Since it will be serving Mart and his Bolt Action Germans, (hopefully well - Mart) he requested that it be fitted as the late war variant: Panzer IV Ausf. H. And quite rightly so! The "H" is the variant with the wicked cool, space-age looking spaced armor on the turret and sides. I was a little apprehensive about putting them together when I looked at the sprues, but they turned out well. Read on, let's talk about this kit!
Overall, this kit went together quite well. There aren't a lot of glaring mold lines to worry about, pieces fit together quite nicely. Now, this is a kit that lets you build one of three variants, mostly the guns but also minor things like gear and antenna placements. How do you know what pieces go to what variant? Well, you'll need to reference your instruction sheet! On the sheet, not on the sprue, if a piece is variant specific it will have that variant's letter (F, G, H) next to the number (ex: H55). A minor thing, but very, very handy.
There is one exception, which might be a builder's error.
See the gap there by the driver's vision slot? There aren't any slots for those pieces to fit into, just flush onto a large flat surface. So, if you aren't careful... gap. Nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of super glue and baking soda, but still. Then there are pieces that fit together so snugly I didn't have to glue them! Well, one piece, and that's the plate on the back of the hull.
The tracks go on pretty well. You've got the base piece with all the little wheels and suspension cast onto it, one wheel for the front and back, and the two track pieces, a top and bottom. The join on the track pieces is exposed, but it's not terribly noticeable. You can find it if you look at these close up pictures.
(It looks Great! - Mart)
One of the things that people like with their tanks are commanders, or at least having that option. Why not have the option to swap out commanders and hatches closed? Well, with this kit, you have to pick because the commander and hatch open pieces are (1) separate and (2) he doesn't attach into the hatch piece. What's someone who wants their cake and eat it too supposed to do?
Why, make it work, that's what. I removed the peg the commander piece fits into the turret with, made a "floor" with some paper from a business card, and glued him to that. Now Mart will be able to start the game with the commander looking about, then have him duck when the rounds start flying.
I haven't attached the spaced armor yet because I wouldn't be able to get to quite a bit of the tank with my brushes! They'll go on near the end of the paint job. The struts that attach the armor to the tank fit into little slots on the armor, and you cannot switch what sides those struts go on! Honest. Most of them have a sloped end that lets it sit nice and flush with the main body of the tank. If you switch those pieces, you don't get a good look.
So, what did I find to be a bit bothersome? Well, those front and side plates where the driver sees should probably be glued on in an order, which is side pieces first and then the front. This is because the side pieces have one edge that they fit into, whereas the front piece doesn't have anything. If you do the front piece first, like I did, you're in for a bad time. Not a bad time, but not ideal. Do your side pieces first!
Being able to switch out the commander seems like an easy thing to have built into the model. Then again, the conversion isn't terribly difficult, and we're lucky to have a commander model with the kit at all!
That barrel is a pain to get straight! It's a simple peg and hole setup, but the barrel for me didn't sit in nice and straight. I don't know if that's an issue with all the kit, but it's fixable by post-glue bending. You can see a bit of white where the barrel meets the turret, and that's due to me bending, carefully(!), at the base of the barrel. A little baking soda to fill the resulting gap and superglue to harden it up did the trick quite nicely.
That damn antenna is infuriating! You'll notice it has already snapped off. I'll be replacing it with a broom bristle or something similar that can flex without breaking. (I shall look forward to seeing that - Mart)
In the end, all my qualms with the kit are minor and something any hobbyist with experience can handle. There is a goodly amount of detail all over the tank, although there isn't much in the way of stowage! If you want to deck this thing out, you'll need to delve into your bits box. As it stands, though, it will be a monster to paint. More on that later...
I'll leave you with a tip on taking pictures of miniatures close up, especially with your phone. Get your hands on a 10x power hand lens, which are about $5 off Amazon or any rock shop. Put it flush against the lens and snap away! Not only will you be able to show off your awesome paint job details, but you can look at other things close up (for me, it's rocks. Love me some rocks).
If you want to look at the other variants (with paint on them!), check out Warlord's store page for the Panzer IV.
Its good to see Morgan getting back on the hobby train, I think it looks great, I cant wait to see this beast with some paint on it, then rolling over toys on the tabletop!