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Various Royal Models

U.S. Heads WWII
M3 Stuart "Honey"
M26 Pershing


S u m m a r y

Stock Number and Description; Contents and Price No. 302, U.S. Heads WWII; 6 heads in grey resin; price $8.00
No. 309, M3 Stuart "Honey"; 224 parts (11 parts in grey resin, 213 in etched metal); price $30.00
No. 310, M26 Pershing; 287 parts (19 in grey resin, 268 in etched metal); price $35.00
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: "One stop shopping" with key parts in resin; nobody can state these are not complete kits
Disadvantages: Parts re-describe "tiny" with individual 1/2" bolt heads included in the frets; small parts always fragile once installed on a model
Recommendation: Highly Recommended  for anyone dressing up an Academy Stuart or Tamiya Pershing.


Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

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F i r s t L o o k


Royal Models does an excellent job of providing detailing kits for modern 1/35 scale armor, and these three releases are among their latest.

The WWII heads provide heads for six US WWII soldiers, but would also suffice for Korea as well. They come with three in the M1 "turtle" helmet, two in tanker's helmets, and one in a knit cap. Proportionately, I have to state that I prefer a more rounded face to a figure as it has more character; I have never been a fan of the Verlinden heads which always appear to be emaciated and way too narrow. These heads are thin of face, but are at least "better fed" than the Verlinden ones.

One minor problem with them is that Royal models has cut the necks flush at the collar line, and many modelers who swap heads prefer the Hornet ones with projecting posts that can be inserted into a hole in the torso, giving some shape to the collar and also making posing the figure a bit easier. Still, they should fit many of the recent DML bodies and present a different "look" to a stock figure.

The other two sets are for replacing plastic components or "dressing up" two recent kit releases. Both are designed for a specific kit; this is more and more common as model companies move forward today, so you have to be aware in advance which kit the accessories were designed for. (Trying to fit accessories designed for the ESCI T-55 to the Tamiya T-55, for example, is going to be a tedious adventure.)

Both sets come with two frets of etched metal parts and a bag with small resin bits included. They also come with a very well done single-page exploded drawing of the model showing where the new bits go and which other bits have to come off the kit.

The M3 "Honey" kit fixes a lot of the small detail problems with the Academy kit; it does not fix any of the dimensional or physical problems which come with that kit. Case in point is the interior of the commander's hatch, which was noticeably empty; Royal provides all of the braces and the shutters necessary to correct the interior problems. They also provide barrel jackets for the three .30 caliber machine guns. Complete skirts and hangars are also included.

The bulk of the details are for the engine deck and tool stowage, including all of the vehicle's tiedown points as separate parts. They do provide an alternative rack for three "flimsy" fuel cans to go on the right rear side of the tank in place of the stowage bin, and new full air cleaners with straps and mounts. A very neatly designed one-piece grille for the engine deck replaces the clunky part from the kit. (MEMO: If you don't have a Hold-and-Fold or similar tool, kits like this are going to make you wish that you did!)

The Pershing kit is similar and includes new skirts, light guards, and other items normally expected in an etched metal kit. Most of the items are very logical and correct the kit (many go in bits and angles that cannot be detailed if the kit is to be [a] inexpensive and [b] come out of the mold cleanly, so you can't fault the manufacturers too much for compromising on some parts.) The kit provides bits for the early T26E3 version of the tank, so it comes with the side bin for the drivers' wet weather hoods and other things which were quickly dropped from the vehicle.

One bizarre factor which keeps coming up in European after-market kits and some plastic kits as well is the concept that M2HB machine guns have a tapered cone heat shield over the barrel/receiver connection. There may be some guns built with it, but for the life of me I don't recall ever seeing one. All the ones that I have seen in photos or in real life were cylindrical. Yet Royal provides the conical one here among the 36 parts in the kit used to detail the Tamiya .50 caliber.

Both kits, however, really do "get down in the weeds" with detailing and go down to individual 1/2" bolt head level of detail. I'm not sure why they do it, as it is a bit more than even most advanced modelers generally use. (We discussed it recently at one of the AMPS meetings and the bet was that most modelers probably only use 25-50% of what comes on the frets.) Still, they do provide as much as one could want and possibly use, so it is up to the modeler how much or how little he really needs. By using everything in the M26 kit, you can really open the model up, as it provides all of the viewers in the "up and open" position, plus all handles and locks for the fender stowage bins and even safety chains for pins and plugs.

Overall, these are very complete kits; blame the rising Euro for the prices in this case, not the manufacturer!

Thanks to Bill Miley of Chesapeake Model Designs for the review samples.

Cookie Sewell

Review Copyright 2003 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 03 June, 2003
Last updated 24 August, 2003

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