In-Box Review
Chinese PLA ZTZ 96 basic
Chinese PLA ZTZ 96 MBT basic etch set w/smoke discharger
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by: Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]


Whatever the release may be, you can expect that within a short time period, Voyager Model will release a photo-etch set to offer corrections to kit errors or improve details on the kit parts. Hobby Boss recently released the ZTZ 96 main battle tank in it's initial version, which I reviewed here; and Voyager have now released an etch set as an upgrade to the kit. The Hobby Boss kit is nice looking and fairly well detailed, but some items were a little soft or under defined, such as handles, latches and various mountings. Other parts, such as hatch interior details, were missing. As to the exact accuracy of the kit, I can't say as China is somewhat unwilling to offer up lots of details on it's military equipment, but I will make the assumption here that Voyager, being a Chinese manufacturer, has better access and can correctly assess what was needed to be done.

the review

The set I was offered for review (which I jumped at immediately) was PE35412, the basic kit upgrade. This set arrived in a small slide out type box, about 4in (125mm) square, with the contents securely wrapped in bubble wrap and the instructions folded on top. The set consists of four etch frets, twelve turned brass smoke launchers, a metal spring and base for the antenna, a length of braided copper wire for the tow cable, a length of steel wire, and two lengths of ABS rod, one in .5mm diameter and the other 1mm diameter. There was a small ding in one fret where the corner of a part was slightly bent, but no other issue, and the bent part can be straightened.
The etch frets appear to be lettered in sequence with a larger series (which would relate to the earlier ZTZ-96A set they offer).

Fret C consists of upgrade parts for the type 92 AA gun and ammo boxes, including extra boxes for stowage. There are also two short lengths of ammo, with a foldover portion to add thickness to the casing. It still appears flat but does have some added depth. A layer of paint may give a more rounded appearance to the parts.

Fret H has parts to assemble the slat stowage basket, assorted boxes, periscope boxes, hatch details and assorted extra clips, brackets and butterfly nuts. The brass is of medium thickness in comparison with the other frets.

Fret J consists of the intake screens, periscope boxes and the straps for the rear spare fuel tanks. Two different options are provided for the mounting straps. The brass for this etch is the thinnest.

Fret K has the mounting brackets for the fuel tanks, rear most side skirts and various other handles, hinges and bolt details. The brass for this fret is the thickest.

The instructions are printed on five pages of standard letter size (8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, or roughly 220mm by 275mm). They show assembly of the set in a series of line drawings, with sub assemblies in smaller boxes, and lettered sequentially. The instructions are busy but not overly complicated.
The biggest difficulty with the assembly will be removal of the molded on kit detail in areas such as the gun barrel straps, recessed handles on the stowage boxes over the track guards, and some small details on the type 92 AA gun. If you don't already have a sharp chisel, you will need to get one. Also, some of the small handles require that you roll a tab over to create the hinge bracket. This may be a little tricky with the delicate parts, and some of the parts have multiple folds that may not be possible to create with a standard folding tool so you will need to be creative.
The only other issue you may find with this kit is something somewhat common to Voyager, and I have read it in other reviews. Voyager show a built up model with all their accessory kits installed but don't always clearly indicate which kits include which parts. The box art for this set is an example as it also shows two additional accessory sets, PEA180, 200L fuel drum set, and part PE35397, Chinese PLA ZTZ 96A side skirts. The kit parts appear to be good enough to not require the first set, but the side skirts are individual rubber sections and are clearly distinct on the real vehicle, so I would recommend getting the side skirts for the Hobby Boss kit.

This set does add significant detail to the Hobby Boss kit and is very nice looking. I searched online and found it at several sites, all for about $12.00 US, but it may be a little difficult to find as the subject covered is not the most popular. If you are building the base kit, I recommend the Voyager set as a beautiful addition.
Highs: Well detailed, with varying thickness of brass depending on the parts, for a good price.
Lows: I would have preferred that the side skirts were included as they are really essential to replace.
Verdict: Overall, an excellent addition in detail to the Hobby Boss ZTZ-96.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: PE35412
  Suggested Retail: 12.00 US
  PUBLISHED: Jun 21, 2011
  NATIONALITY: China / 简体

Our Thanks to Voyager Model!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Russ Amott (russamotto)

I got back into the hobby a few years back, and wanted to find ways to improve, which is how I found this site. Since joining Armorama I have improved tremendously by learning from others here, and have actually finished a couple of kits. I model to relax and have fun, but always look to improve. ...

Copyright 2021 text by Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]. All rights reserved.


Mario, thanks for the help and getting this up. I"m trying to get caught up so I can do a build log with this set.
JUN 21, 2011 - 03:38 AM
I'm looking forward to that build log Russ
JUN 22, 2011 - 04:59 AM
I'll be looking out for the build Russ. Too much on my bench right now but I have this down for a future build myself so I'm interested to see how it goes. Like you said though, its just a pity the side-skirts are not included in this set.
JUN 22, 2011 - 08:50 AM
SWMBO said I can't start any more builds until I finish what is on the bench. ZSL-92, P-47, Panzer III, Sd.Kfz.7/2, all painted, just need finishing. I'm still waiting for a replacement fret left out of the set for the M1117. It will be a week or two.
JUN 22, 2011 - 09:40 AM
No hurry, just looking forward to it
JUN 22, 2011 - 06:04 PM

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