Monday, September 6

Review: 1/16th scale Wiesel Mk 20 from Takom

With its size and ease of build, Takom's recent 1/16th scale Wiesel TOW firing scout tank was a popular kit with modellers. Having reloaded, this time with a 20mm cannon in place, Takom are ready to go again with this alternate Mk 20 version. Andy Moore is building this one, but has paused to review the box contents for us all in his review...

In-boxed: Wiesel Mk 20
From Takom
Kit No #1014
1/16th scale
All hatches on the tank can be made into an open or closed state
Tracks & suspension is workable 
clear parts included
A figure is included with this kit.
Photo-etch parts are included
Four marking choices included in the box...
Price: $55.46 USD / €46.73 EUR / £40.05 GBP at Hobbylink Japan
Takom go big in today's in-box review, with the latest release in their line of 1/16 AFVs. Following on from their Wiesel A1 TOW, which hit the shelves just a few months ago, they've now released the cannon equipped Wiesel Mk 20 (not to be confused with the Wiesel 2, which is a different vehicle). This will be the first time I've tackled an armoured vehicle in this scale, so it's a build I'm looking forward to starting. Before that happens though, we'll get the low-down on the Wiesel, and see what Takom have given us in the box.
The Subject: The Wiesel Mk 20
The Wiesel AWC (armoured weapons carrier) was developed for the German Army in the mid 1970's due to a requirement for light air-transportable armoured vehicle for use with airborne infantry. The design needed to be small and light so it would fit the cargo holds of most NATO transport aircraft, and was intended to be air-droppable, although this requirement was dropped after later testing was unsuccessful. Prototypes were produced by Porsche in 1975, and while a lack of funds initially curtailed the project, the Bundeswehr did eventually order 343 vehicles in 1985 with the type entering service a few years later.
Of the 343 vehicles manufactured, 210 were fitted with TOW launcher system in place of a regular turret while the remaining 133 featured a 1-man turret armed with the Rheinmetall Mk20 20mm dual feed autocannon. Built from light steel armour, the Wiesel weighs in at 2.75 tons and can withstand small arms fire. Power comes from an 86 HP Audi diesel engine, giving a top speed of 45 mph. The Wiesel never saw any export success, and the Bundeswehr remain the sole user of the vehicle.
The Kit
Arriving in a regular, albeit quite deep, Takom box, adorned as usual with classy Jason Wong artwork, the contents consist of 11 sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue for the lights and vision blocks, and a small flexible sprue holding the ammo belts, along with two large single-part mouldings for the upper and lower hull. Rounding out the contents are a photo etch sheet, two short lengths of steel tubing, the decal sheet and, of course, the instruction manual.
Starting with the large parts, the one-piece lower hull is a substantial moulding with a quite a bit of external detail already moulded in place. The model features workable torsion bar suspension, and the inner hull floor has mouldings ready to take the ends of the suspension bars.
The upper hull too features plenty of nice detailing, although this will be added to with additional parts during the build. The driver's hatch is separate, although the instructions don't show the option of posing it open. There wouldn't be much point anyway since there's no interior provided with the kit.
The anti-slip areas on the upper hull have been moulded with a fairly restrained texture, but that's pretty accurate to the real vehicle, so I don't see any need to re-work these areas.
One detail on the upper hull I was less happy with are the two moulded stowage straps. These straps are often seen hanging from tie-down points on the forward hull, but Takom have chosen to mould them in place, which looks a little unrealistic, especially in this larger scale. I'd have preferred to see them left off, so the modeller can add them from tape or metal foil. They shouldn't prove too hard to remove though.
The connection between the upper and lower hull isn't the most positive I've ever seen, but they line up well enough and should be fine once cemented. If you're curious about the overall size of the vehicle in this scale, here it is next to Takom's 1/35 M3 Lee. The kit should build into an impressively sized model without being too unmanageable to paint and display.
Sprue A
The first of the regular sprues holds the hull rear panel, driver's hatch, the exhaust, and the fenders. The moulding here is pretty much on par with what you'd find in an average 1/35 kit – clean and crisp, but nothing that stands out as being spectacular. Having said that, it all looks to be very accurate to the real vehicle, with maybe just a few weld beads and the like that could be added if desired.
Slide moulding has been used on most of the sprues to add detail, or reduce the number of parts needed for sub-assemblies. Here it's been employed to create the open end to the exhaust pipe.
Sprue B
Here we've got many of the smaller details for the upper hull. You'll also find a simple jig on this sprue to aid in assembling the individual track links.
Mostly when looking at these sprues, you're simply seeing random components that don't convey any sense of scale. Occasionally though, you see a part that reminds you that you're dealing with a much larger size than normal, such as the shovel, seen here beside a 1/35 version.
Sprue E (x2)
Next up we've got a pair of sprue E's which holds the road wheels, and other suspension components, along with some smaller details like grab handles and the headlight casings.
The wheels and drive sprockets do feature some very fine detail including tiny casting numbers around the rims. You may need a magnifying glass to see it though.
Sprue F (x4)
Four Sprue F's supply the tracks. These are fully working individual links, with each link made up from four parts consisting of a top and bottom half, a track pin connector, and a guide horn. A jig is provided to help with assembly.
Slide moulding has been used to create the open end detail on the double track pins.
Sprue P
Here we have the parts for the small one-man turret, along with parts for the gun breach and mount. There's no internal detail provided for the turret, but the included figure will fill the void if you have the hatch open.
The 20mm Rheinmetall cannon is externally mounted on the turret, so all of it will be on show. Just as well then that Takom have added plenty of detail to the parts.
Sprue Q
This one holds more parts for the gun, including a nice one-piece barrel with a separate slide moulded muzzle. There are plenty of small detail parts here that should help to make the gun a real focal point of the model.
Sprue M
This is a small flexible sprue that holds the two ammo feed chutes. There's no mention made of the material used for these, but hopefully they will glue and take paint without problems.
Sprue H
The clear sprue holds the light lenses and the vision blocks. It's nice to see here that the lenses have been moulded with the appropriate patterning on their faces, rather than the clear disks you normally find in 1/35 kits.
Sprue L
The final sprue holds the parts of the figure. The original sculpt for this figure was created by Jason Wong, who is also responsible for Takom's box art, and he's done a great job here. The pose and stance of the figure looks very natural, with realistic wrinkles in the uniform and plenty of fine detail.
The beret features a decent representation of the Panzeraufklärungstruppe (armoured reconnaissance troop) badge, although I don't think this is entirely correct, as the included marking options are for Wiesels operated by Paratrooper Battalions, whose cap badge features an eagle within a wreath.
The arm sculpt features the German flag patch below the shoulder, and a larger shield shaped patch below that. You'll need to paint these yourself though, as no decals are provided for the patches, or any reference for the design on the shield patch (the relevant unit patches can be found online). For that matter no painting information is provided for the uniform as a whole. You'll need to use the box art or online reference for painting the fairly complex Flecktarn camo pattern.
Photo Etch & Extras
The photo etch fret only holds a handful of parts, mainly the mesh covers for the exhaust. In this larger scale, many of the details that might have been provided as PE with a 1/35 kit can be easily moulded in styrene -good news for those that dislike working with etched components. The kit also includes two short lengths of steel tubing. These are used for the support struts on the gun's elevation mechanism. Note that these steel tubes were loose in the poly bag holding the instructions, and would be easy to miss and accidentally throw away. Best to put them somewhere safe after opening the box.
The decal sheet is anonymously printed, but looks to be well done. Registration is good and the printing is sharp and clear. Maybe a few smaller markings, such as the various warning stickers and data placards on the gun, as well as the uniform patches mentioned above would have been a nice addition.
The construction manual comes in Takom's standard landscape format, with the build split across 30 steps using 3D shaded illustrations. As per usual with Takom, the painting guides appear on the back pages of the manual featuring 5-view drawings for each of the four options which are far too small to be of much use. I really wish Takom would include separate full-page painting guides with the kits.
The four included paint options are all more or less the same, in as far as they they all feature standard NATO three-colour camo with only the theatre markings and licence plates differentiating the schemes. Paint codes are for AMMO paints, and basic weathering info is also included, again referencing AMMO products. The illustrations are a little dark and don't show the camo pattern very clearly, so you'll probably need to use other reference when it's time to paint – not ideal.
Overall, this looks like a very nice release from Takom. The subject matter is ideal for a 1/16 model, as it's large enough to show good detail but won't overload your display cabinet in the process. The detail levels are good, but not spectacular; that should at least mean a straight forward build, and more detail can be added for those that wish to. The inclusion of a figure is also a good move, as that helps convey the scale of the vehicle more clearly. Hopefully, this should all provide a stress free and enjoyable build – we'll find out for sure once I start cutting plastic, so stay tuned.
Andy Moore

That is all we know about this release for now. You can see more about Takom's kits on their website or on their Facebook page