Reviewed by Jürgen Schulz
After a long time waiting, it has finally arrived! The new Leopard 1 - kit by Revell.
Inside the familiar foldable box, whose appearance has been revamped, we not only find a newly-designed manual, which is printed in colour, but also crisply printed decals, eight sprues made from grey plastic, one sprue made from black vinyl, which includes the tow cables, the searchlight cable and finally the tracks. Finally, the familiar steel wire for representing antennae is also included.
The box contains parts for depicting one vehicle used by the Netherlands, one Belgian variant as well as two German tanks.
Quality and general layout of the different parts is comparable to the new Revell M48 kits, which have been available for quite some time now. Side walls of the lower hull and the floor panel are moulded separately. The same is valid for the upper hull, in order to simplify building different versions (those with and without tool boxes on the hull sides).
What strikes the eye in this context is sprue J, which includes the necessary parts for a Dutch Leopard. The toolboxes have been designed in a way that allows the modeller to build a late Belgian tank. Furthermore, there are two unused parts on this sprue, a crosswind sensor and a pressure sensor. These parts are NOT mentioned in the instructions. We may look forward to some more variants of the Leopard.
The running gear's level of detail has been improved compared to the old Revell/Italeri kits, which are starting to show their age.
The turret has received a more accurate shape and - finally - the correct number and arrangement of the commander's periscopes.
The lower hull has a definite step. The engine compartment had thinner belly armour than the crew compartment, so this is correct, though the step does seem a little exaggerated.
But also some minor and major mistakes have slipped in. What strikes the eye first is that the mould makers have overdone the turret's cast steel texture. Those who already have seen a Leopard from the first four batches, know that the turret's surface is as smooth as a baby's bottom. Less would have been more here. One has to find out, what it looks like after the paintjob.
Both types of exhaust grilles show a long groove where the tow cables are supposed to go later. This is missing on the original and it is disturbing on the model.
On the upper hull, we find that the handles for fuel filler as well as the air filter access covers. For the latter, Revell even fitted a second handle - why? There isn't one! Furthermore, the blanking plugs and chains have been moulded to the hull, while those attached to the mantlet are missing completely.
When it comes to the anti-aircraft machine gun and the loader's hatch, one also has mixed feelings. What happened to the machine gun's stock and why is the handle cast onto the hatch when it was a separate part in the old kit?
The track's detailing is fine, but it has a lot of ejection marks on the inside.
The worst part here are the tow cables, as unfortunately, Revell have cast the L-brackets for stowing the cables directly onto the cables. These were separate parts in the old kit as well.
There is also a factual error to be found in the manual. Page 12 (step 26) suggests the use of part B51 in order to build a 2nd batch vehicle. Hoever, part B51 is in fact the square infantry phone box which was only used in batch 1. This is not relevant for this kit. For building a 1st batch tank, one would have to perform additional changes on turret and hull.
In my opinion, this kit displays an improvement to its predecessor. Still, this improvement is not as obvious as it could be. Some good solutions, like the separate handles on fuel filler and air filter hatches or the handle for locking the loader's hatch were done away with while the overall quality has been improved. There is still enough room for scratch built refinements or the aftermarket.
Comparison between the Italeri turret (left) and the new Revell turret (right)
Comparison between the upper hull for the Italeri kit (left) and the new Revell kit (right)
Comparison between the wheels for the Italeri kit (left) and the new Revell kit (right)