Back in 2005 Dragon released the first of many new Tiger I variants. This kit is just the latest in a long line of releases since then. This version depicts a particular battalion (schwere Panzer Abteilung 502) which was the first unit to go to the Eastern Front equipped with Tigers in August of 1942. The markings provided with the kit are for 1942 and 1943. The unit itself fought until the end of the war but was renamed as s.Pz.Abt. 511 in January of 1945.
This kit is roughly 400 pieces. It's a 3-in-1 kit in that you can make replicas of either tactical unit No. 3, No. 100, or No. 123. The differences are obviously very small and include things like exhaust vents, spare track locations, pistol ports, etc. One can only assume (as the info is not provided in the instructions) that all these details are documented in photos of the original vehicles.
It's important to note that the original release of the Tiger I Initial Production (DML #6252) contained about 440 pieces. This was not including the fact it also had Magic Track individual links which would have bumped up it's piece count considerably, if they had been included in the 440 count. This release (#6600) defers to the new DS vinyl tracks and from the photos we have taken they do look very good. Obviously some modelers will still prefer individual links and there are plenty of options out there for this vehicle.
I did take a look at photos of the original release on PMMS
and I did find on several sprues that changes have been made. I am not going to go back to every release since then to see if these are new changes or simply carry overs from past releases, but the photos are here if anyone wants to look. Specifically on the top hull plate I see quite a few subtraction and addition details on #6600 vs. #6252.
Most notably from what I can see this kit does include quite a bit less photo/etch or metal parts than the the original release. Gone are the metal shells, turned barrel, shackles and other details. However in their place there are some very nice looking P/E mesh covers for the rear deck.
While this version lacks some of the super-kit details the original releases had, it does come at a reduced cost (based on today's prices). This kit is available online for around $45 USD.
Instructions & Marking Guide
The instructions are in 21 steps. There is of course the 3-in-1 notations for making your specific tank. Some of those details are a bit on the vague side. Having your own reference material for those decisions may be a good idea. There is a paint and markings guide with the 3 versions shown. Again one can assume the two version with camouflage patterns are based on historical photos. Unit No. 123 as shown in Tosno, September 1942 is just a standard field gray. Pretty boring I'll grant you.
One does get the feeling that Dragon is milking the Tiger train just a bit here. I am not the first reviewer to point this out I'm sure. However modelers impressions of this kit will probably vary wildly depending on their interest and experience with it. If this is the first 21st century Dragon Tiger I they purchase, I bet they will love it.