Since Bronco Models
announced a model with slat armour in injection-moulded plastic, there has been a lot of interest and eager modellers waiting to find out just how good it is. Many of us have attempted to use photo etched offerings when it comes to slat armour and had varying degrees of success and failure. I know that Bronco Models
is not the first company to supply this type of armour made from injection moulded plastic and I know everyone interested in modern vehicles want to see just how this holds up.
The following is the introduction supplied by Bronco Models
on the front of the instruction booklet.
The Buffalo is built by Force Protection Inc as a Class III Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armoured vehicle. It was built on the highly successful South African Casspir, but is larger and based on US 6x6 drive truck components. It features a ĎVí shaped hull to deflect mine blast of up to 21kg of high explosive under any wheel. It also has an armoured body resistant to 7.62mm NATO small arms ammunition. The Buffalo is intended for route clearance and has an articulated arm used to check the ground for mines and IEDís. A video camera weapon station is also provided so the crew do not have to leave the vehicle to fire support weapons. Over 200 are used by the US Army; more are used by the UK, France and Canada. The latest vehicles are fitted with BAe Systems slat armour to protect against rocket propelled grenades (RPG). The slats effectively break up the warhead before it hits the vehicle.
In a very large and well filled box you will find;
- 16 Tan sprues which are individually packaged in their own plastic bag except where the sprue is duplicated
- Lower hull
- Upper hull
- A slide moulded 50cal body
- 8 tyre tread pattern portions of the wheels
- 5 clear sprues
- 1 photo etched fret
- 2 x 0.4mm rubber hose
- 2 x 0.6mm rubber hose
- 1 decal sheet
- A box top print
- An instruction booklet
When you first get this kit from Bronco Models
I suspect the first thought you will have is that is a big box and upon opening the box you are confronted with a sea of plastic. The moulding are of the usual very high standards of Bronco Models
, being cleanly moulded, finely cast, and free of deformities that I can see. The plastic moulding are well laid out with small gates between them and the sprue, the small gates have meant there are quite a few moulding nodes on some parts to insure the parts are full moulded. The exception to the limited number of gates you will not be surprised to hear, is the slat armour which has a connection point at opposite ends of each slat, however with these being in alignment removal with a razor saw will be easy. The photo etched fret and parts are all very fine which will make them easy to bend but alas also easy to damage. The clear plastic mouldings have good clarity and are thin; the detail on these parts is also well replicated. As you may expect this release does share a lot of components with the previous Buffalo release in 2012 by Bronco Models
Suspension and Wheels
The suspension on this large vehicle is very complex and from my limited knowledge looks to be very well replicated. Bronco Models
has gone to a lot of trouble to provide a lot of workable parts were the suspension is concerned, however I am a little confused as to how some of these moveable elements will work when construction is complete; in particular the rear axles. One aspect of the moveable parts that I know will please modellers is the front wheels which can be placed in any orientation of the modellerís choice. The tyres in the kit are supplied in three parts which are the 2 side walls and the tread pattern portion. This approach by Bronco Models
has allowed for what appears to be a very accurate depiction of at least one tyre type used on this vehicle. The tread pattern is in my opinion a perfect representation of the real thing; the side walls supplied have the ribbing detail present but while looking accurate it does appear to be slightly heavier than on any example I have managed to find so far. This area of the model is very complex and will require great care during its construction to get the most from it.
has supplied quite a good interior for this vehicle, and while I have no reference for this area it looks suitably busy. The radio set at the rear of the vehicle has some nice details often left off of this type of feature, Bronco Models
has included a phone type sender and receiver with very nice dial and button details on the radio itself. The drivers console has not been ignored as decals have been provided for the dial detail. The six seats provided and which are made of a surprising number of parts, have had nice detail put into them such as the harnesses/seatbelts. Bronco Models
has also gone to the trouble of providing a textured separate floor for the interior and the internal armour plating. The internal armour detail has also been provided separately for the upper portion of the bodywork along with some roof bracing. Lastly I should mention that included with the model are 2 personal weapons in the form of 2 M4 rifles, one of which has a grenade launcher attached.
Weapons station XM153 Crow II System
Supplied with this kit as an option is a weapons station; this is supplied with the option of one of Bronco Models
excellent multi-part 50cal MG or what I believe is an M249. The unmanned firing station has a lot of detail built into it, I will say I rather like the ammunition feeder. I have checked the model parts against images of the XM153 Crow II System online and it does look to be a very good match in all respects
Exterior Body Work
The exterior of the model is excellent having very fine detail throughout; the mouldings for the lower and upper are very thin to allow for the realistic armour thickness when the interior armour is added I believe and Bronco Models
has done a great job of that with this model. With this having resulted in what I believe is a great model. There is one area of the exterior I am concerned about which is the mud flaps which on the real vehicle are rubber and metal and I feel the rubber portions may have been better represented in photo etched parts. The armoured glass and their framing is particularly well done. The multitude of antennas that are primarily located at the rear of the vehicle are another area where Bronco Models
has done a good job, and they should also make for an eye catching area of the model.
The shovel used for investigating possible IED locations on routes and areas where forces are operating is the same as the previously released model. It is designed to be movable once assembled but due to the finesse of parts I do not recommend it is played with after assembly; personally I would place it in the orientation of your choice. This piece while mostly consisting of plastic parts does utilise vinyl tubing to replicate the hydraulic lines .
Leaving the best till last I get to the slat armour. The slats on the armour are about 0.5mm, they may even be 0.4mm however my Vernier is broken and so I had to use best judgement. Working on this each bar is about 17.5mm in full size and while I do not know the size of the real thing this size would seem to be in the right area. Each segment of armour has been equally well moulded and I can see Bronco Models
utilising this skill and detail in future modern vehicle releases that will have us as modellers chasing the models down. The detail does not end with the armour as Bronco Models
has also done a great job of the lights littered around the vehicle and mounted on the bar armour; you will need to add the wiring to the individual lights as I cannot see this detail other than what I believe is the main feed wire running up each side of the vehicle. The mounting brackets are also well done and in combination with the armour sheets offer the ability for a very realistic finish.
I think this is another winner for Bronco Models
and I suspect that this model will result in Bronco Models
releasing an increasing of modern vehicles that utilise slat armour. I do feel that while this model is not an easy build due to the general high standards that Bronco Models
sets themselves, it does bring the ability to build a model with slat armour within reach of most modellers who may not be comfortable with the various photo etched sets that replicate this type of armour. If you have the earlier released Buffalo and you are comfortable with photo etch then it really comes down to the cost of these photo etched sets and if you want then weapons station or not when making a decision over a purchase of this model. I personally feel it is worth the investment if for no other reason than seeing how far models have come and what companies are making it possible for us to achieve.