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Friday, March 8, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Bandai Plastic Model T-34/76 and SU-85

Recently I scored big when the manager of my FLGS, Hobbycraft, sold me thirty six 1/48 scale plastic model kits from his private collection for $200.  My buddy Joe and I went in on the deal and each of us ended up with eighteen models for $100.  Even though I hate the time commitment of traditional model kits, this kind of deal is not one you pass up.

Most of the model kits where from Bandai Plastic Model Kits.  A quick review of the Bandai website showed the majority of these kits are out of production and the company mostly makes Power Ranger and Ben Ten toys.  Kits from Bandai can still be found on E-bay or through other websites that sale scale model kits.

The majority of the models we got in the deal were German panzer kits, but it did include three T-34/76s and an SU-85.  Since I have been collecting Russians for Bolt Action, I called dibs on the Soviet armor.  When I first opened the boxes I got scared.  Real scared.  Why? These models had both internal and external parts.  Which meant I was going to have to build the internal compartments... that you never see.  While some might dig that level of detail, all I saw was an additional 2 hours of work per tank.  Luckily a quick review of the directions showed me I could selectively skip steps and avoid any extra or unnecessary work.  Additionally, the tracks were one piece rubber tracks instead of the multi-piece plastic tracks.  I hate the multi-piece plastic tracks, because most of the tracks end up glued to my fingers.

The instructions where very easy to read and follow, which is always a plus.  I had no problem deciphering them and by my third tank I wasn't even looking at them. With the revisions to the instructions and the rubber tracks it only took me about 25 minutes to assemble each kit.  The first T-34 took longer, but the other three went fast.  Even the SU-85 assembled quickly.

Each tank also came with a full crew of four.  I didn't think it was necessary to build all sixteen crew members, but did add a commander to one of the T-34's to represent a command tank.  I painted the commander in the blue tankers uniform common during the earlier parts of the war.

I used Warlord Game's Army Green Primer and Quick Shade Dark Tone, which are offered through the Army Painter line of products, when painting these tanks.  I often get spray paint from the hardware store, but when I buy them from a miniatures manufacturer I like to go with Army Painter products, which are far superior to many of the other company's spray paints.  These products and the process I used saved a lot of time and I was able to painted all four tanks in about an hour and a half.

I should mention each kit also came with a full set of decals, which I fully intended to use.  However, they were so old they disintegrated when I put them in water to separate them from the paper.  I went ahead and hand painted numbers on the turrets and hulls, but am not confident in my ability to paint stars, so I left them out.

I am very pleased with how these kits turned out.  I fact I have never been this pleased with a model kit and not once glued a finger to a finger.  I give these Bandai kits 8 out of 10 rusty rubber tank tracks.

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“Craig Baxter is the Director of the WWPD Northern Research center in Anchorage, AK. When he’s not contributing to he is busy blogging, painting, modeling and rolling dice. You can find more of his work and articles at”

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