No matter how much effort the plastic manufacturers put into their new models, the constraints of plastic injection molding mean that many small details will be represented over-scale. Whilst most modellers will overlook these (small) inaccuracies, many will strive to replace as many of these as they can. The after-market companies producing Photo-etch detail sets have for many years provided us with replacements for inaccurate or over-scale detail and of these Aber from Poland stands out as the company to go that little bit further down the road of ‘super-detailing’. Well known for their ‘working’ tool clamps, they satisfy the needs of the most demanding sufferers of Advanced Modelling Syndrome.
what’s in the bag?
The set is packed in a small zip-lock plastic bag, stapled to a cardboard hanger which shows the name of the contents on the front, and a handy instruction on how to execute some of the generic skills (like bending, rolling, scribing etc) needed when working with Photo-etch on the back.
The set itself consists of one fret of Photo-etched brass with all the parts for the Pzr IV, one small generic fret of Photo-etched chains and a length of brass rod for hinge pins etc. The instructions come on 4 pages and are good, but in common with most Photo-etch manufacturers could be clearer on exact placement of some parts, as well as showing how to fold more complex shapes.
A closer look
The detail that this set allows you to add is incredible, from the (potentially) working clamps to the working, sprung and hinged mudguards. I will go through the set following the instructions, commenting along the way.
The tools get new brackets and clamps. The brackets have working hinges, which are not difficult to construct, but as they are small they will need a lot of care when you roll the hinges. The supplied brass rod is used for the hinges pins, and Aber even supply half wing nuts, which replace the ones in the Tristar kit. The aforementioned clamps need three hands and very steady hands to construct, but when added really add a superb touch to the model.
The Tristar jack looks good, with plenty of surface detail, but the Aber set contains a replacement for the ‘foot’, which looks much better than the thick plastic offering. The kit’s jack block can be completely replaced, the Aber set suggesting a block of wood to be used, which combined with the carry handle, bracket, corner straps and retaining strap will add some superb detail.
A replacement for the Track tool, folding step and bracket. The folding step hinges can be made to work and consist of four parts each, even replicating the nuts that tighten the hinge pins.
The rear lights (two options), convoy light, and horn are provided with very delicate mounting brackets, which are barely large enough to glue. The horn is beautiful, and there is even a small clamp for the electrical lead.
The front and rear mudguards are involved items, the rear mudguards are made up of 11 separate parts, not counting the tensioner spring which you will have to make your self from some appropriate wire. They also have the correct step in the triangular part that connects with the rear hull, something most (if not all) other Photo-etch mudguards overlook. I must admit that I’m a little bit puzzled about the indentations on the inside of the rear mudguards, as these are covered by strips, representing the bolted flanges. And whilst the drawing shows the bolts on the outside of the mudguards, there is no indication that you have to add those yourself, other than the fact that they are not present on the parts. They are also not provided in the set, unlike all the other bolts and nuts needed for the various sub-assemblies. The mudguards (both ends) also have rolled edges on the inside, which are replicated with the supplied brass wire.
The smoke candle rack will test the resolve of the most committed super-detailer, as only the plastic candle holders are retained. A very involved assembly will result in a hinged (again working) cover, which combined with the replacement straps for the exhaust will create a superb rear end.
The turret receives a number of refinements, most notably the aerial deflector under the barrel. Five Photo-etch parts and three plastic parts (which you will need to scratch yourself) construct a fragile deflector which is more to scale than the plastic kit version. The only added detail for the stowage bin consists of mounting brackets, which are an improvement over the kit parts, but no replacements for the hinges or clasps are included. You will need to check your references anyway, as many Ausf. B and C did not have the turret stowage bin.
The driver and radio operator hatches receive only the lock brackets and a signal port lock as added detail.
This is not a set for the Photo-etch novice. Most parts require assembly of multiple tiny pieces, and to get the best of it you should really solder rather than glue the parts. The effort will however result in a superbly detailed model, and although I personally don’t see much point in ‘working’ parts on a static model, the finesse and detail these parts provide is immense. Test fitting of the parts shows to the parts to fit the Tristar kit without problems.
Aber does not seem to believe in wasting material, and as can be seen in the picture to the left they have managed to etch all the pieces on one, small fret of brass. The draw back of this is that all the parts are extremely close together, which makes removal from the fret sometimes very difficult, as it’s very easy to damage nearby pieces. You will need a plentiful supply of new, sharp, small pointed hobby blades to remove the pieces.
I could not find this set on a UK or US based web shop, but Hobbyeasy, who are one of our sponsors, list it at HKD 135, which makes it very good value for money. If you have the skill to do this set justice, I can highly recommend it.
This up-grade set from Aber will add a superb finishing touch to the Tristar Panzer IV, but is not for the faint hearted. Working tool clamps and hinges need skill, not to mention three hands, to construct.