DML 1/35 Magic Track for StuG III Ausf.C-G/Pz.IV Ausf.F-H (40 cm wide) First Look
|Date of Review||February 2009||Manufacturer||DML (cyber-hobby.com)|
|Subject||Magic Track for StuG III Ausf.C-G/Pz.IV Ausf.F-H (40 cm wide)||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||3857||Primary Media||216 links in dark grey styrene|
|Pros||Modern track sets permit upgrading older kits or different options for current kits||Cons||Single link track construction not as popular as first hoped|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$19.95|
As previously noted in other reviews, for years modelers complained about the lousy tracks in armor model kits. They were at first simple “rubber bands” designed to hold up under the strain of motorized kits, then one-sided vinyl, and then two-sided vinyl. But even these – while much better – tended to be simplified and also suffered from “bowing”, e.g. being sucked inward as they were not sufficiently stiff enough to wrap around drive wheels without being pulled into the empty space between drive teeth. They were too thin, too thick, too soft, too stiff, and a few were completely wrong just to make assembly easier.
Modelers began to request single link styrene track, and about 15 years ago the manufacturers began to respond. Results were uneven, but it did not take long for most modelers to find out be careful what you wish for. Single link tracks came with anything between one and five parts per link, and with a tank requiring between 170-210 links of track this became downright tedious. Some manufacturers then switched to “link and length” in which the tracks now came in about 40 parts – the bulk being in runs of 4-6 to 20-25 links in one section and single links for “wrapping” around the idlers and drivers.
DML’s initial solution to complaints was “Magic Track” – styrene single link track produced using “slide molding” and press-fit assembly (which then permitted use of a liquid cement for final assembly. These could be draped anyway the modeler wanted, and since there was absolute minimal cleanup (the most some links needed was a few strokes of a file or sanding stick to remove the “teat” where they were injected) went together in an evening rather than a week. Later, they moved to DS Plastic – a cross between vinyl and styrene with the ability to be assembled with normal plastic cement, flex like vinyl, and hold detail like resin.
DML’s affiliate is releasing many components from DML kits now as “Upgrade” sets and these six track sets for German vehicles are very good choices.
The two sets for Panthers cover the early model tracks (A and D) and the late model with ice cleats cast into the face of the track. The one for Panzer StuG III Ausf.C-G/Pz.IV Ausf.F-H (40 cm wide) series vehicles (Praga THN series tanks) is among the most detailed with individual casting numbers on each link. The Panzer II set covers all basic and modified Panzer II chassis vehicles. The Panzer III/IV set is for the standardized late model 40 cm wide link track without ice cleats.
While most of the DML kits produced over the last 5 years come with these tracks, making them available as separate sets gives an opportunity to “fix” an older kit or one from another company with modern, state-of-the-art single link tracks. Note that you may have to modify the drive wheels on a recipient kit as most of them have teeth which are too wide for scale tracks (another drawback to the older vinyl tracks of other companies).
They are also releasing the DML Tiger I DS track as a separate accessory. These tracks are packed rolled up to protect the hollow guide teeth and have so far proven very popular with modelers due to the ease of use and assembly. They can be used to upgrade one of the other Tiger I kits on the market with a more modeler-friendly approach to tracks.
Overall, these sets should be well received – they are competitively priced and while not self-assembling do reduce a lot of the preparation time for a set of attractive tracks.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review samples.