SnapTite Abrams M1A1 Tank
Introduced into active service in 1980, the M1 Abrams has served as the United States’ main battle tank for over 30 years, and will continue in that role for the foreseeable future. In production between 1986 and 1992, the M1A1 is an upgunned and upgraded version of the original M1, and has seen service in worldwide, including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Revell introduces young modelers to this mainstay of modern American armored warfare in the form of a 1/35 scale SnapTite kit – and a fabulous introduction it is! Molded in tan plastic, its 56 pieces are well-detailed with crisp raised and recessed features, and are accompanied by 2 pre-joined black vinyl tracks – also nicely detailed. A sheet of stickers provides the vehicle’s markings.
My youngest, Camden (nearly 8 at build-time), gave this puppy the true “kid test.” Having tasted some armor success at local and national IPMS and AMPS events in the past year, he was determined to make this one his “best ever armor piece.” With that, we decided he could paint and weather it as he’s seen Dad and other club members do for the past couple of years.
Construction was fast and without significant incident. Coaching required was minimal, although continuous direction to focus on sanding sprue detach marks and cleaning up gun barrel seams was required (not many kids need to worry about this), and one significant redirection of gun barrel orientation was needed (he initially glued it inverted). Parts fit together well with little need of adult hands to apply sufficient squeezing force. Revell really did its homework here. We did catch one little sequence glitch in the instructions, though, as Steps 12 and 13 are transposed.
Camden primed the finished hull and turret with Krylon red oxide to serve as a base for preshading, then airbrushed Model Master Acryl US Army/Marines Gulf Armor Sand (4812) under Dad’s close supervision. Minwax Clear Gloss acrylic served as decal base and sealer. Decals were crafted on the home inkjet printer and Testors decal paper using the images of the sticker sheet as the basis. Camden applied the homemade decals with the Microscale System.
Camden painted the tracks with Vallejo flat black as the base, then randomly airbrushed with Lifecolor Rust Base and MM Acryl Steel, then finally drybrushed with some PollyScale Grimy Black. All this after we melted the first set of tracks with an enamel flat black as a primer. Moral of this story – don’t use anything but acrylics on these tracks if you choose to paint them.
Once the decals were sealed, oil washes were applied by Camden to recessed and raised detail areas. He hated it at first, almost stalling on the turret. After a 20-minute cartoon break, he was ready and eager to tackle the hull without any further prompting from Dad. Once the excess oils were gently wiped away, I mixed him a filter of MM Acryl Flat with a couple drops of the Gulf Armor Sand, then thinned 1:1 with distilled water. Camden then airbrushed the filter over the entire model to great effect. I was amazed at his results the first time out!
At 20 minutes past normal bedtime the night before the annual Cinci IPMS show, Camden was beaming with pride at his armor modeling masterpiece…which was rewarded by the contest judges the next day with a 1st Place award in Junior Armor.
As a parent, I’m very appreciative of Revell making such a well-engineered kit for kids, and as a long-time modeler, I am thrilled that they pack enough detail into it to give it legitimacy to modelers who want to build something more than just an unpainted snap-together kit. Please, Revell, keep them coming!
Needless to say, Camden and I both HIGHLY RECOMMEND this great kit from Revell – and not only to kids, but to modelers of all skill levels looking for a quick but authentic build of America’s penultimate main battle tank.
Thanks to Revell for the review sample, and to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to share some quality father-son time in building and reviewing it.