The "technical" vehicle in 1/35 scale is a subject for which many modelers have been waiting for years. So far none were available and some more adventurous modelers tried to convert various toys and die-cast models in scales close to 1/35. In today's world where asymmetrical conflicts are more common than conventional wars, the use of various civilian vehicles converted to carry weapons became standard and the lack of such model was bothersome. Such vehicles were most visible during the conflict in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope) and the name "Technical car" became well known since then, but they appear in almost every modern conflict. One of the vehicles used most often is Toyota Landcruiser. To see some good photos of Somali "technicals", including Landcruisers, visit CORBIS website
and put "Somali technical" in the search field.
The MIG Productions set reviewed here is one of three Landcruiser models released recently and they are the first such models on the market. MIG released three variants: hardtop with Russian Dushka machine gun, open top with US Browning M2HB gun (reviewed here) and one unarmed transport version. For licensing reason "Toyota" name is not used anywhere on these products, but I wouldn't be surprised if "Landcruiser" and "BJ44" names were also registered trademarks and their use could also potentially cause some troubles to MIG Productions.
The set comes in a small cardboard box with a photo of finished model, painted by Miguel Jimenez himself, on the label. Inside the box we get four plastic zip bags with resin parts and a small instruction sheet printed in full color with a series of photos identifying part numbers and showing the assembly sequence. Photos are quite small and on some of them the location of some cream colored parts is not clearly visible. I believe however that it should not pose any problems during assembly.
The set is comprised of 63 light cream resin parts. The suspension frame is not cast separately, but instead the rear part is integral with the rear cargo bed part, while the front is integral with cab floor. After these parts are glued together all the other separate suspension parts can be attached: axles, leaf springs with shock absorbers, drive shafts and wheels (slightly flattened for weighted appearance). To complete the body we need to attach the cargo bed rear panel and the engine compartment with separate fenders, hood and grille parts. Some details of the engine bottom are molded on engine compartment part. Solid resin headlights are molded on the engine grille part, but I plan to drill them out and replace with some MV lenses for better appearance. For licensing reasons Toyota logo is missing from the grille. No doors are provided in this version, but we get cab lower side panels with partial door frames. To these panels attached are separate steps, which connect to fenders. Windshield frame is provided with separate wipers, but no transparent part for glass is given. Three part roll frame is provided for the cargo bed. Front bumper has winch parts molded with it, while on the rear one is a step with a nice non slip pattern molded on.
For the inside of the vehicle we get two seats, dashboard, steering wheel (but no wheel column - probably a piece of styrene rod has to be used for it, but it is not mentioned in instructions), three levers (transmission, gearbox and parking brake) and weapons mount. Two piece M2HB machine gun provided is nicely detailed and an ammo tray with molded integrally ammo can is a separate part. Some extra gear is included to put on the cargo bed: AK-47 rifle, two ammo cans and a spare wheel. Although the wheel is shown stored on the floor of cargo bed in instructions, we also get wheel carrier part, which can be attached to the rear of the vehicle, so it should be possible to attach the wheel there.
Parts are cleanly cast with just a couple of small air bubbles trapped in resin. There is some amount of flash on several parts, but it should be easy to brush off. There is a thin resin film added to several parts to facilitate casting. This has to be carefully removed, but it is very thin and removing it should pose a problem. Usual casting blocks are present on all resin parts, but seem to be well designed and not particularly difficult to remove. In my set windshield frame and gun barrel parts are slightly warped, but I expect that a dip in hot water should be enough to make straightening them possible. To my Mk.1 Eyeball the wheels are not perfectly circular and I don't mean the area where they are purposely flattened, but in general. The deformation is however minimal and can be ignored.
Some very nice details are cast on parts surface, like engine grille mesh or tire tread pattern. There are even tiny tire type and size markings on both sides of each tire.
I'm not sure if discussing accuracy of this particular model makes any sense, but I decided to include at least a short note. I watched many photos of real Toyota BJ44 Landcruisers and there are some details missing from the MIG model. One example is a fuel filler cap, which should be present in the small well on the right side of the vehicle, other are engine hood locking hooks. Probably most inaccurate part is the dashboard - it looks nothing like the dashboard of BJ44. For car modelers this model may not be a perfect replica, but it definitely looks like Landcruiser and I doubt any military vehicle modeler would mind minor inaccuracies. And of course it should be easy to add some missing details if anyone feels so inclined.
Landcruiser is another high quality product from MIG Productions I had pleasure to review. It is very well cast and nicely detailed. Finished model can be excellent addition to many dioramas - most obvious one would be one from Somalia, but could also be from any Balkan, African, South American or Middle East conflict.
Many thanks to Miguel Jimenez of MIG Productions for the review sample!