Zvezda reference 3577

This is an in-box review.

The kit comes in 6 green plastic sprues, one clear sprue, two vinyl tracks (each in two parts) and a decal sheet. No photoetched parts are issued. The instruction booklet has 8 pages in Russian with few captions in English.

The detail is crisp, the molding of good standard even if some pin ejector marks are heavy.

The hull

The lower hull comprises 4 parts : a floor with the front bow, two side walls and a rear wall. The roadwheels have separate arms which enables to show a vehicle with the suspension fully lowered. The sprockets come in 5 parts each (with a tiny hub). Unlike SKIF (with the BMD1), the hull has triangular supports to maintain the side walls in a good position while the glue dries.

The upper hull is a large part. All the hatches are separate parts but no inside being provided, the hull will probably be closed pending an aftermarket interior. The hatches hinges details are nicely done. The vision blocks are hollow and filled with the clear parts which is a must. The big companies should be well advised to follow Zvezda example instead of giving the classical clear foil.
The extra tanks located on the rear of the vehicle are provided too. But as no positioning pin or hole, they can be set apart.
The low visibility lights are finely molded, the headlights have clear glasses but could be drilled out to enhance their realism. The headlight guards are a little too thick and should be either sanded or replaced by aluminum homemade parts.
Like SKIF, ZVEZDA give the bow MG supports as separate parts instead of carving them in one of the hull halves. This will produce a seam to sand carefully. The MG come with a trapezoidal base thus the hole in the MG support needs to be filled if you decide not to fix the MG as shown on various pictures. The barrels might be drilled out.

The turret

The turret comes in three main parts, the turret top, a base ring and a strip fixed at the ring to maintain the turret in the turret well. The searchlight support seems simplified and too thick. A bedroll with its straps is provided but could be replaced by a more realistic one made from paper soaked with white glue and lead foil straps.
The good news is that Zvezda provides two ATGW Konkurs firing posts. These are by far superior to those issued in the SKIF kit. The missile ends are separate parts well carved, the post itself will need some detailing but is already a very good base.
The 2A42 30mm automatic cannon is not so good. The muzzle is a kind of square blob at the end of the tube. It will need to be drilled out or totally replaced by a Modelpoint turned barrel.

The tracks

The tracks are vinyl ones and each is composed of two parts. The metallic colored plastic reminds me of the Heller tracks plastic. There are no ejector pin marks and the mold seam is nearly invisible on the connector ends.

Five decorations and their associated decals are proposed by the manufacturer. The paints references are for ZVEZDA or MODEL MASTER paints.

As a conclusion, I would say this kit is a step above SKIF model except for the tracks that the Ukrainian manufacturer represented link by link. On the contrary, the vision blocks provided as clear parts is really an excellent feature which should inspire other brands. I hope I shall have time enough to build it before the end of this year 2005.