"Plastic Soldier" and Battlefront 15mm Pz IV comparison

The sprue - obverse and reverse
The Plastic Soldier Company makes, well duh, plastic toy soldiers for wargamers, in 15mm (1:100) and 25mm (1:72). They also make a limited, but expanding, range of vehicles and guns in those scales.

Proving that I have absolutely no impulse control, I just bought a box of their 15mm Panzer IV models in spite of the fact that I'm (supposedly) getting out of 15mm WWII gaming. There are 5 models to the box for $45 NZ; not too dear, but they could certainly be cheaper, since they retail for £16.50 (about $NZ 35.00) direct from their website.

Parts are supplied to build Ausf. F1, F2, G or H models of the Panzer IV, though some compromises have had to be made — for example, the muzzle brake on the long 75mm gun barrel is more or less right for the G or H, but not for the F2. However, the fundamental form of the Panzer IV never really changed, and unless you're feeling really anal about it the errors in detail really don't matter that much on the wargames table, and if you are feeling anal about it, plastic is a lot easier to modify than resin and/or metal.

Shown here on the left is Battlefront's model of the Panzer IV D (which I use as a stand-in for the Pz.IV A of 1939-40).
To the right is the offering from Plastic Soldier, built as the F1.
The two are pretty close in size and proportion, and would mix and match well enough on the table.

Each kit comes on a single sprue in a dark yellow plastic that is a reasonable match for the German Dunkelgelb base colour. They go together very smoothly. There are a couple of things to be wary of though, when building the track assemblies:
  1. The drive sprockets are not interchangeable left and right; make sure you have the right one for the appropriate track assembly.
  2. The tracks come in two sections, an upper and a lower run, and will only fit properly one way. Test-fit before charging ahead with your glue.
A few stowage extras (spare road wheels, jerrycans, a length of track) are provided on the sprue, and there is also a set of schurzen for those who want to build the Ausf.H. Unfortunately the sheet showing an exploded view of the model presents only the Ausf.F1 build, so if you want to do any of the later models you'll have to nut it out yourself.

No transfers are provided, so markings will have to be painted on, or transfers in the correct scale obtained elsewhere (Battlefront sell them).

In the example shown here, I've just sprayed it with Vallejo ModelAir German Grey, given it a wash of Devlan Mud, and then a quick dry-brush in VMC Stone Grey to highlight the detail. Properly weathered, and with the commander and markings decently painted, it would look just as good as the more expensive resin model I think.

Compared with Battlefront's resin and white-metal model, the injection-moulded Plastic Soldier model's detail is generally crisper, more delicate and more regular. On the other hand, surface details like the tools on the fenders are more deeply modelled on the Battlefront model, and have more dimension to them. The Battlefront model is heavier, and feels more satisfying in the hand, but it's an easy matter to add weight to the plastic model by glueing a couple of lead weights into the hull during assembly.

In the end, where the Plastic Soldier model really comes out ahead is in price. On a model by model basis, you pay less than half what you'd have to fork out for Battlefront models (and resin/metal models are only going to get dearer). If you're on a budget, the choice is clear — build the bulk of your armies in plastic, and only spend the big bucks where you absolutely have to, for specialty items.

1 comment:

  1. The white lines on these tanks are beautiful. Well done, sir. This may just change how I paint.