So after the disappointing letdown that appeared in the form of the Cyberhobby SAS Jeep (#6681), we are all now wondering if this latest evolution is going to be any better. In a word, yes. Does it trump the trusted Tamiya Jeep kit? I had been wondering this myself of late, so read on and decide for yourself.
First thing I noticed when receiving this kit is the size of the box. I skipped the Cyberhobby release, and have been used to the small boxes that the Tamiya and Italeri jeeps come in. Maybe the larger box is to make us feel better about the hefty price for a model that can fit in the palm of your hand. Opening the box you get six sprues plus the one-piece body, a couple of PE frets, decals, and instructions, all of which leaves plenty of room in the box. This gives you a total of 165 parts, with 31 being in etched brass. Instructions are the traditional Dragon multi-fold page with line drawings. Overall, parts are crisply molded, flash free, and look well detailed. The basic model represents a late production Willys model as noted from the round cross-member on the frame directly under the radiator, and other small details.
reviewSome fixed, some not…
OK, so the question of the hour…did they fix it? The main issues with the Cyberhobby kit were:
• Misshapen Wheels
• Misshapen Grill
• Missing generator
• Hood/bonnet detail
• Transmission hump
• Excess square reinforcement inside body
• Misshapen driver’s seat
• Oversize seat backrest supports
• Squared-off firewall
The wheels in this release have been completely retooled, and look like they should. They come in three parts, with a similar breakdown as Tamyia wheels. The majority of the wheel, including the outside of the rim and tire, is molded as one part with a ring insert to fill in the rear. Brake drums are separate, which could open up potential for some detailing and a “removed wheel” display. Two spares are included, and these are of interest as they are molded minus the tire lock plate and with three bolts holding the spare on the mount. War time photos show this to be fairly common as the lock plate was easily lost. Just be sure to line up the three bolts appropriately, as shown in the instructions. Of interest on this sprue is the inclusion of some additional hub parts.
This was the next-largest FUBARed part on the Cyberhobby release, with no real reason why it should have been so badly represented. I’m delighted to say that the same sprue that includes the new wheels also includes a new tooled, correct grill. So check that issue off the list.
Still missing in this release, but this won’t be an issue if you keep the bonnet closed. It should have been included, and would not have been hard to add to the same sprue the new wheels and grill are on. If you want to fix this, a small piece of round stock will do the trick, or rob one off of either the Tamiya or Italeri kits.
Hood/ bonnet detail
The bonnet within the Cyberhobby kit was missing the prominent crease that goes down the centerline of the bonnet. The tooling in the DML release has been updated and the bonnet now has this crease.
There were some strange shape issues with the hump in the CH release, including a raised lip of sorts. All of that has been corrected and the hump as molded in this release looks better than the Tamiya kit.
Not exactly sure what the purpose of this is, but on both releases so far, the universal jeep tub has some odd square reinforcement molded where the side panel meets the floor on both the passenger and driver side. Being that it’s done on the inside of the tub, which is visible from the open top of the vehicle, it is quite noticeable. I don’t really understand why Dragon did this, as the Tamiya tub is molded in a very similar fashion yet does not have these present. They are not there on real jeeps, so if you want to be totally accurate, they will need to be removed. I’m thinking a cylinder engraving bit on a Dremel, done very carefully, can remove this offending item.
The Driver’s seat on the CH release was badly shaped and needed a bit of work to get it corrected. Thankfully the Dragon release has retooled the seat into its correct shape. However it’s a little disappointing that they didn’t fix the seat-back support bars while they were working on this. The two horizontal bars within the seat-back frame should be about 1/3 the size of the frame, not the same size. This becomes very quickly apparent when either comparing the kit with the Tamiya offering, or photos. This should be an easy fix though, as the seat cushions are separate and it will be easy to cut out the support bars and replace them with either wire or plastic rod. I do like the feature of separate seat cushions, as there are some photos of jeeps showing the cushions missing and it would be neat to model this.
This is an odd mistake, and makes me wonder if either they were designing the kit off of a vehicle that was not a true 100% Willys, or the designers were just a bit lazy in their research. The firewall should not have the squared off “box” projecting into the crew area, but the corners should be quite rounded. Again, an easy fix if you choose to. It ends up partially hidden so if you don’t mind that it’s there, then you could probably not bother fixing it and nobody would be the wiser.
A few other bits that were omitted include the fire bottle, and decom bottle (though rarely fitted so no huge loss there). Also the trailer safety-chain eye bolts are not included, as there should be two on either side of the tow pintle. Maybe we will see all of these added in future releases which are bound to come.
There is also no detail on the inside of the rear panel. Even though it doesn’t show as long as you install the rear seat, it means that if you ever use the Dragon jeep to do any variation that had the rear seat removed you will need to fill in this detail somehow, or hope that an aftermarket company makes a detailed rear panel. Considering that the this is a brand new tooling, it is quite a shame Dragon decided to short-cut this area.
With all of those cards on the table, let’s end this on a somewhat positive note and look at all the kit’s nice features. One of the gems of the kit, minus the missing generator, is the engine. It’s a shame it will end up under the hood, but I’m sure Voyager or Griffon will be doing an update set for this kit and include a hinge for the hood. You will still need some nice reference shots to add the ignition wires, hoses, and linkages, but a quick search on the web will yield many results. Some other nice additions are the added detail to the grab handle mounts and inclusion of the hood “T-latches” though these are in photo-etch and I think could have been better as molded plastic. Another bonus is that Dragon has included the clutch, brake, and gas pedals. The gas pedal (accelerator) looks a hair undersize though.
There are actually two M2 50cal machine guns and mounts included. The better of the two is the one that is included on a separately bagged sprue “J” (though parts are called out as “B” in instructions). Not only is the gun itself better detailed, but the ammo box and mounts are much nicer. Still not up to Tasca quality though, but not bad either. Personally knowing that Dragon has the technology to do extremely fine weapons, such as what is in their Gen2 series; it’s a shame that the M2 still seems somewhat of an afterthought within their kits, with other manufacturers surpassing them with better detailed, injection-molded examples.
Also included in this boxing are the tilt bows, so you could make this into a standard jeep without the armor if you chose. However, if you are doing the armored version, you will need to shave off the molded mounting guides for the tilt and fill some holes as well. These are on either side of the body. There are also a couple of extra holes above the dashboard, passenger side, left over from the gun mount for the CH SAS release.
PE parts for the armor look well done, and have just the right thickness. The rest of the PE parts are for logical items, other than the aforementioned “T” latches, so being a “smart kit” the modeler isn’t overwhelmed with an overflow of etched parts.
Only one painting and marking option is provided in the instructions. Registration number USA W20495533-S, in overall OD green. Additional numbers are provided if you wish to do a different registration number. However it appears Dragon failed to provide a complete set of markings, as photos of this famous jeep are around, and prevalent in most publications. There should be bumper codes as well, at least for the 82AB, and it would have been nice for Dragon to include these. An additional star is also needed for the bonnet. Close inspection of photos show it to be there, just blended in due to the whitewash that was applied. Speaking of which, the instructions make no mention of the whitewash either.
Decals are also provided for the instrument dials and data plates. Extras are there, so you can use them on some other projects too.
Final thoughts and observations
Overall, it is a decent model. I’m glad that Dragon did correct some of the glaring issues with the first go around, even though I still wonder how they can do so well with other far more obscure subjects yet stumble on something as iconic and widespread as the jeep. This kit still has issues (insert heavy sigh here) but unlike the CH release, this one will at least look like a jeep. Most of the remaining issues are easy fixes as well. Is it worth the price? In my personal opinion, not really. That may sound harsh, but I expect far more for 30 plus dollars and all the hype of it being a state of the art new tool, especially coming from one of the “leaders” in the industry. I have always been a fan of Dragon kits, even back when they were just starting out. I think it would be nice to see the decades of experience show a bit more, and not have so many short cuts taken on a kit. Dragon’s expertise shows up in other subject matter, why not on a jeep? It is not like there is a shortage of information and reference material on jeeps. Enough of that commentary though. If you want an armored jeep out of the box, with no additional aftermarket required, then this is your kit. However, if you want to build a standard jeep I would still recommend other options due to the cost and needed corrections required.
Update: To see this kit built up and finished, see the full feature article here.