... And you thought the IR Challenger Kit had a long name... Its New Years Eve, and I have prepared a new Product Review to officially close out 2016... The Cobi Tiger 131 Kit.
About this creation
What is on the Back of the Box:
~ PzKpfw VI Tiger Ausf. E ~
In Nazi Service: 1942 - 1945
Place of Origin: Germany
Type: Heavy Tank
Weight: 57 Tonnes (European spelling)
Armor: 120mm Maximum
Main Armament: 8.8cm Kwk 36 L/56 Gun
Secondary Armament: 2 x 7.92mm Guns
Engine: 700HP Maybach HL320 P45
Speed: 24 Mph
Tiger 131 Lore:
"Of the 1,354 Tiger tanks built by the Germans during WWII, only six are known to survive. Only one of these remains in almost immaculate running order, Tiger 131, which can be found on display at The Tank Museum in Southern England." (Bovington)
"The Tiger had a fearsome reputation with an 88mm gun and thick frontal armor it could outmatch any allied tank. But it was expensive, difficult to build, and hard to maintain. As a result Tiger Tanks were to few in number to have any significant impact on the battlefield."
"Tiger 131 being the sole running tank of its type in existence, is perhaps the most famous tank in the world. It was captured in Tunisia by the 48th Royal Tank Regiment in April 1943. As the first to be captured intact by the British, it was carefully transported back to the UK for evaluation."
"Now carefully restored, you can see Tiger 131 in action at events like Tankfest. find out more at Tankmuseum.org."
"By Purchasing this product, you are assisting The Tank Museum in ensuring this unique piece of military history can remain a running exhibit for generations to come."
*Better quality images brought to you by my IPhone 4s... still better than my Laptop Cam*
Alrighty, on to the review...
Whats in the box:
- 500+ Pieces to build the Tiger 131 (Tank is 500, but you get extras)
- 2 Cobi Minifigures who are Museum Workers dressed in German Tanker Uniforms to act out Tankfest events. On the back of their uniforms is "The Tank Museum" print, as well as the museums emblem.
- 1 Toolbox to store the 1x Wrench, 1x Hammer, & 1x Pliers uses to "Keep the tank Running"
- 1 Mug for the Workers to enjoy a nice cold brew
The build was straight forward, was not near as "difficult" as the Star Wars Fury-Class Interceptor I got a few years back... that's thanks to the Tiger I being a box. however during building some steps were not as secure as others so you have to be careful until further steps. Normally for a Lego kit you would expect this, but with the past few Cobi kits ive gotten I have gotten used to the entire build being secure all the way through the building process. Rest assured though that once you have completed the hull everything locks together extremely well, I personally though it wouldn't lock together as stiff as it does when I looked at it on the box, especially the angled side armor plates. But indeed, it is stiff as a brick. The turret is the same way, a very straight forward design that uses their newer gun Elevation/Depression plates so that the gun will indeed stay in place unlike the Panther (Which I reviewed earlier).
Cobi has really stepped up their game this past year (They are even releasing an IS-3... if you don't know what it is, google it and see why you don't see many made in Lego, but yet they are going after it...) Of course its better compared to their M24 Chaffee which is like an entry level tank kit (But still a respectable kit nonetheless, I still have it on the shelf). The only kit I have which I can compare it to would be the Panther, and at that, the first Panther, not the Ausf. G's they have recently released. Compared to the panther there are stark improvements in the running gear which uses a similar overlapping design (They did not however make the FULL Running gear, just the outer-most wheels for a total of 8 per side) This time the last wheels do not rub on the back of the rear idler which kept it from rolling properly. Also the Rear Idler is a different wheel and not the same Gear Wheel used for the front. This allows the tank to roll completely smooth as if on glass. The Panther by contrast commonly had its tracks catch on the idler and front wheel stopping the tracks mid roll, or mid-turn, the Tiger 131 does not have this issue.
The hull design is both awesome, but not without compromises. The spare track on the front, and shovel are nice touches from the real tank. And the Improved Air Filtration System on the rear of the tank, which was used in desert conditions, or conditions in which the air was not of suitable quality are small details that really add to the model. And featuring 2 crew hatches on top in the front just like the real one is nice as well. The Drivers View Port, and the rear Engine Access Panel, and Exhaust all have very nice PRINTED pieces, as Cobi does not do stickers (Except for their World of Tanks kits). However there are some sacrifices that were made in order to keep the piece count at 500, one of these is the complete lack of interior design. On every Cobi tank I have gotten so far (Except the Matilda II) there has been some sort of engine hatch with at least an engine block on the inside. There are no such hatches here, it is simply a solid brick built hull. Now I knew this before buying it, and I figured they did it because of the Air Filtration system on the back, but it is worth mentioning for someone who may not know this before they buy it. As well as the angled side armor skirts, you will see in the second picture of the built tank that the angled plates are of a 2x11 design, meaning that while the angle down, they do not stay flush with the top of the hull, and in fact by the time you get the the rear of the tank the top of the sideskirts are a full 2 plates under the top of the hull. However I cannot fully call this a flaw because this is the area I thought would be a loose fit, but the way Cobi designed this area it is a very secure fit, so I have to say good job on making Angled Armor Skirts that are "Tough"...
The turret Featured 2 hatches, one for the Commander, and one additional for the Gunner/Loader. And while the turret looks nice, and spins well (A full 360 is not possible unless you remove the radio antenna from the rear of the hull), I have noticed two flaws in its design, 1) The rear stowage box does NOT extend down the full height of the turret like on the real Tiger 131, it goes about half way, and while it doesn't look particularly bad, its not perfect. 2) The front of the turret could use a another beige 2x8 plate under the gun, centered, and as far back as you could fit it, which would leave a 1 stud over hang on the turret, instead of 3 studs of over hang... Its not particularly a "Wrong" design, as the Tiger had Turret overhang under the front of the turret, it just looks weird because properly scaled its height would be about 1/2 a plate in height, not a full plate (EDIT: I have taken a hidden 2x8 Beige Plate from the previously featured Panther Kit, and installed it under the turret as mentioned... it completes the turret, and aside from the wrong sized stowage box the turret is perfect). The Smoke Launchers are adjustable in traverse, and the Gun does Elevate up... No gun Depression though which is depressing (See what I did there). and the Turret features many quality printed pieces for the tanks number, and Battle damage (The black splotches on the Gun Mantlet/Exhaust Ports).
I was fairly impressed by both its size, and relative non-complexity... I mean when you think Lego (Cobi) Tiger, you think a really detailed MOC, or a $360+ Brickmania kit... or even that $30 Kazi Blocks Kit that Ive seen on Amazon... (I might try it out at some point, I mean its like $30, and has almost 1,000 pieces and a detailed interior... if nothing else its cheap parts) You don't think a $46 ($40, + shipping) Kit that is Endorsed by the people who own the only running Tiger in the world, and you don't think of a kit the is so elegant, yet at the same time so mindlessly incomplex. And thanks to its incomplexity it runs on its tracks extremely smooth, I mean its smoother that my T-55 which I spent over a year perfecting... granted it's suspension does not move other than the roadwheels turning, but the track just glides... And the tank is solid, good piece fit, and even the "loose" Air Filter pieces are suitably secured.
5 Things of Note That Prevent This From Being A Perfect Tiger 131 Model:
- The Hatches are typical Cobi Hatches, and not German Style Hatches
- The Angled Sideskirts are not flush to the top of the Hull
- Turret Overhang is 3 studs deep instead of 1
- Turret Stowage Bin on the Turret does not extend the full height of the turret
- The running gear is that of the late Tiger I Ausf. E, where they used the wheels from the Tiger II and Jagdtiger to speed up production, the real Tiger 131 has the smooth rubber bound running gear
* I can forgive them on point #1 because even though they are their standard hatches, they look nice on the kit.
* Cobi tried to address point #2 in their "World of Tanks" Tiger I Ausf. E... the solution looked awful, and they have reverted back to this design for their standard "Small Army WWII" Tiger I Ausf. E
* As for point # 3, as mentioned above, I fitted a 2x8 Beige Plate under the turret, and it fixed the look a lot
* I cannot defend them on point #4... The Stowage Bin is half sized, and I do not have the pieces to mod it to fix it... Bad Cobi... I feel that if they would have made this a 550 piece kit instead of 500 piece kit they could have fixed this issue, and the above points #1 & #3... the new Tiger I Ausf. E features a 500 piece build, but even more compromises in order to fit in opening hatches for the engines... If Cobi would have just made this a 550 piece kit they could have made the perfect Tiger visually, while including the opening hatches with engines.
* I can half-defend them on point #5, The Ausf. E did use the steel running gear featured... and like wartime Germany this is the same wheels featured on their Tiger II and Jagdtiger kits so it eases production, even if it is for a toy company, and not a weapons manufacturer... However, the Tiger 131 does not feature this gear, rather the Smooth Wheels... they should have made the special pieces needed for this kit since The Tank Museum was kind enough to endorse it...
All of that said, it has increased my expectations of Cobi once more, and I have to re-rate the other kits based around these new Expectations...
Tiger 131: 9/10, Excellent kit, but not without minor flaws, well worth the $46. M24 Chaffee: 7/10, A good starter kit. Panther: 6/10, A good kit for its time, but obsolete. Sherman Firefly: 5.5/10, Kinda looks like a Firefly, tracks are stiff, poor clearance. Matilda Mk. II: 4/10, the 4th WWII kit they made, heavily obsolete today.
... It's not perfect, but its pretty close, and for $46 pretty close is pretty damn good...