by: Mark Pieters [ ]
There is a new model company in town, and Tristar is their name, and giving Tamiya a run for their money is the game! I don't know about you folks, but I had not heard about this new company until the other day when I saw this kit listed at ebay. I was curious, and was buying some other kits from the seller so I bid on this one and won. When the package showed up I greedily ripped off the celophane and was mesmerized by the contents. Alas, you must wait for me to describe what is inside until the next section (MoooHAHAHA...).
Who is this Tristar?
I did a spot of research on the company itself. They are based in HongKong and are a brand new outfit. This is their third kit released in the 1.35th range to date (October of 2002). The first two kits were both figure kits, and their upcoming fouth kit will be a figure kit as well. It appears that this new company has invested very heavliy into modern machinery and have taken great pains to ensure a positive impression with this new armor kit. I am very pleased with my purchase, to say the least, and I am eagerly anticipating their future armor releases. Continue on to find out exactly what you get in the box...
What is Inside?
The box itself is quite colorful. The artwork seems acurate, ala Tamiya's boxtop artwork. I sometimes refer to the boxtop during assembly of Tamiya's kits when I want to add extra detail that is not rendered on the model. No other manufactuer has that kind of art/reference. Until now. Anyway, the box bottom is two ply cardboard, so it will resist the attempts of the postal office monkeys to squash it during transit, if you decide to buy one of these kits for yourself via mailorder. That is a thoughtful touch! Inside the box were numerous small sprues, some decals, and a complete set of link to link tracks. No vinyl here. The decals are by Cartograf of Italy and are quite impressive. The track set is by ModelKasten and will work after assembly. The tracks themselves are Left and Right "handed". Also included is a photo etch set by Aber for the muffler guards. The sprues are a sight to behold. The center of each tree has the ubiquitous round center ala Tamiya. It looks like Tamiya made them, but they are marked "Tristar". The definition is impressive and as good or better than any of the modern kits made within the last two years. I suspect Tristar purchased the same German made injection machinery that Tamiya uses. I looked at the hatch for the turret top: Not one knockout on the outside or inside. I looked at the muffler hoses that lead from engine compartment to mufflers: Couldn't see the little "ridge" that should be there, running the length of the hose, caused by where the mold halves meet. Looked at the chasis and hull top: Not a knockout in sight, nor flash, warpage or anything of the sort. In fact, after comparing the model to the box art, the only thing that I could tell was that there was some missing weld detail on the superstructure. But a quick dab of the no. 11 blade and some liquid glue will remedy that in no time, when it comes time to build this baby. By the way, I am not a "bolt counter" (well not a do or die bolt counter..) but I do love accuracy out of the box. I don't have any reference books for this type of vehicle but I suspect it is quite accurate and would need very little to be an award winning kit at your local IPMS meet. Read on and I will make one more observation between Tristar and Tamiya..
Oh yeah, as a kid, I loved Tamiya because their instruction sheets were so cool. Close-up detail drawings to keep you from gluing a part on upside down, pictures of the kit or the real thing to give you diorama ideas, camo scemes, etc etc. And you always got a couple of paragraphs, if not a page or two, of historical information. After drooling all over the link to link tracks, the decals, and the parts themselves, I opened up the instruction sheet. I was wondering, with all that punch that the kit itself packed, would Tristar skimp somewhere? And would it be in the instruction department? "Good Grief!" as my favorite comic character would say. They didn't skimp at all! Page one has a layout of the sprues, plus a black and white picture of the box art, and three credits. These guys deserve the credit too...Page two has lots of cautions and warnings plus color codes for Tamiya, Aqueous Hobby, and Humbrol paints, as well as Tristar's agent/distributor listing and their own address and email info. Then follows six pages covering 19 assmebly stages. And yes, there are a few detail drawings to keep you from making some major mistake, like putting the transmission cover on upside down, or putting the road wheels on inside out. The last two pages have side/top/rear views of the Pk 1 to assist in decaling and painting. I must say I am impressed by the drawings themselves. I don't know how many times I have flipped to the last page on a DML or Italeri kit because I can't make heads or tails of where the instructions tell me to glue some exterior part, only to find out the side/top/rear views are "vague" at best, so then I turn to the box top, only to be fooled again...So is it worth the money? Read on for my final thoughts.
More More More, Gimmie more!
Ok, so I trust that I made my point that I think Tristar is way up there with Tamiya. I like Italeri kits too cause they are always a 'fun' build, and although DML always makes me curse the day I bought any one of their particular kits, they always come out ok in the end. Gee, even Tamiya has a couple of dogs, but I still have fun building them. Its the "atmosphere" that is created by the artwork and the packaging and the orderliness of the instructions that keeps me addicted to this hobby. I commend Tristar for giving my that very experience in this package, and hope they continue to produce more kits just like this one in the future. In summation, this is a tight little kit, that should be a pleasure to build thanks to well planned efforts of this new company. I give them a nine out of ten, simply because it just occured to me that they didn't throw in a piece of twine for a tow rope. Or did they? I'll have to go fondle all the parts some more and see...Just so you know, I got my kit on ebay for $38. I feel thats an excellent price for the contents. Keep 'em coming Tristar!
Copyright ©2021 text by Mark Pieters [ ]. All rights reserved.