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REVIEW
Italeri Elefant tank destroyer
barkingdigger
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Posted: Monday, January 02, 2012 - 09:11 AM UTC
Tom Cromwell fills a gap in online reviews with a detailed look at Italeri’s old (but available) kit of the Elefant.

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If you have comments or questions please post them here.

Thanks!
lespauljames
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Posted: Monday, January 02, 2012 - 11:21 AM UTC
One of the first kits I made when returning to the hobby in '06. was very rusty. lots of mig pigments...

thanks for the review!

LPJ
JPTRR
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Posted: Monday, January 02, 2012 - 01:46 PM UTC
Tom,

Great review of a vintage kit -- thanks! This model, covered with zimmerit made with Spackle, was one of my best works 25 years ago when it was stolen from the local hobby shop.

There are so many older models that are readily available and familiar to those of us from "the good old days". Nice to see another modeler showing people what is available. These models can often be picked up for a fraction of the price of 'modern' models, and while they may not be up to today's standards, one can build a fine representation if accuracy issues aren't important.
lukiftian
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Posted: Monday, January 02, 2012 - 03:50 PM UTC
I have built this kit basically straight from the box in 2001 for a client, with only the addition of zimmerit. I highly recommend it as a starter kit for anyone interested in armour modeling.
Headhunter506
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Posted: Monday, January 02, 2012 - 07:08 PM UTC
Thanks for the review, Tom.

Sure, this kit has its faults; but, considering when it first was released, it still builds up into a pretty good model. I used a combination of brass strips/angles/plastic card, along with Aber sets 35 020 (Elefant [late version])
, 35 A17 (FENDERS FOR FERDINAND, ELEFANT AND VK-4501) and 35 L14 (German 88 mm Pak 43/1 L/71Barrel for Ferdinand & Elefant) when I first built this kit amost 20 years ago. You're on target about the brittle plastic for the U.S.-marketed version. Mine was molded in an olive drab color and was as brittle as a piece of plexiglass. It still was fun, though. The next one I build will get a scratched interior.
ltb073
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Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - 02:10 AM UTC
I picked this kit up about a year ago for about $14.00 and it has been sitting in my stash since then, but then Santa game this year and gave me Trumpeters Zimm Making Tool kit so I may just have a go at it sometime this year
bill_c
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Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - 05:27 AM UTC
This would seem to be a good candidate for a Panzer Wreck, as it seems a pity to trash a $35-$40 DML kit. The only issues in that case are the dimensions. Zim for a destroyed tank would also be a good candidate for the do-it-yourselfer, especially with Milliput being so easy a solution.

Spackle, Fred? LOL. I bet it looked great, but how far we've come.
Bluestab
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Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - 07:59 AM UTC
Italeri's Elefant was one of my first armor kits I ever bought. The other one was the old Tamiya Panzer 2. Back then I was more into airplanes.
zerstorer
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Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - 12:53 PM UTC
I think a good review of this old and not so bad kit was necessary, so...thanks!!

Darío
ComradeMP
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Posted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - 07:11 PM UTC
Cool. I bought this kit the day after Christmas. There was a massive table with loads of kits at dirt cheap prices and I knew I had to walk away with a few kits. This one stood out as I remembered watching a documentary about the battle of Kursk. And I do want to expand into German armor, so it was a no brainer...
Jmarles
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Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012 - 03:01 PM UTC
For it's time an awesome kit - huge, imposing and ungainly...I was not aware of the APG miscues, most seem easy fixes. I have the etch kit plus Hobby Boss tracks so I think it will turn out ok! thanks for the review!
firstcircle
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Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012 - 01:04 AM UTC

Quoted Text

As it is, adding resin Zimmerit, a new barrel, and tracks will push the price of this kit way beyond that of the newer and better Dragon version, so I’d advise serious modellers to seek a DML kit instead of this apparent bargain. But if you can live with the gun, fix the tracks yourself, and “roll your own” Zimmerit from putty then this old kit can still offer lots of modelling fun at a low price.



I'm going to say something nasty...! Something in those sentences implies that "serious modellers" have to spend more money - but surely most "serious modellers" should be more than capable of recreating a bit of zimmerit on those big flat surfaces without needing to buy an etched kit to do so, and frankly, removing alternate teeth from what are actually rather an impressively detailed set of moulded polythene tracks should be within the capability of even the most unserious modeller.

I was given this kit for Christmas, probably 1978, and still have it - the suspension and tracks work so well you can push it along the ground and all the wheels go round, with the toothed idler firmly preventing the tracks from sloughing off. The suspension is also great if you want to mount it on some uneven diorama terrain, as I remember was once demonstrated so well on a cover of Military Modelling as this plastic monster powered over some big ditch. I should also say that the gun on mine is dead straight but maybe the mould has deteriorated or the plastic used is now inferior. There's a little seat inside the commander's hatch so that you can stand a figure on it.
barkingdigger
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Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012 - 10:00 AM UTC
Yeah, when I wrote that I was kinda "baiting" the AMS-afflicted folks who I knew would jump all over me if I dared suggest the old kit was any good compared to the new DML offerings! Personally I get a kick out of working on these older "low-tech" kits from my youth. (I built this one when it first came out and thought it was great...) But I know there are folks who expect perfection without work, so I didn't want them to be misled.

Oh, and I'm just waiting for another "Mighty 88" campaign so I can build the kit you saw in the photos!

Tom
firstcircle
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Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012 - 02:19 PM UTC
I noticed your 50% rating - means that the glass can be half empty for some and half full for others! There's also some great scope for painting and weathering practice / experimentation on such a big piece of plastic.
Big-John
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Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012 - 02:31 PM UTC
Thanks Tom!

I have one in the stash. Looks like I'm a going to have to dig it out. LOL
lespauljames
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Posted: Saturday, January 07, 2012 - 03:02 AM UTC
Its funny how Such an old release can churn up loads of comments, when some of the new stuff just slips by!
bill_c
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Posted: Saturday, January 07, 2012 - 04:06 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Its funny how Such an old release can churn up loads of comments, when some of the new stuff just slips by!


Good point, James. I think part of the reason has to do with the fact these kits are cheap and available. Many seem to have them in their stash or know where to get them.

The other thing is the inevitable debate about how much modeling skill can (or at least should) trump bad production values. I am looking at a Late Tiger I on eBay thinking "do I want to shell out the $35 for Atak Zimmerit?" But for making a Panzer Wreck, this cheap Italeri kit is perfect.
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Saturday, January 07, 2012 - 11:32 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I noticed your 50% rating - means that the glass can be half empty for some and half full for others!


Doesn´t matter how you look at it, the kit quality, details and accuracy is approximately about 50% of that of Dragons latest. Its a good and valid review that would go along with what I would give for this kit as well.
Lots of valid points of why the kit is still useful ... price, practise item, starter kit, etc ... but in reality, why waste time and adding extras when you could build the DML kit OOB and still be ahead, instead of having to buy details to fix it up? Even if you were on a tight budget, Italeri tracks are rubbish, that dont accept glue or paint and will cause some problems later. Believe me, thats the last thing you want to happen, if you spend you hard earned money on something!!
colonelmustard
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Posted: Saturday, January 07, 2012 - 01:08 PM UTC
I built this model a short while ago... I know it's old, not accurate and possibly more trouble than it's worth. But I replaced the tracks with after market Fruil one's, put an aluminium barrel on it and resin Zimmerit. I know what I did was costly... but the enjoyment of bringing an old but good kit up to scratch... was worth it. I know Dragon would have given me the same for less.. but I enjoyed the experience... Isn't that what making models kits is supposed to be all about..
Headhunter506
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Posted: Saturday, January 07, 2012 - 03:03 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

I noticed your 50% rating - means that the glass can be half empty for some and half full for others!


Doesn´t matter how you look at it, the kit quality, details and accuracy is approximately about 50% of that of Dragons latest. Its a good and valid review that would go along with what I would give for this kit as well.
Lots of valid points of why the kit is still useful ... price, practise item, starter kit, etc ... but in reality, why waste time and adding extras when you could build the DML kit OOB and still be ahead, instead of having to buy details to fix it up? Even if you were on a tight budget, Italeri tracks are rubbish, that dont accept glue or paint and will cause some problems later. Believe me, thats the last thing you want to happen, if you spend you hard earned money on something!!



One of the reasons that it's worthwhile to build a kit like this is simply because it is simple. It provides a respite from rivet counting details and overwhelming parts counts; plus, it's a fun build to while away a couple hours without worrying if it'll receive the pocket penlight mark of approval. That's why most of us started building models, as kids, in the first place. It was fun: and, nobody worried if a roadwheel had the correct number of bolts.

Re the tracks, why would anyone use glue on vinyl? Sure, there are newer CA glues which are formulated for use with vinyl; but, a heated flat tip screwdriver blade flattens those connecting tabs pretty darn well. Also, if you scrub them vinyl babies with a little bit of liquid laundry detergent, you'll find that Model Master, Revell and Humbrol enamels adhere much better. I won't recommend acrylics because, in a nutshell, acrylics suck when applied to any type of vinyl surface. I started washing vinyl tracks in detergent way back in the early seventies when I started buying my first Tamiya M60s and such.

Anybody dig up some contemporary reviews about this kit from when Italieri/Testors first issued this kit? No internet back then meant limited access to more detailed and comprehensive information. On just about any subject, for that matter. What is today considered quaint, provincial and outdated was top of the foodcahain in its time. Everything is relative.
firstcircle
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Posted: Saturday, January 07, 2012 - 11:30 PM UTC
"pocket penlight seal of approval"
I should say that after 30 years the tracks on mine have in no way degraded and the enamel paint is still on them, despite pushing it along on the carpet! And yes, the hot screwdriver weld is still holding.
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2012 - 01:05 AM UTC

Quoted Text

without worrying if it'll receive the pocket penlight mark of approval.


That must be a US problem ... doesn´t happen (that Im aware of) on this side of the pond!

As Ged mentioned below, adding a barrel and friul tracks, along with buying this base kit, ended upcosting more than the Dragon kit .... the zimmerit could have been added to that as well .... which one would you want on your shelf?
barkingdigger
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Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2012 - 01:31 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Also, if you scrub them vinyl babies with a little bit of liquid laundry detergent, you'll find that Model Master, Revell and Humbrol enamels adhere much better.



Laundry detergent? I learn something new every day! (Gotta try that out on my next build.) Normally I use thinned Tamiya acrylics - something about the alcohol base seems to cut in and grip better than other acrylics. The key is lots of very thin coats to avoid a thick build-up that would solidify and crack when bent.

Do you hand-paint the enamels, or spray them?

Tom

(PS: I'm thrilled this little review is generating so much debate! Even if I never build it, the kit has already earned its keep... )
lespauljames
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Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2012 - 01:34 AM UTC
I dont have enough choice of enamel colour on my bench, but with my pto sherman the paint just kept flaking off. so with some gloss black, grey, and AK rust. im attempting to use enamels! i hope it goes well. thanks for the tip.
Headhunter506
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Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2012 - 05:09 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

Also, if you scrub them vinyl babies with a little bit of liquid laundry detergent, you'll find that Model Master, Revell and Humbrol enamels adhere much better.



Laundry detergent? I learn something new every day! (Gotta try that out on my next build.) Normally I use thinned Tamiya acrylics - something about the alcohol base seems to cut in and grip better than other acrylics. The key is lots of very thin coats to avoid a thick build-up that would solidify and crack when bent.

Do you hand-paint the enamels, or spray them?

Tom

(PS: I'm thrilled this little review is generating so much debate! Even if I never build it, the kit has already earned its keep... )



The detergent works in the same manner as isopropyl alcohol in that it is a degreaser. It removes the mold release residue and leaves the tracks smelling spring fresh.

I hand paint the vinyl tracks. I usually mix the colors I'll use and dip the brush in some thinner befor applying the paint.That little bit of thinner allows the paint on the bristles flow into the crevices quite nicely. To simulate wear, just drybrush some Metalizer Steel and gently buff the tracks with an old tee shirt, preferably not the one you're wearing while building the kit.


Quoted Text

That must be a US problem ... doesn´t happen (that Im aware of) on this side of the pond!

As Ged mentioned below, adding a barrel and friul tracks, along with buying this base kit, ended upcosting more than the Dragon kit .... the zimmerit could have been added to that as well .... which one would you want on your shelf?



Dunno about that, Frank. Youse guys over there threaten legal action for defamation of character if you infer that the pocket protector squads judging Euro are playing favorites because some guy's reputation is at stake based on whether he receives a gold or bronze medal. Pin vises at ten paces; let the seconds work out the details.

As far as the cost of the respective kits, the Italeri kit is far less expensive than the DML offering. More than a few people end up purchasing Fruil tracks (Pacific Coast sells them for 33 bucks ) and a shiny turned barrel to dress up the Dragon pachyderm anyway; so, the Italeri kit, with a couple AM bells and whistles, still ends up less expensive. Besides,I'd rather pay 20 bucks for a kit with inaccuracies that I can correct myself as opposed to shelling out almost fifty and having to do the same. After all, isn't it more telling of the modeler's skills when one can transform chicken s*** into chicken steak?

If you are singing the praises of Dragon Zimmerit, you're entitled to express your opinion. It makes life less complicated. My POV on kits with molded on zimmerit is that they're the modeling world's version of Dolly the Sheep, ie, every single one purchased and built is a clone. No individual idiosyncracies like the real vehicles. Realism is another area where we strive to attain perfection, right? The only difference between any ten builds is the paint job. Other than that, it's cookie cutter city. Zimmerit patterns are like fingerprints; no two are exactly alike.

The one that I would prefer on my shelf is the one I just completed. The only concern I have is if I'm happy with the final result.