Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review: Battlefront Team Yankee T-72A

This round we take a squiz at the Team Yankee T-72 boxset, another critical addition to the Soviets offered by Battlefront.

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Background:

The T-72 is quite possibly the most iconic vehicle of the late Cold War, with its extremely low profile, spherical turret and huge 125mm gun, the tank is one of the most globally exported of its kind in history. In Central Europe the T-72 served with many of the WARPAC states, including East Germany and Czechoslovakia. While it did also serve with the main Soviet army, it was never issued to frontline units in East Germany, so the choice of as the mainstay of the initial Soviet line by BF is a little odd, although I am told this decision was made to maintain fidelity with the original Team Yankee book, itself based on some faulty intelligence from the period concerning deployment of enemy armor.

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The T-72 was doctrinally considered a numbers tank - a AFV that would overwhelm the enemy through numerical superiority, as opposed to its more advanced bigger brother the T-80, which was designed to be more on direct par with its NATO enemies. The vehicle presented in the Battlefront kit is specifically the T-72A - a second generation iteration of the vehicle with numerous innovations over its predecessor, the T-72 Ural.

Layout:

Each vehicle is distributed across two sprues in 24 separate pieces, of which around 20 are necessary for a finished product. 'Fiddliness' is generally minimal, apart from the smoke launchers. Once again the kit includes two NSV anti-aircraft machine guns, which are very much appreciated. Each vehicle comes with an optional mine roller set, as well as commander hatches both closed and open. There is also a crew sprue and a set of numerical decals.

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The box contains five vehicles, requiring two boxes to do an entire company.

Quality:

I must say that after reviewing previous products in the Team Yankee line, the T-72 is a somewhat disappointing kit, both in terms of sculpt quality and cleanup issues. The sculpts themselves feel fairly minimalist and occasionally give off a sense of corner cutting on the part of the artist. The turret, while adequate, is missing some fairly important details, such as connector leads for the IR lamp and the smoke launcher. This leaves it extremely spartan, especially when compared with the M1 and BMP kits, which were choc full of tasty flair. The positioning of the AA MG is quite odd, too, as these were traditionally stored to the rear of the hatch, rather than to the side. As someone who has built countless T-72s, this comes off as quite visually odd. Of course, it is easily correctable, as shown above, but it was a strange choice, nonetheless.

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A fairly prominent example of the corner cutting can be found on the rear tracks. While all the other sections of the tracks display the connector pins (essentially metal rods that hold the tracks together), these mysteriously disappear at the back. I'm not sure if the sculptor thought we wouldn't notice, but I found their absence immediately noticeable. The cast quality on the rear of the tracks also deprecates noticeably over that of the front.

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Another issue I found was the amount of flash and warping in the casts of these tanks. The tracks themselves were inundated with excess plastic, which took quite a large amount of cleanup. The worst offender, however, was the consistent warping of the stowage bins on the rear of the turret. While these will be fixable with some green stuff filling, it also means they lose all their details.

Not all was so negative, however. the AA MGs in particular were very nicely detailed and the hull and suspension details were generally good. External fuel barrels suffered from the classic join line syndrome that pretty much every model of the T-72 is afflicted with, I wonder when someone will come up with a casting solution to this?

The general style of the kit was the usual 'semi heroic' style, which really suits this Soviet brawler.

Conclusion:

Overall, the Team Yankee T-72 kits are  solid, but they are noticeably inferior to every other product I've come across in this line. Even now as I sit looking at the impressive M163 VADs kit (to be reviewed next) I can tell that the T-72 is an outlier to the rest of the range in its quality. I hope that as BF progresses and brings out other Cold War Soviet tanks such as the T-80 and the T-72B it tries to avoid similar mishaps. While I wouldn't be too bothered by any one of the individual flaws encountered here, collectively they seem to speak of a rushed job and I know BF can do a lot better than this. As it stands, I feel that the Zvezda T-72s, although a different iteration, are superior in quality to the Battlefront offering at this point.

2 comments:

  1. Any value in combining the Battlefront kit with the Zvezda kit?
    I had a lot of trouble even connecting the unditching beam on these, but had not noticed the other issues - but I have also built very few of these previously, especially compared to you :)

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