Trumpeter has kitted South Korea's K1A1 before, but Korean Academy's new kit grabs home-field advantage.
Molded in dark-yellow plastic, the parts have nice surface detail: Panel lines are crisp, the nonskid patches on the upper surfaces are visible without being too heavy, and the round intakes on the engine deck are beautifully rendered with fine mesh and internal details that really come to life under a wash.
Also included: two figures with a choice of heads; poly caps for the wheels; nylon rope for tow cables; and a sheet of thin, clear styrene for periscopes and weapon-sight opticals.
A small, colorful decal sheet has unit emblems, stripes, and individual letters and numbers. Unfortunately, the instructions have no information on the markings.
The moldings had no flash, and I easily removed minor mold seams with a few strokes of a sanding stick. Fit was perfect all the way around; the only filler I used was a little super glue to blend sections of the mantlet. The alignment of the main-gun halves was superb; the seam disappeared with a little sanding.
The suspension went together without a wrinkle, but I left the wheels unassembled until after painting. I wish the inside of the rear mud flaps had some molded detail.
I was especially impressed with the engineering and fit of the turret stowage basket and bins. Its 12 parts aligned perfectly; working carefully, I completed it in about 30 minutes.
The smoke grenade launchers are a shallow molding that would be easy to deepen if you so desired.
Academy provides a sheet of clear styrene and templates for periscope blocks and gun-sight opticals. I used it for the sights atop the turret, but used Micro Krystal Klear mixed with Tamiya clear blue for the periscopes after painting.
The kit's biggest flaw is the nylon string provided for tow cables; it frays easily and is hard to cut and attach cleanly. Next time, I'll use picture-hanging wire.
Upper and lower hulls fit tightly; I left them unglued until after painting so I could easily separate them to fit the running gear.
Using Model Master Acryl and Tamiya acrylics, I airbrushed the four-color camouflage freehand. The decals were thin and went down well on a coat of Future floor polish with an assist from Micro Sol.
After painting and building the wheels, I fitted the well-detailed vinyl tracks. They were a touch too long, so I trimmed a link from each end of the strips, then wrapped the tracks around the running gear and melted the joining pins, positioning the joint on the top run where it was hidden by the side armor.
After gluing the hull sections together, I gave the model a coat of clear flat, weathered with Mig Productions pigments, then attached the delicate bits.
The locating lugs for the turret were too tight, so I removed them; the turret fits in the hole and turns easily.
The finished model looks every bit a K1A1, and scale is right on the money.
I spent about 24 hours on this kit, much of that painting the complex scheme. This fun build is a welcome addition to any modern armor collection, and the best Academy armor offering I've built.
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