have recently released a 1:72 kit of the Sd.Kfz.131 Marder II as part of their Special Armour
range. The kit is a reboxing of the MPK Modelbau MK72 model reviewed HERE
Matthew Lenton's excellent Full-Build review is very comprehensive, and his finished model is highly impressive, so it would be pointless for me to try to cover identical ground (and I doubt that I could do so to such a high standard). Instead, I'll limit this fresh take on the kit to a "First Look" before embarking on a Blog.
The new boxing arrives in an attractive end-opening carton, with the decal options printed in colour on the back. End-opening boxes aren't my favourite style (I prefer a to use the box as a tray to hold parts during assembly), but this one certainly did it job protecting the sample kit in transit and everything arrived perfectly intact.
The kit is moulded in sand-coloured styrene on 2 runners and comprises 85 parts. A small sheet of decals provides markings for 3 vehicles.
Considering the kit is approaching 10 years old, the moulding is still very good, with some crisp detailing and no sign of any real flash. There are some mould lines evident in the zoomed-in photos, but these shouldn't take long to deal with. There don't seem to be any problems with sink marks, but there are some quite awkward ejection-pin marks in a number of places. Many will be hidden on the completed model, but others are frustratingly placed just where they'll be visible in the fighting compartment and inside the gun's shield.
Talking of guns - the kit features the German 75mm PaK 40, but the layout of the runner suggests that a Russian 76.2mm was also catered for in the original design of the kit, so the Sd.Kfz. 132 could be a future release.
A Few Details
Assembly is broken down into 26 stages - which seems a high number until you realise that some stages only deal with 2 or 3 parts. The sequence looks pretty logical in terms of construction, but you will probably want to keep some of the sub-assemblies separate to make painting easier.
The tracks and wheels are crisply defined. The tracks are moulded in 2 lengths per side, to wrap around the running gear and trim to length. Once removed from the runner, the track lengths are nice and flexible and hold their shape well - and there's ample length to spare, allowing you to portray a little "sag" and still trim loads of links off. It's all a major step up in quality for me and quite a revelation, because the last AFV I built in this scale was at University around 40 years ago and featured "rubber band" tracks! (Ironically, though, that kit, built purely for fun as an antidote to Uni studies, was responsible for me realising that I still really enjoyed scale modelling and it convinced me to get back into the hobby seriously.)
The level of interior detail is impressive for a kit in this scale, with a very nicely fitted-out fighting compartment. All told, there appear to be around 15 finely moulded parts to squeeze in, including a neatly detailed set of radio equipment and an MP40. The PaK 40 is constructed from 9 parts, plus 4 parts for the shield, and it can be modelled with or without its travelling lock in place.
I'm impressed by the quality of some of the smaller exterior fittings such as the tools and the exhaust - the latter featuring a finely detailed shield (OK - the pattern of the perforations doesn't match the shield in the the walkaround linked below - but it's still an exceptional bit of moulding in this scale).
Instructions & Decals
The assembly guide is printed in colour on glossy stock as a 12-page booklet. The diagrams are carried over from the original MK72 instructions and are clear and easy to follow. As usual, Special Hobby
include matches for Gunze Sangyo paints.
Decals are included for 3 colour schemes:
A. "Yellow 122", Pz.Jg.Abt.49, Eastern Front, winter 1943/44.
B. "Kohlenklau" (Coal Thief), 3./Pz.Jg.Abt.561, Eastern Front, spring 1943.
C. "Friedel", unknown unit, Eastern Front, autumn 1943
The decals are printed by Eduard and look good quality, with sharp registration on the thin, glossy items. The "Yellow 122" looks duller in the photo at right that it does to the naked eye. I've found recent Eduard decals work very well in their aircraft kits, so these promise to be good too.
I'm genuinely impressed by this little Marder II kit and can totally understand why Matthew Lenton rated it highly in its original boxing. It looks to be a pretty straightforward build - but with plenty of detail to satisfy experienced modellers. Special Hobby
's recent purchase of MK72 moulds promises to give some excellent kits a well-deserved second time in the limelight.
I found several useful Walkarounds online which should help anyone building this kit:
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ARMORAMA