by: Seb Viale [ ]
With this upcoming release, HobbyBoss is giving to the Merkava an engineering companion. After numerous researches on the web and thanks to the input of well famous IDF armor expert Michael Mass, I was able to find accurate info on this particular vehicle.
Hobbyboss is releasing a prototype version of the Merkava ARV with a small crane. It is similar to the Legend kit. To date IDF is currently using the M88 as regular ARV vehicle. An upgrading program of the M88 is currently been scheduled.
The kit is pre-production without the decals and no art box to display. The plastic is olive drab and not the usual cream-like color for HB.
Contents of the Kit:
Lower Hull and Upper Hull (new tool)
Sprue A, all steel wheels (Merkava IIID)
Sprue B2 with suspension (Merkava IIID) (four times)
Sprue C upper hull details (new sprue)
Sprue D armor skirts (new sprue)
Sprue H, weapons from (Merkava IV)
Sprue E, rear door details (new sprue)
Sprue F, Crane (new sprue)
Sprue GP1, transparent periscope (new sprue)
Idler wheel two parts
Track links (Merkava IIID)
Decal (not included in my review sample)
Details are crisp and the complete hull is new. Most of the sprues are from the previous HB Merkava III and IV. The wheels provided in the kit are all steel type and are from the Merkava IIID.
Tracks are individual ones from their previous kits, details are nice but construction can be time consuming since small pins need to be glued inside external holes on all links.
The hull top is covered with anti-slip texture, in my point of view the texture is soft, closer to the one for a Stryker than the coarse one as seen on the Merkava. It is clearly a time saving addition but roughness of the grains are too soft.
All periscopes are done in transparent plastic and it is a nice addition to the details.
The build is really quick and only 17 steps are required to complete the build. The details on the crane is low, it is missing a lot of flexible and service ducts (conduits/tubing). When comparing this to latest releases of HB, particularly on the M1070/M1000 where ducts play an important role, it is weird to not see all the small PVC lines included in the kit.
As usual, I will review the kit following the construction steps.
Steps 1&2, Construction of the suspension:
This step covers the build of the suspension with springs and return rollers. The suspension arms are also glued. The front and rear drive wheels are glued, PE is used to enhance the details on bolts for the sprocket gear box.
Nothing special here.
Step 3&4, Wheels assembly:
Nicely detailed sprocket wheels with sharp edge are easily built, along with the 12 all steel wheels.
The idler wheels are molded in one piece as seen before on their previous Merkava.
All wheels are secured onto the chassis with Polycaps.
Step 5, Track assembly:
Snap track provide a great level of details. This build is time consuming since two pins are glued on every link.
Step 6, Rear door assembly:
In order to accommodate the engineering and ease on field operation, the rear door on the ARV is bigger than previous Merkava models. The door comes in two parts. The upper door segment shows a window that is not represented in transparent plastic.
Step 7, Track gluing:
No special comment.
Step 8, Detailing upper hull:
Hatch covers are glued in place as well as the front light with PE cover. Grills are nicely detailed with PE and the final effect is pretty good. I have the impression that you need to attach plastic sheet underneath the grill to avoid seeing through.
Step 9, Rear boxes assembly and periscope attachment:
The rear boxes containing tools and equipment are assembled here as well as the periscope. The periscope is done in a two piece approach: the body in plastic with the optic in transparent cover. This will ease the build by inserting special effect film to represent the anti-laser coating.
Step 10, Weapon assembly:
Hatches are armed with FN Mag, details on the support are over simplified and PE aftermarket should enhance the details.
HobbyBoss decided to add jerrycans on the rear baskets, from my reference pictures only canvas covers are presented on the rear baskets.
Step 11, Rear box assembly
All boxes attached around the rear are assembled here. No comments.
Step 12, Attachment of the upper hull onto the lower hull:
In my review sample, both parts of the hull fit perfectly, no need of putty.
The rear boxes are attached around the rear door and the exhaust's special design is represented with numerous PE, the level of detail is great.
The building of the armor skirt is straightforward. Only two pieces are used for each side. The attachment point blades is over simplified, maybe a PE solution will be welcome. Numbering of the panels is nicely done, last panel shows a good level of detail. This step conclude most of the work on the hull.
Step 14&15, Crane Assembly:
Two outside shields are glued together with the inner beam (two parts), thats it, you are done with the beam of the crane. It is clearly over simplified. The winch does not display any cable. Lack of duct is striking. I had the chance to get my hands on a good detailed photo of the crane (thanks to Marcel ) and it is clearly visible that flexible lines are just all around the crane. Public pictures are available on blogs and HobbyBoss did not do their homework perfectly. Moreover the manufacturer logo is missing from the beam.
This step covers the assembly of the top hull rear basket. Size is good but a PE counterpart would be a better addition.
The crane is glued in place on top of the hull. Tow cable in plastic (?) is attached to the left side of the hull.
It is a nice looking vehicle with over simplified parts (mostly the crane), with no difficult areas to assemble. This is a good kit for the beginner that wants to try new experiences such as with the clickable track links.
For the rest of us, some intense work is required, especially on the crane, and the use of PE for the Merkava III will produce an interesting model.