by: Peter Ong [ ]
Many helpful reviews exist online regarding the 1/35 Academy M151A1 Shimira kit (PMMS and personal websites) so I’ll be addressing some shortcomings of the Academy kit in my review.
Unlike a conversion kit, Legend’s “I.D.F. M151A1 Detailing/ Accessory Set” (obviously) does not make a new type of model but enhances an existing one. As such, one can consider this kit not a necessity but a luxury. As such, before we get into the “Do I want this kit?” issue, we should address the “Do I need this kit?” issue.
Well, do you need it? We should first start off with the Academy instructions, the last line in fact: “The I.D.F. vehicles often carried additional gear, including machine gun tripod, spades, entrenching tools, ammo boxes, wire cutters, and litters.” Okay, now that we have that fact established, what does Academy give us? I can see Academy gives us one extra ammo can, an axe and shovel, gas and water cans, radios…and I don’t see anything else. So what does the Legend kit gives us then?
Nothing has changed with Legend’s casting quality and the pieces look marvelous, free of air bubbles, warping, pour errors, flash and resin debris. Now, we should talk about information that does matter.
Many modelers are not particularly fond of accessory or detailing sets because for the price (sometimes more than the plastic kit itself), the aftermarket company just takes the same original plastic pieces, dresses them up a bit, and casts them (and sometimes the company doesn’t even modify the original kit parts and just recasts them!). I reviewed Legend’s kit with this notion in my mind: Do I really need this accessory kit?First off, the reviews on the Academy kit complain of several key issues. Perhaps the Number One issue is that the water and gas cans have hollow backs and the viewer can see that they’re mere plastic shells, even when glued into place. Legend’s gas and ammo cans are solid pieces.
Another review complaint says the plastic FN MAGs have ejector pins holding the barrels, thus leaving an ugly scar. Legend’s FN MAGs just have a pour block attached to each end of the butt stock, preserving the appearance of the entire piece. However, I found an issue with the guns, which I’ll describe further below. The Academy kit lacks the mesh over the radiator grill but many I.D.F. M151s don’t have this mesh anyway so Legend doesn’t gain too many Brownie Points for including a PE mesh. Still, the PE mesh looks nice. I haven’t read any complaints citing that the plastic bumpers, radio rack, and gun cradles were too thick but in any case, Legend includes PE for these areas, replicating these parts and just making them thinner with brass PE. Modelers may rejoice at this fact but remember that the plastic Academy parts do the job just as well. I did find the PE wire cutter and brass rod a welcome addition for the Academy kit’s plastic looks too thick for these pieces. The brass rod makes the hook’s size appear more realistic.Legend replaces all the radios and when compared to the Academy kit’s box radios, the controls look different but the detail quality appears about the same. However, the Legend rear fender radios are staggered in height (high-low-high) unlike the flat level box of the Academy kit. A covered resin shovel replaces the Academy one although the exposed Academy shovel looks fine the way it is. A hefty resin axe head and a wrapped handle replaces the single-piece “light-duty” Academy axe (and at first I thought Legend just made the axe head and forgot the handle). Thus in general, the Legend kit does replace some Academy items but improvements in quality and appearance over Academy’s original parts are marginal to moderate at best.However, this kit shines not in the area of replacing what Academy did, but by addressing what Academy neglected to do, decorating. The hood tarp has grooves on its bottom to fit snugly on the ridges of the hood although I don’t understand why pour blocks are attached to the underside of the tarp to prevent such a snug fit. The modeler may need to sand off those pour blocks. Legend includes a lot of gear: ammo cans, bedrolls, tarps, and duffle bags to give the Shimira a “lived in” appearance and from the box photos, the amount of gear included come across as pretty generous. The casting of these pieces emerges as very realistic right down to the sag, lean, and droop of the vertical duffle bags. And to add, no two bags or rolls appear alike so modelers don’t have to worry about the “cookie cutter” look. The 40mm grenade ammo cans are probably meant more for personal gear storage than grenades since I haven’t seen any Shimira mount a MK-19 40mm grenade launcher although I’m sure the I.D.F. can mount one as the main weapon. Ammo cans consist of two .50cal and four 7.62mm boxes, definitely an improvement over the one spare 7.62mm ammo can Academy provides. (AFV Club makes a plastic set of ammo cans for the “pack rat” modeler. See my review on Track-Link regarding this AFV Club accessory kit). Also included is a pole with wrapped “canvas,” and mounted on the passenger side, to cover the seats when they’re unoccupied. The folded stretcher adds a nice touch to the serious combat purpose of this vehicle. These pieces have pour blocks located mainly at the bottom so sawing marks shouldn’t show that obviously once sanded and glued into place. The commander’s AN/ PRC-119 radio on the passenger side adds realism for most Shimira photos I’ve seen has some sort of man pack radio behind the right front wheel. Legend didn’t include the hand receiver though but a plastic DML one can remedy this oversight.
The PE contains some extra pieces that do dress up the Shimira: a dash gun holder, bumper eyelets, driver’s door safety strap buckles, and mounting brackets. The lead foil should be cut to create mounting brackets and straps. Legend left the engine alone and didn’t provide any details for it. The thin copper chain dangles from the rear tow hook of the jeep.
THE INSTRUCTIONS:Legend includes a half-sheet of color photocopied photo instructions that capture most of the vehicle. The parts layout photo doesn’t show the gear since the gear doesn’t need assembly and one can basically mount it anywhere on the vehicle. Unfortunately, Legend doesn’t have a close-up of the FN MAGs and so I’ve no clue as to how to fold and mount the PE underneath them.
Due to the instructions being photocopied, the photos have a bit grainy resolution that hinders visibility, yet one has to remember this kit number is #1043 and Legend didn’t start printing glossy color instructions until around kit #1050. The instructions seem adequate in information and the photos are in focus and also taken at decent camera angles to show the parts involved. The contrast between Legend’s white resin against Academy’s tan plastic comes out strong and helps the modeler identify most of the Legend pieces and their placement.
Parts: 36 white resin partsCovered spade and axe head with separate handleCanvas poleTwo FN MAGsFire extinguisherHood tarp/ aircraft ID panelWater canGas canTwo box radiosTwo AN/PRC-119 radiosAmmo cansResin ammo beltsTarps, bags, stretcher, duffle bags, and sleeping bagLead foilPE fret for bumpers, radiator grill, gun cradles, etc.Nylon rope for tow cableThin copper chainBrass wire
Not Everything's Rosy:
As I inspected this kit, one feature bothered me and I sort of predicted what the answer was. Would replacing the Academy guns with the resin ones prevent them from swiveling? The answer is “yes” (the Academy guns appear to swivel) but I believe one can insert a styrene tube through the hole in the PE cradle and into the kit’s mount to make the resin guns swivel although the instructions didn’t mention this. I would at least attempt to use Legend’s FN MAGs not because they’re one piece or because you pay for them, but for the fact that the Academy FN MAGs are taller and thicker and appear less realistic than compared to the Legend MAGs.
The instructions mentioned using PE #E15 and E16 for the FN MAG but the PE fret doesn’t have a #E16 (#E15 being the highest number). Also not included are the resin tow hooks for the nylon rope but that can pass for how much does a rope cost anyway if you don’t use it? Besides, one can just use the rope as a wire cable without tow hooks even though I’m not sure how such a thick cable can haul anything in real life without end hooks. A leg of my FN MAG bipod broke off and I found it in the bag and plan to glue it back since the break was clean. While everything’s not rosy, a skilled modeler should overcome these issues with some scratchbuilding and spare parts.
For the price, the Legend “Shimira Detail and Accessory Set” does live up to its name by addressing and improving on several issues of the Academy kit as well as decorating it. The kit doesn’t contain a tripod but the FN MAGs do have bipods while the Academy ones do not. Other than that, Legend did provide all the gear Academy said in the last sentence of their instructions. The degree of needing this kit now weighs with your desire to want this kit and if you do want it, I highly recommend it for there are no glaring errors with kit #1043.
In the PBS travel show, “Globe Trekker,” I saw the I.D.F. drive a M151A1 (yes, A1) Shimira on patrol that looks very similar to the Academy kit. The show was copyrighted 2001.Legend sells a M151A2 Shimira conversion kit (LF1018) to convert Tamiya’s M151A2 into an I.D.F. A2 Shimira. (LEF1018 does include a resin rollbar).You can probably make a M151A2 Shimira out of this LF1043 M151A1 kit by transferring all the resin LF1043 pieces to the M151A2 and the plastic rollbar from the Academy kit. (LF1043 doesn’t include a rollbar).My Special Thanks goes to Mr. Chan Lee for the review sample and to Deniz Pelvan for the Shimira photos and URLs. Model photos were taken from Legend’s website.
Copyright ©2020 text by Peter Ong [ ]. All rights reserved.
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