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Hobby Boss PLA 59-1 Tank First Look

Kit Number:
Monday, October 4, 2021
Hobby Boss
Retail Price:
Reviewed By:
Dan Egan

Hobby Boss PLA 59-1 Tank First Look


The Chinese Type 59-1 tank is a clone of the old Soviet T-54. China began building T-54s (Type 59s) in the 1950s, and built about 10,000 of them back in the day. 

The T-54/55 and Type 59 series have been some of the most widely-produced AFVs in history. They've been heavily modified in the seven decades they've been in service all over the world. You can find bog-standard old 1950s-type T-54s/59s in some places, along with vehicles that have gotten very modern upgrades such as ERA, laser rangefinders, new guns, etc. These tanks are in service in dozens of countries.

The 59-1 version here is a T-54 copy produced in China in the 1950s-60s, but upgraded in the 1980s with a laser rangefinder. It does not have all the other upgrades that would keep it competitive today. I defer to the T-54/55/59 experts among us to describe this in better detail. 

The Kit

Hobby Boss's new 59-1 kit comprises about 520 parts on 16 sprues, and includes most of the stuff that has become common these days - individual-link tracks, highly detailed plastic parts, a small fret of PE, two braided copper tow cables, clear parts, and decals. 

One thing I love about Hobby Boss is that they pack the more delicate bits in foam sheets to prevent breakage in the box. I took this photo after unbagging all the sprues, but, you can see the care they take to ensure the modeler gets an undamaged kit. 



Here's the one-piece hull pan, very nicely molded and detailed. 

The upper hull components are modular, as you'd expect given the long history of T-54/55 variants. Here's the front hull and turret ring. 

The turret shell, with the characteristic double-D shaped roof pieces of the T-54/55/Type 59 series. I think the casting texture could have been heavier here but that's an easy fix. 

The gun tube and mantlet. The one-piece gun tube is pretty well done. 


Some of the stowage bins and the laser rangefinder. 

The canvas mantlet cover. This is molded in a much softer plastic that is fairly flexible. 


Major bits of the turret and hull. These are mostly very well done, with nice detail, but some flash was present. 

I did not expect to see flash on a new kit, but here it is. Not bad, just unexpected.


The loader's hatch is on the same sprue and is really well done. 

Lots of track links......not a knockout pin mark on them. 


Nice wheels with decent detail. 



Hull details with the more delicate items packed with foam. Nice touch. 

Hobby Boss did a great job on the cylindrical shapes. 



Plumbing for the fuel cells, in plastic! 



Clear parts include the lights and periscopes.  

Nice copper tow cables and a very limited decal sheet. 



Upon first look, this kit looks like an easy build with some nice modern features such as the PE, tow cables, and modular construction. I test-fit a few pieces and they looked great. The only slight disappointment is the decal sheet and markings guide. Given the very diverse places the 59-1 has seen service, I'd have loved to see some markings and schemes e,g, Pakistan or Zimbabwe. At any rate, despite this nitpick, this looks to be a very nice kit. I can't wait to start building it.

Highly Recommended for all builders, pending full build.

Thanks goes out to MRC for this review kit.

Reviewed by Dan Egan


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