Monday, August 19, 2013

Product Review: AFV Club T-34 500mm Width Cast Links

First of all, apologies for the apparent abandonment of this blog since last year – it was not intended but an overseas trip immediately followed by moving house, then teaching at the university and a lot of other stuff ended up in time prioritisation that saw lots of things go by the wayside and hobby allocations down in general… But nothing lasts forever, and there’ll always be time for something. Lately it’s been research and prep work for major projects to come, and I had gotten out of the way of building to the extent that diving back into a project that was already fairly advanced was off-putting and I needed to start something from scratch.

I pulled Tamiya’s old Su-85 off the shelf, one of those easy-build, old-tool kits I’m so fond of, and had a great time reacquainting myself with the basic skills, the cut, file and glue skills that get us into the head-space to get more creative, and as I studied the model I decided I would add a few AM bits and pieces. The object was always to try out either the hairspray technique or a chipping fluid to do a winter camo effect, and I might invest in a turned barrel. But when researching aftermarket goodies for this kit I read about AFV Club’s indie track links for T-34s, and my interest was thoroughly aroused by the reviews. Here was a link set that was workable and simply clicked together, I’m assuming somewhat like Dragon’s “Magic Tracks,” and I found a set on offer in Hong Kong for half the price of elsewhere…

Those who have read this blog before will remember my aversion to indie tracks, my loathing of repetitive fiddling and their uncooperative nature that could reduce a professional to tears, so you’ll appreciate how good this product is when I say it has been pretty much a breeze, as far as I’ve got.

The set contains four sealed plastic packs, three of horned links on sprues (five sprues of six links each, for a total of 90 horned links) and a pack of non-horned inter-links on sprues of two. The totals allow spares, so if you spoil a few links, as is more than likely, it’s no disaster. The plastic is good quality, the detail sharply moulded, and the sprue-gates clean up quickly with a file. Connection is by a pin and socket arrangement on the outer edges of the links, they click-fit and are strong enough to remain one piece so long as no strain is placed on the assembly. They are definitely “for looking at,” as the saying used to go, but certainly look the part.

Cleaning up after detaching from the sprues was by far the most time consuming factor. I would have invested an hour, an hour and a half perhaps, in assembling one track, a run of 34 of each type of link, matching the counted number of horned links on the Tamiya track and visible in profile pictures.

I went on to complete the second run and then set the project aside pending time and materials to pursue completion. Other things have demanded priority on the bench too, so I’ll be revisiting this subject at a later date. So far as assembling the tracks go, I can thoroughly recommend this product to anyone with as big an aversion to indie links as myself.