Tiger I Early Production

1:48 Scale
Skybow Kit No.3833 - Tamiya Kit No.32504
Kit Comparison by Terry Ashley

Following the release of the Tamiya 1:48 Tiger I Early Production kit and the imminent release of the Skybow Tiger I Early Production kit we can now have a look at the entire kits to compare the details thanks to receiving a full review kit from Skybow.

Lower hull:
The Tamiya kit has a die-cast lower hull that is very basic and devoid of most details, the axles are cast in place and don’t have any details on the axle arms or any bump stops and most importantly there is no flange details between the hull sides and sponson. The details on the underside of the lower hull are again very basic on the Tamiya kit while correctly depicted on the Skybow kit.

The Skybow hull on the other hand while also having the axles moulded in place have better details on the axle arms, on the idler axle and includes the bumps stops and track pin return plate plus the upper hull/sponson flange as well as casting texture on the upper hull sides.

Both kits have small fillets with bolt head details for the insides of the front overhang of the final drive housings and include the correct early style tow shackles and front hull extension for these. The spare track carried on the front hull is included as injection moulded track with the support beam included on both kits.

The rear hull plates are separate on both and the Skybow part has subtle surface texture while the Tamiya part is smooth. The two rear fenders are separate on the Tamiya kit while moulded as part of the rear hull plate with the Skybow kit and separate fenders do have slightly better definition and allow easy replacement with etched fenders if you wish.

The exhausts are far better detailed on the Skybow kit with the top guard on the Skybow kit having the five small support pins included while this part is solid with just a representation of the pins on the Tamiya kit.

The lower armoured covers have nice cast texture on the Skybow parts while again the Tamiya parts are smooth and both have the sheet metal shrouds as separate items although the Skybow items don’t have the small raised rib at the top and bottom. Another minor issue with both is that these shrouds didn’t fit flush to the rear plate but sit on small square spacers under each securing bolt and this could easily be depicted by using thin card as the spacers.

Other details on the rear plate include the jack which is better detailed with the Skybow kit plus the starter plate and rear mounted air clearers as part of the Feifer air cleaner system. The style of air cleaner is different on each kit but photos exists of both styles only that the small disc in the middle should be mounted centrally on the Tamiya air cleaners and not offset.

The Feifer air cleaner system piping on the rear engine deck is well done on both kits and represents this feature well with just the mounting brackets that you may want to replace with etched clips for better definition.

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Suspension/Running Gear:
The final drive housings are separate parts on both kits but the Tamiya item is plain without any details at all while the Skybow final drive has the securing bolts included and looks much more the part.

Each kit drive sprocket is the same size and width which means they both got it right but the hub detail on the Skybow sprocket is much better defined with securing bolts being more to scale plus the inclusion of the offset nipple which isn’t on the Tamiya sprocket as there isn’t much room left due to the bolts being oversized. All four faces of the drive sprockets have bolt head detail around the outer rims on the Skybow kit while only the outer sprocket face has the bolts on the Tamiya kit with the other three faces being smooth.

The idler wheels are the 700mm type on both kits with inner and outer wheels separate and the Skybow wheel also has the hub as a separate part for better definition. The bolt head details on the inner wheel hub are also included on the Skybow wheel but not included on the Tamiya wheel.

This attention to detail also extends to the road wheels which again are better detailed on the Skybow kit with subtle weld seams around the centre rubs and bolt head detail on both sides of the inner wheels while the Tamiya wheels again only have the bolt head detail on one side only.

The wheels on the skybow kit are attached with small screws while those on the Tamiya kit are simply glued in place and there isn’t much difference in the end with either system although make sure you don’t apply too much pressure when screwing the Skybow wheels or you will strip the thread and end up gluing them anyway.
The Tamiya drive sprockets and idlers are held in place by poly caps while glued in place on the Skybow kit, again not much different at the end of the day although don’t attach the drive sprockets until after fitting the track to make this easier.

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Clearly the Skybow lower hull and running gear is more detailed than the plain die-cast hull with many details missing on the Tamiya kit and from a purely modelling point of view there is no contest here.

The Skybow tracks are in ‘rubber band’ type vinyl and have okay details but the injection moulded link and length track on the Tamiya kit is better detailed and thanks to both drive sprockets being the same size and width the aftermarket workable track from LionMarc Model Designs and Atelier infinite fit both drive sprockets perfectly and I presume the soon to be released tracks from WWII Productions will also fit both so you can easily update the track details if you wish.

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Upper Hull:
The design of the upper hull is slightly different on each kit with the Tamiya kit deck separate that fits into the lower hull tub while the Skybow kit has the upper hull sides included with the upper deck and has subtle cast texture while the Tamiya part is smooth.

Both kits have the correct rear engine deck louver arrangement with the Skybow kit having finer details in a number of areas such as the electrical cabling for the front headlights and details on the engine bay door. The BIG difference is that Tamiya have chosen to mould four of the pioneer tools with the upper deck which is a throwback to the 1970s while all the tools on the Skybow kit are separate parts for far better detail definition but Tamiya does provide some other tools are separate parts, these moulded on tools really are a minus from a modelling viewpoint.

The detail on the glacis is also more refined on the Skybow kit with the correct details on the top of the guard in front of the driver’s visor which is plain on the Tamiya kit with the glacis on the Tamiya kit is a separate part and included as part of the upper hull on the Skybow kit which is not really an issue.

The front driver’s plate is separate on both kits with nicely rendered vision visor and maching gun ball housing with small wing nuts included on both. The Skybow visor is the early type with the two driver's periscope openings behind visor while the Tamiya part depicts the post Feb. 1943 plate with these deleted. The Skybow plate again has sublte cast texture while the Tamiya part is smooth.

The full length side skirts are moulded as single parts on both kits with securing bolt head details included and looks quite okay.

Each kit has separate hull crew hatches with interior detail with just some very small pin marks to be removed but both have no hinge parts to show these open and you will also have to add the periscopes on both.

Other details include the head lights which are single parts on the Skybow kit while the Tamiya lights have separate front parts for slightly better definition and the hull mounted tow cables are finely moulded on both but slightly better definition on the Skybow cables. Both could benefit from the securing clips being replaced with etched items.

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The Turret:
The design of the turret is again different with the Tamiya turret shell in two halves with a separate roof while the Skybow kit has the complete turret shell and roof as one part which allows for better defined weld seams around the extremities of the roof plate.

Both kits have the correct layout for the early turret with separate drum cupola and loader’s hatch while the Skybow kit has the armoured cover over ventilator with the Tamiya kit just having the ventilator.
The details around the loader’s hatch are better detailed than on the Skybow kit while both depict the eight flush travel lock bolts as well as weld seams around the lower turret wall join and vision ports and the Skybow turret again has a cast texture while the Tamiya walls are smooth.

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The Skybow parts are clearly better detailed in particular the lower hull where the Tamiya die-cast hull is toy like and from a modelling viewpoint a real let down. The same can be said with the moulded on tools on the hull.

The details on almost every aspect of the Skybow kit is superior to that on the Tamiya kit especially the running gear where many details are missing from the Tamiya parts with the tracks being about the only area where the Tamiya kit is superior. But as we have seen from built up examples of the Tamiya kit it will build into a very nice model as obviously will this new Skybow kit.

Given this is the first release from Skybow in this scale we can only wait in anticipation for the 30 kits that will come between kit #4801 and this #4833.

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Page created 14 May 2005

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