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Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Battlefront Panzer IV H Platoon (GBX79)

Battlefront is making a very strong push toward plastic models for Flames of War, and nothing demonstrates that quite like the new Panzer IV H Platoon (GBX79).  This model is available in a ton of German Mid-War lists and just about every Late War list.  To make any serious push into plastic, the German Sherman must be available.  Let's take a look.

Some of you will notice that the number of panels on the Schurzen is wrong.  Battlefront just plain 'ol goofed up on this.  You can get the correct ones if you want.  I decided to NOT take that option and just assemble them as-is.  I figured that this would allow you to see what you can make with the contents of the box.

I was very pleased to see the tracks as one unit without the fenders.  This will allow you to paint up the the tracks in black and just dry-brush your way to nice looking tracks.  This is a huge time-saver that I use on Shermans all the time.

Magnets are included in the the plastic bag above -- you may not be able to make them out, but they are there.  The box also included a new sprue of plastic commanders, which is nice.

Paint the tracks black, then dry-brush the wheel side with Dark Yellow.

Included decals.
I was pleased to see a decal sheet with two options for numbering, including my favorite red and white option.  It is good to see that the red and white is also not off-set like many of the ones available in the DAK Decals (GE942) - I am still waiting on my replacements.

Assembly was VERY easy -- even I did it fast!  I found that the pieces fit together very well and there was no real mystery as to what went where.  Without having to do four fenders and such, I think the assembly time is just about the same as the resin model.  The schurzen were much easier than the old 5-piece hanger sprue.

I did not particularly like the mantlet assembly, but I think it is hardly noticeable.  I could have put some green stuff on there, but meh.

Definitely get yourself some plastic glue for these.  I have found it much, much easier to use than superglue.  Make sure to use superglue for the included magnets, however.

Assembled and dry-brushing the tracks.

Here they are all finished.  I wanted to get these done quickly, so I painted them up in some fairly basic German Camouflage.  The plastic painted up very well and I had no issues at all with these.  The gun is very thick and tough -- much larger than the old metal one, and I like the fact that the muzzle-break is cut out.

Mantlet gap can be seen, but not too bad.

D'oh!  I forgot to hit my tools with a pencil.
The model above will have schurzen added later, but I wanted to show off the very crisp detail on the tracks.  This crisp detail is everywhere on the model, and no place shows it off better than here.  The old metal tracks often needed a ton of flashing removed, and sometimes looked like sludge anyway.  I really like the new tracks and look forward to seeing them for other models that use the Pz IV chassis.

I decided to do a variety of things with the schurzen to show the options.  The one above is all hacked up to show some custom arrangements if the four-panel ones bother you, and you don't feel like ordering the right ones from Battlefront (for free!).

PSC on the left, New plastic BF Pz IV in the middle, old resin/plastic BF Pz IV on the right.
The new tank retains the same basic size as the older resin Pz IV.  I do think that the turret is slightly thinner than the old resin one and the plastic one provided by PSC.  I will happily be mixing all three on the battlefield, and I doubt that anyone would know the difference.

PSC on the left, New plastic BF Pz IV in the middle, old resin/plastic BF Pz IV on the right.

The Good:
- The model is very neat and crisp.
- The tracks without fenders are very, very nice and save a ton of time.
- The new gun is great -- bigger and with cut-out muzzle-break.
- Assembly time -- even for me -- was no more than the resin option.
- Decal options were good and the magnets were included.

The Bad:
- Slight gap in the mantlet that many modelers will choose to repair, adding time.

The Ugly:
- Wrong schurzen.  Ugh.

Conclusion: 9 of 10 Stormtrooper Moves
I would only change two things in the next version of these - correct the schurzen and maybe look at the mantlet assembly point.  To me, $45USD is just a little high, but with the decals and magnets included, I think I can see dropping $9/tank on these.  Battlefront has made a good start on offering a widely-used tank in the plastic tank wars.

Models provided by Battlefront Miniatures.

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