Thanks very much to Warlord Games for this new release and to Richard Dyer for reviewing it.
Warlord Games 1/56 King Tiger
Several manufactures produce resin models of the Tiger II or King Tiger tank in 1/56 (28mm) scale primarily intended for the wargaming table, indeed Warlord Games themselves have produced resin with white metal kits of both the Porsche and Henschel turreted versions of the tank as separate kits. I was wondering who would be the first to release an all-plastic kit of the King Tiger in this scale, and here we have the answer… Warlord Games.
Once again Warlord have teamed up with Italeri to produce a new plastic kit of the King Tiger. Warlord’s new King Tiger kit (item 402012001) comes attractively packaged in a slim cardboard box. The box top illustration shows two King Tigers battling an unseen enemy in the streets of a ruined city (Berlin perhaps?). Look closely at the image and you can see that the tank in the background has the Porsche design turret as fitted to the first fifty Henschel hulls. The vehicle in the foreground sports a slab-sided Henschel turret. This alludes to the first, and most obvious option available in this kit, both turret designs are available. An inset image on the box top shows the full-colour waterslide decal sheet, a stats card used with the Bolt Action game (www.boltaction.com), and some damage markers. Turn the box over and we find a short history of the King Tiger tank, and two photos of completed kits, which illustrate and confirm the build options. The first image shows a model fitted with the Porsche turret, but without track-guards (another kit option), the second has the Henschel turret with crew figure.
The kit’s contents fit snugly inside the box, there is no space wasted here! Open the box and we find a single plastic bag containing three sprues of equal size, a zip-lock bag containing the damage markers, the stats card, and decal sheet as illustrated on the box. In addition to these we also have the kit’s instructions. Let’s start with these.
The instructions are in the form of a 12 page A5 size booklet. The front cover has a copy of the box top illustration, and a repeat of the potted history text. The inside front cover has a key guide too the assembly symbols you will encounter as you work your way through the build, an enlarged colour image of the decal sheet, with instructions on how to apply them. The next page is the start of the assembly sequence. This is illustrated throughout with easy to follow line CAD drawings. There are 20 separated stages of construction ‘A’ through to ‘T’, the inside and outside back cover showing four marking options in colour. There are two Henschel turreted vehicles, and two for the Porsche turret as follows:
King Tiger with Henschel Turret
1. Tank ace Kurt Knispel’s vehicle in ‘ambush’ camouflage, 1944-1945.
2. A tank in the ‘octopus’ camouflage 511 Panzer Battalion, March 1945.
King Tiger with Porsche Turret
3. A tank of the 3rd Company 503 Panzer Battalion, 1945.
4. Tank ‘Anneliese’ of the 503 Panzer Battalion in winter camouflage, Hungary, 1945.
The colour callouts are from the Vallejo range of paints.
Now for the plastic components. As already noted there are three sprues containing enough plastic parts to build one King Tiger tank, with either a Porsche or Henschel design turret. The parts are crisply moulded in a dark (panzer) grey colour plastic. There is a small amount of flash here and there on some of the components, but this is minimal and will not be a problem to clean up. Unusually the three sprues have not been given an identification letter or number. The individual kit parts, however, are numbered from 1 to 73. By my calculation there are actually 97 individual parts in total. This can be explained as duplicate and identical components, such as spare track and towing shackles share a single part number. One of the first things you notice about this kit is that Zimmerit anti mine coating has been moulded onto the hull and both of the turrets. I know that opinion is divided as to whether kit manufacturers’ should mould this texture onto their kits, but in this case I think that Warlord Games/Italeri have made the right decision. I personally wouldn’t want to try to replicate Zimmerit at this scale! The only thing I would say is that it looks a little over scale and far too regimented in appearance, but that’s just my first impression of it unpainted.
Construction starts with the lower hull, adding the ‘link and length’ type track. The interlocking road wheels of the King Tiger have been simplified, condensed down to a single moulding for each side. This cuts the construction time down, and makes the build less arduous for the novice. Only the main drive sprockets and rear idler wheels are separate parts. Even these look simple to put in place thanks to some positive locating pins. The whole lower hull/chassis assembly with track runs (stages A, B, and C) consists of only 18 parts!
Construction moves on to the upper hull and external details. Stages D through to J. This is where we start to notice the options available with this kit. At stage D the modeller must decide which turret is going to be used. If the Porsche turret is selected, eight holes need to be drilled through from under the hull to accommodate the four quarters of the turret ring protector. I would have liked it better if Warlord/Italeri had mould this part as a complete ring, but I imagine that there was not enough space on the sprue tree to do this. Both hatches on the upper hull can be modelled in the open position, which is good news for those who like to add crew figures to their tanks.
Moving on to stages G & H where the distinctive track guards that the run the length of the tank also become an option. The modeller can elect to build the tank with full track guards in place, or without them, or any combination in between. I really like the flexibility this offers.
The final stages of assembly (K to T) deal with the construction of the turrets. I was pleased to see that the muzzle brakes on both gun barrels are moulded open, and when viewed from the front have the appearance that the barrels are hallow. This saves drilling them out! The gun barrels of both turret options can be modelled to elevate and depress, both turrets will rotate too. As with the two hatches on the lower hull both hatches can be modelled open or closed. The kit comes with a single crew figure; a commander. I like that at least one figure is supplied with the kit, but to my eye he looks a bit too big for the tank. I believe that the term is ‘heroic’ proportion. The instructions state that, “Tank commander can be placed in the open hatch. Alternative commanders and crew figures are available from the Warlord games web store”
A small but full decal sheet is provided with the kit covering the four suggested marking options as illustrated in the instructions booklet. There are additional tactical and divisional markings suitable for late war German heavy tanks. There are also three forms of Balkenkreuz national insignia, handy if you want to represent a vehicle from reference other than the instruction booklet.
I believe that the same three sprues of parts reviewed here are also available re-boxed as a kit under the Italeri banner (item No. 15765), minus the stats card and damage markers, but with a different set of decals. At the time of writing this review Warlord still list their original resin King Tiger kits (Porsche & Henschel variants) along side this new plastic kit on their website (www.warlordgames.com), so if the Zimmerit finish is not to your taste there’s still an opportunity to model a vehicle without it. I should also add that Warlord are offering a platoon box set (King Tiger Zug item 402012019) containing three of these plastic King Tigers for £60, which is more cost effective if you need one than one tank.
To conclude, this looks to be a great modeller friendly kit of a popular tank. The robust design of the kit components should suit the riggers of wargaming, while parts and assemblies have been simplified there is enough detail where it counts and thus this should turn out to be a fair scale representation of a King Tiger tank too. Obviously this kit can be recommended to the wargamer, but also to the novice modeller as a good introduction to the hobby of military modelling. I imagine that the subject matter of this kit, and the fact that the modeller has the option to produce a vehicle with either the Porsche or Henschel turret from one box will be a combination hard to resist!
Product: Plastic kit
Scale: 1/56 (28mm)
Manufacturer: Warlord Games/Italeri
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