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Monday, July 8, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: JTFM Panzer Luchs

As frequent patrons of The BAR will know, I had a brief love affair with light auto cannon toting, recce vehicles in Bolt Action. That put me square in the path of JTFM and its Die Waffenkammer line.

After coming up with a list that I wanted to try involving two Luchs, I ordered a couple from Jeff at JTFM. I'd like to say that I went to Jeff because I'd heard great things about his product, but actually, the decision came down to a simple question. "Who sells a Luchs model?"

I had heard of JTFM before, and seen some discussion about the new Die Waffenkammer line, but had no experience with it, nor knew anyone personally that had. All of the vehicles I'd purchased before had come from Warlord Games, and I was somewhat infamously indifferent to those vehicles. WG didn't sell any Luchs models, though, and I was nervous to mix non-Warlord Games models into my entirely WG vehicle pool.

Ultimately, my gamer's greed got the best of me. I really wanted to put these vehicles on the table, so I dove in and ordered two from JTFM.

This box arrived inside another box in a couple weeks. There have been mixed reports on shipping times from JTFM, and I can't honestly say that the package showed up quickly. However, this doesn't bother me as much as some, as I've always got a pile of unpainted stuff to get to before any new things arrive. In a subsequent order, I contacted Jeff and told him I needed my models (three SU-76s - coming soon!) by such and such date, or else I didn't want them. He delivered with time to spare.

So, the two Luchs came individually in boxes like the one pictured above. I can't praise the safety and security of the packaging. While I was nervous about the all resin models survival, this packing put me at ease.

Inside the box, the Luchs arrived as pictured above. Notice the foam around the resin barrel. I was glad that it arrived "assembled" - note: unglued - to keep the actual assemble easy for simpletons like me. The box also included a bits bag chock full of all sorts of extras for the vehicle - we're talking crew, boxes, bags, rolled tarps, communications equipment here. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed by what's included in this bits bag. Plenty was included to make my two vehicles as unique and characterful as two of the same tank can possibly be.

This picture doesn't do the bits bag justice. You're just going to have to believe me that it's a great addition to the vehicle. All the items arrived straight, and in good condition. There were a few spots that needed cleaning, but I was impressed by how little cleaning was necessary given my experience with other companies' resin and metal model kits. Clean up and assembly were quick and easy compared to all my previous experiences in 28mm vehicle kits.

I thought the details of the model were sharp and exceeded my expectations. The track shown above was straight and fit snug and flush to the side of the tank. I can happily report that while I was very concerned with the sturdiness of this kit, after assembly, I'm confident that it will survive the rigors of a Bolt Action game even against the likes of Dano.

I'll add, however, that some people will almost certainly dislike the weight of the model when completed. I've read enough pro/anti, metal/plastic discussions on our own forums to appreciate the diverse tastes this hobby's consumers represent. If you're already versed in the pros and cons of Warlord Games plastic infantry box sets, then you'll want to understand that these models are lighter than the resin and metal combinations you're accustomed to. I would argue that they're no less durable than their metal and resin counterparts, but their overall appearance is slimmer and crisper than the blocky, chunkiness we're used to.

It'll ultimately come down to a matter of taste. If you're one of those guys that knows what he likes (and that's what he's used to) then these might not be for you. If you're always willing to try something new, searching for a new "best", then you need to check these out.

Possibly my favorite part of this model is admittedly minute, but I was impressed by the details on the muzzle. This picture doesn't do it justice, but the detail on the muzzle was unlike anything I'd seen before in metal, and really added a lot to the model.

Jeff's got his images on lockdown on the website, but here's a link to the page where you can see a completed Luchs tank. Outstanding.

Overall, I was really impressed by the stuff Jeff sent me. I'm a convert to the Die Waffenkammer line, and since this purchase, also bought the three aforementioned SU-76s afterwards. I'm even more pleased with their character, and at a price lower than most competitors, I can't suggest JTFM Die Waffenkammer products highly enough. $25 for a tank, that as far as I'm concerned is as good as, if not better than, the competitors' products, is a great deal.

They may not be for everyone. Traditionalists that love straightening out bent metal barrels that were shipped to you in a baggie, bent around the other metal bits, or scraping pounds of flash off casts, will probably miss the maddening time wasted cleaning up before modelling; and there is without a doubt a weight difference between what you're used to and a JTFM vehicle; but I say it's worth a shot. Break out of your routine. Do yourself a favor and order your next vehicle from Die Waffenkammer - you might not like it as much as what you're used to, but for the price, you're not risking much.

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