by: Henk Meerdink [ ]
introductionThe last two years or so have seen interesting changes in the plastic modelling hobby. Not only are after-market accessories now more readily available through the Internet, a number of manufacturers are now including ‘after-market’ accessories with their basic kits. The need for the modeller to source his after-market parts separately, and at great expense, from various producers has become increasingly a thing of the past. Where this would lead has been subject to debate for some time, with opinion divided. Whilst some predict the demise of all after-market manufacturers, others see this as a ‘Golden Age’ for modelling. One thing is for sure, after-market manufacturers have to not only produce update sets that improve what is offered by the plastic injection kits, but also at a value that can compete with the plastic kits. Eduard has produced quality Photo-etch update/detail sets for many years, and in addition, for the AFV Modeller, offers PE Zimmerit and turned aluminium barrels for selected tanks.
Eduard have for some time been offering a selection of their relevant PE sets for specific model kits packed together as a ‘one stop’ package. Called ‘BIG ED’, these packages offer a saving over the individual sets. The BIG ED set in this review packs together three sets for the AFV Club Tiger I Ausf. E late.
what’s in the envelope?A sturdy A5 size cardboard envelope contains Exterior Photo-etch set # 35 802, Aluminium Barrel # 34 059, and Photo-etch Zimmerit set # 35 850.
The individual sets are packed in their normal envelopes, and the delicate Photo-etch is well protected.
a closer lookPhoto-etch Zimmerit Coating
The Zimmerit set consists of 28 pieces of thin brass to cover all the relevant parts of the Tiger I. This is a relatively straightforward set to apply, as most surfaces to be covered are flat and do not require bending of the individual parts. The only tricky part will be the Gun mantlet, the intricate shape of which needs 8 small pieces to be bent and positioned with care. The excellent fit of the pieces should help though, and use of a slower setting Cyanoacrylate glue should allow minute adjustment during positioning. The texture of the Zimmerit is reasonably well done, and the correct pattern of vertical rows of horizontal ridges is replicated.
Photo-etch Exterior Detail
This Photo-etch detail set is a typical Eduard product, which means that it contains replacement parts for almost every part of the model. All the usual issues are addressed, such as replacements for tool clamps, shovel, latches and hinges. Tiger specific items which receive Photo-etch treatment are all the mudguards, exhaust shrouds, tow and track cable mounts and commanders cupola periscopes.
The rear mudguards use 8 separate parts each, and the front mudguards use 6. These will need care to construct, but are a big improvement on the plastic kit mudguards. They are perfect to show either hinged up, or damaged, which these vulnerable parts frequently were. The side mudguards are equally good, each separate section having fine detail including the ribs inside. These in particular will be great to ‘bash up’.
The instructions for this detail set call for a number of moulded-on items to be removed, and a number of locating holes to be filled. It pays to check the instructions and fit of the Zimmerit parts carefully in conjunction, as some of these points will be covered by the Zimmerit, and the Zimmerit has many openings that will fit over the kit’s moulded attachment points. This is of course because the sets where designed separately, so care must be taken and everything double checked before cutting or gluing.
The exhaust shrouds are a vast improvement over the plastic kit parts, as is the convoy light which the kit has moulded to the rear hull plate. The plastic jack is retained, but given new mounting brackets as well as grab handles
Eduard provides new brackets for the tow cable and barrel cleaning rods, and the instructions call for careful removal of the moulded-on brackets from the plastic tow cables. I would suggest cutting the tow cable eyes of the cables and replacing the cable with string or metal wire. Likewise the cleaning rods are moulded solid together, and for better appearance can easily be replaced with some lengths of plastic rod.
AFV Club supply a set of mesh grills for the air intakes, but the quality is not great. The mesh lacks a 3-d effect and the rear ones need to be trimmed to fit around the hinge. The Eduard replacements have both a better 3-D appearance, and fit without trimming. The frame surrounding the mesh is however a bit simplified, and would benefit from added bolts.
The turret benefits from a number of improvements, with the turret stowage basket receiving new hinges and latches. As the kit ones are plain plastic, without any detail, it goes without saying that these make a big impression. The Commander’s cupola has open periscope apertures, but oddly enough AFV Club do not provide any periscopes to be fitted. Eduard provides seven periscopes which fit the gaps well, but unfortunately the Photo-etch parts don’t replicate glass vision blocks any better than plastic would. Opaque green paint with a generous coat of gloss clear should do the trick. The MG receives an ammo box, and the set also includes a replacement AA sight. This sight is also provided in the AFV Club kit, and the only Photo-etch part that does not really need to be replaced.
Turned Aluminium Barrel
The Eduard replacement barrel for the AFV Club Tiger I has been reviewed on Armorama before, and in both reviews the question was ‘Why?’. AFV Club provides a perfectly adequate aluminium barrel in the kit, the only difference being the muzzle brake. The Eduard barrel comes with the muzzle brake machined on, the AFV Club barrel gives you a choice of two plastic muzzle brakes to glue to the aluminium barrel. The AFV Club barrel is better than the Eduard barrel, and I could only see any use for it if you don’t want to glue a separate muzzle brake.
conclusionWhilst the AFV Club Tiger I is not a bad kit, there are several areas which many modellers will want to address. For starters it will need a coat of Zimmerit, and some of the plastic moulded detail (such as the convoy light on the rear hull) is rather poor. The mudguards and tool clamps are basic, and the Eduard replacements are a big improvement.
The barrel on the other hand is not something that needs to be replaced and as such does not really add to the saving of this set. This brings us to the value of this BIG ED set. The set is priced at $32.95 on Eduard’s website, which equates to a saving over the individual sets of $11. But as $10.90 is the price of the barrel if purchased separately, buying just the Zimmerit and Exterior Update Set will cost you the same.
Both Photo-etch sets are worthwhile and will improve the AFV Club Tiger I, and as such deserve a recommendation. The barrel may be useful for a different project, but seems superfluous in this instance.