by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
ICM does a fantastic job of the figures and trucks they release, but how do they do with tracked armour. In this review Darren Baker looks at the King Tiger just released by ICM to see how they have done with an iconic tank from World War Two that is available from a large number of manufacturers.
The packaging is what has become the standard for ICM; A substantial cardboard tray and integrated lid, this is I feel up to the rigours of the postal system and so something that ICM deserve praise for. In addition to the substantial cardboard packaging there is a card lid with a nice print of a King Tiger in a wintery scene. The contents breakdown as follows:
7 grey sprues
4 lengths of track
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
Having had a good look at the sprues that are supplied with this product I have not noted any major issues at this moment. There are no short shots or flash that I can see present and with this being a new set of mouldings I would not expect to find these issues. I have noticed flow lines present on a number of the larger parts, but none of these look or feel to have created an issue that will need to be remedied. I particularly like that the parts have been placed with ease of access considered, I have not noted any part that will require the use of anything other than side cutters to remove them as none of the parts appear to be cramped, this may not be important to everyone but I get frustrated when removal of parts becomes more difficult that it needs to be.
Starting with the turret shape and form, generally speaking this aspect of the model looks fine to me. Construction looks to be straight forward and a good level of detail has been provided by ICM. There are two aspects of the turret that I really do not like:
There are no clear parts provided where required on the model, this is frustrating when I can see that effort has been made to have separate parts for the optical parts that could have been moulded clear.
The second issue for me is the main gun being supplied in two halves; I know that is how it was done for years, but it is a style that no longer needs to be the case. I would normally not be overly concerned and just reach for a turned aftermarket barrel, but the design of this offering will I believe require a company to retool a product for this model.
On a more positive note I like that ICM has provided a reasonable breech for the main gun and so created some detail inside the turret. I am also pleased to see individual track links provided for mounting on the sides of the turret. The detail on the inside faces of hatch doors are good with a mix of moulded details and separately moulded detail parts. I do have a final gripe about the turret and that is, ICM has provided a nice MG mount on the commanderís hatch, where is the MG to mount on it? Finishing on a plus the weld seams look to be well replicated and this is an aspect often overlooked or poorly done.
The hull of this offering is rather interesting, it looks to me as if ICM had considered supplying a full interior and then stopped; possibly due to the announcements from Meng and Takom. The lower hull has separate sides and floor, interestingly the rear of the hull has been moulded as part of the floor and so there are no concerns about correctly positioning the sides. The torsion bars are all present as is the two support frames that the torsion bars go through and the floor of the tank sits on.
In addition to the areas mentioned ICM has supplied the engine bulkhead or fire wall, the hull floor where the turret floor would sit into and the upper hull frame behind the driverís position. The floor pans that run both sides of the floor sections have also been provided and this all adds up to some nice detail, not forgetting that it also provides the modeller with a robust structure to the model.
The axle mounts for the model are separately moulded, but even though the torsion bars are provided the suspension is not functional. I do not see this as a bad thing as the swing arms can be set in the position the modeller desires if you remember to remove the small locking lug that is moulded on the arm; these lugs will lock the swing arms in a dead flat surface position. The track adjuster arm, idler wheel mount if you prefer, should not be glued at the point stated as if left free the modeller can decide the track tension they require for their model.
The top of the hull is added to the model fairly quickly during the construction stages. The detail present is quite good due to well represented weld detail not to mention the well replicated bolt detail. The engine cover on the rear deck is supplied as a separate piece and so the addition of an engine is a possibility for a modeller. On the downside there are no photo etched screens provided with the model by ICM, not really a surprise as I cannot remember them having provided photo etch with any of their products. With that all said photo etched sets are easy to come by at a reasonable price and ICM has supplied the frames for the secondary set of covers.
Moving towards the front of the model and the panel above the driver and radio operator is supplied as a separate part by ICM as are the hatches. Sometimes it is the smallest of details that make a model and I am pleased to see the lifting hooks present where required. There is a downside here; it is the same issue that the turret suffers in that the periscopes are not moulded in clear plastic. I would also like to have seen the side skirt elements supplied as separate parts, but that is a wish rather than an expectation. The tools are supplied as separate parts with moulded on clamp detail and so meet my needs, but they are also easily upgraded if required by the modeller.
Wheels and Tracks
The tracks are the vinyl rubber type and these are quite good as vinyl rubber tracks go, the only issue I was able to find looking at them for what they are is some ejector marks between the guide horns. As such these are of a reasonable quality to meet most modellers needs, but they do have an issue in that it is difficult to replicate a realistic look of weight. Many of us prefer individual track links and ICM has done a great job on the offerings for the turret hangers and it is a pity they did not supply a set as choice.
Moving onto the wheels which are well replicated from what I can see. The bolt and hub detail on the road wheels is pleasing and should meet the needs of most modellers easily; the only possible negative here is a lack of detail on the reverse face. The drive wheel is the 9 toothed offering which I believe to be correct. The idler wheel is where things go astray due to there being no detail on the inner face of the wheel nearest the hull, this lack of detail will be visible depending on the set location of the idler.
ICM has provided the modeller with four finishing options for this model:
sPz Abt Feldherrnhalle Hungary March 1945
sPz Abt 503 Danzig March 1945
sPz Abt 501 Ardennes December 1944
Stab sPz Abt 501 Ardennes December 1944
I do have some concerns about the finishing options provided; the third option is correct, the 4th option is an issue for me as I seem to recall that the use of red was Verboten. The 1st and 2nd option I have no information either way. The decals themselves are reasonably thin, but I can feel them on the transfer paper. Definition and colour is good in my opinion.
This offering from ICM is a mixed bag in my view for a number of reasons. The negatives as I see them are the barrel being in two halves, lack of clear parts for periscopes and the lack of detail on the inner face of the idler wheel. The good areas are the partial interior detail and I include the breech in that, the tracks on the turret hangers being very well tackled and the weld detail where required. The lack of photo etched parts is easily overcome and ICM has never supplied photo etch to my knowledge. I would have liked to see the excellent individual track links provided for the hangers included as an option for the modeller to decide on what to use.