Hauler produces photo-etched and resin upgrade sets for armored fighting vehicles (AFVs), airplanes, cars, railway vehicles, and dioramas. They also produce a few resin kits. Their products are in most of the common scale sizes, 1/72, 1/48, and 1/35, but they also produce a number of other items in common railroad hobbyist scales.
The kit for this review is a small set of photoetch designed to upgrade Revell’s 1/72 T-80 kit. The most obvious pieces of photoetch parts in this kit are designed to replace the plastic grills over the engine and exhaust, as well as the side skirts covering the lower portion of the tank’s hull. However, there are also parts to replace the stowage basket on the turret, the commander’s machine gun mount and ammo box, as well as the headlight mounts and covers. In all, there are 25 parts included on one small sheet of photo-etch and a small set of instructions in the package.
The instructions are not always clear about how to properly bend or attach some parts. One part in particular, the bracket for the turret mounted search light, requires you to cut the plastic bracket off the kit part while keeping the search light portion. Then you attach the new photoetch bracket, but it has a small handle that extends forward on the piece. How this is mounted and folded is not clear or intuitive in the instructions and required some internet research to figure out how it should look. Also, the handle portion is extremely delicate and won’t take much fiddling around, so you really need to pay attention to what you’re doing. The replacement is a nice upgrade, but better instructions on how to install it would have helped.
In most cases, the photoetch instructions identify which parts in the Revell kit they are intended to replace, but this is not always the case, so make sure to take proper care when replacing parts. For example, photoetch parts 1 and 2 replace parts 37 and 38 in the kit, but that’s not mentioned. These photoetch parts replace the headlamps from the kit, and add a protective cage over the lights. The result is very different from the simple pieced provided in the Revell kit. What isn’t mentioned in the photoetch instructions, is that you’ll need to carefully cut the headlamp off the Revell part. The end result if a major improvement, but you’ll really need to pay attention before cutting parts and installing the photoetch.
As for the major pieces of the photoetch set, the instructions are clear and simple. The engine cover and exhaust grills are very nice, and require the normal amount of cutting and removing the solid plastic parts with the kit. The side skirts provide an excellent replacement to the kit pieces, which in 72nd scale are unrealistically thick.
Overall, the additional photoetch makes a nice upgrade. Just use caution when applying the parts and make sure to compare the Hauler instructions to the Revell parts, and in some cases actual pictures of the real tank parts before cutting everything up. I’d recommend this as a nice, relatively inexpensive way to really improve Revell’s T-80.
Thanks to Hauler, and IPMS/USA for providing the review sample.