Darren Baker takes a look at the US Army Light Type III Skidsteer Loader (M400W) from Gecko Models in 1/35th scale.


The following introduction is as supplied by Gecko Models:

The M400W is a compact wheel shovel loader, which was manufactured by CASE to meet the requirements of the US army. Production lasted for 10 years, during which a total of 1,900 units were manufactured. The M400W is used for maintenance, infrastructure projects, is suitable for air drop to the battlefield. Essentially a civilian item of construction plant, special modifications for military used was required. These included weapon racks, 24 volt starting and charging systems, minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit cold starting and chemical resistant coatings. 


When this item arrived for review, the box had obvious signs of crush damage; however, as a sign of the effort that Gecko Models puts into the protections of their products, despite one side and one end having crush damage, none of the contents have signs of damage. The box itself is a robust cardboard box, with a flip top lid that has additional locking tabs along the sides. This is then topped off with an additional card lid with the artwork. Inside the sprues are packaged in a number of plastic bags which are sealed, plus some Ziploc bags. An examination of the parts reveals no areas of concern, other than removal of some elements will prove difficult due to their finesse. 

The interior of this release has good detail throughout, although no seatbelt is present, instead a pull down bar restraint similar to that seen on roller coasters is provided. Being a skid steer vehicle there is no steering wheel, and the joysticks on each side of the driver are present.  The glazing on the vehicle is nicely replicated, and will allow a good view of the interior. To the side of the driver, there are metal plates and photo etch grille plating, which gives this area of the model quite a chunky and appealing look. My only issue with the kit at this point, is that I would have liked to have seen a driver included, as gaining access to the interior of the cab will not be possible once it is closed up. Furthermore, I have a particular like for Gecko Model figures, as they always take the extra step to provide extremely high levels of detail. 

The bucket and arms on this model are provided with working hydraulic rams which are supposed to remain workable after assembly. I however, consider that it will be exceptionally difficult to retain the functionality when you have glued the outer cylinder halves together. There are a number of these hydraulic cylinders on the model, which if you can retain their functionality - I take my hat off to you. The hydraulic hose lines are replicated in the kit via the use of a metal wire with a black sleeve over it, and Gecko Models has provided details on cutting the length of the wire, but the shapes are a little haphazard. The bucket itself also has workable hydraulic pistons and a considerable number of parts on this area, but the result will be well worth the effort I feel. Something that will please all modellers, is that the wheels are injection moulded plastic with good tread detail, and the tyre is separate from the actual wheel. 


When completed I believe this model will draw people’s attention, due to the amount of hydraulic system that is exposed and because it is so different from other vehicles that would be seen in conjunction with it. The design that Gecko Models has put into this release, provides the modeller with an exceptionally high quality product, that I believe will please everyone and with the only missing element being a driver. 



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