Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Review Tuesday: Rubicon A15 Crusader
So while at Salute, I had the chance to get to know a Mr Normski Ealand who is on good terms with the Community Sponsor of Rubicon Miniatures, Jamie Tranter. it was not long after Salute that we got to speaking, and he was asking if I was up for doing some reviews of their range of tanks! If was from these chats that I suggested to compare some of the Rubicon vs Warlord options.. so Jamie had a look through my collection and picked a few that I had already with that in mind.
First up then is the A15 Crusader. A staple for the British forces in Africa and Sicily campaigns. I have already picked up and assembled 2 of these from when Warlords had their Africa army deals going, that included a tank. And I just so happen to choose the A15 each time.
I will preface this review that that Warlord one is the resin version that is currently available, so to compare it completely is like red apples to green apples. Similar but not fully the same. Considering that the Warlords version is majority resin, so theirs was a bit easier to assemble, but the customization of it is where it lacks. But we will see that as we move through the assembly process.
I do like that on the back of the box there are some variations to the paint schemes that one might use. Which helps me a bit, and I might actually use the Mk II scheme shown above for these and a few of the others.
Cracking open the box we can see 3 separate sprues here. Along with the instruction booklet, and a transfer sheet as well.
What is immediately evident is that there are enough turrets to do 3 different variants within this kit. I have to say right away that is amazing to have this, and makes the kit much more versatile overall.
Jumping straight into the assembly process now.. the tracks were pretty straightforward to put together. And the way that they go onto the tank they can be painted separately as well, though this can/will cause a problem later on.
Putting the body of the tank together was very easy. I can already see a few changes in the scale and the design of the Rubicon vs Warlord here. The engine mounts at the end corners are a bit smaller and thinner than that on the Warlord version. The end fuel tank is also one that is optional compared to moulded on. There are also more containers on the sides here on the Rubicon version, making it look more like it has been on campaign longer or will be at least.
Now I made my first major mistake while assembling this tank when I got to the Turrents.. one of the biggest things I should be realizing now is to stop making models so late at night, as I would then be prone to making mistakes.
The first being that I had not read the instructions as well as it should have been. I had thought that either of the Mk I or Mk II turrets could be made into a command turret, but I learned that the hard way when the command hatches did not fit the Mk I turret. And I then also dropped one of the hatches inside, loaded with superglue, and therefore lost it :D Means I will be needing to convert the other turret later on then :D
I switched up to the AA Turret then, and I have to say that this is a nice piece of kit with it all. I had to ask about which variant of the Crusader this would be for, and found it to be the Crusader III AA Mk I/II. Will have to research it a bit more to see where or how I can use it properly.. but it looks like a nice piece of kit to either tackle airplanes, or take out veteran infantry/light vehicles.
As you can see, thanks to the common way of putting turrets on tanks, both can be swaped out easily enough. Just have to ensure that I paint them both similarly enough to work well here.
The giant hole near the front there is for the front mounted MMG turret. I will most likely glue it in and for whatever variant does not use it, I will just state that it is broken then :D
As for comparisons here.. you can see from the shots here there are a few differences.
The width of the warlord is a bit bigger or looks it. The side armor sections are thicker than the Rubicon plastic variety. Though the Warlord resin also has more details on the front grill section it seems ( more tow hooks there ). But is missing the spare track links that Rubicon adds. Oh and the Warlord one has less containers running along the sides armor sections.
Here is something interesting.. the Rubicon turret feels wider and bulkier. Not fully sure if it is just a looks thing or a reality. The barrel of the turret however is thinner, but that it the benefit of plastic over resin. Whereby the resin has to be thicker to be safer, compared to the strength of the plastics that can be thinner but less likely to break.
The spotlight on the resin is a bit bulkier as well, which I don't think it is required to be, but the Rubicon one is a bit nicer, and more to scale.
Again with the comparison of the bodies here, we can see more closely the differences. The resin Warlord copy ( in white in case people are wondering at this time still ), is pulling some more details on things like the engine/fuel compartment boxes near the back there. But I can't help but think that the Rubicon is more to scale overall. Since they are in Plastic, and have the chance to really take advantage of that by making sure all aspects of the tank is in proper scale to each other.
The only complaint I will make on the Rubicon, would be the same on the Warlord version. That the top aspect of the hull, and thus the side tracks cant be kept to be assembled after the bottom half, and tracks, are painted. Or done in sub assembly. Which will make the painting process for the tracks quite the nightmare as many sections of them are obscured just enough to cause problems, but not enough to be ignored. This is why at the moment I have not gone and put them on the Rubicon kit yet, as I will try to work some sort of plan out with them. See if I can make it work ( maybe trim the plugs a bit for the tracks so I can slide them under the side skirts ).
In the end, which would I suggest or favour over the other?
Well the Warlord version is much easier to put together. I mean it only took me half an hour to clean and prep before the super glue came out. And there is minimal issues with assembly as there are not so many parts to go with it overall. Also when I was picking it up, you could get it in the bundle kit for the Allied Forces for Africa so the price was reduced as part of the package. But taking that aside it is 21 gbp retail as can be seen from this link here. But it is chunky, though solid. There will be some issues with the paint coming off from rubbing more so than with the plastics depending on how well you clean off the mould release as well.
With the Rubicon kit, the assembly process will take you a lot more time. I think this took me about 2 hrs with taking photos and trying to concentrate ( which didn't always pan out considering the issue I had with the turrets ). But in the end I have a few variations now available with the tank to be used. And when I get the third turret figured out, and modelled with a commander in it, I can use it as my command tank for tank wars. The plastic doesn't have any weight to it however, so some might find that a negative aspect, but for me it is perfect as it means better options for converting.
Of course what I like the most from the Rubicon kit is that with all the extra options that it provides, it is also one pound less than the warlord kit at retail prices. Such as can be found at North Star Miniatures website under their Rubicon section.
Compared between the kits, I think that if I require more Crusaders ( to which I can say that I will to get myself a full platoon of them ) is that I would go with more Rubicons varieties. Mostly for the convertibility of the kits, and to keep the things more interesting.
Expect to see 3 more reviews over the next week plus of the other kits.. 2 more comparison reviews available and one that is my favorite overall.. but I will state that once I get to it ;)
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