So just a few days after bringing us preview of the Meng’s Merkava IIID, Terry Ashley of the Perth Military Modelling site is offering the first preview of the other offering of this same vehicle by Hobby Boss. I think this is the first time that we have the chance to actually compare the two kits (as usual big thanks goes to Terry, you can find the both previews here). It would be nice to have a sneak peek into the instruction sets of the two kits, as these usually reveal a lot about the kit itself and its construction. Well, we will have to wait just a bit more for that…
Now, having chance to see the sprues of the two kits, the differences are getting clear. I have already posted my first impressions on the Meng kit here when it was first released (see here). Since I have not had a chance to closely inspect quality of other model kits from Meng, my opinion is purely based on what I can see from the pictures on the web.
With Hobby Boss, I might be actually biased by their Merkava IV kit, which I am building right now.
One of the first things I have noticed from the photographs are the differences in the lower hull par of these two producers:
- different positioning of the first set of suspension arms, on Meng’s kit these are positioned more to the front compare to the Hobby Boss one.
- the shape and angles of the front end of the lower hull are very different
Based on what I can see from the pictures in the recently released Merkava Siman IIID book from Desert Eagle Publishing, Meng’s version of the hull is correct. This is to be expected as Desert Eagle Publishing and Michael Mass, the author of this book have been working with Meng on this kit .
So, summarizing what I can see, here are the points that matter to me about these two kits (I have no ambition to provide exhaustive identification of errors on either kit, I leave this to others out there…):
- accurate shape
- crisp moulding
- very finely moulded tracks with very little cleaning required
- higher parts count (517 parts in plastic plus clear parts)
- turret composed of higher number of parts
- no anti-slip surface
- chain & ball armour moulded in plastic
- barrel composed of 5 pieces
- side skirts moulded in one piece
- no photoetch parts
- thread provided for steel ropes
- moulded on anti-slip surface
- crisp moulding
- 122 photoetch parts
- copper wire for steel ropes
- lower parts count (345 plastic parts, no clear parts)
- better detailed metal parts used to replicate chain & ball armour
- main turret shape provided in 2 parts
- accuracy issues (lower hull)
- side skirts molded in one piece
- track links require removal from casting sprues and clean up
One particular improvement with Hobby Boss kit is the replacement of vinyl tires (as in their Merkava IV kit) with styrene ones. At the same time I must say that unless Hobby boss improved their molding, my experience with Merkava IV so far is that there is quite a lot of cleaning required (lot of molding lines to be removed).
So, the choice is going to be difficult. Both kits brought some disappointments, which will require quite a bit of a work and/or some replacement parts (Meng – no anti-slip, chain& ball in plastic; Hobby Boss – tracks)
Unfortunately, the lower hull of the Hobby Boss kit seems again (after their Merkava IV issue) to have accuracy issues, which if true would be almost impossible to fix.
At this time I am still hesitating which one these two am I going to get. What is your preferred one?