It is not so long ago that armoured recovery vehicles and engineering vehicles were the domain of the after market companies. Today that is no longer the case, with HobbyBoss releasing Bergepanzer BPz3 (Buffalo) ARV in 1/35th scale, based on the Leopard 2 hull. To the best of my knowledge this vehicle started going into service in the early 1990s and so a career that extends beyond 20 years. Looking over the model there is a good degree of detail provided for the modeller and will make for a good size, but does it offer everything?
This release from Hobby Boss arrives in individual plastic bags and in some cases bubble wrap plastic bags. The decals are protected inside their own plastic bag, with clear and photo etch elements protected in a sectioned off area of the cardboard box along with the main hull part. An examination of the sprues reveals no obvious areas of concern with access to parts being good with sprue gates being low in number and small in size. With that said, some parts are small in size and so could easily be broken or lost if care is not taken during their removal.
The hull of this release is typical Leopard2 with the suspension arms being adjustable with a little bit of work, but they lock into a position that gives you a neutral height of the hull on a flat surface. There is some reasonable detail on the underside of the hull, and all of the wheels have encapsulated caps allowing the wheels to rotate after attachment to the model. I will say that I am a little surprise at how few items need adding to the lower hull, with a lot of the detail being moulded on. The dozer blade at the front of the vehicle has reasonable detail throughout, but the modeller will need to add hydraulic lines to improve the look and accuracy of the finished model. Something that will please some and upset others, is that the tracks for this release are vinyl rubber and so those that want individual link tracks will have to the to the after market; disappointingly the tracks do have some sink marks visible. The rear hull plate is a separate part, with the detail again being simplified as far as construction goes but still accurate from what I can see.
Inside the hull a sizable chunk of the crew compartment has been provided, with three crew positions decked out, that being the driver, commander and operator. Internal wall detail has also been included, and so for the modeller who is able to really make detail pop the roof panel above this compartment could be allowed to just rest in place and so lifted off to expose the detail within. The amount of detail that goes into the interior really will make it worth the while to take your time on your detail painting to make this area really ‘pop’ and of course those in the know can always improve on what is offered.
The upper hull of this release has a reasonable amount of detail moulded into place and with all the tools, spare tracks, grousers in place will make for a busy and pleasing look after being weathered. Side hatch doors as with the upper hatches can be assembled in the open position, and so allowing a view of the interior that I am so pleased to see. The pulley detail present is a particularly nice detail, and could be shown in use rather than being stored. The storage racks and towing braces that are stored all over the place on this vehicle, have been very well tackled and while I am not able to guarantee full accuracy it does look right for the role.
The actual crane arms supplied with the kit will again in my opinion require hydraulic lines to be added, as while some moulded on hydraulic lines are present, I cannot help but think it will be improved by going down the scratch build route. The pulley assembly for the end of the crane arm has brass wire utilised to represent the cables of the pulley and I would improve this by using aftermarket after market cable provider, which will look much more accurate and if shown being used in operation the extra detail this provides will greatly improve on the base kit. The arm itself can be rotated and elevated as required, remember that the dozer blade is used as a stabilising element when the crane is in use. Hobby Boss has provided two finishing options for this release both being the standard three colour camouflage pattern seen on German armour.
This release from Hobby Boss is a pleasing model that is also of a good size. The model itself is on the expensive side for what is provided in my opinion, but if you can find it at the right price or if you absolutely have to have it I am sure you will not be disappointed with what you find in the box. I do feel the hydraulic lines need to be added separately and research on line should enable you to get everything as it should be, as there is a huge amount of resources on-line. The tracks are the biggest let down due to the sink marks.