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In-Box Review
135
M4 HST
Hobby Boss M4 High Speed Tractor (155mm/8in./240mm)
  • t_131066

by: Jan Klarbæk [ MRMOX ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Background
I guess we all know the feeling picking up a kit at the post office, hurrying home, opening the box and immediately wanting to start it well knowing that you ought to finish some of the stuff laying around first – well that’s the feeling I got with this kit. It's not only the looks of this piece of machinery that’s attractive, the kit is also highly attractive with a full interior including a engine and crew compartment, photo etch and a general high quality. In my stash I have AFV´s 155 mm gun so when Hobby Boss brought out the 3in./90 mm version of this tractor (kit #8247), I decided to calm down and wait for the “right” version for my 155 and it was worth the wait.

In the box
The box is a sturdy cardboard box divided into 2 compartments to protect the contents – in the smaller part is the lower hull and the crew compartment while In the other you get 5 grey sprues (2 of which are identical), a clear sprue for windows, a sheet of photo etch, a small sheet of decals, some lengths of string and metal chain, and some masks for the windows. There is also instructions and a sheet of paint and decal suggestions.

Review
Since it was on sale, I also ordered the Ampersand “High Speed Tractor” by David Doyle and Pat Stansell to aid my build. The book shows mostly “as new” vehicles and some in use but lacks drawings so evaluating the kits dimensions is not included in this review. The instructions are well printed but fairly busy and are not the ordinary sideways layout as you might expect. The instructions are well made with a reasonable amount of steps ensuring that the single steps don’t get too “crowded” and I haven’t found any parts mislabelled – but that may change when I begin construction.

The tracks are one-piece rubber tracks, quite soft and flexible, however they are not glue-able with ordinary plastic cement like Tamiya's tracks, requiring superglue or heat to secure them together. Details are fine and sharp for the medium but some cleanup is needed on the inside areas in particular. As I haven't started building my own kit, I can't comment on the fit of the tracks but other modelers who are well into their builds report that the supplied tracks are 2 links too long to give a snug fit.

So you can either cut out two links or you can go for the aftermarket tracks, which is a petty since the kit tracks actually aint that bad "

From an “inbox” point of view this looks mighty good, there’s no flash to be found on my sample and the mold seams are very discreet. There are some knock-out marks present but most will be hidden in the construction. Those that aren't must be dealt with - especially those inside the storage bay and engine room. Others outline the crew compartment on the top of the sponsons and will be partially hidden by the sides but will be visible nevertheless unless you choose to build your M4 with the cab doors closed. Molded details are small and sharp and are enhanced with photo etch where appropriate with a good balance between detail and build-ability.

The kit includes a full crew compartment with a reasonable level of details but the kit doesn´t include any crew storage or personal gear, so if you want your M4 to look lived-in, you will have to refer to the parts box or aftermarket suppliers. The seats are very straight and boring and screams for replacement with something with a more baggy and used look. A bit of work with a Dremel and some putty should make the look more used, realistic, and interesting. Seat belts are lacking but can be added with foil.

The M2 .50 cal is not on par with the offerings from other manufactures, so if you have replacements in your spares box, the kit would benefit from a replacement here. You also get an engine compartment complete with engine, cooler, and other parts to make a nice and crowded engine room. There's always room for improvement in terms of adding wiring, plumbing, etc. but it's a question of how much will be visible once the side doors are added or you decide to go for a scene with the doors open. The doors are a fine piece of photo etch that really does the kit honor and the same level of detail would have been impossible in styrene. The kit provides masks for all the windows which is a nice addition to the kit.

In the rear of the vehicle you find the storage compartment designed for 12 rounds for the towed 155 mm in the central part of the compartment with 2x propellant charges in the 2 side compartments. Unfortunately, the kit only gives you 2 155 mm rounds and nothing else to populate the storage compartment. Due to this, it would have been nice if the tarp for covering the compartment had been included to hide the lack of content. Even if it's easy to add yourself with lead foil or tissue paper it still would have been nice to get a molded tarp in lieu of the missing details. The supports for the 155 mm rounds are nicely molded and are quite thin for being made in styrene but some ejector marks are present. These are easily dealt with since the parts are completely flat. The rear door is bottom hinged and supported in the open position with chains. The chain is supplied in the kit and, even if seems to be a bit on the large side, it's still more realistic than a photo etch chain.

Under the storeage compartment you find a complete winch with cable supplied, most will be hidden due to the compartment sitting on top of it, but it's there and it looks good. The running gear have an overall OK appearance but lacks some of the fine details concerning bolts on the swing arms, grease nipples, etc. Although the overall impression is good, you still have the option of spicing it up with added details if you wish.

The decals provided are in the form of a quite small sheet with decals for only one vehicle. Some research would be in order to ensure that the decals really applies to the vehicle you want to build and to make certain that it fits the era – WW II or postwar/Korea for example. The inclusion of photo etch is relevant and lifts the appearance of the kit and finished model – especially the large mesh doors for the engine compartment. You also get mesh screens for the intakes and grills for the lights to enhance the level of details.

Conclusion
This is a fine kit from a relatively new manufacturer on the market. The overall quality is good, but not quite to the current standard of Dragon or AFV. In my opinion it's a bit better than Trumpeter and on par with Bronco in terms of fine details but without over-complicating the parts.
SUMMARY
Highs: Interesting subject includes detailed engine and crew compartment, good level of detail and accuracy. Well done photo etch.
Lows: Lack of storage - personal gear and ammunition - rounds and propellant, missing tarpaulin for the storage compartment.
Verdict: You get an interesting vehicle that hasn't been done in styrene until now. Accurate but with room for refinement in place. The complete engine and crew compartment add to the value.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 82408
  Suggested Retail: $35.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 07, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 82.22%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 83.89%

About Jan Klarbæk (MrMox)
FROM: AARHUS, DENMARK

I want more hours in my day ....

Copyright ©2017 text by Jan Klarbæk [ MRMOX ]. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thanks! Im going to start building mine in a few weeks, I have some other things to finish first..... dang Theres complaints about bad fitting suspensionparts and misalinement - going to be interesting seing how bad it is. Perhaps a blog is coming
FEB 07, 2008 - 08:51 PM
I havent done the suspension yeat so I cant comment on that but the front set doest pit properly. The way they have it lined up it interferes with the gear shifter. I had to modify mine to get it to fit properly. I checked my shifter and the plate that it sits on and it doest look like I did anything wrong. Anyone else have this problem? Thanks!
FEB 08, 2008 - 08:18 AM
Assuming its the same as the suspension in the other M4HST (which I just finished) there is no problem, mine fit together fine. John
FEB 08, 2008 - 10:17 AM
Great review Jan! Plain and clear. Thanks! I thank those kits are real great and I'm happy some manufactors actually bringing new models in a reasonable price range. I have the M8 HST for AA purposes myself, and I like it a lot. Paul
FEB 16, 2008 - 07:58 PM
I am in the midst of constructing mine, and I have hit a snag...the cab does not want to sit flush to the chasis, and has a rather large gap all the way round. If I manage to get one side flush, the other side has a bigger gap. I don't want to force it in and possibly break something, not sure what to do here?
JUN 29, 2008 - 11:24 PM
Nice review. I just picked one up on EBay for a good deal
OCT 17, 2016 - 10:41 AM
Hello, I build the Nitto one several years ago. I'm sure the Hobbyboss one will take far less work! I have both 155mm and 90mm boxes and they look good. Cheers Robert-Jan
OCT 17, 2016 - 10:07 PM
Glue the drive sprockets on LAST and make sure they line up with the rest of the suspension. Mine did not and now I am kinda stuck - gonna have to grind the kit sprockets off and use substitutes from the spares box! Otherwise a great kit!
OCT 18, 2016 - 03:28 AM
Ya don't have to always build them in firing position
OCT 18, 2016 - 04:21 AM
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