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In-Box Review
135
PLA Tank Crew
PLA Tank Crew
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by: Jacques Duquette [ JACQUES ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

I was happy to hear the announcement that Trumpeter was doing a PLA tank crew. I have quite a collection of PLA vehicles, but no actual PLA crew. There are some resin figures, but they are not easy to obtain nor are they inexpensive.

Contents

The box art shows 3 figures with infantry helmets/soft cap and only 1 figure with a tank crew helmet. The box contains 2 decal sheets of camouflage, a decal sheet of uniform details (badges etc), one black sprue with 2 rifles, and one tan sprue with 6 figures. That’s right; there are 6 figures in the box. Instructions, painting guide, and decal placement are on the box bottom.

Review

First off, I want to say that while I like the idea of a decal sheet of camo pattern to help those who don’t paint very well (or don’t want to paint camo), this is a concept that currently is better in theory than in practice. Decals used this way are difficult to lay down correctly and require solvents to get them to work at all. Beyond decal application issues, the decal paper should either be cut for specific areas to apply (trousers front and back, torso etc.) or else a pattern for the modeler to cut out the pieces should be printed/provided.

The camo decals provided are thin but the trade-off is they tear easy or are brittle once off the backing paper and they only responded well to Solvaset decal setting solution. The ink did not run and the decals softened up quickly, and with some work using a paintbrush and a Q-tip, settled down very well, almost like they “melted” on. There was very little time to move them in the space between putting them on the place to be applied and the Solvaset working so well that you could not adjust the decal. Using the decals and working to create proper seams or matching up the camo pattern put these in the “not for the beginner and a challenge to the expert” category. They settled down equally well on bare and painted plastic.

The figures are all based on the same general body, with differences relegated only to the heads and arms. All are 54mm tall when fully assembled. Even taking their helmets into account, that makes these PLA crewmen all right at 6ft tall. I am sure it is possible there are 6ft tall tank crewmen in the PLA, but I expect this to be abnormal at best. There is no spacing between the legs (especially noticeable between the boots) and no undercut to the blouse bottom, the sleeves at the wrist, the pockets, or with the belt. The sleeve/wrist portion is easiest to deal with since the hands are separate. The hands are all gloved, making painting easier (they are white). Detail overall is soft, but there is more than might initially seem to appear in the clothing.

The head sculpting is very mediocre and does not really remind me of any particular race other than “Hollywood Blockbuster Action Movie Tough”. Instead of typical Asian characteristics, they look like a generic amalgam face that is squinting.

The helmets and detailing are again, mediocre. The head sculpts for the tanker helmets (not to be confused with the heads for the infantry helmets) do have microphones sculpted on, but they are more of a featureless blob than a microphone. Even making the microphone a separate piece to glue on would have been a better choice.

The Rifle sprue comes with 2 Chinese Type 95-1 rifles, one with bayonet and one without. The rifles come with clips in them but there are two separate clips as well.

My overall problem with the kit sculpting is that while 3 figures are specifically armored crewmen, and thus intended to be mounted in a tank so the legs/feet sculpting doesn’t really matter, 3 of the figures are atypical for being in a tank (infantry helmets, softcap) making me believe their intent is to be outside a tank and that exposes the poor sculpting of the legs/feet. Crewman could be in AFV’s with infantry helmets and/or softcaps, but these figures are intended for a parade from their pose and the boxtop art. Considering those limiting parameters, I have not seen any photos of PLA tank crew on parade in anything BUT tank helmets.

So what can be done? First, it struck me that the 3 non-tank specific figures are also basic PLA figures. Meaning they could be modified for use with armored cars, artillery, trucks, etc…anything that needs a PLA figure, albeit a TALL one. For the 3 figures with the tanker helmets, the helmets can be hollowed out and the heads replaced with better sculpts. Microphones can be trimmed off and better facsimiles created.

Overall on the figures, undercuts can be created and poses changed using basic modeling skills, putty, and desire to do the work. This should not be necessary, but we are looking for a bright side.

Conclusion

Overall, I was disappointed by this set. I don’t expect great figures from Trumpeter and I did not get them. These figures remind me of the level of figure you would get from Tamiya in the 1970’s and I would classify this as a wasted opportunity.
SUMMARY
Highs: 3 PLA tank crew with tanker helmets and 3 generic PLA soldiers in plastic. Decal sheet to make uniform camouflage.
Lows: All figures are 6’ in stature. 3 of the figures (half the set) are generic PLA soldiers. Instructions are poor. Soft detail.
Verdict: A mediocre set for anyone looking for basic PLA tankers to put in your PLA tanks. They could be a reasonable starter set for conversions, detailing, or as generic PLA figures.
Percentage Rating
70%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 00431
  Suggested Retail: 17.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 04, 2017
  NATIONALITY: China / 简体
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 83.65%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.63%

Our Thanks to Stevens International!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Jacques Duquette (Jacques)
FROM: MINNESOTA, UNITED STATES

The first model I remember building was a glow-in-the-dark P-38, running around my bedroom in the dark flying it, and stubbing my toes. I do a lot less running around with glowing models now. I mainly focus on 1/35 armor and figures, with Modern Russian military vehicles being my favorite. I a...

Copyright ©2017 text by Jacques Duquette [ JACQUES ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Trumpeter never had a feeling for figures. Sigh...
APR 04, 2017 - 08:33 AM
I really thought they would do a great job on them considering the subject matter. I really expected them to put their best foot forward on these figures out of any. Not so.
APR 04, 2017 - 08:57 AM
It's why I ended up buying some of the resin PLA figures for my ZTZ 99. I've bought some Trumpeter figures and they occasionally rise to the level of mediocre but serviceable but that is rare.
APR 04, 2017 - 10:31 PM
Trumpeter is not known for quality figures. Might be worthwhile, though, just for the decals.
APR 05, 2017 - 02:29 AM
I hear their uniform decals are not very good in other sets so might not even be worth that!
APR 05, 2017 - 05:17 AM
In case it matters, the guys with helmets and soft caps are for APCs and the like as infantry and other passengers wearing helmets and caps stand up at attention in the hatches during parades.
APR 05, 2017 - 06:08 AM
Looking at these figures I feel I've gone back in time about 40 years.
APR 10, 2017 - 02:35 PM
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