole on the opposite side of the link. This method halves the work normally required for assembly of workable links because only one, not two, separate pins are required.
The photo etched fret comprises two mesh covers for the exhaust mufflers. The etching is very nice, with half-relief grille detail over supporting strips.
Decals are often an afterthought for many model manufacturers. This is not the case with Tristar's Panzer I Ausf. A. The small decal sheet is beautifully printed by Cartograf of Italy with four markings options:
The two figures are produced to the same high standards as the rest of the kit. Their casual poses, draped against and in the vehicle, will be helpful in planning an early-war diorama.
Tristar's 1/35 scale Panzer I Ausf. A may be a small model, but I predict that it will make a big impact in the marketplace.
This debut offering has instantly launched Tristar to the top of the mainstream armour model heap; sharing this space with Tamiya and Dragon. Indeed, Tristar is the first of this trio to offer fully workable tracks in a mainstream kit (even though some modellers might not agree that individual links are a good thing).
I look forward to hearing of Tristar's plans for future releases.
In the meantime, I can heartily recommend Tristar's 1/35 scale Panzer I Ausf. A as a beautifully detailed and eminently buildable model.
Thanks to Trevor from Modelmania for the review samples.
Tristar products are distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Modelmania.
Check their website for Retailers or Trade enquiries.
Text and Images Copyright © 2002 by
Brett T. Green