by: Ian Barraclough [ ]
IntroductionThis looks to be the first in a series of MT-LB’s from Trumpeter – they have already announced the MT-LB 6MA (05579 1/35 Soviet MT-LB 6MA) will be released in May; and looking at the sprues (Sprue H & I missing and a number of unused parts) it seems that this ‘slick’ version has been designed to be added to, with hopefully many more future releases of different variants.
ReviewOn opening the box you are presented with the sprues and instructions/paper in the larger half of the box and the upper and lower hull, clear parts and etch in a cardboard insert on the left had side. There are over 1100 parts in this (small) kit.
The 16 page instruction booklet is printed in black and white and follows the ‘usual’ procedure of lower hull, upper hull and then turret. In this case the lower hull includes a full interior with engine and gearbox. Step 3 of the instructions (page 4) is one of the busiest single instruction steps I think I have ever seen – I counted 75 parts - although it goes to show how well detailed the engine and engine bay are. One area lacking in the instructions is the hatches and doors – just about all of them can be modelled in the open or closed positions, although there’s no mention of this in the instructions and they are all shown closed.
Also in the box is a double sides ‘glossy’ colour leaflet – on one side is the advertising shot for the MTLB showing all the options within the kit; on the other side is Trumpeters future releases. I like this as it gives a good overview of the kit without having to pick through the instructions and sprues to see what will go where. It also shows that the doors and hatches are ‘openable’.
A second fold out glossy leaflet shows 8 colour schemes researched and developed (?) in partnership with Mig Productions. All are well represented although sadly there’s no mention of what country each profile belongs to. Given that this vehicle is very common across the globe you could probably paint it bright pink and someone somewhere would have a reference for it; but even so, I like to know what I’m painting. The decals come on a small sheet and seem well represented. There is a decal for the interior dashboard but this will need treating with a setting solution to ensure it sits well on the detailed plastic part.
There are three small photo etched brass sheets in the box which are taped onto a piece of card and are further protected by clear plastic ‘sticky’ sheets. PE-A contains many of the small latches and clasps; PE-B the parts for the rear mudguards – instruction step 15 is a photo etch fest! PE-C is the tie down brackets for the rear hull top. There’s also 200mm of soft brass wire for the tow cable and Sprue GP contains the clear parts for the wind screen, lights and periscope.
The upper and lower hulls fit together very well and I don’t foresee the need for filler here. There are many punch marks on both the upper and lower interior surface – the ultra-picky will want to fill these but apart from the gearbox area, I doubt they’ll be visible on the finished model. Sprues A (x3) and B (x2) contain the majority of the parts for the running gear, suspension and wheels. My only concerns here are that the ribs on the rubber of the road wheels look to be slightly overdone; on the real thing these are hardly noticeable at a few yards. There’s also a mould line around the centre of the outer rim which, with the ribs on the wheel will prove very difficult to remove.
Sprue C contains the parts for the interior, including the engine and gear box bays and sprue D also contains various interior fittings as well as some exterior parts. It’s worth noting here that all of the ‘openable’ hatches and doors are moulded without punch marks on either side of their surface – commendable Trumpeter. It seems strange to me that Trumpeter have decided to provide the rifle firing hatches (small oval parts) as separate items so that the hatches on the hull sides can be shown open or closed; however the ones on the rear doors are moulded in the closed positions, despite having the interior parts to show them open.
Sprues F and G respectively contain the engine and gearbox parts – both of which are ultra-detailed – it will be a shame to hide these away inside the completed model. The gearbox bay is well detailed with various bottles on the front wall – this will be visible with the front deck open. Strangely these bottles are shown fitted to the hull interior in the instructions before you actually fit them – beware. You may also want to fill some of the punch marks on the interior of this area as they will be visible if left open. The inside of the engine bay has very little detail, although the fit of the engine is so tight the walls won’t be visible anyway unless you’re going to model the engine removed. The large engine hatch can be fitted open although note that the ‘hold open’ rod on the inside of this large hatch is moulded in place and will need removing and rebuilding from rod if showing open. Sadly there’s air inlet hatches on both the gearbox and engine hatches are moulded in the closed positions although pictures show them often opened (as does the box lid!) – I may try to ‘open’ them.
Sprue J contains the parts for the small turret and a few of the small exterior fittings as well as an interior brace. The gun is well moulded but the barrel looks to be very delicate and is attached to the sprue with a thick connection – I think this part would have been better represented with a brass barrel, but it won’t break the bank to but an aftermarket item.
The tracks are moulded in brown plastic as seems to be the common trend at the moment. Each track is made up of 3 parts – the track and two guide horns. This will definitely be a labour of love but can’t be any worse than the Hong Model ones on the Shilka…
ConclusionA fantastic starting point for what looks like to be a number of future MT-LB variant releases from Trumpeter. Having had a scan of a number of on-line walkarounds it looks like Trumpeter haven’t missed a thing with this one and the inclusion of a full interior, engine and gearbox makes for a ‘complete’ bundle that I think fans of modern Russian armour will love. Come on SA-13 Gopher.