Friday, 26 May 2017

15mm Pz38t — resin vs. plastic

Long gone are the days when 15mm WWII models were the province of just one or two vendors. These days there's quite a wide range to choose from.

On the left of the picture is the Pz38t in resin and metal from Battlefront (BF), which I've owned for quite a few years now. On the right, the injection-moulded styrene version from The Plastic Soldier Company (PSC), which I've just obtained.

Both are pretty good in terms of detail and profile. The BF model's commander is wearing the huge beret that panzer troops wore at the very beginning of the war, which is a nice touch. The detail on the PSC model — rivets, guns, etc. — is generally finer and more delicate. It doesn't include the hull-mounted stowage boxes; they would need to be scratch-built if you want them on your tank. The BF model's tracks include more link detail, but on the other hand they're also a lot thicker and chunkier than the tracks on the PSC version.

The BF resin/metal model has a more satisfying heft in the hand, which would also make it less subject to accidental movement on the wargames table than the PSC plastic model in its unmodified state. I fill the body cavity of these plastic lightweights with lead and epoxy, which takes care of that issue.

For ease of construction, the BF model wins hands down. It's just five or six parts, and you can get from blister to completed model in fifteen minutes quite easily, if you don't have to do too much cleaning up of the components.

The PSC model is far from being an involved building project, but it takes a bit longer to get from sprue to completed model than its much simpler resin/metal colleague. On the other hand, the PSC offering provides options on the same sprue to build either the gun tank, as shown here, or one or other of two versions of the Marder tank destroyer. I expect that it would be possible, maybe, to build them all so that they're interchangeable on the basic hull with the help of magnets and the like, but it would be very tricky — for the effort involved, you'd be much better off just buying another sprue.

Which brings us to price, and here PSC wins hands down. At current exchange rates (May 2017), the BF resin/metal model costs $US 13.00 ($NZ 18.52). The PSC model costs £UK 5.99 ($NZ 11.04) for a single sprue, or about £UK 20.00 for a box of five (or about $NZ 9.20 each).

Battlefront are now producing their own injection-moulded plastic models, though they don't (yet) offer a Pz38t. However, their packs of five vehicles sell at $US45.00 ($NZ 64.00), so PSC's packs are still very much better value for money.

Once assembled, either model paints up quite straightforwardly, but I'd say the PSC model has an advantage here inasmuch as all its plastic surfaces are quite smooth and even. The resin can have quite a ragged, webbed surface, especially if it's been de-moulded a fraction too early, and the mould lines on the metal components are often fairly pronounced.

On balance, my choice would be without hesitation for the PSC injection-moulded model at almost half the price of the resin and metal offering from Battlefront, even though it requires quite a lot more preparation time from me to get to the point of painting.