The British saying that “when you wait long enough for a bus, two will show up at once” couldn’t be more apt for this new kit from Meng. We’ve actually had quite a few situations recently where this British aphorism could be applied: the Neubau-Fahrzeug was released by several different companies around the same time, the M-ATV MRAP was announced by one company and then another company chimed in they were doing one. Most recently, we finally got long-awaited confirmation that Zvezda was working on its T-90 MBT. Just days after this, Meng Model announced they were working on their version of the T-90!
The same can be said for pick-up kits in 1/35 scale: prior to Meng’s first release, there was a lot of “buzz” around the converted pick-up trucks and jeeps Libyan Rebels were using in their fight against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces. Prior to Meng’s kit, pick-up choices in 1/35 had been limited to resin offerings, which are quite expensive. And resin is not quite everyone’s favourite material. So it was with a great welcome that news of Meng’s first kit was received.
They quickly followed up their release with another.
The first Meng Pick-Up was something akin to a Toyota Hilux and came with a ZPU-1 AA gun for the rear bed and a seated figure. This new kit is very similar in terms of the actual vehicle: there are two all-new sprues, but for the most part, the Hilux-type shape is kept. The major additions to this kit are the equipment, weapons and an all-new figure.
Jim Starkweather has already had a “first look” into the box in video format (click here
), so some of the content will probably be familiar to you, as well as for those who bought the first kit. I’m now going to go into detail about the various parts, both old and new to this kit.
There are nine sprues in all:
There is also:
One black PE sheet
six vinyl tyres
the body of the truck in red plastic
two decal sheets
There is minimal flash throughout and ejector pin marks are kept to places that will not be easily-visible once the kit is assembled.
Sprue A is in black plastic and consists of parts for the chassis and undercarriage of the pick-up. The detail does not extend to a full engine; merely the suggestion of it on the underside- the transmission housing is nicely cast and the body frame is very solid. To me the exhaust looks a little thin and weedy, and the end is simply flat, so will need a fine drill bit or hobby knife to open it up.
Sprue B is the other black sprue and contains much of the cosmetic details, including wheels, running boards, roll-over frame and the front and rear bumpers. The wheel hubs are a nice and chunky alloy-style with disc brakes as separate parts. The front grille has an oval shape where the badge would be, and the roll-over frame and wipers are delicate and nicely-cast. Some decent metallic paint will be needed here if a chrome finish is to be achieved for some of these parts.
Sprue C is red plastic and contains much of the bodywork: the rear bed, tailgate, hood and rear body sides. Casting of these is immaculate and they are quite sturdy. There’s not a lot of detail on them, but the angles and recessed areas are excellent, and they should be very easy to repeatedly sand if you plan to use automotive-type paint on the kit. Note: this sprue was white in the previous Meng Pick-Up release.
Sprue D is cast in light grey, and contains most of the interior as well as the mud-flaps. The dash is one of the best parts of the kit, suggesting a vehicle built anywhere between five and ten years ago: there is no sat-nav or screens of this nature, which is primarily why I make that assumption about the model year. The seats are decent, but lack any seat-belt housing, and consist of ridged areas for the seating. The inner walls of the doors in the cab are relatively simple single parts, and include the inside of both doors on their respective sides. Detail is adequate and should come up nicely with some careful painting.
Sprue E is the glazing (windows for you non-Brits) for the pick-up consisting of the rear window, windscreen, side windows and all the lights. The windscreen and side-windows are all one part, much like a 1/24 car model kit, and the glazing is very clean with no blemishes.
Sprue V is one of the all new castings. Most of the parts consist of the figure: two arms, two legs, two separate hands, a head, baseball cap and torso. There’s also a sack and a duffle bag on this sprue. This is only Meng’s second figure, and they have to be commended for it. Some of the detail is a little soft and simple, or simply lacking here and there, but overall this is a nice addition to the kit.
I built the figure up and it took only about five minutes, with another five taken up with positioning his arms and hands to carry the M82 Sniper Rifle. The fit is decent, although the torso is a little too small for the legs, but due to the way the rifle is carried this really won’t be noticeable. The arms aren’t very well-defined, but this should be alleviated with some paint and a little highlighting and shadowing. The face detail is also quite good, and once the figure is all assembled, it does look the part. Detail is unfortunately quite soft on the boots, but they remind me of Oakley SI boots, which are slightly less-chunky and more-rounded than most military-issue boots. Be careful when attaching the sniper rifle to his hands: the instructions show the figure’s left hand clutching the fore-stock with four fingers under and the thumb over the top. The hand simply won’t fit in this manner, so I positioned his arm leaning down slightly more with his fingers simply guiding the fore-stock. Heating up the hand a little by holding it over a flame for a few seconds should give it enough pliability to stretch the thumb over the rifle fore-stock as per the instructions— if you feel you want to do this, that is.
Sprue Y is cast in a slightly darker grey and is, again, an all new casting. Most of the equipment is included on this piece and it includes three styles of cool-box, two types of jerry-cans, an ammunition can and three multiple gallon liquid containers. A spare wheel and two weapons are included, too. The weapons are the M-240G, which comes with a mount to put it on the “A” frame of the pick-up. This is quite nicely-cast with a good amount of detail. The only issue is the barrel, which is very flimsy and to my eye, too thin.
The same problem is apparent on the M82 Sniper Rifle: this comes with a nicely-moulded carry-handle and bipod legs that can be posed folded or deployed. However, the whole rifle appears very delicate and flimsy, especially the barrel. I compared it to an Academy M82 I had in the spare’s box, and you can see the difference in terms of shape: the real weapon is chunky and angular, not best-captured by the Meng kit item. That being said, the detail is nicely done, especially the delicate bipod arms, the scope, carry handle and rails.
Sprue W: There are two of these clear sprues, and they have eight liquid bottles each, paired into four different shapes. The casting of these is truly fantastic and stands shoulder to shoulder with any of the resin items I’ve ever come across. There are also decals provided that include Coca-Cola and Pepsi labels. This is a particularly nice addition to this kit, as aftermarket bottles like these can be expensive.
The body shell, cast in red plastic as opposed to the white plastic of the prior pick-up release (the part is exactly the same apart from color), is a separate item, and is an excellent one-piece mould with plastic ribbing to keep it from warping while in the box. My only criticism of this part is the moulded-on door handles, which don’t really look right at all. They would have been better as separate parts. I must also say that the doors are all moulded shut; this is somewhat satisfactory, but I think parts that would let them be posed open and for all four doors to be cast as separate items would add significantly to the detail and options in this kit.
The etch fret is quite small, and consists of a few pieces, the largest being the four mud-flaps. It doesn’t really add much detail to the kit, but it is nice to see in the box.
The tyres are vinyl and there are five of them: the tread detail is nice, if a little thin. The sidewalls have “DUNLCP” and “GRANDTREK ATZ” written on them. Obviously for licensing reasons they have not written “DUNLOP,” though it would have been better to have “DUNLOR” where we could cut away the diagonal line on the “R” instead of having an irreparable “C” instead of an “O,” much like Dragon did with “CONTINENTAU” where the “U” could then be carefully cut to make an “L”.
Decals for the kit consist of two sheets: the same long and letter-filled sheet from the first kit is present, with the alphabet provided in black and white twice so you can make names for the rear tailgate. The “4WD” decals for the rear mud-flaps are also included, as is the dashboard instrumentation. The new decal sheet is small and contains labels for the equipment, including “Flammable” labels, the afore-mentioned “Pepsi” and “Coca-Cola” labels, along with markings for the ammunition box and some generic water bottle labels— a nice touch overall.
This is the first time in a review where I feel I need to talk about the kit packaging. Most modern model packaging is similar: a sturdy top-opening box, sometimes with delicate pieces protected and/or including partitions to keep parts from being crushed. However, we sometimes get what could be termed “bad” boxing, like Revell’s side-opening boxes or seemingly vacuum-packed Dragon boxes so filled with plastic you can’t get the lid to close again once you open it!
Meng is a brand new company, so I wasn’t expecting much from the box: just a box really. But they actually did a stellar job with the packaging and presentation, and it deserves a mention.
The box lid is a kind of soft cardboard with excellent graphics and artwork. Pop the lid off, and inside you get a nicely-designed partition with branding and kit information, along with compartments on one side and the main kit pieces in the larger part. This not only saves things getting bashed, but also looks very professional, too. Parts are packed nicely, and the pick-up’s glazed parts are bagged, yet also covered in a sticky bag that keeps them extra clean and safe from grubby fingers!
The etch is a strange matt black color, and the instruction booklet is nicely stapled, with the cover coloured with the artwork and logo. There are also some colour pages inside that provide sprue-layouts and a painting guide. The instructions themselves are large, clear and un-cluttered.
Painting for the figure and stowage items are called out and matched from Hobby Color, Mr. Hobby and Vallejo paints. The pick-up, as it says in the instructions, can be painted pretty much any color that takes your fancy.
For a brand new company to provide such an aesthetically pleasing, yet also practical packaging system is something to be very much applauded and appreciated.
During the war in Libya, conversations among modellers focused on the veritable hodgepodge of pick-ups that were being used as weapons platforms, sporting everything from light machine guns to APC turrets. People were lamenting the lack of pick-up kits in injection moulded plastic, when suddenly Meng burst onto the scene. At the time their first kit was announced, people were already talking about using the pick-ups for dioramas that included western Special Forces or private military units in various war-zones. Meng seemed to “pick up” on this very quickly, and announced this current kit, their second, soon after the first. While the first, with the AA Gun and half-masked figure, was perfect for conflicts like Libya, this release is equally perfect for those who want to depict various western and private military forces.
For only their second kit, Meng have released a truly handsome package. From the box presentation down to the clear water bottles, they have really worked hard on this release. The figure and equipment are very nicely-done, and they give this kit a great deal of potential in terms of usage and setting for the modeller. The kit isn’t perfect, but I feel it would be wrong to criticise a company too harshly for only their second foray into the industry. Meng seemed to have listened to us modellers, and have given us two releases that a great many of us wanted. If they keep that up, then surely they will listen to the problems that have been noted in the kits (admittedly problems that established manufacturers still suffer from in new releases), and, coupled with the potential already shown, leads me to believe Meng Model are really going places.