Tamiya M551 Sheridan

This poor kit has a such a bad reputation. But should it? Years ago Cookie Sewell bashed it pretty badly. He scratch built a new hull for it which he said easily fit inside the Tamiya hull.
Years later, bring on the Academy Vietnam version. (not their earlier clone of the Tamiya kit)
He gave it rave reviews, until the Gulf War version came out. Then suddenly it just wasn’t that good any more. I recently, and quite by accident, stumbled across his original review, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
First off, it turns out the Tamiya turret was (and still is) better than either of the newer Academy offerings. You could buy both kits and use the Tamiya turret.
Then you’re left with the horrible (or is it?) Tamiya hull. Let’s have a look:

The Tamiya hull is indeed too long, and the rear details’ proportions suffer because of it. But the rest of the hull? Looks pretty good for a kit from the 70’s. And that Academy hull ain’t fittin’ in the Tamiya one. They’re not very far apart width wise at all. And remember the Tamiya turret got the shapes right.

Personally I found the biggest problem with the Tamiya kit was that the vaunted “slide molds” were not used to create the hull, hence it is missing all of the rivet detail on the sides. A shame - in spite of what every Youtube review would have us think, slide mold technology has actually been around about as long as plastic models.

So I added the rivet detail. I took the lazy way out.

I used my homemade rivet tool mentioned here:

And was not displeased with the result.

The point here is not to say you should run out nd purchase the Tamiya kit over the Academy or RFM offerings, but rather to demonstrate that just because you have one of these old dogs in the stash, there’s no reason to bin it, or attempt to foist it on some poor rube on eBay. You can still make it look very much like a Sheridan, provided you leave your micrometer at home,.


The biggest problem, for me at least, is the absence of the glacis plate detail hidden beneath the folded wading screen, the sculpted contours of the glacis is just one of the unique features of the Sheridan’s design styling. I managed to hack away the folding screen on both offerings and scratch fab’d a convincing glacis on each but ran into inaccuracies on either model that were too obvious to ignore in light of the newer releases from Tamiya and RFM. In building a Nam era version it was essential to display the vehicle sans “surf board” to illustrate the beating these lightweight hulls endured while “busting jungle”. The omission of the rivets on the floatation cells on Tamiya #1 doesn’t easily lend itself to render the foamfill, encased by a thin guage sheet metal, often peeled back or sheared away by tree trunks or heavy vines. The Academy model has more authentic smoke discargers and the hull’s geometry is much closer to the 1:1 but still lacking, Tamiya #1 has a better driver’s turret but both models misrepresent the overall configuration of the bolt on cast assembly. You raise a valid point though that an acceptable model can be found in the ole dog if the builder is looking for a challenge, it would display nicely next to a 1:32 Cobra. Now how about that Italeri M107? Should I or is the spanking new M110 from AFV the better choice? :thinking:

Cajun :crocodile:

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The AFV Club offering is certainly the better choice, unless one’s finances don’t allow it.
The Italeri M107/M110 can still be had for $10. I saw a few of those at the swap meet in Aurora a few months ago. The only reason I didn’t snatch them up is because I already have enough in the stash. They’re not going anywhere either. There are many problems with those kits, some not even identified in reviews (the loading mechanism being the main one and the hardest to remedy) but I will happily pull out the lead wire again and plumb the next one I build.

It comes down to effort, and skill.

The effort to upgrade the old Tamiya kit to just the out-of-the-box level of the NEW Tamiya kit or the others could be used to make one of the newer kits great. The latter result is more rewarding than the former, to me, and to the others I know who bother with such things.

If you have acquired the skill and experience to truly bring an old kit up to the level of a new release of the same subject, I would bet that you will not be completely happy with the result when comparing it to the new version. Those who like the challenge and reward of this aspect of modeling normally prefer and enjoy taking a “85-level” model to a 99 than taking a 40 up to 70.

The old kits are great starter kits to see what you can do, but you have to be willing look at them as sunk costs and move past what you may have already spent.

For me, I’d rather start off with the best base I can. When new kits are released I’ve sold my “old dogs” and used whatever I could recover towards the new item. I just looked on Ebay, and if you have a motorized version of the old kit you might be able to sell it for enough to cover one of the new kits!

Finally, regarding who said what and when about which kit is more accurate, what matters - solely - is the comparison of the model to reality. X kit differing from Y kit just means that Y is different than X. One could be dead on and the other off, the two could deviate the same amount to either side of right, or both could be complete fantasy. If you care enough to compare you shouldn’t tolerate or participate in such nonsense. If you are of the “looks like a duck” school, then fine, look no further, be happy building your model, and stop worrying about what other people think and say.


You would lose that bet with me every time. Good thing the only bets I make are with myself, and usually involve a few people I allude to another very recent thread…

For example, I have a few AFV Club Centurions kits in my stash. Unfortunately, not all them will fit in one photo:

I’ve built many more of differing versions, mostly for two collectors, yet I have rarely posted photos of them over the years. Maybe a teaser now and then to show what I’m up to, but never a completed one. True, a few of my customers don’t want them posted for whatever reason, but even those I manage to build for myself stay largely hidden. Why? Simple - I just don’t get the same satisfaction from them as I get from the old dogs. Are the the best? Sure. At least when I bought them.
I certainly don’t view my old Tamiya Centurions as “sunk costs”. I still have several of these in the stash as well, which I’ll happily build if I live long enough. Fortunately I’m in a position where I don’t need to sell them.
Ultimately these give me much more satisfaction, all old dog Tamiya kits:

For me, the process is just as important as the result, maybe more so in many cases. Anyone who has read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (one of two foundational tomes in my life) gets this. Those who haven’t may not. In fact, I have a few friends who have read and still don’t get it.

Those who think as I do (and they may thankfully be few) don’t necessarily see quality in purchasing the latest and greatest. It brings little joy.
I liken it to my true passion: Bike building. It makes my gluing little plastic bits together pastime seem almost mindless in comparison.

I own one of the finest track bikes money could buy a few years ago.

And yet, I don’t have nearly as much fun on it as bikes with 100 hp less than it has. There’s little pride in taking it off the show room floor just because I could.
Now these two little gems, they come from about the same time frame as the Tamiya Centurion:

The one in the back is a 1975 Honda CB500T. A barn find- fully restored since the photo was taken. The one in the foreground is a, hmmm…1975 Honda CB500T. Also a barn find.
It may be covered in carbon fiber and titanium. It doesn’t have any more horsepower than the other, although it handles a hell of a lot better. Neither comes close to the Triumph in handling or horsepower (which has has exactly 100 hp more) And yet I have way more satisfaction with these. So your premise is not holding up well.

I told my wife my next bike would be Italian or Austrian. Turns out I was right - this is my latest barn find - Italian indeed.

Took it apart at Fort Carson a few weeks ago and put it in my car for the trip home. Who wants to make another bet that I’ll have a huge grin on my face when I (what was the term?) take a 40 up to 70?


Well that’s the devil of it isn’t it . . . I build for my own satisfaction but I also build for the appreciation of the veiwer, (I suspect we all do), your wife or such thinks you’re a genious but our peers, our fellows in arms, know what we’re looking at and the effort to get it where it is.
@18bravo did a fantastic job replicating the rivets on his M551, I’ll have to get a rivet tool one day. As far as the M107 (Italeri), I have two in the pile, one for the gun and one for an M578 LRV, I’m not fanatical about accuracy but I do want to represent. Thing is I don’t have the patience I used to have twenty years ago. I’m fairly certain I’ll one day get the AFV Club 8" howie and use it as a benchmark for the other builds. Might even follow along when you glue yous up @18bravo, wanted to up grade my Chinook when you posted earlier this year but . . . (that was you rite?)

Cajun :crocodile:

Very intresting . . here’s my '76 CB500 . . .

. . . sigh, we are definatitly not in the same tax bracket. :unamused:

Cajun :crocodile:

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Well I hop back and forth between the two philosophies’. If it is a just for me fun build, I enjoy upscaling an older kit. Kitbash, hand fabricate and enjoy the process. I took Tamiya’s M60A1 Era and kitbashed it with ESCI and used the best of both kits. Total blast. I took Tamiya’s T-62 and kitbashed it with the Tamiya T-55 and another companies rear deck and turret…
If I am trying for the highest level of accurate detail I will get a much newer kit to start with. Those kits are satisfying when I am done but not quite as fun. Upscaling an older model is more art and craft where a newer build is more precision.
When upsacling an older kit you probably are not working with 1200 parts while a new kit can be a parts beast.

That term is only relevant in the context of those who hold off buying a new kit, or moving on in general, because “I’ve already spent so much time or money with what I have, I can’t waste that investment or spend more money.” You want to keep those kits; you don’t need to consider cutting your losses.

Yeah, me too. Starting the process at a better (and I think that everyone would agree, that, in all regards, the new Tamiya kit is better than the 70s kit) position is more desirable.

Ah . . .

You might want to consider that your friends “get it” quite well, but they just don’t think it is that great of a book or a meaningful philosophy, and are tired of hearing about it.

That’s a blindspot people have these days: They believe that the reason others don’t do as they do, or what they want them to do, is because they don’t have enough “awareness”, information, or intelligence to really understand the problem. Clearly, if they did, they would do as the person wants. Utterly absent is the concept that others know plenty, but they just don’t agree with the person’s desired course of action.


I just noticed this build last night. Somehow managed to miss it up until now. Nicely done!

Might even follow along when you glue yous up @18bravo, wanted to up grade my Chinook when you posted earlier this year but . . . (that was you rite?)

That was indeed me. It’s fallen back a few spots in the queue, in a hobby that’s fallen back in the queue as well. But I hope to get back to it soon. Speaking of quality, I’ve started reloading, which is supremely more satisfying than buying factory ammo. The loads are more consistent and accurate. Few things more satisfying shooting ammo you loaded yourself from a gun you built yourself. And no, it doesn’t save me any money. I just shoot twice as often now,

Very intresting . . here’s my '76 CB500 . . .

Nice - the inline four version - much more sought after than the CB500T’s, which are actually somewhat rare. I hope you enjoy the hell out of it once you get it going again. I have a similar project going, a '71 CB750, but with a CB500T tank. I seem to have started collecting them because of the knee indentations.

Clubmans or clip ons? I’ll go out on a limb and say buckhorns are out.

And trust me, I’m not spending a lot on these bikes. Not initially anyway.

Interesting. So you know my friends I’ve known over thirty years better than I.
Looks as if I do win another bet with myself today after all.

No, I did not say I knew your friends, nor did I even imply it. I said you ought to consider that they might just think it is better to wave off your prattling about the book with an excuse than to engage in yet another a discussion with you about it.

You seem to enjoy the bets with yourself. That’s great. I guess it’s sort of like when people see your name come up and think, “I’ll bet he’ll post a couple of paragraphs about models then veer of into a long and totally irrelevant discussion about motorcycles, or maybe guitars.” I don’t do that, mind you, but others . . .


Why the one up manship? :face_with_diagonal_mouth:

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I bet you both are in the same fun bracket. :smile:

Ask him, he’s the one doing it. You don’t see me posting photos showing off my non-model stuff or mis-characterizing his quotes.

I responded initially to say you can spend your time upgrading old kits, but upgrading newer kits might be more rewarding, and modelers shouldn’t feel tied to old dog kits simply because they’ve already bought them. He took it in another direction.


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He was providing an alternate example of what he was saying about older kits. He has more enjoyment upscaling an older item. I don’t see an issue. You continue to say you would prefer to replace older kits with newer kits for I presume a higher level of accuracy and detail as a starting point.
Kurt, you add comments just made to goad the other readers for no useful purpose to the discussion. As an example." I said you ought to consider that they might just think it is better to wave off your prattling about the book with an excuse than to engage in yet another a discussion with you about it."
It happens often enough that people are generally just expecting it to happen.
Kurt you are a sharp intelligent guy who provides a lot to the forum. I enjoy what you contribute and look forward to your thoughts. Please consider reviewing and editing your posts for these type comments before replying. here is no ill will in this comment, It is just a suggestion by someone that appreciates your contributions.

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“Continue” rather overstates the reality, doesn’t it now? In response to his talk about “process”, I added only an agreement with his view and a single sentence about my view on where to start the process. In response to your post I summed my original post, for your benefit. That’s hardly excessive or argumentative, is it?

So I am alone in this, is that why you’ve singled me out? And BTW, can you tell me how the five photos of motorcycles served a useful purpose to this discussion?

Yeah, I’m not going to do that, or rather, I’m not going let any more nitwittery, hypocrisy, or ridiculousness pass than I already do.

I am happy to add information when I have it on the hope that information will be given to me when I need it. If someone passes my posts by simply because I wrote them, that’s a loss to them, not me. It sounds pretty stupid to me to spite yourself and pass up something you need because you don’t like the guy speaking. And it’s not like one has to dig and scratch to find the nuggets in the ore; it’s pretty easy to find the information in my posts. (In contrast to a great number of posts from Really Positive People, here and elsewhere, who drown whatever it is they are trying to say in a sauce of blather, cheery asides, inside jokes, irrelevant information, hare-brained opinions, and utterly atrocious writing, grammar, and punctuation.)

But hey, you have to at least give me credit for doing it under my real name, don’t you, TopSmith?


Jesus, you’d pick a fight in an empty room.


The guy addressed criticism toward me, and I found it to be off the mark. The “room” wasn’t empty, and I’m not fighting.

Why do you care anyway? Isn’t there a “Block User” function any more?


QED Kurt, QED.

Hardly. You stuck your nose into this, not to talk about reworking ancient kits but to aim something at me. Why did you do that? Was it “to goad [me] for no useful purpose to the discussion”, as TopSmith said I do?

Again, the “room” is not “empty”.