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HobbyBoss 1/72 scale 15U175 TEL of RS-12M1 Topol-M ICBM Complex plastic model kit review

A unique vehicle with good molding but serious challenges
Kit:82952 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$190.99
Die-cut window masks; one-piece missile tube; excellent surface detail on the parts
One piece frame is slightly bowed; hydraulic cylinder assembly confusing
Injection-molded plastic (yellow-tan); 239 parts (2 metal tubes; 16 vinyl tires); die-cut masks; decals
The Topol-M is an updated version of the Topol ICBM, including the ability to maneuver during flight, and was equipped with onboard active and passive decoys. In 1998, the Topol-M began service deployed in missile silos, but in 2006, the first mobile launchers entered service. Based on the MZKT-79221 chassis built by MAZ in Belarus, the massive 16-wheeled vehicle has all eight axles driven, with the front and rear three axles steerable. Despite its size, the vehicle is quite maneuverable.

The new Hobby Boss 1/72 scale 15U175 TEL of RS-12M1 Topol-M Complex plastic model kit has excellent surface detail. The primary frame of the vehicle comes molded in one piece. The main missile tube is also one slide-molded piece, with an additional nose cone, tailpiece, and a few detail parts.

The instruction booklet has good diagrams, with some painting callouts included, and a full-color painting and markings sheet covers three vehicles. A small decal sheet has details for some of the interior panels and markings for the three vehicles.

Assembly starts with the chassis. While I was originally enthused about the one-piece frame, I discovered that my sample had a slight bow in it. Trying to correct it would have required major surgery and could have possibly affected the installation of the rest of the parts. So I went ahead with the build, hoping that things would straighten out on their own.

There are six different axle assemblies. Make sure you keep them straight and insert them in the correct locations. The axles snap fit to the frame. I glued mine in place, but you might want to leave yours loose because they could adjust to correct for any “floating” wheels.

Next, I skipped ahead and added the rear and both center jack-stand assemblies to the frame (sadly, the only option for the jack stands is in the travel position) and gave everything a coat of paint.

Before assembling the crew cabins, I painted all the interior parts, installed all the clear parts, and added the die-cut masks. The masks fit well, but be warned: The adhesive on them is pretty strong. I found that the front window frames (parts D18 and D17) fit snugly enough that I could just press them in place. Once the parts were painted, I could remove the frames and the masks, then glue the frames in permanently. It is difficult to put the masks on or remove them with the frames in place, since the windshield wipers are in the way.

The rest of the body sections assembled quickly, and I added this assembly to the frame. The missile itself was a fast build.

The hydraulic lift tubes for the rocket cradle, however, are not. The small diagrams have instructions, such as “cut,” “remove,” and “bend” for the metal tubes, but there is no clear picture of what they mean. HobbyBoss could have made the whole system out of plastic and still had it workable.

I finally abandoned the whole assembly and decided to glue the missile in the lowered/transport position. I figured the missile launcher would never be raised in the firing position without the jack stands deployed and the tubes on its side removed anyway, so it’s more accurate this way.

I painted the rest of the model and went with the parade markings (the version most people see them in). The decals went on very well using Microscale Micro Set and Sol. Finally, I installed the wheels (and, yes, I have some floaters, mainly in the front and rear), the mirrors, and the searchlight.

Definitely not for a beginner, I spent 21 hours on my HobbyBoss 1/72 scale 15U175 TEL of RS-12M1 Topol-M ICBM Complex plastic model kit. If you have experience building kits with small parts, when finished, you should have a detailed and unusual addition to your 1/72 scale collection of modern Russian vehicles.
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