I must admit I find myself in a difficult situation now as just the same day as my sample from MRC arrived, our fellow modeller Tom Cromwell published an excellent built review of this kit that you can read here
. Since his article is really detailed, I will keep mine short and sweet as a classic what’s in the box review.
The kit arrives in a sturdy box of decent size with a bit blurry, paint-like cover art. On the sides we have some photos of a finished model, a skill level bar (considering this kit “level 4” on a scale from 1 to 5) and the biggest plus: a detailed paint index. This provides all or most colors for: Humbrol enamel and acryl, Aqueous Hobby Color and Mr. Color, Lifecolor, Testors/Model Master enamel and acryl, Revell enamel and acryl, Vallejo Model Color and Vallejo Model Air. I think this is a pretty nice touch, especially for beginners who only paint as per the instructions or for parents/wives/girlfriends/boyfriends who want to add some paints to the gift they are just about to buy us the “addicted ones”…
Normally I do not bother with the quality of the box as long as it protects what’s inside, and the Academy
box does this perfectly, my only complaint would be the very tight fit of the top lid.
The box contains the lower and upper hull and 7 parts trees (including one duplicate) in olive green plastic, a small PE fret, a clear sheet, a decal sheet, poly caps and a piece of thread. The paperwork includes an instruction booklet, a separate sheet containing the parts location diagram and the PE parts assembly, a safety leaflet and some basic advice for beginners (how to remove parts, use tweezers, apply decals, etc.).
The kit itself is a mixed bag, as the most of the hull parts are from the old Academy
kits, while the turret is brand new, and we also get a newly made set of road and idler wheels, drive sprockets and tracks. The use of old parts is clearly visible even in the instructions: the drawings of the construction stages covering the hull are of lower quality and more blurry compared to the rest of the booklet.
The instructions are easy to follow, although I still cannot understand why PE application should be a separate sheet. The build is ready only in 8 steps which are not too crowded. The painting instructions are greyscale images with a bit confusing decal placement. Both the frontal, the rear and the side view offer two options, showing the number of the decal to use, but the instructions do not call out which three of the eight possible options belong to the same vehicle. No details on the original are provided other than saying it is a “US Army M60A2”.
The total plastic parts count is 380 (own calculation so give/take 5) but many of these are not needed as they are for the previous versions of the vehicle, plus we get 32 parts on the PE fret – mostly these are the mesh for the turret basket and some other bits. The thread for the tow cable is a really outdated feature and does not look realistic at all.
The new parts are obviously of much better quality with sharper details, with faint mold lines and a tiny amount of flash only. Some of the smaller, flat parts have little sink holes on them. The older parts are not too bad either but not up to today’s standards (some parts are more chunky with less details).
The lower hull is still the old construction, made up of multiple pieces, leaving some visible gaps after the full assembly and also some motorization holes need to be filled. The new road wheels have sharp details and no separate rubber rim, but the drive sprockets are still missing the mud holes. Poly caps are provided to fix the wheels. The inclusion of new link and length plastic track is a great plus with me, I like to have these as a default rather than the rubber band type. While the details of these in general are not as good as aftermarket tracks, modelers still get better results with them (or still may opt for aftermarket options). This is the case with the present kit as well, the parts have good basic details. Unfortunately the T97 chevron type rubber track links have many knock-out pin marks on the inner face (the individual ones have two on each link) that need to be filled. The rear piece with the engine grilles is again all new with very nice cast-metal texture.
The upper hull is a really quick build. The main part itself is from the earlier releases with some nice anti-slip coating but unfortunately some raised lines are remaining from previous kits that were used for the correct alignment of add-on armor and other parts. These should be sanded off carefully. The rear engine deck is still a nice representation for me given the fact that it is at least a 20-year old mold. However mine had some tiny imperfections. There are a few new parts to the upper hull as well: two boxes on the fender and a driver’s hatch with cast surface. The front of the upper hull has some damage – looks like it was just snapped off from its original parts tree before packaging so some filling and sanding will be required here.
The “Starship” turret and many other parts have nice cast texture but care should be taken when gluing and sanding these to avoid any damage to them. The xenon searchlight is a very delicate assembly involving PE parts and with detailed painting it can be one of the main features of the kit. Unfortunately the clear part is flat and should be cut based on a template which is not the best idea in my opinion.
We have two options for the one-piece barrel: with or without bore evacuators. The gun is moveable by design, however once we add the nicely detailed dust cover, it is fixed.
The commander’s cupola also has a subtle cast texture with molded on vision ports but the gun barrel is still from the old kits so it is a bit chunky and under detailed.
The turret basket is a very delicate assembly as all the rods are separate so care should be taken while building it, and also extensive dry fitting is advised. The fine PE mesh adds to the overall look of this area.
All in all currently this is the best M60A2 kit on the market…for a while, as Dragon’s offering is on pre order already and AFV Club might also have it on the menu. As these kits come with higher retail prices (and probably with better quality), the Academy
kit will find its way into the hands of modelers who wish to build a good looking model without spending a lot. This kit is a decent build out of the box, and even though not all the parts are new molds, the old ones are less visible (lower hull), and normally the futuristic-looking Starship turret will get the most attention from the viewers anyway.