by: Andy Langridge [ ]
According to it's manufacturer, Force Protection Inc, the Buffalo MPCV (Mine Protected Clearance Vehicle) is "the most advanced mine resistant vehicle in the world. It has cutting-edge technology combined with the best American automotive components which give this vehicle the maximum visibility, load carrying capacity, interior space and parts availability of any vehicle in its class."
Current usage of the Buffalo is as follows:-
* United States - 200
* Canada/Canadian Forces - 5 plus an additional 14 for delivery in 2009
* France - 5 were to be delivered November 2008
* United Kingdom - 14 to be delivered at the end of 2009
The v shaped hull and ballistic glass enable this vehicle to be protected from both anti tank and anti personnel mines, up to 45lb in size under any wheel, and 30 lb under the center line. It is also protected against IED's. The remote operating arm can dig out mines from up to 30ft, and is also used as a base station for operating the Meerkat Mine Detection Vehicle.
The parts break down as follows:
Resin parts: 201
Clear parts: 8
Photo etched parts: - 92
The kit comes packed in a sturdy cardboard box, with a color photo of the finished kit on the top, and three smaller color photos from different angles. Opening the box you are faced with an ocean of tiny polystyrene balls protecting the five
Ziplock bags of parts, a twenty page instruction booklet, two frets of brass photo etch, and the two bubble wrap protected halves of the vehicle proper.
The instruction booklet is five sheets of A4 paper folded to make a twenty page booklet. One page is printed in color, with the same four photos as on the box lid, and two additional color photos of the completed kit on the inside back page. The inside front page has details about the actual vehicle, with a photo of vehicles on duty in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Pages two and three contain black and white photos of all the parts and photo etch laid out. The remainder of the booklet is made up of very clear black and white photos detailing placement of all of the parts, two photos to a page, and detail shots of individual areas of the kit, six photos to a page.
parts break down
All of the resin parts are cast in a pale gray lightweight resin
Bag Number 1
This contains the floor of the interior, the seats and the hubs of the wheels, all of which are free from warping and air holes.
Bag Number 2
This bag contains the wheels, eight in total, in three different styles - four for the rear, two for the front and two spares, each of the different styles has different hub detail, which appears to be spot on when compared to reference photos, as does the tread pattern. All of these parts are also free of air holes, and the casting plugs are small enough to be hidden, given suitable positioning of the wheels on the finished kit.
Bag Number 3
The third bag contains the suspension, remote operating arm and the remaining interior parts. The detail on these parts is exquisite, the hydraulic piping on the arm particularly. A couple of air bubbles are present as is a minute amount of flash. This is nothing a quick touch of filler, or deft use of a number eleven blade won't fix. Included in this bag are two exhaust systems, one has full detail of the perforated exhaust guard as a resin part, the other is the central exhaust only, with the option of using one of the photo etch parts suitably rolled into shape
Bag Number 4
This bag contains the clear parts, or rather would if i hadn't so been over enthusiastic emptying out the poly balls, it was only on coming to take photos I noticed that this was no longer in the box, and the bin men have been since the throw out. If the other parts are anything to go by these would have been to scale thickness, and very clear, as it is I will have to resort to clear styrene sheet cut to the appropriate size.
Bag Number 5
This last bag contains the remainder of the parts, generally the detail parts of the exterior. The same excellent level of casting is to be found here, just the very occasional air bubble.
The only problems found here are with the block holding the grab handles (parts A20 & A21), a couple of these have been damaged in transit due to the fine nature of the part, however as most people would replace these with wire anyway this is not a great concern and four parts that have broken off their casting plugs, but there was no damage to these.
The lower hull is cast in one part, with a large casting block at the rear. The interior padding has been very nicely cast. An absolute minimum of cleanup is required on the edges and no flash or air bubble are present at all.
The upper hull is cast to the same high standard, the casting plug being placed where the rear door opening is, which is an excellent choice of position as this needs to be opened up anyway. Interior padding is again cast into the side wall.
Unable to resist the temptation of putting the two parts together, I was pleased to find that they fit almost perfectly before any sanding has taken place.
Two frets of photo etched brass are included. The larger thicker one contains parts for the fenders and side storage pods and can be used an alternative to using the resin parts. The smaller of the frets is much thinner and contains the parts that need to be folded such as the exhaust guard and aerial mounts. Detail parts such as ladder treads and lifting eyes are also included on this fret.
I am very impressed with the quality of this kit, the resin parts are extremely well made. The accuracy of the kit overall looks very good, when compared to the references available. A nice touch is the inclusion of various optional parts, such as the rear ladder (two styles included) and different aerial mounts, both in resin and photo etch, which enable different subject to be made without having to scratch build the small differences.