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TAKOM Tiger 1 Late Production w/ Zimmerit Full Build Review

Catalog Number: No. 2199 Manufacturer: TAKOM
Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2024 Retail Price: $40.59 USD
Scale: 1:35 Reviewed By: Matt Deck

TAKOM Tiger 1 Late Production w/ Zimmerit Full Build Review


TAKOM Model,  a Chinese company, entered the model-manufacturing game in 2013. Since that time, TAKOM has steadily gained a reputation as one of the hobby’s more innovative companies. They have earned a reputation for kits with a high attention to detail and accuracy, created with state-of-the-art molding technology. Their catalog boasts more than 100 offerings, concentrated around military vehicles, but wandering into ships, planes and some civilian subjects. Most TAKOM kits include a generous selection of accessories (extra feature options, stowage, weaponry) that empower the builder to personalize their kit straight from the box.


By the time the Tiger 1 Ausf. E late version hit the field, the Tiger 1 had already established itself as a fearsome and deadly foe with long-range punch and seemingly impregnable protection. But German engineers continued to pursue perfection, releasing a steady stream of production changes to correct performance shortcomings while adjusting to materials shortages. The most obvious change to the late-production (produced after February, 1944) Tiger 1 Ausf. E was the addition of all-steel wheels – the same ones used on the Tiger II. Another giveaway is the single hole in the mantlet for the gunsight. This change was necessitated by Russian anti-tank riflemen aiming at the more vulnerable twin-hole setup on the mid-production Tiger 1 E version. I am sure I missed a litany of smaller changes, but this is a build review, so let’s get to work.



The first order of business is the hull and several VERY nice interior details for the rear. The fan/radiator subassemblies fall together. Take a minute to paint them up (I went with some basic red oxide and aluminum), because you’ll be able to see them through the grills on the rear deck when the kit is complete. 


Here's where Step One gets you – the Zimmerit makes its first appearance and does NOT disappoint.


Check out the fan detail! You’ll have to deal with a few injection marks, but a little putty and sanding takes care of that.



Now we add the torsion bars. They are keyed to fit one way — good news if you want to be sure the geometry is exact, bad news if you were looking forward to articulating the suspension. You also add the front tow hook brackets. Be careful here, as you have options. Throughout this build, I will be using Ampersand Publications’ fantastic Modeler’s Guide to the Tiger Tank (let’s call it the “Tiger Guide” from now on). Knowing that I plan to build the command version, I chose Part M5, which apparently is the bracket shape for Tigers produced in January 1944. 

You also have an option for the drive sprocket. I chose Part E1, because this was the closest match to what I could find in the Tiger Guide. Finally, you can add the first row of wheels, although I chose to attach them temporarily until after I paint the hull. Be sure to take a minute to enjoy the crisp detailing on the wheels. You’re going to hear about crisp molding a lot during this build — this kit is NICE!

Even the bottom of the hull has nice details that no one may ever see.



I lumped these steps together because I want to keep the tracks separate from the rest of the kit – the kit is just that good, and the tracks are just that bad. In my in box review, I called out the jigs that TAKOM included, and the straight segment track jig (E6) and the jigs for forming the tracks around the drive sprockets (K1, K2) are super helpful. The easy part ends there.

On paper, it’s obvious that TAKOM’s heart was in the right place when they attempted to give the builder a way to install multiple hollow guide horns quickly and efficiently, but in practice it was next to impossible. The attachment points are far too delicate to hold the guide horns in place, and mine would fall off in bunches, and that was before attempting to maneuver the assembled tracks into place on the wheels. Before you read any farther, my advice is to pick up a set of your go-to aftermarket tracks and get back to enjoying this amazing kit. For the absolute masochists, I have put together an instruction guide for assembling the kit tracks.   

Do NOT, and I repeat NOT, attempt to add the guide horns to the tracks in one complete run as shown in the instructions. It is next to impossible to get every horn to align perfectly with the pre-drilled holes in the links. It is also impossible to apply pressure evenly to seat every guide horn. You will either succeed in knocking random guide horns out of alignment before they can be glued in place, or discover later that random guide horns didn't get glued successfully. 

After several long, frustrating sessions of trial and error, I landed on an approach that worked, a little:

1) place a single run of links into the jig (E6). 
2) carefully deepen the location holes for the guide horns with a SMALL microdrill bit
3) cut the guide horn sprue into sections of 2 or 3 horns
4) glue each section into place
5) WAIT several hours for the glue to set completely before CAREFULLY removing the sprue from the tops of the guide horns (trim as close as you can. You cannot sand the guide horns to clean them up without knocking them off.)
6) OPTIONAL: replace any individual guidehorns that fall off (they will)

Tracks! The result is nice, but the juice just ain’t worth the squeeze. 


To finish the drive sprocket sections, finish to track runs as described above. Then CAREFULLY, and I mean CARE.FULLY. glue the links together. Immediately remove them from the straight jig and let the glue set while you grab the proper curved jig. Place a sprocket on the jig and gently bend the track run in place. You will see that TAKOM has included stops that align with the guide horn to ensure that the run is shaped perfectly to meet the upper and lower runs — very clever. 


Look close: TAKOM included a guide in the jig to lock the sprocket in the right position for the tracks. I painted it red s
o you can see it. I wish I had painted the other stop (look just to the right of the lower part of the sprocket) to call it out too.
This set up is VERY clever and ensures the right shape for the track run. (Notice that the finished run is missing a guide horn
— this happened to me more than once.



Not much to say about this step. You’re going to make wheels. A lot of them. They do look good — so there’s that. Again, I am leaving them off until the hull is painted and weathered. 

Wheels. And yes, I got a little crazy with the sanding here and there.
Don't worry, those wheels will end up hidden behind something. Probably other wheels. 





With the track fiasco behind us, it's back to the model-building excellence that TAKOM provides in this kit. We are assembling exhausts, jack and several assemblies before attaching them to the rear. Be sure to pay attention here - there are two different load out options based on the command and “normal” versions. I took liberties with the kit-provided muffler covers, removing one so that I can show off the spectacular muffler detail.

With a little extra love, you can do a LOT with this kit right out of the box. I used a Dremel tool
to thin the muffler cover before distressing it and punching a few bullet holes in it. I pre-painted
the base yellow and weathered the mufflers in preparation for adding any extra details.



Things take a big jump forward now. In this step we add the side plates (with more AMAZING Zimmerit detail!), the bow front, and more details for the rear. The bow front is a true highlight with a high level of detail, including the driver’s vision block and a really well-detailed machine gun. I don’t know why they bothered to add this level of interior detail in a kit with no interior whatsoever, but I’m glad they did. This step also adds the side fenders. I am showing them tacked into place in their entirety, but before I paint I will be removing a few. The step wraps up with a few more details for the rear.

Here's that interior detail I was talking about. It will look really nice when seen through the open hatch. 




Things take a big jump forward now. These steps start with adding all the drip to the top deck of the hull, including the engine hatches complete with PE grills. Assorted tools, periscopes, and vents are next. Another highlight are the operable hatches for the driver and radio operator. These little beauties are loaded with details and I will have  to leave one open because I refuse to bury all that effort inside the hull. Finally, you add the copper wire tow cables. Like the rest of the kit, these are easy to assemble and really look the part. Step 17 wraps things up by carefully installing the finished deck onto the hull. 

A weird angle, I know, but this is the best way to show off all the details on the hull deck.


Look at that hatch. And the weld seam detail.No joke, this kit is NICE.



This step begins assembly of the turret. You are going to experience more of the same: easy construction and thoughtful details inside and out, including ventilation fan, another super-detailed hatch and the grenade launcher. 

Detailed inside, amazing Zimmerit outside. What’s not to like?!


On top of the turret, you’ll add a very nice commander’s cupola, complete with an AA machine gun. Detail and finesse are very, VERY presentable. The optional binocular periscope is a cool touch that I couldn’t pass up.

Hatch detail and the binocular periscope – and my traditional construction dust and filth. Gotta start cleaning these off before shooting. 



The next few steps build an impressive gun breach and marry it to an equally well-done mantlet assembly. Be sure to look at the instructions closely, there are different configurations depending on which version you selected to build. For example, one mantlet has a monocular sight, and the coaxial machine gun port is plugged. The other has a binocular gun sight and an amazingly well-done machine gun complete with shell casing bags and the ammo belt. 

The effort TAKOM put into this breach almost makes me feel bad about gluing down the turret roof.




Turret assembly wraps up with the seats and an operable hatch on the rear of the turret. Even these pieces are loaded with details. Everything drops into place with a fit that just might make glue optional. I glued mine. A few extra bits on the front of the turret and it’s time to move on. 

Even with minimal painting, chipping and washing, the turret interior has more than enough
eye candy to provide a convincing view through open hatches. 



With the turret interior done, it’s on to the outside. These steps add all the goodies you need to finish off this beast. Of course the highlight is the fearsome 88mm barrel. TAKOM has done an amazing job recreating this, and provides both a well-molded two-part plastic option and of course the supreme turned aluminum option. (Just a note, the finished aluminum barrel is HEAVY, and tends to pull down on the front of the turret—gluing the turret down might be a necessity.)

You’ll add nine more of the notorious track links to the sides of the turret, as well as some VERY well-done track holders. The storage bin can be assembled open or closed, and TAKOM even provides gear to put in place—nice touch.


Depending on which version you choose, this final, glorious step has you adding the various antennae or tools. And BOOM! You’re done.


I have always liked the Tigers of Schwere Panzerabteilung 505, with the bold yellow band around the barrel and the jousting knight insignia. Lately I’ve been using Mr. Hobby paints combined with their self-leveling thinner and I really enjoy them. They behave very well in the airbrush and rarely clog. They dry to a tight, smooth finish with a slight satin sheen—perfect for the following oil paint applications. 

What you see here is the basic basecoating and the most rudimentary weathering. Given the outstanding quality of this kit, I want to give it my full attention, but I don’t want to delay posting this review. After all, you’re here for a BUILD review, not a demo lecture on my ham-fisted approach to finishes. 





I want to start by saying this kit is out-freaking-standing. The detail is gorgeous and plentiful. The engineering and fit makes for an incredibly enjoyable building experience. I plan on building more TAKOM Tigers—and soon. I feel that the finished product is perfection. With one exception—the tracks. The next TAKOM Tiger I order will include an order of after market tracks. I have seen one or two builders online who have successfully navigated the tracks, but I don’t see how. I recommend avoiding the kit tracks—do NOT let them ruin what is otherwise a superior model. Besides, this kit is surprisingly affordable (I'm not sure how TAKOM is pulling that off). There is more than enough room in the budget for your favorite aftermarket tracks. This thing is a masterpiece! Stop reading this and get one now!

HIGHLY Recommended for Advanced builders.

Thanks goes out to TAKOM for this review kit.

Reviewed by Matt Deck


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