Review -Plastic Soldier Company – StuG III F8/G/H42

We present you this review courtesy of Lee Parnell from http://www.safetymarkings.blogspot.com
Plastic Soldier Company have been making significant in-roads into the 15mm wargaming scene for the last couple of years and have met general acclaim for their kits.
Whilst the lack of proper British kit promises to be addressed this year, I have been tempted in the meantime by some of the German kits of late and picked up some (well, three boxes) of the StuG kits for a late war German force.

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StuG IIIG mid-production sans Schurtzen (at the moment)

Price
The main attraction of the Plastic Soldier Company is the price; £17.50 gets you 5 StuG kits (OR £3.50/tank). By comparison, Battlefront comes in at £35 for a similar number (GBX25 – 5 StuG G at £7/tank)), or twice the price! A quick scan through Quick Reaction Force (£6), Skytrex(£6) , Peter Pig (£6) and Old Glory (£17 for three) all have similar price breaks. Zvesda, probably the only likely rival on price, don’t currently do a StuG IIIG.
Of course, as anyone who has bought super market “basic” coke will know, cheap =/= good! Let’s see how these compare elsewhere.

Scale
Sitting the StuG alongside a Battlefront Panzer IIIL (same chassis), the StuG seems a pretty good match; very slightly shorter and slightly wider, by about 2mm, than the Pz III. Skytrex and BF stowage doesn’t look out of scale on the kit either and I’ve had no issues adding battlefront Begleit tank riders to the PSC kit.
It’s never a good idea to mix different manufacturers in the same platoon, but certainly BF and PSC would sit well together within an army.

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PSC StuG vs BF PzIIIL

Form and detail
I’ve got to say it looks like a StuG! The kit comes with all the bits for each kit to do:
*A StuG III/F8 (this added the long 7.5 barrel to the original hull form)
*A StuG III G (75mm Gun) Early and Late (the late has a “pigs head” mantle and remote control hull gun.
*A StuH 42 (105mm Howitzer)
The only omission that I noticed with the kit comes from the Schutzen. PSC have used the very early form of the Schutzen plates and hull hangers, but omitted the front and rear hangers that should be present. This makes it tricky to do missing plates properly. I added my own hangers using a bit of plasticard (the white bits in the photo). I’m not sure why they didn’t just adopt the later hanger system (as featured on the BF kits). Also, a few of the front right Schutzen plates had a moulding deformation.
The F8 has a separate top hull and hatches so the hull seems a pretty good match for the two major variants. It also allows a canny modeller with some rare earth magnets to make one hull do all three variants (only issue is that there is only one MG-34 for the hull gun).
The CAD Sculpt and plastic moulding construction allows for some really crisp hull lines and detail, better even than the resin bits from BF (certainly no little bumps or bubbles). The tracks really benefit from this construction as you get nice crisp track detail with none of the flash or mis-moulds that occur with metal tracks. Stuff like the tools, vision slits and commanders sight are picked out every well, although stuff like the intakes and commander binocular sight on the hatch are absent or simplified.
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The upper hull sits on top of the tracks. This can interfere with its fit if the tracks aren’t sitting correctly

The model is generally relatively easy to put together although the “instructions” an exploded diagram with a few extra views) provide little help on some of the intricacies. There are two track assemblies which need the tracks fitted the right way around. A dry fit will quickly reveal the way they should work so hold off on gluing straight away! The hull comes in two parts (upper and lower) which can be a boon for anyone who wants to add rare earth magnets for tank riders/”smoke plumes”.
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The track assembly. One of the tooling points on the track underside needs filling to get a good fit

Other reviews found the StuG fiddly to put together but, with the exception of three bits, I found them relatively simple to put together using Revell Contact Professional poly cement, the long metal nozzle is priceless with some of the bits and highly recommend. This may be due to a misspent youth building airfix kits and being used to undercarriage and props! They are time consuming to do properly though.
I did find the G’s cupola a source of frustration; the hatch fits exactly inside the cupola ring and will fall through! I needed to drill a hole in the hull so I could use a drill bit to hold it in place. There’s also a chevron shaped shot deflector that gets fitted in front of the cupola which is difficult to fit in place (you have to drop it on and then quickly push it into the right place before the glue dries. The Gunner’s MG shield is also prone to sliding and looks like it will break off more often than not in teh figure case.
I had only two disappointments with the kit. One is the crew. They look okay by plastic standards (I find the detail too soft and is why I don’t rate the PSC infantry) but you get one to fit the commander’s hatch of the F8 hull and one to fit the G hull. Neither fit the gunner’s hatch and it would have been nice to have the gunner manning the MG like the cover art shows. Needless to say the plastic material doesn’t stop someone resolving this (I managed to make quite a few variants, including a gunner to man the CO’s MG.
The only other complaint that could be levelled at the kit is one of tactility. I found the StuG very light on the table and prone to moving un-commanded (and I don’t mean in a warmaster-esque command blunder kind of way!). Thankfully this is easily resolved by filling the hull with spare bits of sprue, adding a bit of weight to the model.

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Ballast!

Conclusion
In conclusion, the Plastic Soldier Company StuG kit is not only a great price, but also a great kit, probably the best for looks you’re going to get in 1:100. They do require more assembly than most, which may or may not dissuade some, but given a steady hand and a few hours of an evening and you’ll get a fantastic looking platoon for half the cost.

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StuH 42 with “roughed up” Schurtzen (just cut the panels into separate bits rather than one big plate).

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2 Comments

Filed under 15mm models, Reviews

2 responses to “Review -Plastic Soldier Company – StuG III F8/G/H42

  1. I missed one alternative supplier off. Forged in Battle sell four StuG IIIG for £19.50 (£4.80 a tank): http://www.forgedinbattle.com/images/P-05.jpg and they come the closest to the PSC price break whilst being a simpler construction for those who value such things. Quite nice looking too.

  2. nice review.

    Actually, I value the lightness of the models, It’s much easier to carry large quantities and when they fall on the floor there is a lot less damage

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