The expected kit of 2013, which did not show up until mid-February 2014. Here it is in all its 300+ part glory.
What you will notice is not just the 2 options – there are two full suspension sets for either option:
– set on the ground under the full 100 ton load,
– and “jacked up – wheels hanging” pose, ready for launch. All parts modified, including wishbones and driveshafts drooping, steering rods also extended.
The two hydraulic portals that lift the whole TEL up also have different parts for the two modes, as do the support plates and the “fifth leg” behind the right cockpit.
There are also two different hydraulic pistons for raising the missile container – one for the transport mode, and an extended one for the launching position.
A total of 309 plastic parts are molded on 7 sprues.
Most of the parts for the “top deck”: the two largest parts of the missile container, some of the equipment cabinets over the wheels. However crude on the outside the main component of the system – the 45-ton missile – requires a lot of care, so there are a power supply unit with circuit breaker boards, toolboxes, hydraulics, diagnostics, air conditioning, etc. There is a lot of detail present on the faces of the cabinets: various handles, mesh screens, ribs, key holes, etc. – even the orange reflectors are reproduced on par with the industry leaders.
Contains the largest structural parts in the kit: the two main beams for the chassis, and the framework that supports the missile container, distributing its weight over the whole chassis. Since the vehicle has 6 of its 7 axles driven (all except the 4th one) – there are two sets of driveshafts represented – one for each front and rear group of axles. Parts are also present for the left-hand “cockpit”. An interesting detail is the fact that there is a window that is only marked on the inboard cabin wall. It can be traced, scribed and replaced with transparent plastic. The right-hand crewman’s pod also has such a “window”.
A couple of omissions Zvezda has done here:
– there are hatches over both crew positions on the left cabin.
– there is a searchlight over the driver’s position, covered by a protective cage.
– the left -hand turn indicator on the front bumper is missing.
You will also notice neither cabin has any interior.
Sprue C (x2)
A swarm of suspension parts. Parts of both options are represented, but grouped together so it will not be easy to mix them (unless you ignore the instruction sheet). Some axles have unique parts, others have the exact same parts, there are mirrored parts, and there are parts that look alike, but are different.
My advise: get a permanent marker and mark each wheel’s suspension set.
The common thing amongst all parts is that they are all very well molded, with nuts, bolts and kinks, no twisted or mismolded parts anywhere: great job Zvezda people!
For those of you who count parts for 8 axles: this is done because otherwise there have to be two different sprues (one with 3 sets and one with 4), which would be VERY expensive. Dimensionally the Topol-M is very different, so it would require much more than just replacing the missile container, including adding another set of rims (there are 7 on each sprue C).
There are actually 14 of these, each sprue being a solid vinyl tyres, all of them in a single zip-lock bag. What the majority of us fears the most is that the material is going to “eat” the rims. Zvezda has assured modellers that this will not happen.
I am, however, concerned about another thing, and it’s the way wheels are mounted to the rims. Due to the edge on the inside of the rims a groove has been molded in the tyres. Those mounted on the left side will be OK. If you mount them on the right -hand side, however, their thread pattern will face towards the rear, which is incorrect. If you mounted the facing forward, then you end up with a 1+ mm gap around the rim, which has to be puttied or otherwise filled/hidden. Will this be rectified in later batches – I don’t know, and I do not trust rumors anymore.
Holds all the transparent parts, including a second set of mirrors (there is a pair of solid plastic ones on sprue B). In my example the parts are relatively clear (admittedly not really thin tho). There is, however, noticeable distortion due to the small size of the parts and their rounded corners.
Majority of the parts cater for the 2 options for the hydraulic jacks that raise the entire vehicle in launch position. There are also multiple support structures for the overwheel cabinets and some parts for the missile container (notably the ducts for the aircon that go up and down its length).
5 simple transfers, reasonably well printed, with bright colors, and in register.