This is probably the tank that got me back into armor! I have built the Tamiya Gepard twice before I think, but I only remember the one time I did in high school and later cannibalized it into a kitbash project. It was a wired remote control kit and I had a lot of fun driving it. And in 2016 both Meng and Takom rolled out a version of it. I thought long and hard but finally was convinced by the review from the Leopard Club, which stated that the Meng kit was more accurate although slighly more parts. In retrospect it was the right choice because I love suspension, and Meng kit has working torsion bars, although Takom was easier to build and has more decal options.
Having working suspension means I can pose it on terrains. I like tanks and tracks quite a bit because I’m fascinated by how the system rolls over rugged terrains. Here I built a vignette of a gentle down slope inspired by one of the photos I’ve seen online. It was a little difficult to find figures of 80-90s Bundeswehr crew for the figure, although in the end I got a Valkyrie model set from Korea. Originally I intended to pose two standing figures on the cupola since it allows for it, the thing just didn’t look good so I stuck with one. This is also where I learned that great figure sculpts gives you much better finish because of the detail of the casting. Here the resin faces are very well defined and takes oils very well. On older Tamiya kits the facial features aren’t as well-defined and they take a bit more time to define the features using light and shadow.
After reading online about usual model issues with Gepards, I added fine chains to the smoke grenade launches. I guess they don’t want to lose the cap after the grenade launches 🙂I like my tanks with antennae so I made a couple of out of styrene. Oh yes forgot to mention Gepards have a few different variations, with the latest one before retirement A2, which is the one I’ve built. Aside from different instruments, its turrent has additional equipment which makes it bulgy. It was capable of being posed open and there are some detailed instruments inside the boxes, but they interfer with closing and I couldn’t figure out how to make it workable, so in the end I just closed it. Also you don’t move around having it open 🙂
The kit was painted with Tamiya Nato colors and weathered mostly with pigments. Gepards aren’t slugging it out with enemies so most of the weathering is just kicking around dust.
The back of the vehicles has some stowage sack made with a soft material, which is a bit puzzling. Tying it down was a bit challening with that soft material – apparently Meng loves this as the same stuff is used for other backpack straps and such. The vignette was done, finally correctly, with Sculptamold. I built a “mold” using lego bricks as walls, cut a piece of styrene fitting the base, and use a cut-to-size box cover to get the Sculptamold in shape. After a bit I put the Model Scene grass on top. What a wonderful product, I remember when I used to do this a long time ago getting a grassland like this would take forever! But now I just cut the grass mat to size, some Sculptamold to smooth out the edges, and viola I have a very convincing relief. If I were to ponder a bit about armor modeling here, I felt the hobby had some real innovations since I started. I read the great Shep Paine’s works to get me started, and at that time washes and dry brushing were the primary weathering vehicles. I learned about hairspray techniques and pastels as well. But it seems in the last 10-15 years pigment grew in popularity as an essential, and chipping becomes almost a much because of the realism it offers. Mig Jimenez in particular offered thinned enamel paint as a product. Initially I thought that was ridiculous, why wouldn’t you just thing enamels? But lately I find the convenience and the fact that my Testors enamel always dies in the bottle and become useless pretty aggravating, so they probably have their place in the hobby.
I had a lot of fun building this kit and I’d like to build an A1 variant if I had a chance, as I’ve found some awesome images of Gepards travelling at high speed. Also I had a great time experimenting with using wide angel lens for tanks, it gives such an awesome distortion for the Gepard!