Since I started both Panthers (RFM and Takom), I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.
Let’s get the tracks out of the way. They are workable tracks, which is a first for me (unless you count MiniArt’s clip-together tracks as workable.) I have to say they were a very pleasant surprise. The links come detached, with hollow guide horns already moulded on. (You pay for this with an ejector pin mark in the middle of the links.) The assembly was kind of finicky, but nothing to worry about, and the results are pretty good. The rig functions well; I glued the pins in with extra thin cement, clipped the sprue off, sanded the pins lightly, and presto, a section is finished. Honestly, I would keep doing these tracks if I had some left over.
Further work on the interior: breaks, turret rotating motor and other small items. The kit does feel over-engineered, which can be seen demonstrated on the high number of parts that make up the turret rotating motor. On top of this, they still managed to engineer a seam line onto the part… (Same issue with the turret turning mechanism. They could have mated the two sides in a way that does not leave a visible seamline…)
On the other hand the detail is just amazing- see the weld lines on the lower hull.
The painting sequence was a bit different than the suggested assembly sequence – I did not want to try to paint the torsion bars with everything installed. I came up with the idea of first painting the PE ribs, the lower hull and the torsion bars separately, and then assemble the whole thing. It remains to be seen if this strategy worked. (I ran out of superglue.) I did make a couple of blunders with the Takom Panther for sure… (More on that in the Takom post.)
Painting the hull… I used Vallejo’s primer as usual, then the base blue color mixed from different Tamiya paints. Once that was dry, I masked off the interior, and sprayed the ivory color of the interior. I tried MRP Paint’s creme, but despite of shaking the bottle for over 5 minutes, the paint came out really diluted. (It’s a ready-to-spray paint, but sprayed like an over-diluted gloss acrylic paint.) The coverage was spotty and not very satisfactory at all. RPM has not responded to my question about this -it is perfectly possible that I did something wrong. However, the 15 year old Testors acrylic ivory paint worked like a charm… (And one can ask the question what use of a great paint if you can’t actually use it correctly?)
A little bit of annoyance: the horizontal part of the sides are joined to the lower hull with two prominent ‘flaps’. Which leave enormous and visible seams, necessitating filling and sanding. (See third photo.) I would expect a superbly engineered model not to make me to these tasks, to be honest; on the other hand it is a bit difficult to make a secure and invisible attachment, I admit. (Takom has not solved this issue, either; their solution is rather flimsy -although invisible.) The last photo shows both hulls side-by-side… (And the topic of the next post will be the Takom Panther.)
Suspension… Well, that’s another issue I ran into. The instructions instruct you to use the firewall during the assembly of the lower hull to make sure the distance is correct. Which I did. The firewall sits inside its slot quite nice and tight even without glue. So the distance is right.
However why are the torsion bars bent, then? I tried to ask around in forums , but I received no response if others ran into this as well. From where I stand the torsion bars are a bit too long; simple as that. It takes little time to trim them to size, but it is still something you would not expect from a model of this quality. (Just to make sure I mention that the torsion bars are only dry fitted on the photos…)
The suspension can be made workable, by the way, which is great. (Takom’s static.)
Well, this is where we are now with the RFM Panther. Due to the small human in our household my hobby time decreased drastically, so the progress is slow. Keep tuned in – the next post will be about the Takom Panther, and then we’ll see how far we got with this one. I am a bit anxious about the metal ribs on the bottom of the hull, and so far did a great job not doing them… You can always find all sorts of other, more pressing things to finish, right?