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In-Box Review
172
Topol (SS-25)
RT-2PM Topol (SS-25 Sickle) launcher in 1/72
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by: Peter Ganchev [ PGP000 ]


_ORGINPUB:
Armorama

Introduction

The RT-2PM “Topol” (Russian for "Poplar") is a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile system, designed in the Soviet Union. Since it was accepted in service in 1988 most of you know it under its NATO reporting index SS-25. The weapon deployment and delivery system is built around the 45-ton second-generation RT-2PM solid-fuel, three-stage ballistic missile with 10 000km range and a single 550Kt warhead.
The missile transporter-erector-launcher is the 7-axle MAZ-7917, a 14×12 monster weighing in about 55 tons. The whole 100t package is moved by a 700hp V-12 diesel.

Contents

Models of strategic missiles are few and far between, yet surprisingly this is the second release of the Topol launcher in 1/72. A few years ago the Armory of Ukraine did release a resin-and-PE model of the TEL.

Zvezda has been promising a plastic kit since 2012. It was even featured on the cover of their 2013 catalogue, but it didn’t show up until late January 2014 (in time for the Nuremberg Toy Fair) and became available worldwide by mid-February.

According to the box there are 309 parts inside, and complete model is 31 cm long. This scales out to about 22,3 m. Considering there is no exact measurement of the actual vehicle I wouldn’t right off call out a fatal flaw and would trust Zvezda’s references.

The first thing you notice about the box is that it is huge, rivalling that of Dragon’s 1/35 Panther kits.

Inside the glossy outer shell there’s a hard top-opening box with 5 individually-packed dark-green plastic sprues. 2 of them are identical (with suspension parts). There’s also a small sprue with 7 transparent parts, 14 vinyl tires, and a decal sheet with 5 transfers. A single all-green scheme is shown in the painting guide, with the option to make two types of stars – red with white-only trim, and with blue-and-white trim (type 2010 stars).

The review

What you will notice about the parts is that there is no warped sprues/parts, a very small amount of flash, and to date I’ve seen no reports about mismolds or other kit problems.

Sprue A
The sprue holds the two halves of the missile container, the rear “fenders”, and a part of the “boxes” over them (power supply, circuit breaker boards, toolboxes, hydraulics, diagnostics, air conditioning, etc.). The details on the “boxes” – handles, mesh screens, ribs, key holes, reflectors, etc. – are very well molded, and are up to the current standards of 1/72.

Sprue B
The most notable parts here are the two main girders for the vehicle chassis, and the support frame for the missile container. Of note are also the driveshaft’s from the transfer case (also seen here) to 6 of the axles (number 4 is not driven). There are also parts for the starboard crew pod (seating two). You will notice that the right-hand window is only molded as a slight depression – it can be easily cut out with some scribing and a replacement transparent panel can be made from packaging material (the port side cabin has the same “feature”).
The crew compartment is also missing two roof hatches and a searchlight with its mesh guard.

Sprue C
Holds the majority of parts are components for the independent suspension for each wheel. Each set is delicately represented, with bolthead detail, and even the driveshaft through the middle. If you look closely you will notice TWO complete sets of suspension arms – one for each transport and launching positions, including the steering linkages for axles 1 through 4. There’s a spare axle set, but it’s rather there because of the sprue unification rather than possibility for releasing the M version. There are practically no common elements between the two. There are also spars for the TEL frame, wheels, supports, etc.

Parts D
There are 14 identical solid vinyl tires, packed in a separate zip-lock bag. Zvezda has been quick to calm modellers that the material is not going to react with the plastic. My main concern, however, is the groove on the inside of the tyre opening. If you put the tyres on the right-side wheels as instructed their thread pattern will face the wrong way (backwards). If you put the tyres on correctly – the grove will be on the outside, showing a noticeable gap. Zvezda is said to be reworking the molds, but I could not verify this at the time of review.

Sprue E
The transparent sprue. Interestingly it holds a second set of mirrors – there is a pair of solid plastic ones on sprue B. My sprue is reasonably clear, but there is distortion due to the small size of the parts and their rounded corners.

Sprue F
The most parts here are for building the 2 hydraulic support bipods that lift up the whole 100 tons in the air for launching. There are a few supports for the fenders and “boxes”, and some parts for the missile container, including the air-conditioning ducts that run down most of its length.

Decals
Just 5 transfers, reasonably well printed, with bright colours, and in register.

Instructions
The construction sequence is broken down to 18 steps and numerous subassemblies. The sequence is logical, parts are clearly labelled, and while comparing the kit and instruction I couldn’t find any errors. The only thing you need to consider is how to make painting easier: the chassis is gloss black, while supports and superstructure is green.

Conclusions

In my personal opinion this is Zvezda’s crown jewel in their current catalogue. This is a 100% “show of force” release that is guaranteed to please any kit builder with a very high WOW-factor, level of detail and molding quality (and the price tag of a Dragon Pz. IV in 1/72).

All the reference I have discovered so far confirms overall correct detail and proportions. If there’s any simplification outside the tires, cabin interior and windows, it is based on technology limitation rather than anything else, and will certainly not rob the model of its appeal.

There is, actually, an upcoming replacement resin-and-PE set for the crew compartments, as well as a complete wheel and tire correction set, so these concerns will be completely dealt with (that is if the Zvezda doesn’t take care of this themselves).
For a good walk around of the TEL please use the following link
TEL walk around Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: Superb molding, highly detailed, transport and launch modes with specific parts.
Lows: No crew cabin interior, some soft/omitted detail, one-sided tyres.
Verdict: Highly-detailed, thought-out parts breakdown and construction sequence, great value for money. Highly recommended to any scale modeller.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 5003
  Suggested Retail: About $35
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 26, 2014
  NATIONALITY: Russia
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.77%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 82.86%

Our Thanks to Zvezda!
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 Peter Ganchev (pgp000)
FROM: GRAD SOFIYA, BULGARIA

I bought and built my first kit in 1989. Since then it's been on and off until about 4 years ago, when modelling became the main stress-relief technique. Starting with 1/72 aviation I've diversified into armor, trucks, artillery and figures, as well as a number of other scales.

Copyright ©2019 text by Peter Ganchev [ PGP000 ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.



Comments

Thanks for a nice review... the parts look really nicely detailed. It will definitely make an impressive looking model when built Can't wait till the HK stores get it so I can order one! Hisham
FEB 26, 2014 - 08:30 AM
Hisham, the best part is how easy it builds up - it took me 7 hours to get most of the parts together. It certainly has potential for improvement, I will wait for a PE set then get another one and build it posing in launch state. Hopefully by that time there will be a solution for the tires as well :-)
FEB 26, 2014 - 08:50 AM
Peter, nice review, it sounds amazing, but you say you've built it already...? Are you going to post some pictures of the complete model, and perhaps some of the construction? As you point out, that's quite a big model for the price, Zvezda kits certainly represent good value for money.
FEB 26, 2014 - 12:36 PM
I would love to see one in 35th scale,But my wallet wouldn't like it. Even injection molded one would be close to 200 bucks if it was made.
FEB 26, 2014 - 01:04 PM
Matthew, the kit was mostly built at the time of the review, I still need to paint it during the weekend. Assembled the missile container tonight, needs a bit of liquid putty over the top seam and replacement for the inspection hatches on the dome. Note on the pic I included the one-directional mold has left the lower part of the hatches a bit deformed and soft. A pair of wire grab handles per hatch wouldn't hurt either As for their kits in general - they are improving rather in leaps than as a continuous process. I am happy their toys (Disney Cars, board games, etc.) and more recently 1/72 figures are selling well enough for them to invest in these great new kits - 1/72 Mi-24 line, the snap-fit tanks and wargaming pieces, 48th aircraft, the T-90 in 1/35, and now - the Topol.
FEB 27, 2014 - 10:37 AM
thanks for this reviex..i've bought mine.. i waiting to receive...
MAR 01, 2014 - 07:28 AM
Zvezda has a short video on youtube that has some nice shots of the model, and some nice footage of the real one Hisham
MAR 07, 2014 - 09:50 AM
   

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