Tankraft Pro Modeler Mats
There are a variety of modelers out there with different preferences and go-to's for various products. As varied as the different modelers in our great hobby are, we each have our own set-up in where and how we like to build our models. I for one am part of the self-coined dinner-table modeling bench club as I don't have a dedicated space or "bench" as many of the modelers whom I envy do. Maybe some day... but I digress. For me, it is key to maintain the table in as good of if not better than I left it before each build session in order to keep my wife and kids happy & safe in our shared space (nobody likes super-glue in their Cheerios now, do they?). In years past I settled for cheap table coverings like newspapers, but we haven't had a newspaper in years, so I resorted to other options, like left over cardboard. While it was an improvement, it was only a slight improvement which still left a lot to be desired. I finally jumped on the self healing modeling mat bandwagon by receiving a pvc modeling mat for Christmas about 6 years ago. It was leap years ahead, but still seemed kind boring and lacking something. Now, with Tankraft Pro Modeler Mats entering the market, I have been able to see what I've really wanted all along.
Tankraft mats are a fantastic heavy duty, 3 layered, premium, self healing solution to your bench/table protection needs. Not only do they provide durable protection for your working surface, but they look great as well. As of the time of writing of this review, they currently offer 4 different mats with two options of graphics which are sure to appeal to the majority of modelers. This includes the M4 Sherman on a olive drab mat with black demarcation marks in 2 sizes (12"x18" or 18"x24") as well as a "Panzer Grey mat featuring the graphics of the Pzkpfw V Panther in the same 2 sized options as the Sherman mats. Both versions have the vehicle nomenclature proudly located in the upper left corner of the mat. Each includes a grid type background with its respective vehicle profiles printed over the grid. The border of the grid is marked in inches around its perimeter including fractional divisions.
My "showroom model" for these two mats is a recently completed build I did of Meng's M4A3E2 "Jumbo" Sherman in 1/35 scale. On the left is the 12"x18" mat, and to the right is the 18"x24" mat.
The two sizes of Panther mats (12"x18" and the 18"x24") with a 1/35 scale Tamiya Pz IV Ausf J early providing a bit of scale perspective.) Note how much havoc my children have already bestowed upon our dining room table! I'm not willing to add to that by causing more damage to it if I leave it unprotected while enjoying my self-care time of modeling. No need to give my wife another reason to dislike my hobby after all! haha
As for the vehicle profiles, this is where the graphics really shine. Profiles from overhead, left side, front, and rear of each vehicle are included. Each mat also has a handy specification box with basic information about the vehicle in the graphics including length, width, height, weight, engine, front armor thickness, side armor, top speed, engine type and h.p., and armament. The specific version of the Panther happens to be the Panther G late production, while the Sherman is the iconic M4 with Continental engine and appliqué armor, typical of many M4 Mediums seen during the Operation Overlord phase of the war.
Here is the 12"x18" mat with a 1/72 scale T-34/76 with a closer look of the profile views of the Panther G profile graphics and border demarcations.
So as you can see from the pictures, these mats offer a much more appealing option for protecting your bench or tabletop. With the 2 different size options and two of the most popular modeling subjects in our hobby being represented, these mats really spruce up one's building environment.
Finally, a word on the durability of these mats. After all, what good is a fancy new cutting mat if we don't know how it will hold up under common conditions we'd submit it to? With my older, more generic modeling mats, the first defect I noticed was the tendencies that the markings had to be removed from the mat when harsh modeling chemicals like Tamiya Ultra Thin Cement inevitably get spilled or dripped onto the mat where the grid markings were, leading to distortion of the markings. Upon testing the Tankraft modeling mat, I found the same results, so keep this in mind when using chemicals and solvents which can lift/remove paint from the mat. Regarding the designed "self-healing" aspect of these mats, I find them to hold up well. I intentionally made a number of cuts using both new and more dulled #11 Exacto blades in the mat, but they do not make much of a mark on the mat. While this is true, if you keep cutting in the same location multiple times, it will inevitably damage or remove some of the mat material, but better that, than your nice dining room or kitchen table. The packaging warns that it is important to care for the mat by keeping it out of direct sunlight, and to avoid extreme heat or cold environments, so be mindful of where you store/keep it when not in use.
Out of curiosity, I conducted a small test on the paint of the word "MADE", and as warned by the manufacturer, solvents such as Tamiya Ultra Thin Cement can & will smudge or damage the print.
It's somewhat difficult to see here, but I cut a #4 into the mat. I used both dull and new #11 Exacto blades and the mat holds up well, however keep in mind that if you cut repeatedly in the same way and location, you will damage the mat.
Some more options are being teased on the Tankraft Facebook page in recent weeks with options including the Tiger I, and a few likely to appeal to those of us who also enjoy building "wingy-thingies" from time to time like P-51D Mustang, Spitfire, Messerschmitt BF-109, and P-47 Thunderbolt. I highly recommend Tankraft Pro Modeling Mats. They do what they are designed to do and look great while doing their thing!
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Tankcraft for this review sample.
Reviewed by Ben Brandes
AMPS Central SC Wildcats
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