by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to soft skin vehicles you cannot help but consider ICM as one of the major contributors to this vehicle type. Their range of soft skins covers a broad spectrum of Soviet and German vehicles and even includes some large scale car models. This offering covers the V3000S/SS M Maultier with Shelter.
This model is packaged in a cardboard tray with a card lid which I like, but if the model is not well protected when sent via the post office I have seen one of these boxes mangled. Inside the box you will find a single re-sealable bag containing all of the sprues for the kit. The product contents break down as follows:
2 clear sprues
4 tan sprues
1 brown sprue
A decal sheet
A look over the sprues will show a lot of cooling/flow lines present on most parts, but I have yet to have any serious problems with this aspect from ICM. There are a high number of ejector pin marks present on parts, but from what I have seen here ICM is improving where this aspect is concerned due to the marks being less prominent. The parts are cleanly moulded with no flash present in this example. So far what I have seen leaves me reasonably confidant and happy with the model.
There are a few things that ICM do that I think of very positively, one of these is that as a rule they always give you a full engine with some very nice detail despite not providing photo etched parts with the model. ICM has done a really good job here with a mix of very nice detail that careful painting will accentuate to great effect. For me the only thing the modeller need add to this area is some wiring to make a very convincing element of the model.
Axles and Suspension
ICM looks to me to have done a very job of the road wheels and the suspension element as the detail is nice overall. The front wheels look good as regards the hubs, but I have concerns about the tread pattern as it seems very light; however until some paint is applied it will be hard to be sure how this will look. The front axle is an area that will please some and possibly disappoint others; this is due to the front wheels being moveable in relation to which direction they point, the reason I say some may not be happy is that I have yet to see moveable wheels that are completely accurate however some sacrifices are sometimes a plus.
The chassis is another area where ICM shine more often than not, this is due to a large number of their chassis are multi-part offerings as is the case here. The multi-part approach to the chassis is a double edged sword for the modeller, it enables the manufacturer to offer accurate shapes which faithfully replicate the real vehicle; however this approach does mean that the modeller has to be very careful to get everything square or disaster beckons.
The tracks supplied with this model are link and length. The detail on the tracks is of a very good standard, with the only downside possible being how fine the links are when it comes to gluing them together; with that said they should look very good if put together well. It is worth noting that when it comes to adding these to the vehicle the approach taken by ICM should make it a breeze.
The cab area of the model is quite nice having been supplied with multi-part headlights and even separate wiper arms. The curves of the cab are very nicely replicated and should really look the part even the front grill is open slatted which is a nice touch. The only concerns I have here is that it is unclear to me at this time if the bonnet and doors can be displayed open, this means that all of the wonderful detail that ICM has supplied under the bonnet may be hidden from view. The cab interior looks right and ICM has supplied decals for the instruments, there are a number of ejector pin marks that will need attention in this area, but as mentioned earlier they are getting smaller and less deep and so easier to remedy. One thing I would consider doing is giving the seat some work to give them a lived in look rather than a showroom appearance.
For me this is the one area where (as my school reports often read) could do better. The exterior is good with nice detail on all external surfaces, ICM has even supplied steps that can be shown in use or stowed. The interior of the shelter however is devoid of any detail and it is a real shame that this is the case on a model that cries out for an interior. A scene with wounded being evacuated from the front could be impressive using this model with medics scurrying around and placing the stretcher cases in the rear, as such I strongly urge ICM to consider at least making an alternate shelter available with a detailed interior for this model and giving the modeller the option of spending that little bit more for a shelter with medical staff and wounded in order to give this model some life to it.
The windows and headlight lenses are nicely represented on the model even though they parts are a little thick; however as there are no bowed areas and with the clear parts being flat this should not cause distortion issues.
Instructions and Decals
The instructions are supplied as a loose leafed booklet which guides you through construction using black and white line drawings. The drawings have not been overly complicated and should be understandable by most modellers; the only downside I can see is that there are no painting callouts during construction.
The decal sheet is not huge but sufficient for the task and offers two finishing options for the model, these are:
Maultier, Poland, Autumn 1944
Maultier, Germany, Winter 1945
The decals are thin enough to keep me happy and look to have as near as damn it zero carrier film.
Another very nice and competent model out of the ICM stable. The model has great detail in the areas of the engine, chassis and suspension. There is good detail around the cab inside and out, but the shelter interior being absent is a letdown in my opinion. As a static display model this detail being missing is not the end of the world, but for those who like to show their models performing the tasks they were build for this will be an issue. One group of modellers that will be pleased are people like Scratchmod, as they will have a great time showing the model in various states of disarray and the guts they like to expose are in the box for the most part. One other good thing about models from ICM is the price which usually represents great value for money.