by: Cristian [ ]
I bought this kit as part of a larger package several months ago and it was just sitting around on the stash since. Considering its age (the kit itself seems to be at least 20 years old, probably even more), I wasn't expecting it to be a modelling highlight. I was going to be partially proved wrong!
Before we start, I must mention that I was going to build this vehicle into a UN AMX 30 AU F1. This vehicle however is not the one the kit has been made for so some of the remarks you'll read before will have to consider this piece of information!
After opening the box, you'll be faced with the following parts:
Five styrene sprues in of a light brown color
One separate part for the turret
A vinyl sprue containing the tracks and two towing cables
A small fret with photo etched parts
A small sprue with the clear parts
A small sheet of decals
A piece of tissue to be optionally used for camouflage
An A4 sheet of instructions
The parts are packed in sealed plastic bags, which partially help protect them from scratches. The clear parts are packed separately which is nice but the styrene sprues are partially packed in pairs.
In my case, all parts were still attached to the sprues, with no visible damage. This is also due to the rather thick attachment points and the not-too-hard-not-too-soft plastic used on this kit. Speaking of which, one of the more nice attributes of this kit is the quality of plastic used. I find it a tad soft but it is very easy to work with.
The thin parts (the suspension has some of these) are also surprisingly stable and robust. I had problems removing thin parts from the tree several times with other kits but not with this one.The level of detail is not too deep but OK for a kit of this age and price range.
The molding is very well aligned, but there is some major flash on most sprues. Fortunately, the flash is very thin and easy to remove with a hobby knife.
To get back to the box content, the first piece is the turret. One thing I have noticed while comparing the turret to my reference images is the door on the front-left side. I was going to build a UN version and all images were showing vehicles without this door. Fortunately, there seems to be enough material below it so it can be removed without being left with a large hole to fill. Still, this is going to be a fiddly work.
The next sprue contains the gun and further turret elements. This sprue had the most visible flash, but it was almost exclusively placed off-part. The back access doors on the turret also seem to have an issue concerning the access handles. These are molded on and again wrong compared to the UN vehicle images.
The upper and lower hulls as well as the lower hull sides are provided on a separate sprue. The level of detail is rather low on these parts. but to be honest the original also does not feature too many bells and whistles here. Personally, I would have preferred to have the sides of the lower hull molded on as it proved to be very tricky to correctly align and glue them during the building process. Still it can be done properly with some attention and patience.
The next sprue contains a lot of small parts belonging to all sections of the vehicle. My preference here would have been to divide this sprue into two separate ones to ease the handling. We have all had that moment when you hook yourself to one of the small parts to rip it off or brake it the next second. This could easily happen with this particular sprue.
The sprue carrying the muffler, suspension pins, spare tracks and some wheels seems to be reused from another AMX 30 kit, according to the molded label on it.
The fifth styrene sprue contains the wheels. The misaligned center holes on several of the wheel parts will probably lead to some alignment problems and will need to be corrected.
The vinyl sprue contains the tracks along with two towing cables. The level of detail is fine on both. I particularly found it interesting to have vinyl towing cables since the vinyl is more flexible and will allow for more freedom when positioning it on the vehicle compared to the stiff styrene version found on other kits.
Another nice addition you wouldn't expect in a kit of this price range are the PE parts for the exhaust cover. These are probably the thinnest PE parts I ever worked with and will require some attentive handling not to break them.
A small sprue of clear parts is up next. There is again some molding flash on these parts but nothing you can't easily remove. One thing I found to be rather strange is that the cupola is provided as a full clear part instead of providing just the windows as such. This will require some additional masking and it also gave me coverage problems during painting since the clear part was keeping a different hue compared to the styrene parts. I probably should have base-coated everything before putting on the UN white color.
The decals are unfortunately not that great. The printing is not very sharp and the edges are jagged. Since I was going to resort to the contents of my spare decals envelope as I planned to build a UN version, this was not a problem for me.
The piece of tissue added for camouflaging the gun is another nice add-on. The piece seems to be large enough to leave something for the spare box, as well.
There is a section describing the application of the camouflage tissue as well as one talking about manoeuvre markings. Personally, I found this part interesting as I haven't seen this done too often in other instruction sheets.
Last but not least, the instructions are provided as an A4 leaflet. The building process is split in 29 steps, with exploded views on each step. Some of the steps could be more detailed, like the assembling position of the suspensions, for instance.
The suggested painting schemes includes a French, three-color camouflage and a Saudi Arabian single, sand-colored camouflage version. Interestingly the Saudi Arabian version is not provided with any decals.