One of the kits that has found a place in my Christmas stash was Meng’s brand new Char 2C. Meng has conveniently released the kit just in time for Christmas and I guess was not the only one who grabbed it. For some reason the steampunkish look of the model caught my imagination, and though I am normally not a big fan of tanks that did not see any action, I did not think twice about this one.
I have ordered the kit online from Hobby Easy and it arrived promptly within 5 days ( I have used the fastest delivery option as the price difference was about $10 against the standard delivery option).
The kit itself is what we would by this time expect from Meng. One thing that stunned by right as I have opened the box is the size of the kit. The main parts forming the hull of the vehicle are large even when compared to modern battle tanks. Apparently Char 2C was the biggest tank ever built and judging by the size of the model I am willing to believe this.
In spite of the size, the model is not overly complicated. The number of sprues and parts is relatively moderate when compared to some other kits from companies like AFV or Bronco. Overall the design of the kit is very much like Tamiya. In both good sense and bad. There are 6 sprues, when I exclude the wheels, which will add another 4. There are also 5 other parts provided separately – upper hull, lower hull, engine compartment and two turrets. Also included is a bag of track links, small photoetch sheet and decal sheet with markings for 3 vehicles.
Quick look at the instructions confirmed that the lack of complexity will be reflected in the straightforward construction process. The kit booklet provides additional information about the vehicle and its history and 3 colour plates showing the markings. Assembly instructions only cover 8 pages and are clear and concise.
The most time-consuming part of the construction was the running gear, as you have to put together 74 wheel axles and mount them on the bottom of the hull. Rest of the construction went real fast and I have built the whole kit in two evenings.
Fit of the parts is of course excellent I have not encountered any issues. I have built the whole model without needing a touch of putty, only at the end I have filled few small gaps here and there, but nothing to complain about.
There is no interior provided in the kit, this would most likely take the kit’s complexity to completely another level. Gun barrel in the main turret is moulded in two halves and these fit nicely together. As there are not surface details on the barrel, I think the barrel is good enough and there is really no need to replace it with metal one.
Photoetch parts are provided for grills on the side and top of the vehicle and are made of bit thinner metal than with some other producers, but I had no problem with them.
Tracks are of the single link type, they are nicely moulded, they are not provided in sprues, so there is no need to spend time cutting and cleaning them. Links are supposed to click into each other and mostly this works fine, but with quite a few of the links I have found out that the pins that are to fit into the locating holes on the neighboring link are bit too soft and simply get deformed after the links snap together. As a result, the connection gets loose and tracks sometimes tend to go apart. After a while I have figured out how to put the tracks together so that this is minimized, so hopefully it won’t be much of a problem.
All in all Meng’s Char 2C is lovely kit. It has distinct look, tons of details to attract the eye and was real fun to build. As I have said at the beginning, kit is very much like Tamiya – perfectly and cleanly moulded with sharp details. Nevertheless, I feel that like with Tamiya, there are few places where Meng simplified the construction sacrificing level of detail. Some details that are moulded on or provided in plastic could have been easily offered in photoetch and I think this would really add to the overall impression. BUT, I can understand that I might not be the typical modeller as I know many others don’t like to deal with photoetch, so this is purely my preference.
One decision to be made is the choice of painting and markings. One of the options is attractively looking two tone camouflage, which would look cool, but will be pain to paint. Maybe if J’s work comes with camo-mask I would consider it. Otherwise the olive brown option will look good as well. I would prefer if Meng would provide painting instructions for multiple colour brands (Tamiya being my desired) instead of just Vallejo.
After this kit I can say that for me, Meng is the new Tamiya. Quality is as good if not better and unlike Tamiya, Meng actually does regularly surprise us with attractive models of interesting vehicles, such as this one.