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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Plastic M4A3 (late) Sherman Platoon by Battlefront (UBX44)

-by Dirty Jon

The WWPD Crew was pretty excited when Battlefront sent us the new plastic M4A3 (late) Sherman Platoon for review.  This box set is part of the new move toward plastics, and gives you five tanks with two complete turrets for 75mm and 76mm Shermans.  There is also an option to make some of the 75mm turrets in to 105mm if you like.  You can also construct the Uparmored version of any of these tanks.  For my build, I am going to try to build these up like the pictures on the box.  Let's get to it!

The box has a very clear layout of the parts provided and color-codes all the parts you need for a particular build.  I also like that the sprues come with a ton of extra parts - it is clear that these are multi-use sprues, which should save on costs as well.

The parts are very cleverly done, and effort was put in to make sure that as many attachment points and mold lines were concealed during assembly.  The details are very much in line with the Battlefront style - big and chunky - but are also much more detailed than the resin counterparts.

Also, the plastic quality is very high and what you would expect - not soft and bendy at all.  The best thing about this kit is the solid tracks, which are the best thing in the world.

While the set is capable of using magnets, they are not included in this set.  One should also note that the parts are only suitable for magnets that are pretty much exactly like the ones Battlefront supplies in other kits.  I use magnets a little larger and about twice as thick, so that was not an option for me.  Instead, I use the post and hole system that is also provided in the kit.  Decals are provided, but once again, they are short of letting you build what is pictured on the front of the box.

I will not ding this kit for assembly time, as you all know how I hate to assemble plastic kits!  It did take me about 4 hours to assemble these while also trying to watch some football - ymmv.  It felt like a death-march of assembly to me.  Please use plastic glue to put these together - it works like a champ.

The parts in this kit fit together very well - this is NOT the Open Fire kit.  Test-fit everything and make sure you have things all trimmed up nice.

The .50cals look new to me and more sturdy than the plastic ones I have seen in the past.  I was very pleased with them and I did not feel as though they would be broken after one game on the table.  Also of note, are the commanders provided - they are absolutely the best looking command figures I have ever seen.  They are very detailed, but still very solid and have very little flash about them.

As you can see above, I only had some fairly bright Krylon spray paint to use for primer.  I have used this before, and after a quick once-over with some Brown Violet....

...they end up looking pretty good.  Note that I took the tracks and sprayed them black and filled in the green areas by hand.  This is a Steven technique that really saves time and makes the tracks look really good.  After the black, drybrush with your favorite grey - I use German Field Grey.

The secondary hatches are all molded in to the turret, which is fine, but you should know about that if you intend to have multiple guys hanging out the top.  Above, see the .50cal, which is awesome.  The gun barrels are not a tight fit into the mantlets, so be prepared to hold them for a few seconds during assembly - no big deal.  When gluing on the tracks, make sure to use super glue, as the painted plastic will not stick with plastic glue.

I am again going for my table-top look, not a painting contest winner.  I painted in all the detail like tools, guns, commanders, etc. then put on a good coat of CGR Magik Mudd.  After that dried, it was a gloss coat of varnish then decals.  For the next step, I did some mud effect with Green Ochre that never seem to show in pictures.

A couple of coats of matte varnish, and we are done!  I think that these turned out fine.  I did have some gaps in the front armor plate (see below), but I do not think that this is either too noticeable or a flaw in the design - I was just not super careful and meticulous in trimming and putting these together.

Below, see some size comparisons to a resin Sherman I have.  I do not have any M4A3 (lates) to show you, but I think you can get an idea from these pictures how these models fit in with their resin cousins.

The Good:

  • The price.  This kit is $40.50 from The War Store - can't beat it.
  • Plastic!  Cheaper, lighter, easier to mod!
  • Lots of extra parts included
  • Two full turrets!  This really is a cost-saver.
  • Options.  This kit can make 75s, 76s, 105s, and each can be Uparmored or not.
  • Details.  I really like the chunky, yet crisp details on this model.

The Bad:

  • No magnets.  My guess is that this is a cost-savings move.  In thinking about it, I bet the magnets - if included - would be the most expensive material in the kit.
  • Minor Rant:  The decals should be included to make what is on the front of the box.

The Ugly:

  • Assembly.  Is this really a problem?  Some people love assembly and are more than willing to trade assembly time for all the pros above.  I get it.  I just want to be fair and tell the folks who DONT like assembly that there is quite a bit for this kit, and some of the parts are quite small.  Again, it is a plastic kit, so duhhh - assembly.

Conclusion:  I really like this kit.  If I were starting Americans, I would go for this box set in a heartbeat.  In fact, I would probably get three boxes and fill out an entire company with two platoons, company HQ and some other options.  I think the value is here and that Battlefront has clearly overcome the Open Fire "**it don't fit!" problem.

Models provided by Battlefront Miniatures

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