The BTR-80 is one of those iconic vehicles from the 1980's Soviet Red Army that anyone who is interested in modern Russian vehicles would want on their shelf. Having seen action in Chechnya and Georgia, the BTR-80 is still in the news. The BTR-80 was upgraded to the BTR-80A by adding a new turret with a 30mm Auto-cannon and 5.56mm Coaxial MG. New tires for the BTR-80 were also showing up at that time, the KI-126, although it is not certain if they were fielded simultaneously. These replaced the older KI-80 series tires.
These new resin wheels from Miniarm are a large step forward for an accurate model. In the past, there were the basic "squared off" KI-80 wheels from the DML kit that had a tendency to disintegrate. When the DML kit was upgraded with a new turret by Zvezda to make the BTR-80A model, the wheels were also redone in a hard rubber or plastic (I am not quite sure what the material is...most likely a soft styrene?). But they still had the squared off sidewalls and flat tire surface of the DML KI-80 tire and not the newer "bulged" look of the KI-126. Compared to photos of the BTR-80A, the wheels just never looked the part and did detract from built kits.
All previous resin replacement wheels have been of DML KI-80 wheels with re-detailed hubs. Hobby Planet has reproduced the wheels from the old Capitan line, but I have not seen these wheels and I could never get a hold of them to look over, so I cannot say if they were any different than the DML wheels. But now we have the Miniarm release...
Just recently Miniarm released 3 sets of BTR wheels: 1 KI-80 for the BTR-70, one KI-80 for the BTR-80, and 1 KI-126 for the BTR-80A. The wheels are solidly cast with almost no air bubbles in any of the parts, they have VERY crisp detail, and they have a MUCH more accurate profile. Even the KI-80 wheels have rounded sidewalls. In fact, the BRDM and BTR KI-80 wheels only differ in the hub detail.
There are 8 wheels with separate hubs and one spare wheel included in the set.
As seen in the pictures at right, there is a SP Designs BTR-80 wheel which represents the original DML style wheel (Cream colored), a wheel from the Zvezda BTR-80A kit (Black), and the new Miniarm wheel (Grey). The differences between the KI-80 and the KI-126 wheels are very apparent in the pictures.
Minarm has reproduced the wheels with 7 triplets of bolts on the rims and with 8 bolts on the hubs. The sidewall detail is nicely represented and appears to be accurate (I have no super close up shots of the KI-126 tire to know if the arrow pointing forward is correct, for example, but the numbering and ribbing appears to be correct). The hubs are of the "spider web" pattern which is the only one I have seen used with the KI-126 wheels. There should be a stem that runs from the hub to the rim, which is missing on the Miniarm set. This is part of the central tire inflation system which is noticeable, and can be replicated with a small square piece of styrene and some copper wire.
The KI-126 has also been refitted to the BTR-80 series as far as I know, so it should be usable with any BTR-80 vehicle.
Highs: Very accurate looking wheels. Excellent detail and a vast improvement over any previous wheel set for the BTR-80A. Usable on the BTR-80 as well.Lows: Price. Wheels cost as much as the kit.Verdict: VERY nice set of wheels for any BTR-80 kit you do.
About Jacques Duquette (Jacques) FROM: MINNESOTA, UNITED STATES
The first model I remember building was a glow-in-the-dark P-38, running around my bedroom in the dark flying it, and stubbing my toes. I do a lot less running around with glowing models now. I mainly focus on 1/35 armor and figures, with Modern Russian military vehicles being my favorite. I a...