by: Darren Baker [ ]
Modern Israeli armoured fighting vehicles play a big part with many of the modellers who are into modern AFV modelling today. Releases of the Merkava 4 in two variants by Academy and one by HobbyBoss have been joined most recently by a Merkava 3 from MENG with another variant in the pipe line and these in turn join the various resin kits and older offerings from Academy and Tamiya. Now that we have these armoured fighting vehicles what do we put on them to give that lived in appearance? Well Black Dog has offered a possible solution with their newly released Israeli Modern Equipment Accessories set which offers a host of possible loads for your AFV.
This product is packaged in an end opening box containing a zip lock plastic bag holding the resin castings and was also packed with polystyrene peanuts to prevent damage to the resin castings. The contents consist of 18 different items that are all duplicated and so providing you with 36 items to festoon your AFV or diorama with.
I will be honest in that current Israeli personal equipment is not in my knowledge base in so much as providing specific details of the equipment provided. So here goes; firstly there are three types of backpack with nice crisp detail throughout with nice undercuts and hanging points, the straps and clasps are very nicely replicated with a tight look about them where holding the bags closed, and the shoulder straps have been tackled very cleverly in that they will look good hanging on a vehicle or free standing.
There is a hold-all type bag with three bulged pockets on one face and another pocket on one end similar in appearance to ammunition pouches, the area that caught my eye the most with this inclusion was the straps depicted on the top of the hold-all which is, in my opinion, an excellent example of casting to the highest standard being very fine and crisp. Then you have two types on camel pack which again have excellent strap detail being cast open in one case ready to be shown hanging on a vehicle or resting up against a crate or the like, the other camel pack again has a loop in a different style which will require a very thin skin of resin removed to open up the strap.
The next item in this set is two sets of body armour/vest with one having pouches shown attached and the other bare, which will look good and be an eye catching item strategically placed in a number of settings. These body armour/vest castings are accompanied with a choice of infantry helmet with very nice helmet liner detail and armoured crew helmet. These two helmets do highlight a problem with resin which is the casting block has to go somewhere and in these two cases that is on the very top of the helmet which means careful removal and sanding to get the most from them.
The next three items in this set are tied rolls which are distinctly different with the ties being well replicated in the way that the material bunches around the cord, they also show very well one of the main strengths of resin which is its ability to replicate undercuts so much so that one of these rolls had a piece of the mould stuck in it where the undercuts are so deep. Next in the set is a pair of wooden ammunition crates with very fine wood grain detail and what I believe is rope handles threaded through a plastic handgrip, obviously the detail is only on 5 of the 6 faces due to casting limitations.
Also included with this set are two sizes of plastic fuel or water can that appear to me to be modelled on the Scepter range of plastic can which I am unable to prove if they were, or were not, used by the Israeliís. Hunting through images on Google produces large numbers of metal fuel containers and I have also at this time been unable to find the methodology used by the Israelis for quick and easy identification of fuel from water containers, as the provided examples are in two very distinct sizes I am guessing that is the answer, but it is a guess.
The next item in this offering is a folded stretcher. I remember when I published news of the release of this item there was a comment on the stretcher having handles only at one end, well it would appear that these folded stretchers have modular handles which lock into each other by some method which does make sense to me, another option is that the stretcher is in two halves but is again a guess. The last item in this set completely beats me as I have no idea what it represents and would appreciate any insight from the members reading this.
In my opinion this is another great set of generic stowage for both Israeli armoured vehicle modellers and for dioramas and vignettes, the mix in the set allows for a broad and interesting selection of items to be included on your model, or in your model scene. The high level of included detail will, with careful painting and weathering, make for a lot of eye catching items for at least two or three models.