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Panda M1296 Stryker Dragoon

Review of the 1/35 scale armor kit with good PE, but error-filled directions
Kit:No. PH35045 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$59.95
Panda Hobby
Crisply detailed molded hull detail; PE easy to work with
Directions had too many errors; vinyl tires difficult to use
Injection-molded, 529 parts (16 PE, 8 vinyl), decals

Hurray for Panda Models! The M1296 Stryker Dragoon IFV is its first foray into the Stryker family, and the release is timely. This is the latest Stryker upgrade, adding a 30mm Bushmaster cannon in a turret, and the first of the real vehicles was just delivered to the troops at the end of 2018.

Detail is crisp, especially on the upper and lower hulls, but there is a small amount of flash on some parts. All of the hatches have detail on the inside, but there are some nasty knockout marks that must be addressed. Vision blocks, light lenses, and optic lenses are molded in clear plastic.

Tires are molded in hard vinyl and have good sidewall detail. In addition, a sheet of photo-etch (PE) is included and contains engine screens, optic guards, suspension screens, and various brackets. The PE is soft and easy to work with, which allows easy bending to make corrections.

The instructions are a major disappointment with too many errors to list. Even some of the corrections are wrong. So, take your time and test-fit parts before gluing.

A color profile sheet includes five views of the vehicle as well as a color reproduction of the box art. I found myself looking at the box art when placement of parts was vague in the directions.

I prefer gluing the upper and lower hulls together first, then adding detail to avoid breaking fragile parts. But before gluing the halves together, the four vision blocks (GP1) need to be glued in place in the upper hull and the four forward shock towers (E45) need to be glued to the lower hull. The locating rings (E45) are not formed so care needs to be taken to properly align them in the lower hull. Fit between the upper hull, lower hull, and rear panel was good.

Next, I added the bolted-on armor. Some of the plates are not labeled with part numbers, but through a process of elimination, you can properly locate them. At the bow, I glued the nose (B2) and tow shackle brackets (E18) first, then glued on the armor plates. This allowed me to space the plates evenly since the alignment pins on B7 were not formed.

The undercarriage is complex. I pre-painted the drivetrain channels, underside of armor plates, and various components.

Wheel assembly was frustrating. The tires seem to be a combination of vinyl and styrene that is less flexible than vinyl tires. If you follow the directions, you’ll break the rims trying to snap the tires into place. I recommend gluing the front rim (E14) to the tire, then gluing the rear rim (E17) in place.

There are many small parts to add to the highly detailed upper hull, but first I had to fill two sink marks. The directions do not mention placement of the door hinges (C36) for the top crew hatches, or the brackets (D49, D50) that hold the drivers hatch in place, making it workable. So be aware.

I struggled to build the front light assemblies. Directions are vague on placement and the rear bracket (D98) looks nothing like in the directions. Also, the parts used for the light assembly on the engine side of the hull are not mentioned. I glued each base plate on the hull first, then attached the lights. I had to guess as to how the side light brackets were mounted since they look nothing like those in the directions. I glued the side view mirrors in the folded position since the mounting point on the driver’s slide of the hull is small and there is not enough surface to get a good bond; there’s no spot for it at all on the other side.

The turret (B26) had fit issues, too, with gaps at the rear and around the box that holds the optics (B21).

The PE antenna base (PE 8) disintegrated as I tried to roll it around (D25), so it’s not on my model. The ammo belt (PE 3) looks nothing like the directions. It’s too big and does not match the ammo chute on the roof or the ammo tray on the machine gun. Do not mount the turret until the end of the build as it clicks in place and cannot be removed.

One marking choice is provided for a vehicle of the 2nd Calvary Regiment, however, there are extra vehicle names on the decal sheet — check your references. I painted it with Vallejo and Tamiya acrylics. Images show the vision blocks to be a light purplish color, which I tried unsuccessfully to mix it with Tamiya clear paints. I used clear blue as recommended.

The decals were easy to position on the model over a gloss coat, but there was a small amount of silvering and the carrier film was visible under the flat coat.
Detailing is strong on the Panda kit and really comes to light when weathering is complete. It took me 45 hours to finish this model with a lot of the time spent on those small turret bolts.

Other than the wheels, error-filled directions, and headlight assemblies, this model would be suitable for any intermediate modeler. But be sure to test fit and take your time. Advanced modelers may wish to add the missing anti-slip texture to the hull and turret as well as add straps along the hull’s side that is present in internet photos.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2019 issue.


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