Wednesday, June 17

Paul's build review of Takom's Luchs in 35th scale pounces out of the box...

The linage from WWII armoured cars is evident in the German post-war scout armoured car the Luchs SpPz 2 Luchs A1/A2 family. Today Takom’s kit is investigated and built up by Paul Lee who was keen to have it in his collection. See how it all turned out in today’s review.

Review build: SpPz 2 Luchs A1/A2
Manufacturer: Takom
1:35th scale
Tan Plastic + Photo Etch, vinyl Tyres + Markings for four vehicles..
Price: USD $63
Model by Paul Lee
It's quite easy to see that the SpPz2 Luchs is descended from the eight wheeled family of armoured cars used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. While the original Luchs was fully amphibious, the Luchs has since lost this capability after the first upgrade, however it still boasts full NBC protection, very quiet engine that apparently can't be heard outside of 50m, all four steerable axles, as well as a second rear facing driver station to allow for a quick escape should the need arise. The Luchs has since been replaced by the Fennek in Bundeswehr service.
One of the things that keeps me interested in Takom's latest releases is that their schedule is not full of vehicles that are widely available on the market, and this is no different with Revell being the only other mainstream manufacturer that has released this vehicle in 1/35 scale. After being thoroughly impressed with their Tadpole I was more than happy to review a second new release.
The box advertises this as a 2 in 1 kit, allowing you to build either the A1 or A2 version. Other features include steerable suspension, hatches which can be posed open or closed but with absolutely no interior provided I'm not sure you would want to. PE, clears two tyre types and 4 marking options are listed as the other features.

So what's inside?

The instruction manual comes in a sealed plastic bag, nicely finished in semi-gloss and consists of 3D line drawings. The first twelve steps involve the fairly complex suspension, although they are essentially duplicates of the four axles. Step 13 onwards is split into vertical halves for the A1 or A2 versions mentioned on the box so make your choice about which version you want rather than go through each step.

Some sample pages of the instructions...
There are also three small cut-outs in the bag which correct some errors in the instruction booklet.
You get two marking schemes for each version which come on two double sided sheets and have been done in conjunction with Mig Jimenez of Ammo. The five view profiles are in full colour, although no unit information or theatre information is given. However the KFOR decals on the A2 versions give it away as vehicles used in the Kosovo conflict. Please note that for the profile with the high-viz red and white mud flaps, Takom appears to have left out the rear mud flaps which go in front of the propellers at the rear of the vehicle. It is for this reason that I chose to go with the other three tone scheme.
Another plastic bag gives you the metal springs for the suspension, a canvas cover for the main armament done in rubber, poly caps for the main armament, decal sheet, and a fret of photo etch which is coated in a strange emerald colour.. I'm not sure of the reasoning for the coating, and originally thought it could have been a primer but later discovered that this isn't the case.
The hull come in upper and lower halves as well as the turret.
You get two copies of Sprue A which predictably is the extended number of parts fo rthe complex underside suspension.
Sprue B is an assortment of parts on the vehicle including the main armament which comes with the end drilled out. However the detail is still a bit soft, and metal replacement will probably be an improvement.
Sprue C gives you the lower portion of the turret as well as some details on the hull including the trim vane at the front of the vehicle.
Sprue D consists of the clears for the vehicle, Periscopes and lights mostly...
Sprues E and F are the different equipment fit-outs of the A1 and A2 version.

Two sets of vinyl tyres with different tread patterns are provided for the variant you decide to build.

Construction starts with the suspension, and this is the trickiest part of the kit. The general fit is good although I would question some of the instructions and deviate from them if I were to do another one.

Step one has you attaching the shock absorbers and their mounts to the lower hull, as well as other assorted details. The problem is that the shock absorbers are not parallel to the hull sides and no guidance is given on what angle they should be at, so I think it would be better to attach the mounts, but attach the shock absorbers in step 3 when you attach the axles. Subsection C has an overhang to it and will partially obstruct a locating hole so I would wait and install those in when you install the axle later.
Step 2 involves mounting the bogies and the suspension springs. Watch the alignment of the bogies so that all wheels will touch the ground at the end. I had some problems with this. The bogies are not parallel with the hull and wraps around one of the shock absorbers. There should be enough room in there to thread the shock absorber through in the next step in my suggested construction sequence.
Step 3 is construction of the axle itself. The steering rods are attached without glue and are fully steerable as advertised on the box. The rods are attached by threading a pin through its relevant eye and then secured by putting a PE washer over it and then melting the end so that it cannot come loose. The one exception is parts A 41 and A43 which are used to anchor the axle to the hull. These are threaded over a mounting pin and swivel freely, but A41 is capped so it has to be glued in place. However there is no guidance on what angle they should be glued at so it would have been better if they were keyed at the correct angle. The instructions are a little vague but the axles sit on top of the appropriate pair of springs.
Step 4 is construction of the second axle which is pretty much the same as the previous one, and then step 5 and 6 is used to connect the drive shafts to the axles. I found the fit of the drive shafts to be very tight.
Steps 7, 8, and 9 are just repeats of the first four steps but for the rear end of the vehicle instead of the front. Step 9 has a cover that goes over a unit in the centre of the underside, but is mislabelled as A39 in the instructions and should be B39. This is not covered in the corrections provided. Once this is done, the most difficult part of the kit is now over.
The upper hull provides no challenges at all except the arms for the side mirrors are mislabelled as parts A89 and 90 when they should in fact be B89 and B90. Again this is not covered in the provided corrections.

The turret is also a breeze, except the gun barrel was slightly bent. I dipped it in hot water and straightened it out as much as I could but I think a metal one would definitely be an improvement in this area.
Ready for paint...
Seeing as though the profiles were done in consultation with Mig Jimenez, I thought I'd try out his  "NATO Colours" acrylic colour set. This is a pack of three paints – green, black, and brown, and to my eyes close enough to spot on. The dropper bottle has a little metal ball inside just like a rattle can so you know when the paint is ready.
The paint sprayed very well straight out of the bottle, although its usage is quite different to what you would do with Tamiya or Gunze acrylics. This video is very helpful if you haven't used them before.
I was very happy with how the green sprayed so much so that I thought I'd do the other colours freehand. I should have masked it instead. Oh well.
For the weathering I chose to go for a dusty look rather than bathing it in mud so I did a light spray with flat earth, and then some lighter dusty tones. Here are the results.
The Luchs is not a commonly kitted vehicle, and I think Takom has delivered a great model of this vehicle. The suspension is a bit tricky and some more guidance when parts are not at right angles would definitely help with construction, but there are no real surprises when you put the kit together. It certainly looks like a Luchs and as far as I can tell, is accurate enough. It is a shame that the rear mud flaps were missing from the kit because the red and white stripes would have added a nice splash of colour to the vehicle, but apart from that, I can't really find too much wrong with this kit. Highly recommended.

Paul Lee

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit for us to review and build.