Micro-Trains M1 Abrams Tank

Published: 2021-01-02 - By: gdm
Last updated on: 2021-01-02
visibility: Public - Headline
This model was first released by Micro-Trains line in November of 2018. It was priced at $19.95 for a box containing two models. This model also appears in various box sets such as DODX Flatcar 3-Pack. This review concerns itself only with the two-pack of tanks product number M1 Abrams Tank 2-Pack Kit 499 45 901.

Two model kits come in each box

The Prototype

The M1 Tank was designed by Chrysler in the 1970s as a third generation main battle tank (MBT) to replace the M60 Patton as the primary tank for the US Army. It first entered service in 1980 and remains in service to this day (2021). Its primary armament is either a 105mm or a 120mm rifled gun. It weighs between 60 and 73.6 short tons depending on variant.

U.S. Army M1A2
In operation, the M1 has proved superior to concurrent Soviet designs such as the T-72 which are more comparable to the Abrams' predecessor, the M60 Patton. Only the new T14 Armata from Russia may prove its match, though the T14 is an unproven design with many significant departures from previous Soviet designs.

The M1 will continue to serve as the MBT for US armed forces for the foreseeable future with no replacement design currently in the works as of 2021.

The Model

The box contains two kits and each kit is comprised of two polystyrene parts sprues, a decal sheet and metal sprue with loading chains. It is fairly detailed for an N Scale kit. Each tank is has 11 parts. That seemed like a lot to me. I was expecting between two and four. So on the one hand I was dismayed that this was going to be more work than I was planning on, but on the other hand I like the amount of fine detail this kit provided. Unfortunately, I am an experienced modeler so I knew this kit both merited and required a fair amount of work to complete, so it went on my shelf for two years.

Kit contents, unassembled

With the advent of the new year, I dusted this kit off and got out my tools. As I stated above, this kit deserves a serious approach so I found the appropriate tools. These consisted of a sprue cutter, hobby knife and some polystyrene cement. I use a Xuron sprue cutter, X-Acto knife and Testor's plastic cement (red label).

The tools of the trade

I first remove the parts with the cutters, and then carefully trim them with the knife. You need to remove both the excess flash (these models are high quality, so there isn't much flash) and the excess plastic where the parts were attached to the sprue. The cutters do a lot of the work, but I always find there is some careful carving that needs to be done on each and every part. Some of these parts are delicate, so a soft touch is required.

The turret cage is very very thin, and two of my models came with slightly damaged parts. This is only noticeable if you look very carefully. Also, one part was mis-molded. Again, only noticeable if you look closely.

Parts removed from the sprue

For purposes of this review, I timed the construction process. I started the timer when I dumped the contents onto my desk next to my tools and stopped the timer when the models were assembled. I did not time paint or decal application. The time to cut, trim and glue the parts together was 20 minutes per model. If you assemble several at once, you should be able to go faster.

Note, I use polystyrene cement for this kind of model. CA (Super) glue works OK but the bond is never as effective as the welding process that takes place with polystyrene modeling glue. I have had models shed parts at random times when I have used CA glue, so I do not recommend it. N Scale models get handled and you don't want them disassembling themselves at an N-Trak meet.

Assembled model

The plastic is a desert sand color, so you don't need to paint them. You can just apply the decals and call it a day. I like to paint, so I painted my first two. I didn't have any Desert Sand spray on hand so I used some Afrika Mustard left over from a WW2 project. Not accurate, but cool. I then applied a dark red-brown wash to get a the grimy desert look. I was happy with the results, but for the next pair, I might use a dark gray wash to preserve more of the nice Mustard look.

I had on hand the Artitec M1 model I purchased last year for comparison. The photo below shows the two side by side. The detail level is similar, but the MTL model has two advantages. First, the barrel on the MTL model elevates! A small touch but a cool one. Next, the Artitec model is 3D printed and it shows. The surface of model shows striations where the layering occurs during the printing process. Injection molded plastic still wins over 3D printing, though the difference is getting smaller and smaller.

Painted MTL model (left) side-by-side with Artitec model (right)


At $10 each these models are a cheaper alternative than the finished Artitec models which are priced at 22.9 Euros (about $28 each). However, at about 40 minutes per model (painted and decaled), you should know what you are getting into before buying a pile of these things. They are a beautiful N Scale model and a rewarding opportunity for someone who enjoys assembling and painting polystyrene kits.

About the Author

George has been collecting trains for more than two decades. He started writing about the models and the process of collecting more recently. As well as the TroveStar Blog, George's written work has appeared in the N Scale Enthusiast Magazine. He loves talking about collecting, models, manufacturing and modular railroading. His background in management of massive amounts of financial data made him interested in using some of that knowledge to benefit various collectors. He lives on Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts with his wife and three cats.