SU-85: Eastern Express Kit # 72014; AER Kit # 7214; Toga Kit # 261; Cooperativa Kit # 72014

SU-122: Eastern Express Kit # 72015

These two kits are almost identical, and are thus treated to a combined Preview. These were the first T-34 chassis kits released by Eastern Express, and they also form the basis for their new T-34/76 kits. The models are distributed by Eastern Express, but are actually produced by a company in Samara, Russia, which has no affiliation with AER. Thus, their kits are completely different from the earlier AER models. AER does, however, also market some of these kit under their own label as well. Sky-High is another distributor which also markets these kits.

Because these kits share several sprues of parts, there are often many unused pieces in each kit. The first scan is of the SU-122 hull and associated parts:

This next scan is the SU-85 hull, which shows the detail a little better:

These kits are extremely finely molded, and are some of the best small scale models marketed today. The detail is exceptionally well done, although there are a few points about the kits I don't like. For example, all the hull hatches are molded shut, with the exception of the driver's view hatch. I imagine that someday soon, we will be treated to T-34 engines and interior detail sets from an after-market company, but it will be difficult to open up these models to show the interiors. Also, the shovel on the right fender could have been molded separately. According to the reference material listed in the T-34 article, these kits scale out very well to 1/72nd. The hull width is spot-on, but the length is a tad bit short, by about 1.5mm. Although if you line them up immediately adjacent to an ESCI or AER kit you can see a small difference in length, it won't be noticeable if they are not right next to each other.

The above scan shows the hull bottom, which also includes the 85mm gun for the SU-85. The remainder of the SU-85 gun mantle is provided on the wheel sprue below. The wheels are the early, sold disk, rubber tire style, and although the hubs are not pronounced enough, I feel that these are better wheels than those included in the ESCI T-34/76 Model 1942 kit. They have very good bolt detail around the rims, and the perforated rubber tires are very good.

The wheel axles are molded onto the hull sides, like all T-34 kits, and are a little flat, but at least the spacing is correct. The spare fuel drums are best replaced with scratch-built or after-market items. All of the other details are very well done, such as the gun mantlets, mufflers, siren and headlight. The driver's hatch has detail molded onto the inside which is nice, but there is no interior detail to the hull. The spare track links for the hull front look fantastic, and are a nice touch, but unfortunately, you need to use them for the tracks runs around the wheels, because otherwise, the tracks won't be long enough.

The tracks are the hard plastic, link and length style, and represent the finest T-34 tracks available. The detail is magnificent, inside and out, although the hinges between each separate link need to be cleaned up a bit to make them fit with one another, a task which can be very tedious. As I mentioned above, there are not enough track links to make the track run long enough to fit around the wheels. I haven't counted the number of links included, because I don't know how many were on the real thing, so I don't know if it's a matter of simply not having enough links, or if the links are a bit too narrow. Regardless, as I said above, you'll have to scavenge the spare links which are meant for the hull, to add to the track runs to make them long enough.

The various decals sheets are fairly comprehensive, each giving several different marking options. They are printed in single colors, so registration is not a problem, and although the carrier film is spread over most of the sheet, it is very thin and with a matte surface texture. They look like they should be pretty decent decals, although I haven't tried them yet. Note that it is sometimes variable whether or not you even get decals in the kit. I've bought some that have decals included, others that do not.

These are excellent models, and I highly recommend them. You can see my construction review of the SU-122 here.

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