by: Eric Buchanan [ ]
The TOW (Tube launched, Optically tracked, Wire guided) missile system entered production for the US in the early 1970s. The designation BGM-71 actually refers to just the missile which is only a part of the entire system. The complete system consists of a tripod, a launch tube, a traversing unit, a target acquisition system, a fire control system, a battery and a vehicle mounted battery charger. This set includes a complete TOW system of the type which has been in production since the late 90s. It includes everything needed to portray a dismounted system. It can also be used to upgrade Tamiya’s M1046 to the current system with the addition of a vehicle mounted battery charger.
Legend Production’s BGM-71 TOW Set contains the complete dismounted TOW missile system including two tripods and two launchers, each containing a different type of missile. The kit was mastered by Peter Samofalov who is known for his past work with Live Resin and from his storefront on Shapeways. The kit is the result of a collaboration between Peter and Legend to produce a line of 3d mastered figures and conversions. With the exception of the tripods, everything in this set is an evolution of those parts that he sells on Shapeways. He has recently expanded his offerings on Shapeways to include TOW missile tubes, crates and empty launcher tubes.
This will be a full build review of the multimedia kit. The kit contains parts in resin, brass wire, and insulated wire. The kit comes packaged in Legend’s typical end opening card stock box with the parts in small zipper bags. The black box has a photo on it of a rendering of the kit.
2 Brass Wire (.5mm and .3mm)
1 Insulated Wire
The instructions are typical of Legend. There is a single sheet of glossy, 8 ¼” wide by 4 ¾” high sized magazine like paper that is printed on both sides with photographs and renderings of the kit. There are exploded views that show all of the parts required for each of the sub-assemblies, the folded tripod, the launcher, sight and deployed tripod. The rest of the instructions are a combination of photos of the parts and renderings with arrows to show which parts go where. There are part numbers on the instructions but there are no numbers on the parts or on the pour blocks. All parts identification must be done by comparing the parts to the exploded views. Parts placement isn’t always clear so you will need to carefully study the instructions and actual photos of the real equipment. Legend also has a series of photos and renderings of the kit available on their site that show different rendered views of an assembled kit.
The kit comes with a folded tripod, a deployed tripod, the traversing unit, missile launcher, improved target acquisition system (ITAS), a lithium ion battery and the Fire Control System (FCS). The pour blocks on the parts are attached with numerous, large contact points that require very careful cleanup. There were a few very small air bubbles visible where the pour plugs were attached. The main sight, part #7, has very delicate rib detail. The pour block on this part is attached along a face that has these ribs. I have no idea how this can be cleaned up preserving the detail. Part #7 should have been broken down into more than one piece. There is no visible curvature to any of the parts as I’ve seen on Legend kits in the past. There are also numerous triangular ribs added to strengthen detail. Careful study of the real thing is the only way to guarantee you remove the correct material. The smaller parts have small attachment points which are easy to remove.
The detail the TOW system is truly amazing. It places this kit on par with the best on the market. The parts are smooth and blemish free. I noted no air bubbles on any of the parts. All detail is very sharp. All details have a scale appearance. All of the detail is captured very well. Nothing appears to be omitted.
The tripods accurately capture all of the detail that can be seen in photos of the real thing. Some areas that would be open on the real thing are cast solid with deep depressions showing where the openings should be. I can understand why Legend did this. If all of the areas were cast hollow, the kit would have been substantially more fragile. I hollowed out much of this detail which can be seen in the photos I took of the cleaned parts.
All of the components of the TOW ITAS are works of art. Every little detail seems to be captured very well. Legend has even included the connectors for the ends of the cables as separate pieces.The rubber shade for the gunner must be seen. It is just amazing. There are connectors and wiring included so that you can completely wire the system. Careful study of photos of the real thing will again be required here. Legend has great pictures on its website that show a dismounted TOW Missile system wired up. The photos are great and will help with the wiring. I just think it’s great that Legend included this material instead of leaving you to find a source for yourself. In my opinion Legend should have included an empty launcher. This would have made the kit far more versatile.
Assembly is straightforward but poses a few challenges. The upper and lower halves of the tripods do not really have a positive way to align them so careful study of renderings and photos is a necessity. Alignment pins are shown in the instructions, but like I’ve said before, any alignment device is hidden under large pour attachment points. The legs attach next. Extreme care must be taken here with both tripods to ensure you get the legs to align properly. I attached one leg with one brace at a time to ensure that I got the angle right. Then I added the second brace to each leg. The assembly of all of the leg braces is a little fiddly. They are very small and have small contact areas. Half of the braces need to have tightening handles added out of the included .3mm wire. A #79 hole must first be drilled to put the wire into. Be patient here. Even as careful as I was, the legs on the folded tripod are still not all aligned properly.
The launcher requires very careful study of photos of the real thing and the renderings on the instructions. My biggest gripe with the launcher is that the attach points between the parts are where Legend chose to attach the parts to the resin runners. Normally this wouldn’t be much of a problem but Legend added numerous ribs to these attach points to make them stronger during mold removal. There is no way to determine on most of these parts exactly what the attach point should look like. On the eye shade you can’t even determine there was ever any sort of peg to attach the part to the sight. On a positive note, some of the parts attach to a flat area which makes their location and mating very easy. It takes a bit of effort to push the launch tube assembly down into the traversing yoke. I would not add any small parts to the traversing assembly until after you’ve installed the launch tube. They would be very easy to break off. Part 16 is a formed wire handle. Legend gives you a template on the instructions for forming the handle. Once assembled, the launcher and sight are beautiful to behold.
This kit is solid offering from Legend. It has great detail and was moderately easy to build. I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to build a dismounted TOW missile system or upgrade the Tamiya M1046 with the newest system.