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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bolt Action - Review: Rubicon Models SU-85/122 kit

I recently got my grubby little mitts on one of the new Rubicon Models SU-85/122 kit and all I can say is, wow! Not enough to go on for making a decision on if you want one of these kits for yourself?

Okay, then I will delve into this gorgeous kit in detail, but be prepared because this is one of the best kits I have seen for World War II yet. Rubicon has been delivering great kits for nearly 2 years now, and in keeping with their previous entries, this kit gives you the option to make two different vehicles, the Soviet SU-85 Tank Destroyer or the Soviet SU-122 Assault Gun.

Like all Rubicon vehicle kits, the SU-85/122 comes in a sturdy box which is covered in great artwork. Inside is an instruction booklet for assembling the kit, a sheet of Soviet decals and 3 plastic sprues. The hull sprues are from the T-34, as this is the basis of the SU-85 and SU-122 chassis. Because of this you will be left with some extra pieces that aren't need for these builds. Make sure you follow the instructions! Another interesting thing I only just realised with these kits are the cyclinders of plastic on the sprues. In the past I had thought these were just injection points, but this time I realised they protect the MG barrels from breakage when being transported. These kinds of details are what make Rubicon really stand out as great kit makers.

The tracks assemblage is easy and I love the way Rubicon uses single pieces for the tracks themselves. This prevents any weird gaps that other kits that require you to place individual track links can suffer from, although there is a mold line on them that you will want to clean up with a hobby knife.

The two different models are distinguished by different superstructures and guns. While the mantlets don't look very intuitive, if you follow the instructions they go together easily and don't require you to glue the guns into position, allowing them to move if you like your models to have that freedom of movement.

Now the greatest part of the kit for me, is that fact that both superstructures use different components, allowing you to build both with a single kit. Then if you do not glue the superstructure onto the chassis, you can quite literally switch from one vehicle to the other between games. This versatility is awesome and a massive selling point for the gamer who wants options but doesn't want or can't afford 50 different tanks.

Here you can see I have given the vehicle a quick table-top paint job. While the decals in the kit are great, I always prefer to freehand my markings to give it that more natural look. You do not get any crew in this kit and little in the way of extra stowage but I don't feel that that is a detriment to the kit. It is an enclosed vehicle, so the lack of crew is not a big deal. If you wanted to add crewmen from some other source, you can glue the hatches open. Rubicon also produce stowage kits that you could always use to add some extra stowage onto your self-propelled gun. I think the ability to make either vehicle is a better use of the available sprue space then a couple of tarps.

The level of detail on the model is the high standards typical of Rubicon kits, with the engine decking and hatches all having good, clean definition. You do get some spare tracks and toolboxes that you can add, which I have made sure to put in places that will not hamper my ability to change the superstructures in and out.

The SU-122 in Bolt Action is a medium tank (9+ Armour) with a forward-facing Medium Howitzer and quite a good choice. It doesn't have any back-up weapons, but the Howitzer is equally effective at destroying infantry or light-medium vehicles.

Meanwhile, the SU-85 is a dedicated anti-tank platform, with the same medium armour and a forward-facing Heavy Anti-tank Gun. It again lacks any other weaponry, so once the enemy armour is dead it often finds itself lacking the ability to do much else, but it is still a great looking vehicle.

Overall, I give this kit 10 Smiling Uncle Joes out of 10. I really cannot fault it. It has great details, is easy to assemble and gives you the choice of having two vehicle models in one. The versatility really is a massive selling factor for me. I can't really find any fault with it and think the kit as is, is top-notch. I can't wait to add another to my clanking Soviet horde!

"Anf" is a long-time gamer from Down Under, who currently focuses his hobby time on Bolt Action.
With an equal love of  rockets and Ice Hockey, he constantly explores weird and wonderful army lists
in his never-ending quest to collect them all.

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