Given I'd just received my two boxes of the new plastic panzer IV's and to keep up with narrowly missing my apparent New Years resolution I got the job of reviewing them. But first a selfie of me and a triceratops:
So I ordered my two boxes of tanks from Firestorm games and they were in stock and dispatched ASAP so I received them a few days later. This may seem an odd thing to comment on but I don't get any special Breakthrough Assault treatment because I'm not Ben (Editor: I think you'll find I have never had any special treatment from Battlefront - Ben) so this is a sign that Battlefront have done a good job on getting enough stock out to shops at the same time as their publicity. Well done Battlefront.
What I had now got though was two boxes so crammed with sprues that I couldn't get them all back in the box. This is not a box with room to add stuff to (which may prove a problem for battlefront given the Schurzen issue, which I'll address in a bit)
So, no golden panzers, just 10 normal ones.
So the sprues are of decent quality hard but flexible enough plastic. What I particularly liked was that most of the parts would come out with a little gentle persuasion. There was little need for my clippers to do more than provide a bit of stimulus and I got very little flash left on the parts to clean up. This is a big bonus.
Onto assembly. Here's one of my issues with the box - no instructions. This is a common battlefront lack of feature and I know from experience that nearly all of the models have instructions on the website, so I gogled away and found the very easy to follow instructions and quickly set to assembling.
Shortly after I had one panzer IV (without the right number of panels on it's schurzen.)
I deliberately made one with the enclosed schurzen as I wanted to see how it all went together and so I could put a picture in this review of a fully assembled tank. This turned out to be unnecessary but there we go.
My other reason for doing this is that I imagine the issue will be solved in the future and then part of me wants to have one of the 'limited edition' 4 panel panzer IV's...
So the thing that really struck me about putting the second tank together was that it was really intuitive and I didn't need to look any further at the instructions. It was also really quick to put together. As such I timed myself putting together the third one.
From starting with everything on the sprues to a finished tank took just shy of 7 minutes. I wasn't even rushing. This is pretty bloody fast for a tank. Particularly if you have put together the PSC T34's, a model I never want to put together again.
I like to think this could become a game - how quick can you put together a panzer IV (sans schurzen and magnets) a bit like star in a reasonably priced car on Top Gear. Feel free to try and beat me. My time is 6:48
So I then swiftly put them all together without mishap. Something I found disappointing was the absence of stowage items on the sprues. There are two pieces of track and that's it. In the end I decided not to do any stowage and see what I can find in my bits box before going at that as I like my tanks to all be slightly individual (even my T-34's).
I think part of the issue is that schurzen issue which keeps raising it's head. Each sprue has 4 schurzen on, two factory fresh and two which have been bashed around a bit. This is clearly part of the 'personalise your tank' options. Because they don't have the requisite number of panels, it means that a lot of space and options are wasted. (Ben and Adam wouldn't cease to point out my schurzen were wrong if I used them, that's the sort of people they are.)
So onto the schurzen. Now Battlefront have been very open about the fact that there is not the right number of panels and have been excellent in coming up with a solution to the problem which is on their website. They have been clear that they will send out old plastic schurzen to anyone who buys the new box and asks for them. As such I sent an email when drunk at Adan's birthday curry on Saturday 8th March. On Monday 10th I got an email saying they had been sent out and when I got home on Tuesday 11th there was a little package with a bag in it.
Awesome customer service. 20 cleaned and ready schurzen with the correct amount of panels.
So I then set about putting them on the tanks. On the battlefront website they point out that they had made improvement with the four panel schurzen to stop them breaking off when you pick them up by putting some struts on the bottom to stop them levering off. This is a great idea.
They then show in a complicated multi-step approach involving measuring, plastic rod and bits of left over sprue how to recreate it with the old ones. I looked at it and decided I couldn't be arsed so came up with a much easier technique, which I shall be trademarking in a similar style to The Rock in WWE trademarking 'the people's elbow' (Ben is this right? I have absolutely no idea about this sort of cultural reference but it's something I heard on radio 4 once) I therefore present 'the people's schurzen'
Basically this technique stems from me realising that Battlefront have done all the hard work of measuring and cutting already on the new schurzen which I'm not using. I am not a believer in doing a job for the sake of it so I decided to just take the ready made struts and transplant them.
Then glue the struts to the 5 panel schurzen with polystyrene cement. Make sure you do this in an equivalent position to where they are on the 4 panel shurzen. They actually go quite low down.
Then leave them to dry and stiffen up so they don't fall off as you stick the schurzen to the rails.
Here's mine drying:
1: snip the 2 connections on the flat side of the rail.
2: Then snip the end connection.
3. Gently spin the rail around on the axis of the final connection to twist it off and remove it with the minimum amount of flash.
Anyway, while you are doing this, the struts should be drying. Then attach the schurzen to the rails. Job done. If you look in the picture you can just see the struts.
So I then had 10 panzer IV's with reinforced schurzen panels. Awesome.
So in summary. These tanks are easy as hell to put together, nicely crisply detailed, nicely weighted and pretty robust. At about £23 for 5 they are pretty good value and come with transfers and magnets too. Yes the Schurzen is probably a let down if you care about these things, I personally don't but am glad I did do it properly if only for the review as it meant I got to experience some pretty awesome customer service.
The only real downsides are a lack of stowage to customise them much and no instructions on or in the box.
Well done battlefront. Let's have more plastic tanks please.
I'll leave you with a picture of the back end of the tanks so you can see the details put in, zimmerit and all:
Thanks for reading