Amusing Hobby 1/35 FV214 Conqueror Mk.I Kit First Look
By Tom Hutchins
|Date of Review||January 2017||Manufacturer||Amusing Hobby|
|Subject||FV214 Conqueror Mk.I||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||35A006||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Nice kit of a distinctive tank||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (Euro)||60.00€|
As the Second World War turned into the Cold War, British military planners recognised that they might need to counter the Soviet IS-series heavy tanks on the battlefield. As part of the FV-200 Universal Tank concept, heavy armour and a 120mm L1 cannon were added to provide a heavy tank that could support the Centurion medium tank. 20 Mk I Conquerors were produced along with 165 Mk II versions, and these saw service with British forces in West Germany before being supplanted by up-gunned Centurions. Like its American cousin the M-103, the Conqueror was an overgrown monster built for a single purpose, and which like many heavy tanks carried more weight of armour than its powerplant was intended for. However, despite the popular image of unreliable, short-ranged and slow tanks, Conqueror crews found it to be very effective cross-country and able to outpace the Centurion over rough ground.
Having seen Conquerors at both Bovington and Saumur, I had been awestruck by the size of these leviathans. So when I decided that my Meng T-10M would look good next to a Western tank, this immediately came to mind.
Amusing Hobby's Conqueror depicts a Mk I tank, which would have been produced around 1955. This is my first encounter with Amusing Hobby of Japan, and I bought the kit on the basis that they seemed to have a very good reputation among modellers. If you want an injection moulded Conqueror, your options are the DML Black Label Mk II, or this newly released Mk I. I had considered the DML one, but had heard mixed reviews so decided to get this one instead.
The kit arrives in a typical top-and-bottom box of usual 1/35 tank dimensions. The bottom is solid if slightly thin corrugated cardboard, but the cardboard of the box lid is a bit flimsy. The box art is an eye-catching painting of a pair of Conquerors in Western Europe. The artist (Valery Petelin) has done a good job, not only does the image look like my memories of the subject, but it makes the box shout "build me!".
Inside, we find the box is quite full. The sprues are in 5 bags: one for the tracks, one mostly for the running gear, and one each for the detail parts for the hull, hull top, and turret. There is a small photoetch fret, a little decal sheet, and a bag of 8 metal springs which are an optional suspension unit (plastic moulded suspension is also available). The top and bottom of the hull are separate. Finally, there is an instruction booklet in black and white, apart from a three-directions colour image to show painting and decal placement. No tow cable is provided in the kit, which is a shame, but sourcing an appropriate piece of string or cable shouldn't be too hard. Also, the fabric mantlet cover isn't replicated in the kit. The modeller is suggested to use Tamiya tape, though the elevation mechanism is quite nice and it wouldn't look bad without the cover. Most of the structure lacks locating pins, instead providing raised squares to locate on. The plastic itself is softer and more flexible than some, the sprues flex a little as you pick them up so be careful not to let parts warp.
On the whole, I think this will be a good kit. The detail seems good, the shape looks accurate (even more so in built-up ones seen in the box images and at tradeshows) and in some places quite a lot of thought has gone into the moulding. I think the metal springs are a really nice touch, as along with the workable tracks they will allow the tank to be posed very naturally in a diorama. There is good detail without too many assemblies that make me think, "well this will be fiddly", and nice touches such as the headlamp guards being a single piece of photoetch that just needs a couple of bends put in, which will give a good scale size. The workable tracks themselves are an interesting design, where the rear part of each link is moulded separately so as to capture the next track link when assembled. The need to put glue in close proximity to moving parts several times means care needs to be taken, but it doesn't look too difficult and means I don't need to pay extra for aftermarket tracks.
The individual build stages look logical and don't contain anything that looks like it will cause a problem, however I get the sense that some care and patience will be necessary: this doesn't look like it falls together the way Wingnut or Tamiya kits can.
There are unfortunately a few problems with this kit, all of which look like they could have been very easily fixed by the manufacturer. The first is the lack of transparencies. The glass front is moulded very carefully into the grey styrene. I suppose that leaves two options: either paint the opaque styrene in a way that resembles coated glass (black or silver, with some transparent blue on top, then a gloss coat to make it look glassy, perhaps?), or to cut them out and put a transparency in. They are moulded hollow, so either should be possible.
The decal instructions fall short. This is a tiny decal sheet, but the instructions provided show one generic Conqueror. There are three unit markings (a Desert Rat, crossed arrows, and an armoured gauntlet), with no indication of where they go, just as with the red square and triangle. Painting instructions provide Tamiya and Gunze references for the Olive Drab green, which in practice was almost identical to that used on American tanks of the period.
One final thing: the sprues themselves are very greasy. It's good practice to wash sprues to get any residual manufacturing grease or mould removal stuff off them, but these are more so than normal. It will come off, but it's worth being aware.
This kit looks like it will require a bit or care and patience, but on the whole it should be a reasonably straightforward build, and as British armour is less well represented in scale than some, it's well worth building. One thing is for certain: this will build up into an imposing piece of early Cold War British armour that will look great on your shelf or in a diorama. I'm keen to start building it alongside my Meng T-10M, I feel a couple of tanks are just what the doctor ordered right now (prescription model kits - wouldn't that be great?).