M1 Abrams Battle Front Tank
Manufacturer: Hailiang Toys
Source: eBay, various
Price: £40-45
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Although some adverts for this toy tell you in no uncertain terms that it’s “The world’s largest Abrams battle tank nearly 3ft long” (though we're pretty sure the real ones that General Dynamics make are larger) or whether you just looked at the specs and saw that it was 1:12th scale, 84cm long x 35cm wide x 27cm high, nothing – NOTHING will prepare you for just how big and noisy this thing is (see pic below with can of Heinz beans for scale). It may be a tad quieter than a real M1 Abrams, but decibels are funny things and I found the noise this monster made to be really piercing. It really should come with a set of ear protectors - put it this way; you definitely won’t be ‘having a quick go with it after the missus has gone to bed’, not unless you first stuff some cotton wool in her ears and then carry it several hundred yards away from your house. Of course, then you’ll have the problem of explaining to all the neighbours - that you'll have surely woken up - what the heck you’re doing...

Anyway, wanting to try as many toy/model tanks as possible for this new section, we eagerly blagged this, the biggest Abrams available anywhere outside a serious RC kit, and to be honest, coming from an unheard-of Chinese manufacturer Hailiang we weren’t expecting much from it.

Clicky relay switches mean the steering is less than subtle and far from accurate; you have to ‘jiggle’ it to get it to line up where you want it to go because the relays are so slow to react turning just a few degrees is next to impossible. The tank’s single speed (slow-ish) also means that it jerks away from a standing start but never goes fast enough to be interesting; this might not be an entirely bad thing though as with its inaccurate steering response and substantial size, if it did anywhere near an Abrams scale top speed you could do some serious damage with it. As it is small children (surely the target audience) and pets of all sizes all run for the hills every time you make it move (but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing). On the good side its turret and gun elevation work well and quite smoothly. Its Airsoft gun fires standard 6mm plastic BBs up to 25m, the turret rotates through 320° and the gun barrel elevates 20°. There's also a red warning light that comes on to let everyone know the gun is about to fire.

I found this toy to be a strange one. The scale and dimensions of the tank are quite accurate, but the designers obviously thought a real M1 Abrams didn’t look “cool” enough and so added various silly twiddly bits here and there that aren’t on real Abrams; two cooling fans, a fuel drum slung on the back and the most obvious boy-racer like addition, two missiles stuck on the turret. The three different camouflage paint jobs available (desert as shown, forest and arctic) aren’t too bad, but what are presumably meant to be "child-friendly" stickers are ridiculous; one says "PANzer" (which is the German word for battle tank), and there are two others, the meanings of which must have got lost in translation; “The Style Is Novel” and “The Land Of 20 Centuries Overweight Scale” – I have no idea what they’re supposed to mean but I’d peel them off ASAP if I were you, or on second thoughts don't, because - if you're daft enough to buy one after reading this - you'll almost certainly want to return it from whence it came. When Googling for any info about this tank we found that a couple of brave modellers had taken this tank as a starting point then completely gutted it, installed new motors and gearboxes, metal tracks, a sound chip and painted it in desert camo, turning this into a seriously good-looking near-scale model. One had even “scratch built” a new drive train arrangement using two electric screwdrivers as drive motors. It’s a huge undertaking even for a serious modeller but to be honest that’s probably the only way this toy would entertain anyone seriously for a more than a few minutes, as its performance is so poor.

The main problem with this toy is that it’s not really enough fun. Its poor level of controllability and huge rubber tracks (which unseat from the drive wheels’ sprockets easily) will often shed when turning on anything rougher than a piece of glass mean that it’s never as much fun as it should be. The tank’s redeeming feature is obviously its size, and its party piece; it’s so darned big that its tracks span two treads on most stairs, meaning you can happily drive it down stairs! - a manoeuvre that, with most other model tanks, would result in a mangled heap of plastic and metal at the bottom. Sadly its motors, gearing and lack of traction mean it won’t go back up them though. These numerous cons mean that although it's great for umm... some amused shock value and might appeal to kids for a while, that the 40 quid or more that you spend on it would be far better spent on something smaller, yet more substantial.

Best Bits

- Cheap for its size
- Its party piece
- It fires BBs
- It scares small kids and old ladies
Worst Bits

- Poor build quality
- Poor components
- Lacklustre performance
- Incredibly noisy
- ONE speed: slow
- It's just too darned big for most

by: Diddly

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