Earlier this week he forwarded an email from PSC announcing they had the Zvezda Art of Tactic A13s available, along with some comment along the lines of "I may have to start looking at 15mm". This was something of a red rag to a bull as I had been extolling the virtues of the new generation of cheap 15mm to him for years but apparently to no avail. Maybe the emails all got sent to his "spam" folder?
As it happens I was waiting for this particular little model to land here in the UK. Zvezda's release schedule is still dominated by the requirements of their "Art of Tactic" game, rather than the requirements of us wargamers. Art of Tactic is a crossover board game with units represented by plastic models. The problem is that they use 1:72 for infantry and guns, 1:100 for tanks and vehicles, and 1:144 for aircraft (or 1:200 for larger aircraft), all priced at around £3.00 for a unit. This is something of a "curates egg". We get good quality 1:100 (15mm) tanks at a very reasonable price, but for us there is also the disappointment in knowing that the guns will never arrive in the "right" scale. The other interesting point is that Zvezda have been rather random in their releases, because they are concentrating on the Art of Tactic game rather than looking at the wider wargames market, they're producing models the mainstream wargaming companies would not look at in plastic, and the A13 is one of those.
OK the pedants will immediately cry out "thats not a Crusader!" and of course they would be right. However given the confused situation of British Cruiser Tank naming, I can understand how Zvezda may get the Cruiser Tank Mk IV (A13 MkII) confused with Cruiser Tank MkVI (A15). It is a Mk IV, but you could make it a IVA with a minimum of work (cut the coax Vickers and replace with a slimmer Besa) or at this scale just not bother!
The kit itself is very simple and consists of 2 sprues with a total of 7 parts (plus the flag bit that is only used in Art of Tactic). The plastic is a little bit softer than what you would get from Airfix or PSC - I suspect this is to allow the "snap fit" to work.
Initially with Zvezda I didn't glue them, but last week my cat Otto (Carius) knocked a box of them on the floor and though there was no long term damage there was plenty of bits popping off, so this one got some Liquid Poly to hold it together. The assembly instructions are on the back of the box
It took less than eight minutes to clip the parts from the sprues and assemble them. The sprues were 100% flash free. Detail is very fine - a feature of many of the AoT kits and as a result they lack the overscale features we come to expect from mainstream wargames models. This is most pronounced in the 2Pdr gun barrel, which is very thin and fine, and has about a life expectancy of a few minutes on a wargames table, so I plan to replace it with some plastic rod before it gets painted, and the tracks and running gear which are frankly superb. The down side is like all AoT tanks there is no way to model them with an open hatch, which is a bit of a disappointment, and the smoke dischargers usually seen on the right hand side of the turret on tanks in a combat area are missing - but that last would take about a minute to fix with a bit of plastic rod..
Proportionally and dimensionally the Zvezda kit looks spot on, and captures the look of the real thing really well.
All in all a great little kit and well worth £3.00. Let me put that into perspective. Flames of War will sell you their multi medium (resin and plastic) version for £8.00. You will get the option to have an open hatch and a commander, but saving £5 a tank is damned attractive. QRF also do an A13 MkIV at £6 each, and Skytrex for £6.50, but still, thats twice the Zvezda price.
Well worth picking up if you want to do either France 1940 or the Early phase of the Western Desert campaign