16 Best Model Tank Kits in 2020 by Brand (Tamiya, etc.)

Best Model Tank Kits

It’s hard to give someone a blanket recommendation on what is the best model tank kit, since everyone has different interests…

For example, while most modelers may prefer a 1/35 kit, some people could find more enjoyment in building a 1/48 model tank. Also, everyone likes different subjects. Some folks may prefer focusing on the WW2 era (i.e. American Sherman tank or German Tiger tank) versus the WW1 era (i.e. British Mark IV tank).

In this post, I consolidated some of the best model tank kits that have been released over the years, and categorized them by (1) brand and (2) scale.

While everyone has different personal preferences, my hope is that as you go through the list, you find a model tank kit that catches your eye, and truly gets you excited about building it!

Contents:

  1. Tamiya
  2. Academy
  3. Trumpeter 
  4. Revell
  5. Meng

Tamiya: Top Picks

The general industry consensus is that Tamiya produces the best model tank kits. They’re the gold standard for reliable kits that are extremely detailed, well priced, and not very difficult to build.

In this article, I’ll mention popular model tank kits that other brands/manufacturers produce, since everyone has different preferences — that being said, I’d strongly recommend Tamiya, and it’s hard to go wrong with most of their kits.


Tamiya M4 Sherman Easy Eight US Tank

Overall Top Pick (1/35)
Tamiya M4 Sherman Easy Eight US Tank
  • Released in December, 2015
  • Extremely detailed, which is typical for Tamiya kits 
  • Cast metal turret and welded hull textures make it look realistic 
  • One customer (who said they rarely use figures) mentioned that they loved the figure that came with the kit, because it posed like it was in the middle of a battle 
  • This tank model kit is suitable for modelers with moderate experience, and it can act as a showpiece.
  • Served an important role in World War II, which you can read about here.


Tamiya German Tiger I - Early Production Kit

Runner-up Pick (1/35)
  • This is a fantastic intermediate-level kit with great detail and good fit
  • The engineering is incredible, there aren’t any shape issues, and there isn’t flash, which is surprising since the molds are over 20 years old (this kit was first released in 1997).
  • This heavy tank was in service during WWII from 1942 to 1945 (see more historical info)


Tamiya Russian T34/76 1943 Tank

Great Bang for Your Buck (1/35)

Great value for the price. High quality kit and easy to build. Despite the low part count, it’s extremely detailed.


Tamiya British Churchill MKVII Tank

Best Classic Kit (1/35)
Tamiya British Churchill MKVII Tank

This classic Churchill tank kit is a joy to build, and it was first released in 1997. It is still in production today, and the difference from the original release is the four figures you see in the image.


Tamiya British Chieftain Tank Model

Runner-up for Best Classic Kit (1/35)
Tamiya British Chieftain Tank Model
  • One customer, who is a 60 year old retiree, said that this is one of the few Tamiya model tank kits he never got around to building as a kid. 
  • This kit has great detail (typical for Tamiya). The part count also isn’t too overwhelming.


Tamiya M41 Walker Bulldog Light Tank

Top Pick for Beginners (1/35)
Tamiya M41 Walker Bulldog Light Tank

If you’ve never built a model tank kit before, then this is the perfect fit for you, not just in terms of ease-of-build, but also price (so you don’t have to worry as much about messing up).


Tamiya Panzer Kampfwagen II (Pz.Kpfw) Ausf. F/G

Runner-up Pick for Beginners (1/35)
Tamiya Panzer Kampfwagen II (Pz.Kpfw) Ausf. F:G

Just like the M41 Walker Bulldog I mentioned earlier, this is also a great model for beginners. Great value for the cost and easy/fun to build.

Instructions are easy to understand and the sprue trees are clean and without too much flash.


Tamiya M4A3E8 U.S. Sherman Easy Eight Medium Tank

1/48 Model: Top Pick

Tamiya’s available selection of 1/35 model tank kits is much larger than their 1/48 kits. That being said, they do offer some solid 1/48 choices (like this one).


Tamiya U.S. Main Battle Tank - M1A2 Abrams Model

1/48 Model: Runner-up Pick

Academy: Top Picks

While some of Academy’s old model tank kits are low quality, they have changed things up for the better recently. I personally prefer Tamiya, but Academy’s newer models are generally a great value for the price, the builds are enjoyable, and the fit and detail very good.


Academy M-18 Hellcat U.S Army Plastic Model Kit

Overall Top Pick (1/35)
Academy M-18 Hellcat U.S Army Plastic Model Kit

If you plan to build this model, I recommend you read Steven Zaloga’s book about the M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer, so you understand more of the history/background behind this kit. This American tank destroyer served a very important role in WWII.


Academy US Army M1A2 (Abrams) Tusk II

Runner-up Pick (1/35)
Academy US Army M1A2 (Abrams) Tusk II

Several customers have said that this is one of the most enjoyable model tank kits they’ve ever built, and the highlight of their collections. If you end up building this kit, it’s recommended that you use Mission Model Paints. Also, it’s worth noting that the kit comes with tons of accessories and decal options.


Academy IDF Merkava IV Plastic Model Kit

Also Great (1/35)
Academy IDF Merkava IV Plastic Model Kit

This is a gorgeous Merkava model. The build can be incredibly fun for advanced modelers, but it’s not recommended for someone who’s just starting out with model building.

Trumpeter: Top Picks

In my opinion, while many of Trumpeter’s model tank kits are a hit or miss, their KV series of tanks is just as high quality as many Tamiya products. The KV series models are a great value for the price. The build is easy and straightforward, and the fit, shape, and detail are incredible.


Trumpeter Soviet KV2 Tank

Top Overall Pick (1/35)
Trumpeter Soviet KV2 Tank


Trumpeter Soviet KV1’s Ehkranami Tank

Runner-up Pick (1/35)
Trumpeter Soviet KV1’s Ehkranami Tank

Revell: Top Pick

While Revell offers high quality kits in some subjects (i.e. model cars), they’re not well known for model tank kits, and they don’t offer a very large selection in this category. 

The only reason I chose to mention Revell in this post, is because they have a great model tank kit for kids that’s easy to put together.

This model is great for an adult-child project, and it’s a unique gift that many kids would love:


Revell Abrams M1A1

Revell Abrams M1A1

Meng: Underrated Manufacturer

Meng is a very underrated model kit company/manufacturer. Generally, their instructions are straightforward, the fit is good, there’s rarely flash, and they don’t overuse photo etch. Also, according to customers, some of their scale models even have better detail than Tamiya.


MENG German Krupp A7V Tank

Top Recommendation
MENG German Krupp A7V Tank

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you paint a model tank?

This useful video will show you how to use an airbrush to effectively paint a model tank (or even other types of military vehicle models)

How do you weather a model tank?

The quick 8 minute video below will show you how to effectively weather a model tank with equipment that’s not too expensive.

How can you paint camouflage on a model tank?

The following video will teach you basics of painting camouflage on a model tank:

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