by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
A set of US infantry figures probably isn't the most obvious subject to review on Aeroscale - in fact, I might never have bought the set if I hadn't chanced to watch a video report on HLJ from the Shizuoka Hobby Show. Among the items covered was this set of figures and with them, there, nestling at the back, was... a Jeep. Except that it wasn't... it was described as a "light military vehicle" and the company rep from Tamiya and the guys from HLJ were trying so hard not laugh, it was comical! Intrigued, I wasted no time in ordering it because, whatever you want to call it, it has obvious diorama potential for modellers of 1/48 scale aircraft.
Tamiya's model must surely be the victim of a trademark licensing dispute, because I doubt that there's ever been a kit so undersold. The Je.. Sorry! "light military vehicle" is only mentioned in passing on the boxtop, not shown among the illustrations on the side of the box, not covered in the historical introduction for the instructions and only finally appears on the reverse side of the instruction sheet! And nowhere is that little four-letter word beginning with J mentioned...
The figuresWell, the kit is sold as a set of figures, so let's start with them, shall we. What do you get? 9 x figures in total, cleanly moulded in mid-grey styrene. There's a driver, 6 x infantry and a pair of generals. Considering the small scale, the latter bear a remarkable resemblance to Patton and Eisenhower.
The proportions of the figures look good and the uniforms and faces are nicely detailed - I've seen better in resin, but this is good for this scale in plastic. Two of the infantry are carrying weapons - an M1 rifle and a Thompson sub machine gun - and the detail on these is excellent, right down to tiny triggers visible within the guards.
From an aircraft modeller's point of view, the figures' poses are useful. The infantry are all quite casual, so you could easily use them examining abandoned Luftwaffe aircraft, for example. The generals are probably less useful, but could be posed ready to board a transport or a liaison aircraft - it's a pity Tamiya didn't provide a photographer figure to go with them, ready for a "photo opportunity"...
AccessoriesAlong with the figures, Tamiya have provided a neat set of accessories moulded in olive drab styrene:
4 x Blitz cans
4 x Jerry cans
3 x Fuel drums
11 x Assorted bags and canvas rolls
The definition on the various bags and rolls is very good, with well depicted fabric folds. A nice touch is that all the bags are all sculpted individually.
A Jeep by any other name...And so to the "light military vehicle". I'm sure this must have been planned originally as a kit in its own right. Two olive drab sprues contain 60 x parts, with a further 4 x clear parts packed in a separate bag.
The moulding generally is very crisp and, as you'd expect, there's hardly a trace of flash. I couldn't find any sink-marks, but the only "flies in the ointment" are a number of badly placed ejector-pin marks - the backs of the seats and the windscreen are prime examples. The surface finish is slightly inconsistent - some of parts have a faintly textured look, others don't... for no apparent reason. But the effect is quite subtle and may well disappear under a coat of paint.
I'll say from the outset that I'm not judging accuracy here - I simply don't have the references. Construction looks very straightforward, with a nicely detailed chassis and transmission onto which sits a 4-part main body. The engine compartment is a separate assembly but, despite a separate bonnet (hood), there's no engine included - unlike Hasegawa's recent quarter-scale Jeeps. The wheels are un-weighted, but show some fine detail on the hubs and treads. The dashboard is rather simplified, with no instrument bezels (just decals are provided).
An optional .30 cal Browning is provided with a column-mount and a rifle in a holster to attach to the windscreen. Oddly, neither weapon is as sharp as those on the figures sprue - the cooling holes in the barrel of the Browning are a bit soft and the rifle isn't as finely detailed as the other version included on the figures sprue.
A small sheet of decals is included with instruments for the dashboard and markings for two US vehicles.
ConclusionWhatever Tamiya's reason for tucking their "light military vehicle" away in this set of figures, it certainly works out well for modellers - many of whom, I suspect, will buy the set as much for the vehicle as the figures. Looked at that way, it's pretty good value too - around the same price as Hasegawa's Jeep, but with all the extra figures and accessories included. It's obviously aimed primarily at the growing number of quarter-scale AFV modellers, but it's an excellent accessory to go with aircraft models too. Recommended.
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