Panda 1/35 M-ATV MRAP (Mine Resistent Ambush Protected)
The kit comes in a well presented box. The loer half of the box has the thickest and strongest sides I have ever seen on kit. This means the kit is very well protected and won't get crushed. Very impressive.
On opening the box you find all the sprues and extras are sealed in bags, which is great to see. Here is a list of the contents:
12 plastic sprues
2 clear plastic sprues
the main body and bonnet
3 PE frets
5 Vinyl tyres
1 set of decals
I will now take a closer look at the sprues. First of all the Bonnet and main body.
As oy can see in the picture, these two parts are joined together by a small section of sprue. Panda should really have seperated the two parts before packaging as the sprue gate is starting to tear the parts and they will need attention before they can be fitted.
On a plus side the moulding is very crsip and the detail is beautiful. There are a couple of pin marks on te inside of the body part but they will be easily filled.
Again the parts have been beautifully moulded ad the detail iovely, as shown in the picture above of the dash board. again the pin marks are hidden on the back of the larger parts meaning none of the smaller parts are effected. There is no flash on any of the parts.
Again parts are flash free and they have been beautifully cast. the majority of parts are for the underside such as the chasis rails. Again I am very impressed.
Sprue C x2
The thing that really stands out on both of the Sprue C's is the flash and there is plenty of it!!! As there is no flash on any of the other sprues it looks like there was a slight problem when the sprues were being moulded. Later batches of this kit may well be flash free. The parts will take a while to clean up however it doesn't put me off the kit.
The only problem with this Sprue is that there is no letter on it to tell you which sprue it is. Lcukily there is a diagram showing all the different sprues in the User manual.
Sprue H and J
There are three sprue H ( on the left)
The clear parts are excellent. As they were individually sealed in plastic bag there are no scratches on the parts. In would be nice if manucaturers could wrp the clear parts in a thin sheet of foam to add a little more protection. As well as the various windows there is several lights on the clear sprue. Overall, very nice.
PE Frets x3
A nice touch by Panda is to stick a plastic film on both sides of the PE fret to protect the parts. A great touch and it really does protect the parts from catching on other frets etc. The film is easily peeled off the frets.
There is nothing special about the tyres, they are very much the same as you get in other armour kits. Each tyre has "Michelin X" on the sidewall and there is some other writing on the sidewall that is hard to make out. The tyres will look good after a light sanding with a fine sanding sponge to take the shine off them.
Given time the Aftermarket boys will bring out a resin set of wheels that will no doubt have sagged tyres.
Again nothing special with the decals. The sheet is small and has been well printed.
The User manual is a nice black and white booklet, it has been printed on semi-gloss paper. the printing could have been slightly sharper.
The build is broken down into 24 steps. Some of the steps are further broken down into sections.
The instructions are clear and concise, they should be easy to follow.
One thing that becomes apparrent is that there is no colour callouts or colour charts in the manual.
On the back cover of the manual is the Decal and colour guide which shows four pictures of the vehicle from different angles. Again there is no colour callout and the pictures are in black and white.
As for the decals, the placement guide for the dashboard is very good and there is also placement guide for another section of the vehicle.
As for the exterior decal placement, there is no guide, instead the markings are part of the pcitures and are difficult to make out.
This is the first time I have seen a Panda kit. This is a lovely kit that just needs a polish to turn it into a little gem. I was impressed as soon as I held the kit for the first time. The box is the best I have seen for a kit and is very sturdy, other manufacturers take note.
from looking through the parts and looking at the User manual, it soon becomes apparent that this is a highly detailed kit and alot of thought has gone into it. The sprues have been beautifully moulded, yes a couple of sprues have some flash but don't let it put you off this kit.
The only downside to this kit is the lack of colour call outs and charts. Also the poor diagram for the placement of exterior decals.
As for accuracy, from what I can see things look OK. I am by no means an expert nor am I a dreaded rivot counter but from what I can see this shoud build in to a nice model of the real thing.
Kinetic are soon to release their version of the M-ATV and it will be interesting to see how their kit competes. I would say Panda have set the bar fairly high with this kit.
As for value for money, I could only get this kit from the Far East and I went through EBAY to buy it. It cost me just under £30 inluding P&P. I would expect the kit to cost slightly more in the UK. Its is definatley value for money as you get evrything you need to build a detailed model.
as for aftermarket parts, I am unaware of any at the moment though it only really needs a nice set of sagged resin wheels.
Value for Money 9/10