So, after a few weeks of waiting, it seems that the waiting for the Merkava IIID model is over. Terry Ashley has yesterday posted preview of the Meng’s Merkava IIID on his PMMS site (see here) and some pictures were also posted on the IDF-modelling.com forum (see here). The first reactions on this forum were strongly positive and the available photos really indicate that the quality of the kit is going to be high.
Having said that, I must admit that having seen the photos on the PMMS site I was bit disappointed. The kit has few shortcomings, which I consider to be important, at least to me:
– Lack of anti-slip surface texture on the turret and hull. While some of the participants on the IDF-modelling forum praised this for giving them opportunity to create their own customized version of the texture, I consider this to be rather significant omission. Frankly I am surprised by this and don’t really understand what is the reason why this was omitted.
With all the criticism aimed at the mistake in Hobby Boss Merkava IV kit – wrong layout of the wheels (Merkava IV does not use torsion bar system), I consider the omission of the anti-slip texture to be of the same magnitude – both can be fixed, but it’s rather time-consuming exercise. And while the wrong layout on the HB’s Merkava IV is difficult to spot (and I can already hear all the Merkava rivet counters protesting loudly), missing anti-slip texture is hard to miss.
– No photoetch parts. I know that I am being spoiled by all the recent multimedia kits with photoetch parts included (though the quality is sometimes dubious), these kits simply set the standard these days. And in a time, when average model kit sells for $60+, I do expect more than some years ago.
– Ball and chain armour molded in plastic. Now if nothing else, this is definitely part that will need to be replaced. While the quality of moulding is nice, it is nowhere close to the solutions which Legend conversions have been offering for years now.
But to be fair, I must also point out the qualities of the kit – as already mentioned, the quality of moulding seems to be very high. The tracks are especially to be mentioned, as they seem to be very cleanly cast with intricate details and extremely fine casting lettering. What remains to be seen is the price, which might become important, especially since HB’s version of the very same vehicle is to be released in few months…