Panther D G tool
Stock Number: HT-008
Reviewed By  Scott Hollingshead, IPMS# 34786

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MSRP: $29.95
Website: hobbytrax.net

For those who enjoy building tanks, and like the appearance of individual track link assemblies (but are intimidated by their complexity), or just want a way to induce a realistic sag in their rubber band-style tracks, your prayers have been answered! A new company called HobbyTrax has just released eight tools made just for this purpose, and this was a welcome addition to my modeling tools. In the past, the builder had to rely on straightedges, or jigs of our own creation (yes, I know that some are now commercially available), but now, one can assemble the links for a full track in one fell swoop. If the modeler is using the new single-piece Dragon Styrene, or even the older Tamiya, Italeri, or some other manufacturer's kit-supplied rubber band-style tracks, you can now induce the appearance of the real weighted tracks without the use of glue or strings (or whatever other method you might prefer).

For this review, I obtained the HobbyTrax tool HT-008, which is designed for use on Panther D through G models. For my kit, I utilized the Shanghai Dragon Panzer V "Night Fighting Panther" (kit 9045) with its individual link tracks. I have assembled a few individual link tracks, as well as some link and length tracks, but this was by far my smoothest construction experience to date. Aside from separating the links from the sprues, and using a needle file to clean them up, I only spent about an hour assembling the entire track. The only thing that slowed me down was allowing some drying time every few links so that attaching a new one would not bend the track a few links away. It was easy to form the curves for the drive sprocket and idler, and the sag looks just like that of a real Panther track. In addition to photographing my link-to-link track assembly, my friends were kind enough to allow me to show one of the Dragon Styrene rubber band-style tracks that were formed using the tool.

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If you visit the home page for HobbyTrax, you will find that they provide some nice tips on using the tools, and the tool packaging includes a sheet with tips used to form rubber band-style tracks and link-to-link tracks as well. The packaging consists of the tool, hardware (10 x 24tpi screws, washers, and nuts), assembly instructions (used for multi-plate tools), and the aforementioned tips sheet. For the tools consisting of multiple plates, one screw is longer, and for all of the tools, the screw can have a standard X-Acto, or similar handle attached for use when forming a rubber band-style track, or if painting the tracks while they are on the tool.

HobbyTrax presently has eight tools available as follows with prices ranging from $15.95 (for single-plate tools) to $29.95 (for three-plate tools):

HT-001 Sherman M4 M4A3
HT-002 Sherman M4A4
HT-003 Tiger I 600mm idler
HT-004 Tiger I 700mm idler
HT-005 Tiger II
HT-006 PzKpfw IV 3 return rollers
HT-007 PzKpfw IV 4 return rollers
HT-008 Panther D G

If you have read my previous kit reviews, it is probably apparent that I build a little bit of everything, but for those who build tanks as their main area of focus, or if you just build them on occasion, I think that you will find the HobbyTrax tool just as useful as I did. I highly recommend this tool for making your building time easier, and hopefully as a result, even more enjoyable.

My thanks go out to Ralph Kuskye of HobbyTrax for providing me with the tool to review for my fellow IPMS-USA members as well as allowing me to photograph his Dragon Styrene track that was formed on the tool, and thanks to you for taking the time to read it.