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Model Review

1/35 Kinetic Model Kits

RG-31 Mk 3 “US Army” Mine Protected APC

 

By Patrick Keenan - Editor

Basic Item Information

Item

RG-31 Mk 3 “US Army” Mine Protected Armored Personnel Carrier

Stock Number

K61012

Manufacturer

Kinetic Model Kits (Owned by WarWheels.net Sponsor: Lucky Model)

Scale

1/35

Medium

Styrene Plastic

Kit Contents

RG-31 Vehicle

(211) Light tan plastic parts

(27) Clear plastic parts

(21) Black vinyl wheels and gun ports/covers

(15) Brass photo-etched parts

Bonus Figures

(68) Light tan plastic parts

Bonus Equipment Set

(43) Light grey plastic parts

Retail Price

$45.99 (from Lucky Model)

Reviewer

Patrick Keenan - Editor

Review Date

February 12, 2013

Review Summary*

Review Type

First Look Review (Full Build to Folllow)

Basic Positive Features

Basic detail & shape of the vehicle appear to be replicated correctly; Kit subject matter welcome addition due to high visibility and use of real vehicle.

Basic Negative Features

UN vehicle option not able to be built as indicated.

Recommendation

Highly Recommended 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Photos

       

         

 Model Sprue Photos Courtesy of Lucky Model

            

 BONUS: 1/35 Master Box “US Soldiers Check Point Iraq” figures

 

BONUS: 1/35 J’s Work “Check Point Road Block Equipment Set”

Detailed Review

First of all, to be up front with you all, Lucky Model (owner of Kinetic Model Kits) is a sponsor of WarWheels.net.  With that being said, we can start with the model review.

Ever since the mid-2000’s the number of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles fielded by the World’s military organizations has increased dramatically.  With the MRAP’s higher visibility in the “real world”, the demand for model kits of those vehicles has also increased.  Unfortunately, until only recently have we been provided with model kits of these vehicle types and they still remain few and far between. 

However, good news is at hand in the form of this model kit release of the 1/35 RG-31 Mark 3 “US Army” MRAP by Kinetic Models.  I really applaud the choice of the RG-31 as it is one of the most noticeable and prolific MRAP vehicles used throughout the world.  But wait, there’s more!  Kinetic’s first release batch of RG-31 model kits also includes some FREE bonus goodies. These are in the form of a set of four (4) 1/35 Master Box “US Soldiers Check Point Iraq” figures and also 1/35 J’s Work “Check Point Road Block Equipment Set”.  PLEASE NOTE: I did NOT assess these bonus sets as a part of this product review.  However, I do want to notify you of what you get with this model kit.

At this point of the review, you might be expecting a bit of background information on the “real” RG-31 vehicle.  However, you won’t be getting any as I don’t generally provide background information regarding the applicable real vehicles in my model kit reviews.  In my opinion, as a review reader most of the time that information provided is VERY basic and/or a rehash of the summary provided with the kit instructions anyway.  However, if you are interested in some basic information about and photographs of the RG-31 Nyala we already have a lot of information and photos available about it here at Warwheels.Net.

Finally, this review is only an "In Box" or "first Look" review.  I've done a rudimentary review of the model kit where I closely examined the kit parts, instruction sheet, packaging, etc.  Thusly, I've provided comments of only my first impressions gathered while viewing the contents. I did NOT construct the kit yet, but a full build review is forthcoming.

Kit Accuracy

The accuracy of the model kit will be determined and addressed here once the kit construction is completed.  Stay tuned.

Quality/Detail of Parts

The quality of the casting of the plastic kit pieces is good.  There is very little flash present on the parts, and the smallest pieces are also well cast, crisp and clean.  Also, there are a few mold punch-out holes present on some parts, but they mostly appear in the hard to see/reach areas. 

The detail level of the individual plastic parts is good, but not great as they seem a bit soft on detail.  However, it appears that the main details of the real vehicle are there and the basic shapes look good as well. 

As for the detail level of the vinyl tires, and photo-etched brass pieces; they are very good to excellent.  The tread pattern and detail of the tires is exceptionally done.  Another interesting point regarding the vinyl tires is that they are provided by Kinetic separately; not attached to a “sprue”. The result is tires that do NOT have any attachment points on them to remove. As we all know, vinyl attachment parts are sometimes difficult to remove without damaging the tires.  I have to say that these vinyl tires are some of the best I’ve seen in terms of detail AND ease of clean up. As for the photo-etched parts, they are fairly basic.  However, they do add more fine detail only parts in that medium can replicate easily; specifically the light guards being welcome.

Finally, although this next point is not directly related to the detail of specific parts, they do relate to the overall detail of the model.   One of the vehicle marking/painting options (“C”) Kinetic provides is of an RG-31 serving with United Nations International Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  The markings guide shows this vehicle as having no weapon turret or window “gun ports”; a typical arrangement on the real UN vehicles.  However, the instructions never address this construction option by omitting/changing parts.  In addition, I have not found any replacement parts in the kit to install windows without the gun ports or to allow the sealing the turret aperture. 

Again as I mentioned before, I cannot yet provide a final assessment of detail level of the kit due to the nature of a “first look” review.  However, stay tuned for the possibility of changes and/or additional information being posted here as I begin construction of the model kit.

Decals, Markings & Painting Information

The decals Kinetic provides were designed by Bison Decals and printed by Cartograph Decals and seem to be of very good quality.  The decals are printed in register in vibrant color and look to be sufficiently thin enough to work well.  However, until I actually use them on the completed model, I’ll reserve full judgment until then.

Three marking/painting options are included with the kit; Option “A” represents a Desert Tan-colored US vehicle from an unknown unit fielded in Iraq (circa 2006); Option “B” represents another Desert Tan US vehicle, this one fielded by an unknown US Marine Corps unit; and Option “C” represents a white UNIFIL vehicle (Circa 2007).

Finally, the painting guide for the vehicles’ exteriors, as well as the markings guide, are one in the same and printed in black and white.  The guide provides illustrations with four views of each of the (2) US Vehicles and three views of the UN vehicle.  Painting information about specific details (vehicle interior, lights, weapons, etc) is addressed throughout the instructions based upon their construction sequence. 

Although the guide succeeds in effectively conveying the proper placement of the decals/markings, it is more confusing as it relates to the painting of the vehicles’ exteriors.  For instance, the guide indicates vehicle Options “A” and “B” should be painted in the overall color “Stone”.  However, if you check for “stone” in the Paint Index at the front of the instruction sheet, it is not listed.  After a bit of head-scratching, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Paint Index listing of “Base Color” equals the guide’s “Stone”.  Incidentally, modern US tan vehicles should be painted in the color CARC 686 Desert Tan (FS33446).

Instructions/Packaging

I believe that kit instructions are one of the most underappreciated, yet most important aspects of hobby modeling.  A bad set of directions can cause unnecessary grief with an otherwise well designed and engineered kit.  On numerous occasions I have struggled with a kit assembly only to figure out the solution by accident. Afterwards, I’ll suddenly think, “That was easy once I got it.  Gee, why didn’t company X just show that better in the instructions?” 

Based upon observations made during my initial “in box” review, Kinetic’s instructions appear to be very good.  I didn’t spot anything that looked wrong, omitted or overly complicated in these instructions.  Of course, that conclusion might change after I’ve built the model kit, but that remains to be seen.  I’ll update this portion of the review (if need be) during/after my forthcoming full build review write up.

Anyway…the drawings themselves aren’t anything special, but the design of the directions is utilitarian; they look to be easy to follow and understand, especially considering the complexity of some parts of the real RG-31.  The diagrams for each individual step are very specific as to what part goes where.  When practical, Kinetic includes directional arrows from one piece and go all the way to another so as to leave no doubt where everything fits.  Sometimes, kit manufacturers include arrows, but they stray off in a general direction and leave much guesswork as to where they go.

Kinetic provides 20 steps in the instructions to complete the RG-31 and there is generally enough room in each step to facilitate ease of understanding. Most of the instruction steps are clear and uncluttered and need minimal review.  Some companies knock down the total number of steps to a bare minimum but include way too much information in each step to clearly understand what to do. Or just as bad, they give a zillion sub-steps that further complicate matters.  Some instruction sheets are so confusing they make an otherwise fun time into a true nightmare.  However, these instructions seem perfectly fine, but as I stated before, I’ll have to reserve final judgment on the quality of instructions until I complete the model kit build.

Finally, Kinetic provides very good kit packaging and “safety” by utilizing a box constructed of relatively sturdy cardboard.  They also follow the practice of bagging all sprues, decals and PE separately. They’ve also included a small cardboard piece to further protect the PE frets.  One interesting aspect of their packaging is the inclusion of re-sealable bags for all the parts.  Although not necessary, it is a nice touch if you’re like me and take joy in fondling the model parts a bit before putting the kit on the “to do” shelf.

Fit of Parts

The fit of the model kit parts will be determined and addressed here once the kit construction is completed.  Stay tuned.

Kit Construction

Although my review is of the “full build” variety, at this particular time, I’ve not started the kit build.  However, once I do start, I’ll add content to this review as I complete portions of the kit.  Until the entire kit is built, the review will be similar to a “build log” or “blog”.

Conclusion

So far based upon my “first look” assessment, Kinetic has done a nice job on their RG-31 Mark 3 MRAP model kit.  Kinetic’s choice of releasing a kit of this well known and highly utilized vehicle is a welcome addition for us wheeled fighting vehicle modelers.  Although the model kit appears a bit soft on the detail level of individual parts, they are otherwise well cast: crisp and cleanly molded.   In addition, the basic detail and shape of the vehicle appear to be replicated correctly.

The only negative point I can make about the model kit at this point is the instructions never address the specific UNIFIL vehicle construction option steps nor provide any replacement parts to model that version: windows without gun ports or to allow for the omission of the weapon turret. Stay tuned for further developments with this review as I start the construction of the model kit.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Kinetic Model Kits/Lucky Model for the review sample.

 
Copyright: Patrick Keenan - February 2013