Heyhey, time for a model kit review! This one’s a double feature too, due to the similarities between the kits. Technically it’s a triple feature (or threat, if you prefer) even.
It’s been a while since my last review of a Rubicon kit, which is a shame because they keep on releasing a lot of stuff.
Today I will take a look at Rubicon’s T-34/76 (the early to mid war one) kit as well as their very clever combi-kit, the SU-85 and SU-122.
If you’ve read my earlier Rubicon reviews you may remember that I’m not a big fan of their box illustrations. They always looked horribly like computer graphics; lifeless and sterile.
The illustrationson thee here are a bit better though, with a softer palette and such. Look, they even copypasted an explosion (looking to the right on the T-34 box and to the left on the SU-85 box) for additional action! Boom!
All kidding aside, these boxes do their job. They’re shiny, they got the info that’s required AND give a picture of the decal sheet.
Each box contains three sprues, very well made assembly instructions and a great decal sheet. These are always kind of a highlight for me in Rubicon kits.
Unsurprisingly, the T-34 and the SU-85/122 share several parts. The way the sprues are designed is very clever and technically really, really well done. Rubicon know their stuff.
Both kits do have a few years on their backs by now, but got a slight do-over in 2020 as far as I know.
The assembly instructions start by mentioning that we’re supposed to use special ABS plastic glue. They mean it. Of course I’m weirdly resistant to stuff like that (still got painful memories about using Vallejo primer on a Waffenkammer Stug III many years ago even though the instructions say „USE TAMIYA SPRAY PRIMER, OTHER ONES WON’T WORK“. And the primer just came off in big flakes of course.).
So I started putting these tanks together using my trusty Revell Contacta Professional. Best plastic glue around, as we all know, worked for the past 30 years, great. And then the bits came off. Apparently using ABS glue (because Rubicon use fancy plastic now) actually IS a good idea.
So yeah, use ABS glue. It’s fun too. stronger smell, stronger bond!
Assembly of the kits is breezy. Mounting the gun on the SU-122 can be ever so slightly fiddly, but in general you’ll be perfectly fine.
There are some interesting options in these kits. On the T-34 you get a bunch of different parts to depict earlier and leater versions of the tank, as well as a note that due to different factories using different assembly at times you can also mix and match the bits to an extent. There are even different gun versions to build. Very cool.
Another thing that’s noteworthy is the inclusion of different barrels on the hull MG: A „modeller’s option“ and a „gamer’s option“. Both are pretty thick, the gamer’s option is slightly thicker. Interesting. Rubicon are really keen on making it easy for people who just want to slap together the tank kit to have it built and painted in time for club night. On the other hand, there are basically no other extras to put onto the hull like tools or stuff like that. Both kits come with the usual tool kits on the track guards and a more or less nicely modelled pile of track links to go on the track guards as well.
For people who want a bit more detail to their tanks Rubicon sell stowage kits for each major nation in the war.
Alright, no problem. As far as I read, Soviet tankers were discouraged from piling stuff onto their tanks (apart for spare parts of course). And honestly, there wasn’t that much to pile on anyway up until 1944 or so. All the pictures of Soviet tanks with looted stuff on top (usually everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink) usually are from late stages in the war.
I on the other hand was looking for building vehicles for up to and including Kursk (and I already own an absurd amount of T-34/85). So I built the T-34 as the earliest possible variant, down to the boxy fuel tanks in the back. You might remember that I already own another delightful T-34/76 by Die Waffenkammer
. So I wanted the new T-34 to look as different as possible.
Here’s the assembled and primed models:
…with some detailling added. The kits come with railings/handles cast-on, but in a somewhat pitiful manner. They’re barely visible, and that’s just a shame. So I built some of that stuff on, made from plastic bits and staples (a particular favourite of mine for that task). Then I added some bits I had lying around, cut out some saws and so on. Not much stowage at all; these tanks possibly aren’t expected to survive long during that stage of the war, and space on top of the vehicle is precious for moving infantry around rather than random junk.
I also fitted two of Bad Squiddo’s excellent female tank commanders.
As you can see int he last picture you can see a very clever thing about the SU-85/122 kit – the box contains the front portion of the chassis twice. You can just switch it to have two different variants and the kit supplies enough bits to fully build both variants. Very good.
I don’t get to paint proper real world tanks as often as one would think, so I had some fun with those, applying filters and dusting and adding rain marks and mud and rust and scratches and faded paint and all of that fun stuff. Sure, the paintjob is a bit more ‚dramatic‘ than on a ‚proper scale model‘ becuause it’s still a gaming piece.
The funny thing is that despite my gret fondness of Rubicon’s decal sheets, I just don’t like using decals on Soviet tanks. Instead I paint sogans and numbers and so on by hand. It just looks more convincing.
So yeah, I’m happy with the results. 🙂
Rubicon is a safe bet when it comes to 28mm 1/56th scale WW2 (and now post-war too) vehicles. They are made with a lot of common sense and really well engineered.
I can’t think of any problems with the kits really. As long as you use ABS plastic glue (!!!) you’ll be perfectly fine. Sure, there are certain downsides: The detailling could be better and it would be nice if we got some extra details to add to the kit. But that’s mainly a thing for modellers, and Rubicon first an foremost cater to wargamers. It’s just that their kits also look really nice as well if some more time is invested.
If there is one thing I would like for them to improve it would be the tracks. I remember this from prior Rubicon kits – the tracks just don’t look nice. I mean it’s not a huge problem since we don’t see much of them anway, and many people wil apply lots of mud or even just dust and some earth or something like that to basically cover it up. But the tracks are a bit of a weak link (no pun intended) in the whole picture.
Either way – these are the kits to go with and I hope that Rubicon release more kits, like a SU-76 (even though I’m not a huge fan of the ‚correctly proportioned, real scale 28mm figures‘ Rubicon tend to do.).
Anyway, really good kits, looking forward to seeing them on a gaming table. I hope that you found this review interesting and useful!