Renault FT-17 by Meng

Meng FT-17 was a big hit in the modelers world during 2013. The model is interesting and has full interior. In the same time it is small in size, which makes it a challenge. However, from what I’ve experienced building three of those, this is one of the most overrated
models of 2013.
Most articles /model related/ I see on the internet, are full of superlatives about a given model, and usually tend to exaggerate its qualities. Even with wonderful models, it is well known that flaws can be seen anywhere, and its all about modeler skills in the end.

Last years, maybe a decade already, the more the model is over-engineered and full with small parts, photo-etched sheets or resin, the more is discussed. In the end, less newbies enters into the realm of plastic modeling, and less models are completed. The ones who are completed are usually pieces of art, but that’s not the point here. The general idea of the modeling is fun. Not challenge, not complexity, but fun.
Few people make money of building models, so most of the clients of the model companies are into that to spend some relaxed time, enjoying the build of the model they got.
Few companies are left out there who produce models with such idea. Most of them tend to add as much as parts as possible, and make models an impossible challenge for ‘green’ modelers. For sure, Tamiya keep their pace in that area, and continues to build their wonderful models suitable even for a first try.
Here I wanted to present my experience with Meng FT-17 1/35, which I expected with great anticipation, but in the end I ended disappointed.
The model is really good, and has a lot of small stuff. It has PE parts, separate tracks and so on. The thing is, that its scale is just not right for the amount of parts and methods of building that Meng decided to use.
First, the interior. Its nice to have one. Its even better to have full interior with so many options. The thing is, it is just not visible, and some of the parts are not worth the effort of building, since they stay hidden, or only parts of them are visible. In the engine compartment, below/behind the engine block there are pieces which cannot be seen from any angle, and if you want to show them, you got to cut some part of the tank in order to show what’s inside.

Of course, you always have the option to keep most of it hidden, but if you decide to show some part of it, you gotta paint from the inside. Then, if you do, attaching the parts that complete the superstructure of the vehicle, you will encounter a lot of problems. Some of you might say, it is only the author that is speaking here. But this isn’t the case. I have reviews from two of my fellow modelers, both from different parts of the world, and both of them disappointed as much as I am in this kit. Anyway – even if you manage to complete the body without any flaws, the tank is still way from completion.
Chassis of the FT-17 is another over-engineered step of the way. It features – again – parts which remain unseen, and parts which cannot be weathered properly once installed. It also has metal springs, for adding realism of the suspension movements, which, for a shelf model are completely useless.
Detailing is great, I can give Meng that, but then again, some of the parts has flaws, pin marks or injection defects bigger then the details itself. The smaller wheels are moulded like they will be seen and they are 80% invisible due to the side plates of the chassis. Thus makes the way of the moulding and cleaning necessary a bit of a hassle.
Tail part is also kinda of a trouble. The options are two, and the one that features more visible parts is the one you will wanna build. But then, you gotta build some parts which could’ve been casted in one piece, instead of ten separate small and easy to lose parts.

Tracks are really wonderful, but that is only thing that I can point out sincerely. The camouflage schemes are also good but they are not complete ,since they feature only one side of the tank. Especially in rare vehicles like that, having in mind all was hand-painted ,is lacking pictures or at least drawings of how it must be made, you are doomed to fail the camo.
Of course, I do not pretend to be the most exact modeler, especially for camouflage schemes. But if you read tons of articles of how great a kit is, you expect a bit more. And, in the end, you gotta imagine what is on the other side of the tank in order to complete the camo /as eventually I did/.
And in this case we have two possible ways to come out clear of that mess.
One is to build it close and lose some of the goodies in the kit. The other one is to go through all the troubles described above, in order to get model smaller then a soda can.
I’ve never would’ve written that, unless I didn’t saw that Takom are making this same tank, just in 1/16th scale. The thing that grabbed me, was that going through instruction sheet of Takom, I’ve noticed that the process of building is almost identical to the Meng.

Just the size of the parts is twice as big. And yes, the size does matter, especially for finished model.
I have completed three Meng’s FT-17. I don’t want to start another one. If I do that tank I will go with Takom. Three times the price, but twice the size, and I hope – half the troubles.
It is all up to you, but I would never get myself into that again, especially when I know how big is the end result.
Thanx for reading!