The Topol SS-25 is Russia’s mobile ICBM TEL (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Transporter/Erector/Launcher). This design comes from the Cold War concept of making missile sites more survivable in the Nuclear Age by transporting them to various locations for launch. The kit features posable launcher (for traveling or launch), vinyl tires, and markings for one vehicle.
The instructions refer to Version 1 and Version 2: This denotes traveling or launch position. I chose the launch position. Whichever you choose, I think it’s wise to highlight your build sequence; otherwise you could easily get mixed up.
Building up the frame from multiple pieces presented challenges. The shock towers (parts C28, C29) do not have a positive location, so it may be better to build up one of the suspension assemblies (5-a) and check height. Since I built the SS-25 in the launch position, Part B17 was painted and installed between the frame rails. I painted the chassis flat black when all the parts were added after Step 6.
The suspension assemblies do not glue up flat against the frame sides. I painted the hydraulic lifts after assembly and installed them on the chassis.
Building the erector in Step 9, I ran into fit issues with parts F1, F2, and assembly 9-a. I filled in the seams and sanded them smooth. The pins on Part B11 are small and brittle; one came off and had to be replaced with Evergreen rod. The hydraulic ram, Part B17, is supposed to snap in place. But the opening is too small, so I opened it up with a knife and glued the end in.
Building the cabs up from many pieces left gaps that needed filling and sanding. The completed cabs were painted at this time and installed with Part A19. The right cab leans out a little bit.
Part A3, a fender, has two small rods holding the two sides together; they are easy to break removing from the sprue or installing them on the model. I base-painted all the storage boxes and installed them.
I assembled the missile container and painted its camouflage before installing it on the rail.
When I installed the pads for the lift, I discovered a gap between the linkages. This required cutting the dog legs and repositioning them down.
For painting, I referred to images on the Internet and found a lot of different paint schemes, some with hard edges, some soft-edged, and combinations of both. Color schemes vary as well, so you have a rich variety from which to choose. I airbrushed the three-color scheme using Testors earth brown, Vallejo buff, and flat black, and masking with Silly Putty.
Weathering was applied with Tamiya pastels. Finally, the decals went down with no problems.
It took me 25 hours to build this TEL, and it’s a fine addition to the collection of any Soviet/Russian armor enthusiast. Hopefully, other support vehicles will be released by Zvezda.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2014 FineScale Modeler.