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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: PSC M5A1 Stuart

by Dirty Jon

We were lucky enough to get our hands on some Plastic Soldier Company Allied M5A1 Stuarts, so I decided to paint some up for my growing American army.  Though I am not the King of The Stuarts like Luke, I did want to pick some of these up to flesh out some of my options moving forward.  The US Stuarts are rather nice - 16" move, Recce [Editor: Thats only Brits!] and Stabilizers make these very dangerous on the battlefield.  With up to 5 machine-gun dice, you just can't beat these guys.  So, lets see how there went together!

These guys come five to a box with one tank on each sprue.  I notice immediately that the instructions are printed right on the inside of the box - pretty nifty.  In looking for the options available to me, I did have to hit the web site to fine the familiar color coded inventory sheet.  That would have been nice on the box as well.

Note the new turret attachment system - awesome!

There are options to make early, mid and late production M5A1s, so you get three hulls and two sets of tracks.  This is a pretty cool option and tantalizingly close to allowing another tank (jalopy, anyone?) to be built.  I went ahead with the mid-production, figuring that this will be vanilla enough for me.  Both a UK and a US figure is provided, so these are appropriate for either army.

I noticed that this tank has a different arrangement that the familiar "post and hole" method of attaching the turret.  With this tank, you have a slotted turret bottom that fits into the hull and twist to attach the hull.  No magnet conversions or turrets flying everywhere -- pretty neat!  Also, adding ballast to the model is very easy and can be done at any time with this configuration.  After painting, you will need to scrape off the paint on the turret attachment area so the hull actually fits into the body.  Apply some graphite from a pencil at this time for a smooth fit.

This model also features a one-piece track!  Yay!  Some of the PSC kits are legendary for their fiddly tracks -- not this one!  All of the pieces were relatively free on flashing.  Overall, cleanup was easy.

I used some spare US Decals from Battlefront to finish off these models.

The .30cal that is provided is very flimsy and weak. I did not manage to break any...yet, but I feel that these will be broken off pretty soon.  Other than that, the model is quite sturdy.  This piece was the only one I found hard to glue, but I am not using plastic glue (I know, sue me!) and I am sure that is the source of some of my heartbreak.

I had read elsewhere that this model was a bit larger than the Battlefront figure.  Above and below are some pictures of them together -- I don't see a huge difference.  Maybe if I had the late M5A1 with the extras on the back end it would look more pronounced.

Conclusion:  7 of 8 Allied Stars
I found this model to be pretty easy to put together and I hate assembly.  I liked that the tracks were all in one piece and the improvement in the turret mounting system is very nice.  The new approach to turret attachment is great, and I hope this continues with future kits.  The commander was even improved -- something I have complained about in the past.  

I deducted the one point for the lack of an included inventory sheet for each model.

I think the best thing about this kit is the improvement shown by PSC.  PSC really hit it big with the T34 model back in the day.  That was a great, low-cost kit, but a total pain in the ass for assembly.  I compared this box to that box and found it a huge improvement -- and I think that is the story with PSC:  Improvement with each release.  

I enjoyed this box set and I think that you will too.  Comments?  Post up on our forum....  

Models provided by The Plastic Soldier Company

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