Well I was lucky enough to get my hands on two samples to review. A Panzer III and M4A3 Sherman. Their initial launch will also feature an early war T-34/76, a Panzer IV, a Panther G and a Panther D/A kit.
While I'll discuss the M4A3 Sherman in detail in this article, with another on the Panzer III in the coming days, my initial thoughts on these kits can be summed up in three little words, 'Oh... my... gewd!"
First off, before you even get into the box, the artwork that greets you from it is amazing. While some companies skimp on anything more then a cardboard postal box, Rubicon comes straight out of the gates at full clip. The artwork is inspiring and definitely leaves you eager for the juicy contents inside.
The Sherman comes on three sprues, along with a decal sheet and an instruction booklet. The single kit can make a Sherman with either a 75mm, 76mm or 105mm gun. The 75mm and 105mm use the same turret where-as the 76mm uses a different one.
Before I delve into the components, I have to mention the instruction booklet. Great care has been taken in making this guide easy to understand, and although the Sherman kit is more advanced then the Panzer III, it's still easy to follow. It is easily the best guide I've seen in a wargaming kit. You also get a full sheet of decals to make marking your tank even easier.
Step one is putting together the turrets. The 75mm and 105mm guns are easily interchangable which makes this tank a dream for wargaming. The only downside is you only get a single turret bottom and one cupola for both turrets which prevents you being able to choose between the 75mm/105mm combo and the 76mm if you make the kit as it's designed. With a minor amount of work you could magnetize the turret bottom/cupola to work with both turrets. With the amazing design work and options in the kit, this really is a minor issue.
The second step is building the tracks. This is one of the simplest and greatest parts of these Rubicon models. The tracks are a single piece, with heaps of detail that avoids the problem other manufacturers have with track halves not lining up and leaving gaps. This point alone sells me on these kits!
Then is the hull. Again easy to assemble and with a wealth of detail. I had no problems with pieces breaking off the sprue, either during transit or when removing them, and these models travelled to me in New Zealand and then back and forth to the MOAB tournament in Sydney. Even the thin .50 Cal barrel came off the sprue easily.
Here is the full kit, with optional hedgerow cutter. I think I'll just leave it with the 75mm/105mm turret but next kit I will magnetize to make it completely modular. I give the kit a 10 BARbarians out of 10. I can't find any real grievance and I'm excited about getting my hands on more of these amazing kits.
Rubicon plans to release their website very soon with a full list of regional distributors. From there, they hope to have their initial launch of 6 kits available by the end of October, with a Tiger I kit being worked on and the next possible release afterwards. I think Rubicon is about to make a big splash into the market and I can't wait!