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2008 Leopard 2A6 Prototype Laser Tank
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2008 Leopard 2 A6 Ė Prototype Laser Equipped Version
Another VsTank Review Ė Youíll find 3 others here on Arnies, spanning different tank models and different eras of electronics.
This latest review is of a special edition of the 2008 Leopard 2A6. Iíll cover what makes a 2008 better than previous incarnations, what makes an A6 an A6, and why mine is special. Steve at VsTank gave me this tank to review, and from here on out I should have more cool, first ever stuff like this to share with you.
Every year VsTank changes their tanks. Every year they get better. Every year you pay the same price. Pretty sweet. 2008 is no different.
My first VsTank was a 2006 Leopard 2 A5 in Winter Camo, which Iíve also reviewed here. A great tank, and basically a rebranded Marui. Highly detailed, with a pistol grip remote, it got me hooked. Since then, Iíve gotten a 2007 Abrams, and a T72. The Abrams and the Leopard share the same basic functional layout, but the difference between 07 and 05 is huge. A new, XBOXesqe controller and new board give the same old drive train more intelligent and subtle commands, letting you run and turn your tank much more effectively. 2007 tanks are smoother and more precise, without a lot of the jerkiness older tanks had.
The new for 08 T72 used a variation on the big controller, but paired to a new board and new drive train for another step up in performance. Much smoother, much more controlled, and just a lot more realistic, the T72, and the Tiger, are the cream of the crop when it comes to pure performance. The T72, with its torquier drive train, is the best, period.
08 saw improvements for the classic tanks, too. Using the same controller as the newer models, the Abrams and Leo are now armed with yet another PCB board type, that translates inputs from the newest controller to the old drive train. This works great, but the old drive train still isnít as good as the new Ė itís got limits, its got clutches, but the new board helps.
So in terms of raw performance, The 2008 Leo blows the 05 out of the water, and is noticeably more fun than the 07 Abrams I own. It still isnít on the level of the T72, but itís not too far off, either.
A small perk of the 2008 board is how it handles the machine gun. IR tanks have a machine gun sound Ė pressing the top left shoulder button activates it, and in the case of the Abrams, a LED on the coaxial machine gun as well. Older airsoft tanks donít have a machine gun function, they require both top shoulder buttons to be depressed to fire the airsoft cannon Ė a safety measure. Pressing either button alone does nothing. With the 2008 tank, pressing the left shoulder activates the machine gun sound, like an IR tank, while pressing both buttons fires the cannon. The right button alone does nothing.
The Leopard 2A6 is an upgrade of the A5, with a longer barrel, new firing control and some armor differences making it a better tank than the already world class A5. VsTank recreates the longer barrel, and went out of their way to retool the body of the tank to more accurately reflect the A6 and give you sharper lines and finer details.
Details near the rear bustle, on the top rear hull, and the gunnerís sight are particularly sharp and nice, and they were great already.
Beyond minor, subtle enhancements, the differences are cosmetic. My A6 is NATO, my A5 is Winter. The A6 looks mean with itís long barrel, but some might say it looks unbalanced Ė theyíre equally great tanks, its up to you to pick which looks best. My A6 lower hull has some small changes as well, to accomodate the new board, but it also has rubber mudflaps in hte back. This is nice, as the plastic ones on the A5 tend to collect debris. The rubber parts are soft enough to let sticks/etc escape.
My tank features a prototype laser aiming system cooked up at VsTank. One of the most dramatic differences between a modern tank and WWII and older eras is the way new tanks use technology to increase first hit probability. Lots of money, innovation, and engineering go into these systems, which aside from external details, are totally ignored by every replica tank out there. You canít aim them, from the $109 Vstanks to the $1600+ Tamiyas.
The laser makes aiming easy, and is a hugely fun addition to the tank. Replacing the LED in the thermal sight, the laser is an unobtrusive addition to the tank when off, and when on makes picking targets and nailing them easy.
Mine is, of course, a prototype. Its one of a few hand installed at Vs, and may not be the same thing that sees mass release. With that said, Iíll describe what Iíve got, and how it works.
Starting at the controller, you wonít see anything until you turn it over. Between the shoulders on itís underside is a small micro switch, much like the one used to turn the airsoft mech on. It protrudes from a hand cut hole in the controller body, and has taped on On/Off labels Ė that tells you how much of a prototype/unique item this is. With the controller on, turning the laser switch to on activates the beam; the laser doesnít function without the controller on.
At the tank level, there isnít much to see beyond the small laser body nestled in the thermal sight. The laser is controlled by the master switch under the tank; no laser when the tank is off. Inside, the laser is controlled by a small board piggybacked onto the main board. Itís obvious that the smaller board is hand made. I didnít get any pictures, because it isnít too exciting.
Naturally, the finished product wonít be hand made, but itíll probably be integrated more smoothly, too. Ideally, Iíd ditch the separate micro switch in the controller and have the laser controlled by the top right shoulder, letting you shoot the machine gun, use the laser, and fire the main cannon with only 2 buttons.
It is nice to have, thatís for sure, and really nice to have a prototype of something cool like this Ė in my line of work, I collect prototypes, but I generally donít get to talk about them like this, so this is fun.
The production unit, if there ever is one, will likely start as an add on kit. Itís not overly difficult to install, but it is labor intensive, and itíd be expensive to adapt the existing tank production likes to include it. Hopefully in the future youíll be able to buy the kit to add to your tank, and Iím going to recommend that it be included in the development of future models. If you want one, you should do the same. VsTank is great about listening to customers.
To surmize, VsTank has released another winner - every new tank sets a new standard, but it is really nice to see the older tanks get upgrades to help the keep pace.