Metal Earth Tiger I

KIT #: MMS 203
PRICE: $12.00
REVIEWER: Mark Hiott
NOTES: Etched Metal kit


Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. The Tiger I gave the Wehrmacht its first tank which mounted a KwK 36 88mm gun in an armoured fighting vehicle. The KwK 36 is not to be confused with the earlier and similar 8.8 cm Flak 36, a different weapon designed in parallel with the KwK 36 and firing the same ammunition. During the course of the war, the Tiger I saw combat on all German battlefronts. It was usually deployed in independent heavy tank battalions, which proved highly effective.

While the Tiger I has been called an outstanding design, it was over-engineered, using expensive materials and labour-intensive production methods. Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. The Tiger was prone to certain types of track failures and breakdowns, and limited in range by its high fuel consumption. It was expensive to maintain, but generally mechanically reliable. It was also difficult to transport, and vulnerable to immobilization when mud, ice and snow froze between its overlapping and interleaved Schachtellaufwerk-pattern road wheels in winter weather conditions, often jamming them solid. In 1944, production was phased out in favour of the Tiger II.

Today, only a handful of Tigers survive in museums and exhibitions worldwide. The Bovington Tank Museum's Tiger 131 is currently the only one restored to running order.


 These Metal Earth kits are quite unique. They are made out of etch metal and held together by bending various tabs. The metal is somewhat like photoetch but is quite a bit heavier. The camo pattern is etched onto the surface and the detail is nice, considering the medium. These kits are not intended to be exact replicas, but a unique example of the modeling art. Some parts are overly big and the assembly is simplified.

The kit comes in a flat package with 2 sheets etch and an instruction sheet. A nice touch is a metal barrel. The instructions are very good and show clear assembly steps. The quality of the etch is on par with most of the "regular" photoetch I have seen. The package says you can just pop the parts out, but I found that damages the parts.


 There is not a lot to say about putting this together. However, I recommend a sharp knife, a pair of needle-nosed pliers and a small flat file. I also suggest some small dowels as you will need to bend some of the parts into round assemblies. I used several paintbrush handles.

I cut 1 of the attaching points and then just bent the part back and forth until it fell free. I cleaned up some of the edges with my file and test fitted the parts. The kit is assembled by the "inserting tab A into slot B" method.

I followed the instructions for the most part, only I installed all the parts onto the body (including the turret) before I folded it. I found the flat surface much easier to work with.

Assembly of the bogie wheels is a trial in patience. A couple extra hands would be helpful as well. Bending all the bogie parts is tedious but if done slowly it goes together just the way the instructions show.


 Is it perfect? No. It does make for a very unusual model and even my wife and kids thought it was cool. Although I get the impression that these are marketed towards kids (the package says 10 and up), they are not for youngsters. Nor do I think it would make a good first kit. A lot of the parts are very small and the assembly is difficult at times. However, anyone who has built a few models and used photoetch will not have any trouble.

Metal Earth makes a lot, and I mean a LOT, of these kits in all kinds of subjects. At $12 they are a great value as well. I will be picking up more as I really enjoyed this one.


Wikipedia for the history

Mark Hiott

December 2015


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