The Merkava build continues. Chris, who has commented here on the Meng Merkava about there being so many small parts to deal with, is correct. While Meng’s armor models are superbly detailed, they have not gotten onto the fact that Tamiya realized long ago: there is a good market for a finely detailed kit that does not require superhuman modeling skills to achieve and that doesn’t fight the modeler who is attempting to assemble it. With Meng’s WWI armor kits, the three I have built, this was not so much of a factor. There were a few fiddly bits and poor design choices but these were minimal. The Merkava though is a different breed of cat.

MG remote control assembly consisting of eight parts

This “assembly” above, for example, is about the size of my little fingernail and has eight parts, each of which must be clipped, cleaned up and cemented together without really positive joins and a sketchy drawing to guide you along. When done it will be glued to the back of the main MG mounted on the main gun’s barrel. This was a painful part of the overall build, indicative of what the modeler will face.

Admittedly, the Merkava’s turret is festooned with all sorts of modern warfare doo-dads many of which I think could have been moulded into the various turret pieces, of which there are indeed many.

I have finally gotten all of the many doo-dads cemented to the turret and body and it does indeed look festooned and somehow sinister, which is one feature of this tank that I particularly like. But to achieve that, you have to be prepared for clean up of every part. Every. Part. If its not sprue gate stubs (the road wheels had four of these each), it is a small amount of flash and usually with parts that mate with tabs, slots or holes and pins connections, these must be addressed as well. Tabs and slots don’t quite fit. Almost, but usually not quite. Same with pins and holes. Get your drill and bits out. And your sanding sticks. You are going to need them.

Meng offers build guidance videos on their site for some of their kits. I watched the Merkava build video before buying this kit and there were absolutely no fit problems encountered by the modeler in that video. I also watched the Bradley build “guidance” video and I can say for certain that although the Spanish gentleman is one hell of a modeler, he had none of these issues either. (Although I admire his modeling skills, he’s another armor modeler who is not friends with weathering restraint. His desert painted Bradley must have been caught in a freak monsoon.) I’m into the running gear portion of the Bradley now and I’ll have more to say about that in a future post.

So, now I have primer applied to the turret and body. Next will come the main painting which I plan to execute in a more subdued color of a light greenish gray. My initial application of a lightened khaki was too dense and too, well, khaki for my taste.

I need to be able to be assembling model parts, you know, cutting plastic and gluing stuff together, so I can see that as I work through the painting and “effects’ part of finishing the Merkava, I’ll be taking some build breaks on the Bradley.

One unexpected consequence of this particular build is that I’m more willing to get in there and solve my problems, fix things I’ve boogered up or issues the kit’s design or production have introduced. And, I’m playing audio books on the Mac, sending them to my Bluetooth headset which makes the process of cleaning everything up, cutting, scraping and sanding to get the parts right, to make each little subassembly a complete model in it’s own right a lot easier. Well, not so tedious. Kind of strange, listening to Parker’s Brimstone about Indians, gunslingers and saloons while working on an IDF war machine. Such is the world we live in, these days of modern times.

I’m no longer so much interested in getting the model done as I am in building it right as I go along. I don’t have my enforced schedule and am getting over the temptation to reel in my line and run upstream looking for a better hole and bigger fish.