Since I started the RFM Panther as well, I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.
Let’s get the tracks out of the way. Last week we assembled the RFM Panther’s tracks; let’s see how the Takom version compares.
Short answer: not so well… The idea is not bad. In order to get great detail, hollow guide horns and all, you are to glue the guide horns on individually. Fortunately they do not force you to do it one-by-one, like Meng does with its Panther, but provide you with a little setup where you can glue sections of horns onto the link-and-length tracks in one go. This sounds good in theory, however in practice with this method not all horns are glued on securely, and will detach when you try to clip the sprue away. Which means gluing individual horns on anyway. Not as many as you would if you had to do it with all links, but still.
The assembly of the engine was simple but the detail is astonishingly good. Cudos for Takom for getting the balance between detail and complexity just right.
First step painting the interior: white. After priming the tank with Vallejo primer (I probably should buy a lighter color, too… it helps with preshading to have a dark grey primer before the light colors, but it also makes painting a bit more tedious.) Anyhow, I used a creme color specifically made for German interiors by MRP’s Mr Paint. This is supposed to be a ready-to-use airbrush paint, which does not require thinning.
I had some troubles with it. I did shake it for over 5 minutes, I used a nail polish shaker, yet the paint came out as if it was overthinned: it hardly covered anything, and it went on patchy and runny. Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but I could not figure out what- and MRP did not respond to my inquiry. Since I am somewhat short on time, I had not inclination to experiment further; just used an ivory color by Testor’s which I had for over fifteen years to cover the area in two passes. Old school is best, apparently. (Don’t get me wrong; Mr Paint might be the greatest thing ever, but they really should include pointers how to use them… or respond to emails asking for help.) I did not give up on the paint yet, but to proceed with the build I put it aside for now.
Primer red coat… I used another new brand for me, AK Interactive’s acrylic paint. This paint needs to be diluted for airbrushing, and it went on great for the first try. (This is a flat paint, as opposed to the gloss Mr Paint one. I found that flat paints go on better and smoother than gloss ones; this could be a factor.)
Advice, again: before adding tid-bits, suspension and whatnot – paint the interior first. It was very tedious to mask off all the protruding parts. (With the RFM Panther I assembled the lower hull first -just the three main parts- and painted it before adding anything else.
Once the base color was done, I lightened it with some buff for some highlights, and went over the edges and other outstanding details with a brush. I used some Vallejo weathering products on the bottom (engine oil, soot and whatnot), and then added the torsion bars to the sides, and put the hull together.
This is where I went wrong a bit… I deviated from the instructions because I wanted to paint several subassemblies separately before putting them togheter; after all, painting the torsion bars after they are installed under all the hull ribbing, and painting the transmission glued in place seemed like a pain in the bum. Little did I know. I added everything to the hull bottom and the sides that were to be painted primer red, and then proceeded with painting and assembly.
Important things to remember:
1. Do NOT attach the hull sides before installing the transmission. The transmission needs to go in first.
2. Also: do NOT install the torsion bars before the transmission.
3. Do not attach the torsion bars to the sides as the instructions show (you are supposed to slide them in place when attaching the side) . I found it really frustrating to do so since the side does bend a bit, and it makes sliding the torsion bars into place really tedious. I think inserting the torsion bars before adding the sides would simplify this issue tremendously.
4. I messed up a bit with adding all the details onto the hull bottom; they shrouded the attachment points for some of the torsion bars, making installation a bit more difficult than necessary.
5. Do not attach anything to the sides before painting. It makes masking a nightmare. (But you will have to paint the smaller parts by hairy sticks…)
6.Do add the batteries before installing the drive shaft and the firewall. Do not ask me how I found out the order.
Keeping these pointers in mind, you may modify the order of assembly.