There is sometimes discussion on these forums about how to engage youngsters with plastic kit making; many of us recall the world as it was long ago, before children had smart phones, Xboxes and digital TV channels, a world in which plastic model kit making was a mainstream hobby for children. Meng Model, perhaps one of the more adventurous injection moulded kit manufacturers, now have an offspring, Meng Kids, that seems intent on doing just that with military kits for kids.
This year has seen them release six aircraft kits, and just the one tank kit, which will be the subject of this in-box review. While the plane kits all have “proper” names, the tank is titled “New Chinese Main Battle Tank”, but the side of the box reveals that the model is based on the Type 99 MBT. It isn’t an exact replica of course, omitting a set of road wheels to squash it up to become shorter in hull, fatter in turret, and cuter overall than the actual Type 99.
The kit is very attractively packed in a smaller but taller than usual box, with potted details of the real Type 99, and plan views of what the completed model should look like on the sides. Inside we find the following, the sprues all being moulded in dark green:
- Turret top and hull top, bagged together
- Turret bottom and hull bottom
- Sprue A: track and wheel units moulded in two halves
- Sprue B: smoke grenades, machine gun and push-along wheels
- Sprue C: main gun, hull and turret ventilators, turret armour
- Sprue D: wheel details, hull and turret details
- "Decal" sheet: PLA stars and white turret numbers - these are actually stickers rather than waterslide.
- Collectable full colour card of information about the real Type 99 (unfortunately in Chinese only)
- Full colour instruction booklet, in English.
As you’d expect from Meng, the presentation and the contents have a look and feel of quality to them. The kit box proclaims that no glue or tools are required. The kit parts certainly have no visible flash, and with no moulding tabs or sprue on the turret and hull halves at least, I quickly assembled these to see how they went together. No surprise really that the fit was tight and perfect – so, not terribly easy to slot them in to one another, in that careful alignment and some force was needed – but that is what is required for a snap-together kit if it is to stay snapped together for long. You can see the precision of the join along the front upper edge of the turret in the final two photos of the kit on the right. As for the no tools claim, well, the other kit parts are all attached to sprues, and I think we all know that we’d never encourage any children, no matter how impatient, to simply twist or pull parts off the sprue!
Assembly starts by attaching the inner “toy wheels” to axles running through the hull. Step 2 sticks together the lengthways-divided track units, assembles them to the hull, and attaches the wheel outer details. Into the bottom hull goes the post that the turret will rotate on, then the hull top, followed by the two part headlights, and then the rear plate with open ventilation slats. Step 4 – you could call this the busiest step – sees the gun barrel go together (split long ways), assembly of the right and left smoke grenade launchers (six parts each), and the two turret halves joined, with the side armour and the turret bustle rack also going on. The last step sees other details added to the turret: machine gun, muzzle velocity radar, periscope (I think) and some other components, I’m not quite sure what they are. Finally, the turret, as usual, mounts, and can rotate on the tank body.
When I saw a photo of the completed kit (you can see one on Hisham’s forum post
on this subject), I imagined that the cool digital camouflage scheme would be printed on to the plastic parts, but the plain green plastic requires painting as per the instructions: “You can paint the model with the suggested colors to achieve a better visual effect. You need paint spraying tools, paint brushes or special markers for plastic models.” Wow – so we know that painting that digital camouflage is not the easiest paint scheme to cut your modelling teeth on, but I quite admire the ambition that they are trying to instil in their young modellers. This type of tank could also be authentically painted (for all that it is not an authentic model) in the relatively simpler three colour camouflage of broad patches.
Having completed the build, you’ll end up with a model that is approximately 17cm / 8inches long, including the gun.
So while “egg planes” have been relatively plentiful, I’m not too sure if there have been many (or any) “egg tanks” previously. It’s quite an interesting means of creating an easy-to-build kit that in a sense doesn’t suffer from simplification of the details of the real thing, because it isn’t trying the be exactly like the real thing. A drawback with offering children some of the existing very simple kits is that they are often small scale wargame type models, while this kit is considerably bigger, more like the size of a 1/35 scale small tank, like an M13/40 or Panzer II.
I also quite like the fact that, as with the painting suggestions, it isn’t too lacking in ambition, having considerably more parts and build steps than you find in something like an Armourfast tank kit or an Italeri wargames tank kit. We’ve got four sprues, plus the turret and hull parts, plus the decal sheet, and they’re all separately bagged, and then there’s the full colour instruction booklet as well as the information card - all that’s missing is some multi-media parts! Seriously though, this is something of a premium, top quality, fun kit for kids from Meng that I expect will even draw some adults in. It’s a bit late I know, but there’s still a couple of shopping days until Christmas.
Max Smith Photo of the real Type 99
www.eModels.co.uk Thanks for expediting the delivery of this kit and for great communication.
There is Build Log
of this kit.