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Tristar 1/35 Panzer I Ausf.A Late Model Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review July 2006 Manufacturer Tristar
Subject Panzer I Ausf.A Late Model Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35008 Primary Media 620 parts (420 parts in tan styrene [Model Kasten track set], 184 in grey styrene, 15 etched brass [by Aber], 1 in tan styrene)
Pros Pretty full up kit for less than the sum of its parts; very clean little kit Cons Price seems high for a little bitty tank!
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $50.00

First Look

Tristar is now making a foray into the "boutique" armor kit market and this particular model does it the easy way – they use etched brass from Aber of Poland and Model Kasten single-link tracks from Japan to complete this kit. These kits come with "serial numbers" – this one was number 609 out of 1000 – and also a recommendation (read shameless plug!) on the bottom of the box for two books by Tom Jentz, who also assisted in the production of the kit.

The basic kit is the earlier Pkzw. I Ausf. A Early model from Tristar but with a new upper hull in tan styrene to make the Early Version as well as grey styrene parts to make a late model. This isn't a bad idea, as it provides the modeler with a lot of options.

As noted the tank is pretty small – about the size of a Panther in 1/72 scale – and has a tremendous amount of detail provided with it for its size. Tristar does not seem to be interested in a "who can be tiniest parts molder?" competition with other companies, and thus many small parts are molded into other components, which makes assembly easier for the modeler. The suspension is nicely detailed but still consists of parts that can be seen when assembling them, and are not likely to be sacrificed to the "carpet monster."

The turret is nicely done with all view ports separate, and both upper hulls come with all hatches as separate parts. However, there is not one whiff of an interior, but if the two nicely done crew member figures are used they will hide it anyway.

The kit is pretty simple overall and the brass frets provide two muffler shrouds and the headset bands, but also nine truly tiny tie-downs for the vehicle which for the life of me I could not locate in the directions! The kit does come with extra air intake and exhaust shrouds, which I take to be for the Africa version.

The only change in the "simpler is better" category is the inclusion of the Model Kasten tracks, which while admittedly superbly detailed are frustratingly busy to assemble. Each single link comes with a link and two pins which must be cemented in place to permit the track shoe to work. I have heard that Model Kasten has designed the sprues such that cutting off each side of the sprue will permit six links to be joined at once, but still it is tedious and nobody who I have talked to has said much good about the method. But if you want tiny working tracks, it's about the only way to have it come off. (Personally I could have hoped for a nice system like that used with Tristar's Pzkw. 38(t) kit that I recently reviewed – snap together and touch lightly with cement when in position!)

The crew figures are a bit static - both standing, with one full and one 3/4 figure – but they also come with two heads, one with the prewar Panzer crewman padded beret and one with soft caps, one a sidecap and one a peaked soft cap used in Africa. Two pairs of shoes are provided (one boots and one "chukka" boot type for Africa, a nice touch) and three-piece headsets with separate cups and an etched brass band.

The model came with two complete decal sheets, one for the early model in Spain and one for the later versions in Poland and North Africa.

Overall this is a "one-stop" kit and while I am sure some modelers will want extra etched brass, this kit is pretty complete as is and only wants for an engine and interior. But given its small size, I can't blame Tristar for concentrating on getting the basics down.

Thanks to MRC for the review sample.