Heng Long joins the battle

By Robin Godwin

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

The 1:72 military model market is very crowded with the likes of Dragon, Hobby Master, Easy Model and Model Collect producing original models, and of course the multiple partworks (usually sourced from IXO/PCT) are still available. There are derivative ranges sourced from the partwork models as well, such as War Master (including those sold in Solido boxes) and others. Ten years ago I reviewed the military model market in MAR issues 209, 211 and 221. At that time, I commented that the market was somewhat saturated and even suggested that some manufacturers might not survive based on their plans at the time. At least one, Admiral, went away. Dragon had already moved away from a high metal content to all plastic in their range, and Hobby Master was doing the same.

In light of this, I was surprised to see a new entrant into the 1:72 military market from Heng Long of China. Heng Long Plastic Toys Co. Ltd  is well known for its radio control vehicles, which are marketed under their own name and possibly also produced for other clients. This appears to be a recent baby step into the 1:72 display model market, as it doesn’t yet appear on the website. Model number 8802 is an Abrams M1A2 tank in desert camouflage. I’m not sure if there is a model #8801 – a different tank or perhaps just a colour variation on the Abrams.

I bought this model from a Chinese eBay vendor who advertised it as “diecast” and with rolling wheels. A quick comparison of the photos showed it to be different from the partworks Abrams I have in my collection. It turns out that this is a 100% plastic model (consistent with the company name) and although the road wheels and idlers rotate, they tend to fall off when rotated. The rear drive wheels do not rotate. Tracks are separate vinyl. I can understand the vendor’s confusion, since it is a very heavy model, at least as heavy as any of the metal partwork equivalents in the same scale. At first touch, I thought it might be resin with perhaps a solid cast base. However, the photo of the disassembled tank shows the largest diecast metal slug I have ever seen on a model and this is the source of it’s “heft.”

All-in-all, it is a very well done model with fine cast parts (and accessories that I did not include in the photos). The turret rotates, and the barrel elevates. It compares quite well with the Dragon (an early model with metal hull) in both scale and detail. Just out of curiosity, I compared it to the Waltersons 1:72 scale radio control (sold by IMEX in the US) and it is a completely different model. So, I’m disappointed that this is a plastic model, but pleased that it is an original product to display alongside my other Abrams tanks. Apparently, although box details are all in English, it is still only available through Chinese vendors.

 

Nice lines and crisp casting feature on the 1:72 Heng Long M1A2 Abrams. Missing are the separate accessories – two guns and one antenna

Heng Long cast into plastic base

#Chassis with large zamac slug to add weight. Double road wheels rotate but are two separate pieces press fit and not glued. Rotating dislodges the outer wheels in some instances

Dragon M1A2 left, a gold standard for 1:72 scale armour. The Heng Long compares well on scale, accuracy, and price

More typical Heng Long product is this 1:70 scale (although HL does mostly larger scale vehicles) radio controlled Tiger Tank. This was sold with an identical model as duelling tanks in what appears to be a “Flashing Combat tank” series. Heng Long branding appears on the outer box and base of the model

Classy packaging implies there is a series of tanks

Tank comes mounted to a plastic plinth with clear plastic cover and includes a separate plastic “sign” identifying the tank (not shown)


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