by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
If you are interested in modeling a M-ATV in 1/35 scale, you probably know there are two different kits available in plastic. The one produced by Panda Hobby is usually referred to as more accurate and dimensionally correct but, although a pretty decent kit out of the box, Panda's kit definitely leaves room for improvement.
Pro Art Models, an aftermarket company from Belgium well known for their line of conversions and accessory sets for modern day vehicles, produces an update set aimed to enhance Panda’s M-ATV kit: Upgrade detail set for M-ATV MRAP (PAU-35052). This is an extensive multimedia set which delivers a complete makeover to the Panda kit, covering just about everything a most dedicated modeler needs to bring his M-ATV to the highest possible standard.
Wow! This was my first thought after opening the hard cardboard box. Jam-packed with goodness, the box contains a remarkable amount of pieces. The set consists of:
• 90 resin pieces
• 15 transparent resin pieces
• >200 PE pieces on 3 PE frets
Upon closer inspection I found absolutely flawless cast of resin parts: no air-bubbles to fill or seam lines to clean. Perfect. The cream colored resin is extremely difficult to photograph and the images in this review are not showing the pieces in all their splendor. However, I can assure you the quality of resin is of highest standard with the pieces featuring sharp details wonderfully delivered in scale.
As mentioned in the introduction, this upgrade set covers just about everything there is to improve Panda’s M-ATV kit: interior, exterior, wheels... the only thing missing is the weapon on the turret weapon station, but with plethora of M2, Mk19 or Minigun aftermarket offerings that oversight is easily fixed.
Panda Hobby provides a very simplified interior for their M-ATV kit, lacking numerous small bits and pieces without any kind of communication system. Pro Art set delivers a full update:
• new seats with complete PE seatbelt assembly (locked or unlocked)
• communication setup (AN/PRC-117F with AN/VRC-103 adaptor power amplifier, AN/VRC-104(V)3, AN/PRC-152 with AN/VRC-110 adaptor, various BFT components (CPU, monitor, keyboard, DAGR GPS), CREW Duke V3... you name it, it's here)
• heating/ventilation/air-conditioning unit (under gunner's platform)
• cabin interior (roof communication devices, driver's vision enhancer (DVE) monitor, and a lot of small pieces I could not identify at this point)
• O-GPK cupola interior (motor, drive assembly, power supply and all the other components of Battery Powered Motorized Traversing Unit - BPMTU)
With all these installed, modelers would surely want to depict all the wiring going around the cabin. Check the references and good luck; an awful lot of wires are in there!
This set also provides a very comprehensive M-ATV exterior update:
• driver’s vision enhancer (a complex assembly consisting of several tiny resin and PE pieces)
• O-GPK cupola exterior (hatch, gunners shield and joystick for motorized cupola control plus a lot of smaller PE details, ballistic glass windows and their respective PE frames)
• Ibis Tek tow bar (mounted to front bumper of many M-ATVs deployed to Middle Eastern theaters of operations)
• cargo space exterior (ECM jammers and antenna mounts: BFT antenna, SATCOM X-wing antenna, DUKE tubular and flat antenna… plus all the mounts and more, DUKE controller and its complex PE housing rack, spare tire mount)
• cabin steps (PE)
• warrior aid and litter kit bag (these are mounted on virtually every MRAP truck)
To further enhance the model, wiring should be installed to driver’s vision enhancer and all the antenna mounts. Check your references and wire away!
Vinyl tires included in Panda’s M-ATV kit are not up to today’s standard and I’m sure most modelers would prefer to use aftermarket resin offerings instead. Pro Art’s upgrade set for M-ATV provides a full set of resin wheels: 4 road wheels plus a spare wheel with mounting rack. The huge 395/85R20 XZL run-flat Michelin road wheels are depicted weighted, slightly bulged and sagged above the surface contact area.They feature sidewall ripples characteristic of this kind of tire with Michelin X and tire dimension writing as well as accurately depicted aggressive tread pattern. The spare tire has a nicely defined hollow hub and attaches to the PE mounting rack which also features beautifully reproduced spare tire winch.
The clear parts in Panda’s kit are too thick and are completely transparent, whereas ballistic glass used on armored vehicles usually has a slight greenish tint. Pro Art’s set includes a complete set of M-ATV armored windows and O-GPK turret ballistic glass pieces. The glass pieces are cast in transparent greenish resin with PE window frames. A really nice bonus from Pro Art.
Assembly of this set is fairly complex and not for the faint of heart. Take some time to identify the pieces in the set and check the reference photos before actually starting the build. Also study the four-page instructions provided with the set; these are well printed, concise, clear and easy to follow. The instructions display build sequence procedure with the more complex subassemblies shown separately for additional clarity. Pro Art website includes instructions as pdf documents as well.
I can’t comment on the fit to donor kit, but I have gathered some photos which show the set used by talented modelers to illustrate what can be done with the Pro Art’s M-ATV upgrades. The images on the right are from Ralph Zwilling, a well known military photo journalist but also a very skilful modeler who used a combination of Pro Art set, Blast CROWS system and various bits and pieces for his SF M-ATV. The images below the review are from Dirk Vangeel, the creative force behind Pro Art Models himself. Dirk used the upgrade set and numerous other Pro Art goodies for his M-ATV. Thanks to Ralph and Dirk for the photos!
Pro Art Models’ Upgrade detail set for M-ATV MRAP (PAU-35052) is one of the most comprehensive upgrade sets I have ever seen, and believe me I have seen many. Designed specifically for Panda’s M-ATV kit, this set delivers a complete revamp of Panda’s offering, targeting both the interior and the exterior of the model. Consisting of about 100 amazingly detailed and wonderfully cast resin pieces (ballistic glass pieces are cast in transparent resin) and three PE frets with over 200 photo-etched pieces, the set is an excellent one stop solution for giving your M-ATV model a touch of perfection.
• R. Zwilling, J. DeRosa – “OshKosh M-ATV photo walkaround” , AK Interactive AK-097, 2012.
• R. Skipper – M-ATV reference DVD