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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: Battlefront Tank Killer Company (SBX31)

By Christopher Hecht

Long ago, Battlefront released a box set of Soviet Tank Destroyers along with an old book (Stalin's Europe) that has since been rolled up into Red Bear. That original box set has long died out, but it has risen from the ashes as a new incarnation, the new plastic Soviet Tank Killer Company (SBX31)! This box set is a continuation of the push for Flames of War to move mass/common tanks into plastic from the old resin and metal. The Tank Killer Company kit comes with options to create the SU-85, the SU-85M, the SU-100, and the SU-100M, so from this kit you could build tanks to field in conflicts ranging from Mid-War to the Arab-Israel War and anywhere in between.  All of these options (the WW2 era ones that is) can be taken in pretty much any list that flies the glorious Soviet banner, and with the new revised Cat Killer (re. Semi-Indirect Fire), they are almost an essential part of any force.  Let's take a look at the kit.

Inside of the box comes the two different hull tops to choose from, the SU-85 and then the SU-85M/100/100M chassis along with the detail bits such as gas tanks, commander cupolas, gun mantles, etc; additional components are included but they primarily apply to the T-34, with only the gun barrels being used from the one sprue. Important note: decals are included!

Trying to be completely different from the typical expectation from this set, I decided to build these as SU-85Ms as I already have a set of the resin SU-100s.  As expected with plastics, everything fit together perfectly and was very quick to build. Painting wise I decided to try Steven's painting method with slight modifications for the washes I have to paint these tanks up.  If you have not tried it yet, it is a very quick, easy, and great looking method of painting Soviet tanks.

As a trade off for using plastics, there is not much in the way of individual details on the model.  If you are looking to make each one unique, you will need to add stowage or use green stuff from your collection to give each tank its own personality.  But, as a trade off for not having an individual look to each tank, you are rewarded with a much greater depth of detail that rarely is seen in the resin models I have. This is especially noticeable in the rivets, armor gaps, and the engine deck where the detail is much more defined. With the addition of more definition in the detail of the plastic models, I can easily sacrifice out-of-the-box individuality without a second thought.

Side by side with the resin models, the two look pretty similar so that at a glance it would be difficult to determine which is which.  Given the option between the two, I would have a difficult time deciding which I would go with.  I must admit though, I feel as though the plastics are the future for the mass usage tanks.  Less weight to carry around, depth of detail is increased and customization is an easy option.  Also, plastics are far more durable if dropped, moved around, and will likely have next to no defects as is more common with metal or resin.

Plastic SU-85M on the left, resin SU-100 on the right

- The models are very clean and crisp.
- The tracks are very easy to paint up apart from the main body, thus saving a lot of time.
- Tons of options for which Tank Destroyer you want to run.
- Assembly time was the same as resin, but easier without having to file or sand.
- Decals were included, always a big thing.

- All models are the exact same, no individual sculpts.

Conclusion: 10 of 10 Cats Killed at Long Range
Honestly, my only con was a bit of a stretch.  This is perhaps the first kit that I have reviewed that I can easily say is perfect.  With the reemergence of the Soviet Tank Destoryers, this kit clearly is a must have and Battlefront has really stepped up their game.  The MSRP price of $45USD is on par with all other plastic kits that I have been aware of from Battlefront, not to mention it includes the decals that far too many other kits I have reviewed are missing.  I cannot speak highly enough of these and I was quite surprised just how well done this kit is.  If you play Soviets of any flavor and you do not own one of the Tank Killer Company kits yet, do yourself a favor and pick one up; you will not be disappointed!

Christopher Hecht is WWPD's online community manager, and leader of the 1st WWPD Panzer Division in World of Tanks.  In addition to playing both Flames of War and Bolt Action, he runs a YouTube channel under the handle of Darqueling that features many videos related to video games. 

Models provided by Battlefront Miniatures.

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