IDF armor and aircraft are one of the most popular modeling objects nowadays. It has been a while since that became a fact too and the reasons are many. Mostly, because IDF are always at some point where tensions are high and quite often we see that in the news. Then, IDF vehicles are heavily modified and differ from the originals, making them distinctive and attractive. Many are into IDF modeling simply because they support Israel and that is their way to express their feelings and beliefs. Others – just want to deviate from the usual and take a road that is less traveled.
kits are many, but what I want to focus on is the top three that I came around in my modeling experience. I like IDF armor and airplanes for many reasons, although they are not my absolute favorites and by far. However, to be perfectly honest, the best armor kits that I’ve seen are IDF ones and I want to focus on those here.
From this article I will exclude the Doobi D9R, which I love and have built several from, simply because as a kit it is not that good. The fit has issues which are not many but at important stages, and the kit survived because of its specific charm, not because of its specific quality. It is a good kit but it won’t make my top 3.
All the kits in my top three I’ve tested and built, some in different variants, some exactly as described. What I found to be important is, that those kits comes as a very satisfactory sets and even though one of them requires a lot to be perfectly competitive with the other two, at the end it represents very fine replica in scale of the original thing. So, let’s start:
Number 3 – AFV Club Rochev / Doher:
My experience with this kit is by using the standard M109 and adding resin parts and aftermarket tracks in order to get the IDF version. Nowadays, both Rochev and Doher are available as standalone kits depicting the specific IDF Armor vehicles. Both of the options are great, but most likely both will require aftermarket tracks /at least/, so to be called “perfect”. AFV Club 35272 is the first one that became available and it is 1982 Rochev. Then, one year later, to the light came AFV Club 35293 – Doher version of the M109. Both of them are demanding and both can become real jewels in every collection.They feature nice goodies especially in the gun barrel section and with a minor additions they can be brilliant in any aspect. What I like about those is the fact that they are unusually looking, complex and aggressive vehicles, which,compared to any Zelda, Nagmachon or Doobi will grab your attention immediately. Besides as kits from modeling stand point solely they are very well engineered.
Number 2 – MiniArt Tiran 4 Series:
This kit is my number 2 for several reasons, none of them that important. However for me, its complexity is a bit too much. I wouldn’t call it over-engineered, although many consider it being such. But the kit comes with and without interior and it is hard to resist the temptation. Then,you realize that you bought yourself a real challenge and not a joyride.
MiniArt offer several versions and probably will continue releasing many more. I love their late options with the heaviest modifications, however any of the kits the Ukrainians offer are all – really beautiful. They have everything that you might want straight out of the box and they are not expensive either. Compared to the Doher / Rochev, Tirans are better in so many ways that I cannot begin to describe. Most importantly, they do not require tracks and in fact, their tracks out of the box are the best tracks I have ever seen molded on any kit out there. Abundance of options, 21st century kits and with upcoming versions which will satisfy many.
Number 1 – MENG Model Merkava III.D LIC:
This is it. The kit that nobody complained about, that nobody felt the need to buy aftermarket or alter. The set that represents very aggressive vehicle, which is contemporary and feature brilliant engineering, perfect boxing and it can be built by all kinds of modelers, no matter the experience.
The packing is better than the other two by the fact that it is complex, but not as much as Tiran or Rochev / Doher, and in the same time does not feature intricate parts, which makes it good even for newcomers. While with MiniArt any newbie will be out of the game after a week of building, and with Rochev the interest might be lost due to some unusual complications in some specific areas, here such thing won’t happen.
From whatever angle you look at it, Merkava III.D is an IDF armor that is more attractive because it is a “mainstream” object. You can never gather that much attention on a Soviet Tank /even though modified/, nor howitzer, or at least not as much as you can get on a modern, specific and futuristic looking tank such as the Merkava III.D.
Why I chose that over Merkava IV from the same company? Well, because I like the III.D better. I haven’t tried the IV.M, but I am pretty sure that it is as good as this one I mention here. Want to add that I am not a devoted MENG fan either. I have built several of their kits and they have their flaws. Not like many that say that MENG are the best and this and that. They are not. And by far. But they are really good. And Merkava III.D is their highest achievement so far. Again, I trust that IV.M is as good as the III.D.
Why else? Well, I think of all those, Merkava feature the best packing, the best plastic and the cleverest engineering. Not by much, but still slightly better. Price-wise is good and what you need to do in order to achieve perfectly good results is just to follow the instructions. With MiniArt you can get that same result, but you need the experience. With AFV Club you can do it, but you need aftermarket.
With any of the three, you will have and IDF armor kit that is better than the rest on the market. Compared to some they are close, to others – they are miles ahead. But if you are IDF armor fan, you must have at least one of those in your stash or on your bench. They are all great and very highly recommended!