by: Andras [ ]
In the Luchs series the next installment is Macoís offering this time with add-on armor. I have shamelessly plagiarised my original Maco Luchs review as a lot of that review is very much valid for this model as well.
The model comes in a flat, ďenvelopeĒ type box, which can be opened on the top. The cover art is showing the tank in front of a brick building; on the back there are a couple of computer rendered views of the model itself. (The cover art is computer generated as well.) The model comes on three sprues: the two large sprues are the same as the original Luchsí (one holds most of the running gear and tracks, the other the rest of the model), and thereís a small third sprue, which holds the extra bits.
These new parts are the tool box from the back of the mudguards, the jerry cans for the turret sides (these were moved to the back of the tank in the Flyhawk up-armored Luchs kit), smoke grenade launchers, some extra boxes on the back of the turret, a metal armor plate for the lower hull on the front, the perforated vision block protector, and additional track sections protecting the frontal hull.
The plastic is light colored and soft; itís really nice to work with. Thereís almost no flash present. We get metal aerials and a metal gun barrel with the kit. (I like the metal aerial body for the crowís foot antenna; Flyhawk provided it as a plastic part, which is considerably thicker than the PE top, and looks somewhat out-of-scale when assembled.)
The breakdown of the model is quite old-school: we have a ďtraditionalĒ lower hull assembly from four parts (two sides, a bottom and the back). The suspension units and the swing arms holding the road wheels are already molded onto the sides. There is an interesting solution for the last braces of the mudguards: they are molded onto the back panel. The mudguards will need to be slid under; be careful not to cut them off. (First I thought they were some sort of plastic overflow during the molding process.) The back convoy light is molded onto the left brace (this way itís well detailed and in-scale, but you donít have to fumble around with tiny plastic parts).
The interweaving road wheels are done the same way as DML handled them with their 1/72 kits: the two inner rows are provided as one part each, onto which youíll have to attach the outermost row as individual wheels - so instead of an innumerable amount of wheels that need to be attached individually, you can quickly get the whole running gear done, and you donít need to worry about alignment, either. The pattern on the road wheels is very well replicated, and the wheels are very thin, which is probably quite true to scale. (Although itís a conjecture on my part since I have no access to a real vehicle, and neither have I found any information on the thickness of the wheels anywhere.)
The drive wheels are nicely detailed, and the plastic is a tad thicker than the Flyhawk kitís- this is actually a good thing, because the delicate rims can easily bend when you are trying to install the tracks on the Flyhawk model.
The tracks come as link-and-length, and they are very easy to assemble. (They are probably the easiest Iíve had so far in 1/72.)
The upper hull and the mudguards come as one piece. The model is really ďtraditionalĒ in this sense as well: the sides of the hull will need to be fitted as separate parts due to the details (viewing ports) that need to be there. The fit is remarkably good, though, so no problems there.
The decals are finely printed and thin. The instructions are computer generated color pages and very easy to follow.
The tools -with the exception of the jack, the fire extinguisher, and the shovel- are moulded onto the mudguard; this is something Iím not very keen on. (I prefer painting them separately before attaching them onto the model.) Since most other 1/72 offerings do the same, itís not exactly unexpected. The shovel is a pretty simple affair; itís probably better to replace it from the spares bin. The model does not come with width indicators.
The top turret hatch (the commanderís) can be opened. The hatch has interior details, but the rest of the turret does not; itís probably best to put a figure in it if you leave it open. The back large, rectangular hatch cannot be opened. The gun barrel is molded together with the top of the turret, which is an interesting solution. If you want to use the metal barrel, you will have to cut it off.
As with the original Luchs the build was quick and easy; the additional parts took about four minutes to attach. (You need to drill out some pre-formed holes for the jerry cans on the turret sides.) The fit, as with the previous kit, was very good; it is a well-engineered model. (No filler was necessary during assembly, and the hull could probably hold together without glue if you donít agitate the model much.)
The jerry cans on the side of the turret are made out of two parts, and the holding brackets are molded details on the cans. (No PE brackets provided.) The detail in this scale is perfectly good- although I have to admit I liked the Flyhawkís metal brackets. Itís a matter of preference (as I keep repeating again and again): if you do not wish to work with fiddly PE parts, you go with the Maco kit.
The track-links protecting the frontal hull have good details. The frontal added armor shield is made out of one part- the holding studs are molded on. The extra toolbox on the back of the tank is a two-part affair. The plastic studs on which the box is resting a bit thick; a PE alternative would have been a bit better. The perforated vision block protector is not as well detailed as the Flyhawk kitís -the ribbing is a bit softer and not completely perforated; once installed it looks the part, though.
The extra boxes on the turretís back have very little detail to them; Iím not sure what their function is- and how they are opened.
If you compare the Maco and the Flyhawk offerings, the same conclusions can be drawn as with the ďbaseĒ Luchs offering. The Flyhawk kit is an incredibly detailed, albeit complex model, which will challenge the model builder. The Maco kit is a very well detailed, easy to assemble model, which does not pack as many PE parts and tiny plastic bits, making the build less of a challenge. In my subjective opinion it is on the same level as the Revell 1/72 Famo in the quality of plastic, ease of assembly and level of detail. (In other words: pretty darn good.) It comes with a metal gun barrel, and two metal aerials -things the Flyhawk kit lacks. As I wrote in my previous review: if you want to go all-out, and have a challenging build, go for the Flyhawk one. If you want a good, easy to build model, which builds fast, choose the Maco model; in this fortunate case we have an abundance of choice when it comes to this vehicle.