The following introduction is as provided by Gecko Models:
Since the development of the original JCB excavators, the size of equipment for use on civilian construction sites has continued to be reduced to improve manoeuvrability and to gain access to smaller spaces. Although initially designed primarily for civilian use, the concept of a small skid steer and compact track loaders proved attractive to military users as well and the M400T and its M400W brother in arms are prime examples of this. Approximately 1500 M400Ts have been procured. The M400T has been militarised to allow under slung transportation by helicopter, dropping by parachute and the use of military grade fuels, as well as ensuring that its electrical systems is screened to avoid interference and is compatible with, and connectable to, the 24volt electrical systems of other military vehicles. Other modifications include the inclusion of a cold start system, the provision of a weapons rack for the operator’s personal weapon and the use of chemically resistant paint. Each M400T comes with a set of bolt on equipment including an auger with fittings for two sizes, a 4 in 1 multi purpose bucket, pallet forks and hydraulic hammer.
This offering from Gecko Models is provided in a cardboard tray with a flip top lid and a separate outer card lid featuring the artwork. The plastic parts for the model are for the most part individually packaged, and the photo etched parts are packaged in a Ziploc bag with the decals. An examination of the parts reveals no concerns with reference to moulding quality and access to parts is good. My concern would be limited to the finesse of some elements, would make it easy to damage or break during removal from the sprue.
The interior of the model is the first area to be addressed, with a good degree of detail provided for the driver’s position. The controls are limited to joy stick controls left and right, the braking handles for the steering of the vehicle and that is more or less it regarding the controls. A drop down bar restraint is provided similar to that used on fairground rides. A small photo etch bracket sits of the left hand side, which I presume to be for supporting the personal weapon. The front glass of the vehicle uses three parts to make the windscreen washer, with a plastic motor on the interior face, plus the handles for opening. I will say that the driver appears to get a comfortable seat.
The clear side glass of the vehicle has good clarity to it, and is finished off nicely with photo etched detailing panels, which also has the wire grid on it for protecting the driver. A nice touch as regards this model, is the Geckco Models has provided decals for warning instructions, plus operating instructions for the operator. The roof of the body has a surprising amount of detail added to it, and for what is going to be a deminiuative model should result in a pleasing finish. No engine detail is provided, but the covers look to be correct. I quite like how the top portion of the engine bay has been tackled, with a photo etched grille with the exhaust coming through it.
The business end of the model is an area where Geckco Models has excelled when it comes to detail. The hydraulic pistons are designed to move, but I personally would suggest that once in the position you require for you models - they are secured to avoid breakage. Moulded pre-shaped hydraulic lines, plus separate securing clamps for securing the pipes mark this release as a high end model. Some elements of the hoses have had to be tackled in an alternative way, and a sleeved wire is provided to replicate some hose detail. Information is given for the length of the hoses and general shape, I am very impressed with the directions for locating the parts. But I would have liked to have seen line drawings for general shaping. It should be noted that couplings have been provided for the hydraulic lines, and these are very small and so will test the modeller with regards to placement. Once assembled and added to the body of the vehicle, you start to get some idea of just how highly detailed this release is. The bucket provided is a multi part assembly, again with a separate piston and cylinder which would allow movement, but again I would secure it in place.
The tracked portion of the model, has been tackled in a fairly simple way - with basically the two halves of the wheel assembly are used to trap the actual wheels between them and the tracks are provided in two halves, just needing to be slipped over the wheels from both sides of the assembly. Gecko Models has provided two finishing options for this release, but other than one decal with a number on it, I damned if I can see any other difference. The finishing options are:
US West Virginia Army Army National Guard, 812 Engineer Battalion, 111th Engineering Brigade at Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland, July 2018
US 2nd Platoon, 500th Engineer Company, 18th Military Police Brigade, During Excercise Saber Junction 16, Hohenfels, Germany, April 2016
This release from Gecko Models is an exceptionally high quality release, with superb attention to detail. It provides ultrafine details that would make me struggle, but for those with the ability to tackle this level of detail will have a very stunning model that will be appreciated by modellers who know just how much effort has been put into it. The only negatives I can come up with, is I would have liked the personal weapon to have been provided, and perhaps alternate attachments for the front of the vehicle other than the bucket only. With that said, I find it impossible to critique what the model provides.