The tale of two Merkavas

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

Hobby Boss:

  • 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?

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9 replies »

  1. Hello Vlad, I am also a fan of IDF AFVs and am now mulling over which 3D kit to buy. I also bought the Siman 3D book from Desert Publishing which should be reaching me anyday now.

    Anyway, for me, I think the anti slip coating is a big deal. But I am more inclined toward the Meng model one as I won’t have to struggle with PE parts and metal ball and chain. I was thinking it would be possible to use Mr Surfacer to stipple a texture onto the parts with the anti slip coating correct?

    • Hi Aaron,
      anti-slip is also important to me, but I am also thinking about getting the Meng kit, mostly because I am building Hobby Boss’s Merkava IV and see its shortcomings.
      Now there are many ways to replicate anti-slip surface and you can find quite a few discussion forums on this topic these days. To mention just a few methods:
      – Using Mr. Surfacer and stipple it with a short rough brush
      – Using some powder or fine sand – Ozgur Gunner (one of my favourite modellers) is using Chinchila dust, and I have recently seen even recepies (literally) using ground cinnamon. You apply any such substance after first applying something tha will fix it in place – white glue thinned with water or even gloss coat (make sure it does not dry before sprinkling whatever dust on top of it)
      – Some year ago I have seen great anti-slip effect achieved by airbrushing Mr. Surfacer. I have tried this, but without luck.
      – Using Tamiya’s texture paints

      One common problem with these methods is that you have to make sure that you do not apply the method on the parts where it is not found on the vehicle, and there is usually quite a few of those (photo reference is a must for this). So this implies either very carefull application one area after another…or…a lot masking – your choice.

      BTW – why are you afraid of photoetch parts?

      • Hello Vlad,

        Because I have never used PE before. I can be considered quite new to armor modelling though I’ve built about 15 kits. I have never used PE before other than the wire mesh grilles that are easily CAed onto the model. 🙂 I havent tried bending any PE parts yet.

        I have only recently begun to get confident with airbrushing and postshading and am now wanting to take my modelling uP to the next level. Which is using PE and Pigments. 🙂

        I did read abt that anti slip coating application with powder, fine sand or cinamon. So far i tried stippling with Tamiya surface primer but had no luck. 😦 though I did use a short, stubby brush.

      • Well, with 15 kits you might have built more than myself…
        Working with PE is not that difficult, there are few “how-to” secrets, if I find time, I might post something on the topic.

        As for the Anti slip using Tamiya surface primer – I feel you would need something with more volume to use for this purpose – that’s why some use mr.Surfacer.

        BTW Aaron – where do you live? Just curious…

  2. Hi Vlad, have u personally used Tamiya’s texture paint “Light Sand”? i am thinking i will use this o create that anti slip coating for the merkavas.

    I noticed that anti slip coatings are always a darker shade of color then the vehicle’s base color. We’ll need to have really steady hands to apply that with a fine brush, or a whole lot of fine masking will have to be done, when masking out the corners of the panels to leave its centre for anti slip application.

    • I have tried to use it for replication of mud, but for that purpose it needs to be mixed with some other ingredient (I have used fine soil from my garden) because its size of particles is too uniform. At the same time it is good to add something for volume – such as acrylic resin from Mig.
      For replicating anti-slip this uniform consistency would be actually good. I haven’t tried it yet. But as you point out – it will take steady hand (though this would be required for most of other alternative methods) or a lot of masking. Unfortunately I don’t have any other solution…
      Give either of it a try ( I would perhaps try it freehand first) – use just a piece of styrene sheet to test it first and see how it goes. If you’re happy with the outcome, apply it on the kit. In any case, let me know how does it go…

  3. Good points, one thing you missed however is cost…..the Meng here in UK is on average 20-25% more than the HB

    • Hi,
      yes, I know, the Meng kit is quite pricey, though not too much by current standards. Nevertheless my view is that I build about 6-8 models per year, at that number it is worth to invest maybe a little bit more, so that the time spent and the result is worth it.

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