Polish Light Tank prototype, or PL-01 as it is more popular, is one of the few conceptually new designs for tanks in the recent years. Excluding the Armata platform which is with uncertain future and the rumors that there might be a Merkava V prototype, there are no others on the scene. Everybody is using the old platforms, upgrading them with new electronics and polishing the areas which prove to be problematic.
In that respect, PL-01 is something very interesting and rare and we will hopefully see it in the future as a production vehicle. The concept was first presented in 2013, as a joint venture between OBRUM from Poland and BAE Systems from UK. Strange co-operation, but nevertheless, a new concept of a tank was born. PL-01 is said to feature remote control turret and 3 man crew, but since it is a prototype it is too early to conclude about what the production vehicle might look like or feature. One thing is certain – from the outside it looks like a tank variant of the F-117 Stealth fighter jet, with cool small LED headlights, out-of-this-world shapes and smooth and low appearance.
Takom definitely surprised armor modelers with this release. Although many wanted this tank in 35th scale, few dared to hope for an actual plastic model. Takom proved them wrong. It might never become a real tank per se, but PL-01 will most definitely will be something on the scale modeling shows in the coming years.
The box is made in the typical Takom style. That includes the boxart as well. However, there are few differences that are worth mentioning. First one is that the box came in cellophane, maybe because it was an US domestic order. In Europe, every time you buy a Takom, you get it just as a box, no transparent packing. Nothing of big importance, but probably something that has its explanation.
Usual box that you get from Takom is thicker than what you get with this PL-01. We don’t put a lot of attention in the material or the box thickness, however, some people like to put their kits one over another and those piles can easily get 7 feet high, which might present a slight problem. Other than that, probably this way of packing /with lighter and thinner materials/ is more environmental friendly, which is the most important thing nowadays.
Boxart is showing the PL-01 prototype next to a T-55 tank, all made with nice and vivid colors. On one of the sides you can see two of the camouflages included in this kit and on the other- the sprues, decals and the PE sheet. Latter one are not that intriguing, but both the camo profiles shown are very attractive. One is digital, the other one is 3-tone hard-edge khaki one. A bit later on that though.
Landscape oriented, Takom instructions are as usual – clear and easy to follow. Black and white, without many sub-assemblies on each step, they are suitable even for the youngest modelers out there. This can be used as a first kit with ease, both because of its engineering and instructions.
The instruction sheet is packed altogether with a small PE sheet and the decals. We’ll talk more about those two later, but as far as the instructions go, everything seems perfectly fine. The booklet features four camouflage schemes which are done in color. They are positioned at one of the booklet ends and they unfold, giving the feel that they are separate part of the instructions.
The material is good and the printing quality is great too, with only one letdown that we have to mention – the color schemes depict tanks that are too small, especially when it comes down to the Digital Camo scheme. But maybe, some company that makes aftermarket masks for scale models will take care of that soon enough!
Plastic wise, Takom are well respected in the armor-scale-modeling World. The details might not be as tiny and delicate as with MENG Models’ kits, however Takom has another upside. Tamiya is a company that stands out among everybody else as a benchmark for quality in all respects. They too do not offer the thinnest and most delicate details, especially for armor kits. However, the simplicity of their builds as well as the organization of the whole process – instruction-wise, engineering and etc. is superb. Takom are very close to that in many respects and that goes for their plastic too.
The material is easy to be worked with. It sands nicely and modifications and alterations are a breeze. Another example and explanation to that is that MiniArt and Takom share T-54/55 series as well as M3 Grant/Lee series in 35th scale. While with MiniArt everything is about precision and perfection in scale, with Takom everything is more user-friendly especially to novice modelers. That describes the plastic as well, and summarizing, we might say that if you want to go the easy way, Takom is your path.
This obviously does not touch directly the stealth-tank subject, because of the simplicity of the outer appearance. However, braking down the elements and the way the assembly process goes, everything is nice and it is done with care for the builder. The rest is self- explanatory when you look at the pictures.
As mentioned before, we have four options and the only letdown of the instruction sheet is the fact that the tanks are too small. Especially for the Digital Camo scheme. However, each of those, besides the one depicted on the box are what-if vehicles. This has its up and downs, about which we will talk in the conclusion.
With that said, the camouflage options are beautiful and they should turn this futuristic tank into a piece of art. Especially if you do some weathering and recreate a vehicle that is already used and worn. Even if you stick to the prototype version it is still acceptable having in mind the various effects that can be achieved with single tone variations and shadings, especially on flat surfaces. Latter ones are plenty on this PL-01. A great canvas to some extent.
Decals, Clear parts and Photo-Etch
The Photo-Etch sheet is so small that it doesn’t need comments of any kind. However, there is an aftermarket set with some PE goodies from Voyager Model on the market, which even though nothing overly special, can spice up things a little bit. Besides, this PL-01 kit is a fresh release and we can expect more from the producers in the future. Everything is kinda limited if you come to think of it, because of its outer stealth shape and flat surfaces. Still, with some imagination, more PE sets can be created.
Clear parts are represented on a small sprue but they are important in this case. The lights on this tank are tiny and are LEDs, however that creates some demand in terms of quality and clarity. They seem OK at first glance, but maybe the plastic is not the best out there.
Decals are also limited in size. Besides the chevrons, the prototype signs and Polish flags, there is nothing worth mentioning. Those are too, limited mostly for the version depicted on the box. When it comes down to other camo schemes, you can go with your imagination. In real life for example, this tank can belong to any NATO country and even more. You can go with whatever you can dig from your stash of decals. Maybe even US or Russian markings. Who would challenge the authenticity?! We’re talking about the eventual future after all…
This is one of the few models on the market designed for pure fun. There is no accuracy-burden, no camouflage variations that somebody might challenge as inadequate, nothing of that kind. It is just a plastic kit that you should get, glue and paint in almost every imaginable way possible. You can make it worn out or beaten, or brand new just like the original one. Camouflage schemes presented in the set are just a fraction of what can be done with this kit. You can experiment with digital or splinter camouflages as well as invent your own, which – who knows – someday might catch some interest from the military.
This kit is a blank piece of canvas that the modeler can paint on and release the full power of one’s own imagination and creativity. This is why, this kit is among the best on the market today. It might not represent a production tank, but it can be turned into anything you like. After all, if PL-01 happens to become a real mass-produced vehicle, it is up to current kids imagination what it will look like on the battlefield. They will be the ones who will use and abuse it, they will be the ones who will build on it and improve it.
Very highly recommended, especially due to its nature as a basis for creativity limitlessness.