by: Andras [ ]
In the last couple of years Modelcollect quickly gained a reputation for producing good quality models of Cold War Soviet vehicles -and ď1946 Alternate HistoryĒ type of German panzers. (E-75, weird walking tanks, hypothetical AAA tanks based on the E-100 chassis, the P-1000 Ratte in 1/72 (!), etc.)
Iíve reviewed two of these models before, and now I present a more mundane subject: an existing tank, the T-80UA-e1. Since I always liked how busy modern(ised) Soviet armor looks, I chose this as the T-80 representative. (Iím planning to build one version of each types of the Russian T series: 62, 64, 80, 90Ö Iíve covered the T-54/55 and T-72 already.) To be honest I would be happily build all of the Modelcollect catalogue if I had no time and financial constraints.
The model itself seems to be very accurate as far as I can tell (I used 1/72 scale drawings of the tank to check the size), but I have not found too much information on this specific version so I cannot comment on how accurate the details are. (To be honest I chose this particular model based on its coolness factor.)
The plastic is reasonably good quality, but there is some flash to contend with. A very important selling point of this model is that you get a very extensive PE set, along with a metal barrel; these additions definitely improve the model. Since Modelcollect has several different versions of the T-80, and they obviously share a lot of parts, we do get a lot of extras; so even though the box looks packed full, about a third of the parts will go into the spares bin, these can come in useful for other builds. You get several extra gun barrels, armor, engine deck, machine guns, hatches, etc.) You even get a PE armored shield for the commander which is not being used for this model. (Mine will go onto my T-72 Iíve built a couple of years ago.) There is also a very extensive decal sheet; the painting guide only offers one option with minimal decals, so itís probably a comprehensive sheet that Modelcollect uses with all their T-80s; so you will end up with a lot of Soviet, East German, Arabic, etc. markings for other projects.
The instructions are OK. They are fold-out booklet style on glossy paper, with colors where they are warranted (Mostly the painting guide). The model seems to be a mix-and-match one as I mentioned, so it shares a lot of common sprues with other T-80 versions. This results in having actually two C sprues. This is absolutely not a problem (since you will figure out with C7 part you need for the exhaust of the engine Iím sure), but it was somewhat of a surprise when I realized it. At step 12 the part numbers are not indicated at all; for the record they are B26 - the extra track links mounted on the front.
The instructions are generally good, but in some cases the drawings do not show exactly what should go where. Not a major issue, really, as even the painting guide can help you with this. (Talking about the painting guide: the colors are really strong, and the lines are really thin, so itís difficult to see the actual details of the drawing. Since you are mostly interested in the color scheme itís perfectly fine, though.) Pro tip: Modelcollect has several photos of the built tank on its webpage you can use as reference if you are unsure. It comes handy as a painting reference as well; you will see how it is supposed to look like, as the colors, are a bit off on the instructions: they look too brown (both the sand and the green).
The assembly itself went without any major issues. The detail is good, and the fit is reasonably good. Unfortunately some assemblies are designed in a way that necessitates the use of filler; something I donít like when it comes to armor. (One of the perks of building tanks is not having to fill seam linesÖ) The external fuel tanks, the fording equipment on the back of the turret, etc. are assembled from two halves with a prominent line between them. (Other companies sometime solve this issue by providing several round cross sections; this way there will be no lines to fill in the middle.) It is quite difficult to file and sand these parts without destroying detail. The assembly was reasonably quick; I have finished the model in about four hours.
The first steps detailed the main assemblies on the turret. It went together reasonably well, but it was not very clear where the ERA bricks behind the commanderís and loaderís hatches go. To me these bricks look somewhat thin; based on photos they should be a bit thicker. (Having never actually seen one in person, I might be wrong.) The location for mounting fording equipment mounted on the back of the turret is not entirely clear; I suggest installing the turret onto the hull, and then gluing the equipment in place; this way you make sure that there is sufficient clearance between the hull and the tube. The commanderís remote controlled machine gun has a reasonably good detail; and even though the instructions do not mark it, you get a short section of MG ammunition on the PE sheet, which you can use between the gun and the ammunition box, further improving it. The ammo collecting pouch is somewhat of a weak-point of the gun: it is supposed to be a canvas bag, but the part looks like a massive piece of armor.
The only issue with the turret is that itís quite loose in the turret ring; this combined with the heavy metal barrel means youíd better off gluing it into place because it will rotate quite violently when the model is moved. The rubber protector flaps for the turret ring are made of PE, which is very nice: you can fold them a bit to make them look more realistic. (They are best installed after you fixed the turret in place; there is very little clearance between the hull and the edges of these flaps, so you can knock them off easily if you move the turret.)
The lower hull went together fine, since the fit is very good, and the running gear is actually easy to assemble. I chose to add everything -tracks, return rollers, idlers and drive wheels- before painting. The track assembly was very good - the pieces fit together like a dream.
The two mudguards are pretty elaborate pieces of plastic; most of the detail is moulded-on. Itís not readily apparent that the rubber side-skirts are, in fact, made of rubber. The 1/72 Revell T-72 has very well done side-skirts in this respect; and to be fair to Modelcollect, even newer 1/35 scale tank models have these side-skirts moulded straight as if they were made of metal plates.
The PE engine grilles are excellent, and really improve the look of the model; and the PE lamp guards are also pretty impressive. (And, more importantly, easy to assemble.)
The holding brackets for the external fuel tanks are somewhat flimsy (itís difficult to determine what goes where), but using a little patience and checking a few reference photos itís not hard to install them correctly. The un-ditching log has a very nice wooden texture.
And thatís it - the building was a breeze. (I was watching documentaries with my wife while building the tank; it took me two evenings altogether- about four hours total.) Right now I'm contemplating the best way to go about painting it, but since it looks really impressive with all that shiny brass, I decided to leave it like this for a while.
The overall impressions are that the model is relatively easy to build, the fit is good, and the detail is nice; I would say itís on the same level as the 1/72 Revell models. They are perfect for anyone looking for a quick, stress-free -and cool-looking- project between 1000 part builds. I, for one, am looking forward to other kits from Modelcollect; the subjects are interesting, and the quality is good.