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Christmas Stocking Stuffer for Armor Fans

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Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP writes:

For those following but interested in 1/144th scale, look up a company called "USTAR". Just purchased a Panther and a Jagdtiger kits from Colpar/Hobbytown USA for $10.99 USD each. The Panther came with decals and a photo etched fret for the skirts. The Jagtigher also came with just decals. Since the Panther is available from different sources no so with the Jagdtiger. This company does some modern vehicles also in 1/144th scale. I felt the price was worth the quality of the models I bought for that price.

Revision Log
11 December 2008page first published

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Pat Ripley Fezian writes:

For the Christmas Stocking of WWII & Modern Armour Fans

(or, another manufacturer's lost opportunity)

We (boy 1 and boy 2 and I) came across these puzzles at one of our local discount stores for $2.00 AUD each. They represent the modern-day M1A2 Abrams and the WWII German Sdkfz 181 Tiger 1.

The Tiger comes in grey (historically inaccurate) or the three-colour pattern (which could place the vehicle in Italy or Russia in late 43 to early 44). It also has the ID crosses on either side of the hull, and turret number 223 on the rear-bin and turret sides.

The Abrams is in woodland camo or desert tan, and has no decals.

There is no scale on the plastic footlocker boxes they came in, but they were cheap enough to get them just for our entertainment. And I have to admit I was curious.

It actually has Part&1 on the label, which could mean that there were more in the series. They were produced by Fame Master Entertainment Ltd. in Hong Kong, and their website address is

From the small photo on the label, they seemed to be painted and looked to be reasonably accurate. When we opened the boxes, I was pleasantly surprised. The Abrams even had the two turret-mounted MGs included. The Tiger has 32 pieces, and the Abrams 35 (with the MGs and aerial mount). Moulded in a stiff plastic, they push together to form a very accurate representation of the two vehicles.

Toy puzzle tanks

I had no problem putting the Tiger together as I knew what the end result looked like, but Boy 1 (who is eight) had some trouble working out where the hull bits fitted together on the Abrams.

You can see in the next photo how the turrets fit on, and are allowed to swivel. The colour of the plastic is also visible, with the Abrams being from two production runs as the plastic colour is different.

The only thing that mars an otherwise brilliant effort is the shovel on the front of the Tiger, which has its head sculpted on backwards. The gun mantlet on the Tiger also has a tendency to slip downwards.

Tanks with turrets

After enquiring on TMP (thanks, Griefbringer and Chocolate Fezian), Iíve worked out that they are 1/87 scale. The two vehicles here are too small for 20mm but too large for 15mm, which is really a shame. What is just amazing is that these are assembled, hand-painted (or sprayed), then pulled apart and repacked. For $2.00 AUD. They are very accurate even to the tropical filters and bow MG on the Tiger, and the stowage represented on the modern vehicle.

Toy puzzle tanks

Which brings me to the lost opportunity.

These are a cheap child's toy, but there has been a lot of effort put into the accuracy of these, and they are cleverly constructed to avoid the sort of blocks of material that often fill the voids in alloy models. They push together, and will bounce when dropped on the floor rather than denting or shattering.

Dragon (and others) produce their diecast models in 1/72, and it seems to me that this company is missing an opportunity to market-mass products in 1/72 or even 1/100 without too much extra effort. You could cut the number of parts down significantly by not making it as a jigsaw. Add a sheet of transfers (there are plenty of small companies out there producing highly accurate examples to source these from), and sell an absolute bucket load to wargamers and collectors all over the world.

Toy puzzle tanks (back)