So Dragon has come up with another gimmick to tempt me into buying an otherwise poor model. It worked. I didn't especially need another Tiger kit, but I thought the molded-on zimmerit coating was intriguing. Unfortunately, that's also the best part about this kit.
Once again, this seems a kit designed by committee; some parts are very well done, whereas others ... well, not so much. For example, the gun barrel is a joke. Looks like something you'd see on a child's toy (my wife would maintain that these are all toys, but we don't want to go there ...). The fit between the upper and lower hull is very rough, and will take some grinding to get a good sit to the parts. As with the Revell Tiger I kit, all hatches but the commander's are molded shut, and most of the tools are molded onto the hull, in relatively poor relief. Some of the external details are molded very well, but others are not.
The machinegun rail on the commander's hatch is molded onto the periscope covers, and looks poor (just like on their King Tiger). And where is the machinegun? The loader's hatch is ... a little off (and it's detailed on the inside, even though it's molded closed!). The vision slots on the turret sides are represented by rounded bumps under the zimmerit coating. The cover art shows several spare track links stowed on the turret sides, but none are included.
There are a couple other unique items included: the pressed brass exhaust guards, which are fairly decent, and some braided wire for use as tow cables.
The wheels and tracks are the same as included in their previous Sturmtiger kit, and although I like the steel road wheels very much, the sprockets are very poor. I also dislike the tracks immensly, but they do have a nice tread pattern on them.
The zimmerit is very well done; much better than I could do myself. But I really do not see any advantage of it over the etched brass zimmerit from PART and Eduard, other than saving a step in its application.
Decals are included for two vehicles that fought in Normandy in 1944. The decals are nicely done. The instructions are the same photographic coverage of a model undergoing construction, but oddly enough, the model pictured being assembled is not this kit. Not sure which it is, but it's not this one.
Overall, I'd recommend this kit over the Revell Tiger only if you want to save some time in applying zimmerit. Otherwise I feel that the Revell is the superior kit. I think that there is a lot of potential in this molded-on zimmerit, but what Dragon needs to understand is that the rest of the model needs to be good enough to warrant that kind of special feature.
Stay tuned for a revised side-by-side comparison article between the three available Tiger I kits (Dragon, Hasegawa and Revell).