Tag Archives: Military

OXFORD MILITARY – Churchill Tank Mk III

By Robin Godwin

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

The box reads “… not a toy. Collectors model not suitable for children under 14 years.” There is always a point of discussion between collectors with the addition of “toylike” features added to collectors’ scale models. For regular vehicles, this discussion usually involves opening features such as doors, bonnets and boots. I don’t consider these features toylike or gimmicks at all. If they are there on the real vehicle, then why not on accurate scale models? The argument that opening features ruin the lines of a vehicle with poor fit and large gaps is, unfortunately, sometimes true, and those manufacturers who don’t put the extra engineering effort into proper design/fit and actuation deserve criticism in the model press. In fact, perfection has been achieved by several manufacturers in 1:43 and even 1:50 scales (and is routine in the larger scale models, except in some of the cheaper ranges like the new Solido 1:18 scale VW Beetle with dog-leg door hinges) so it can be done.

With armoured, tracked vehicles the discussion usually centres on the tracks, their accuracy and whether or not they roll. Again, I prefer working features, so I really like my tank models with rolling tracks. Virtually all the partwork 1:72 tanks and their derivative ranges feature fixed rolling wheels and tracks. They are marketed as collectors’ items as well, and generally feature very accurate running gear, which is fine for display models. The Oxford Diecast Churchill in 1:76 scale, with working tracks, leaves me a bit flat, however. It is the method of execution that has been under-engineered for what is described as a collectors’ model. The effect is uncannily similar to the solution sought by Dinky Toys and Matchbox over 60 years ago – obviously dummy cast wheels which hide a roller system behind, giving a remarkably toy like appearance rather than a seriously modelled effort. If this is meant to be a display model, it doesn’t display as well as it should. Forces of Valor (Unimax) produced a much more accurate working system on their 1:72 Churchill Mk VII tank several years ago. The pictures below illustrate the differences (in reality, the differences between a Mk III and a Mk VII largely amounted to additional armour, and up-gunning). Surprising as well is that OD omitted separate plastic antennas and features a fixed non-elevating fragile plastic barrel. Although the plastic turret rotates, these obvious omissions would have enhanced display value.

A complaint I have had before with OD products is quality control. Only one of my tracks rolls freely, with the other jammed a bit by a bent mounting bracket for the return roller/idler wheel. Since the base is screwed on, I may remove it and attempt to straighten the bent metal bracket, but this may chip the paint.

On average, though, the model is a decent replica of a Mk III tank that fought at el Alamein in North Africa in 1942. It features a satisfying amount of metal in it’s construction with a subsequent hefty feel. To me, it sits a bit high compared to more accurate 1:72 scale models, and finish appears to be way too glossy. Although OD calls it a collectors’ model, it is very toy like in execution. Unless you collect all versions of Churchills, or specific campaign versions, or are locked into 1:76 scale (and need a tank for your Oxford Diamond T Tank Transporter model, also used in the African Desert), then I recommend acquiring one of the 1:72 scale partworks. They are more accurate and generally less expensive.

Illustrations

Zylmex earlier generation Churchill Mk VII, left, Oxford Diecast Mk III, middle, Forces of Valor (FoV) Mk VII, right. Note non-elevating barrel on OD

The Zylmex is obviously a toy with the incorrect number of road wheels, but actually a simpler and (likely) less expensive production method (plastic one piece wheel/axle arrangement running through slots in the chassis). Zylmex at least added antennae, and opened up an access panel in the front of the track guards (likely for cleaning and/or repair access). The OD does the same panel in tampo black

The FoV is way more accurate, but spoiled by toy standard requirements for the metal wire antennae. It has what appears to be a better “posture” than the OD

Another Mk VII, this time from the Combat Tanks partworks by PCT/Ixo. Non-rolling wheels/tracks, but a way better looking model at half the price.

Matchbox Centurion, left, showing similar engineering solution to rolling wheels/tracks from over 50 years ago – solid cast “fake” road wheels with rolling mechanism hidden behind

The OD solution to rolling tracks. Not counting drive and idler wheels, there are 11 metal axles with plastic sleeve rollers per side. This can’t be the least expensive option for manufacturing, nor is it the best looking effect. Note bent idler wheel bracket on left side of photo, which means my model does not roll. A QC issue

The FoV solution to rolling wheels/tracks. Two plastic friction fit pieces per “axle” fit into holes in suspension casting. A better engineering solution, and a much better looking model


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Heng Long joins the battle

By Robin Godwin

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

The 1:72 military model market is very crowded with the likes of Dragon, Hobby Master, Easy Model and Model Collect producing original models, and of course the multiple partworks (usually sourced from IXO/PCT) are still available. There are derivative ranges sourced from the partwork models as well, such as War Master (including those sold in Solido boxes) and others. Ten years ago I reviewed the military model market in MAR issues 209, 211 and 221. At that time, I commented that the market was somewhat saturated and even suggested that some manufacturers might not survive based on their plans at the time. At least one, Admiral, went away. Dragon had already moved away from a high metal content to all plastic in their range, and Hobby Master was doing the same.

In light of this, I was surprised to see a new entrant into the 1:72 military market from Heng Long of China. Heng Long Plastic Toys Co. Ltd  is well known for its radio control vehicles, which are marketed under their own name and possibly also produced for other clients. This appears to be a recent baby step into the 1:72 display model market, as it doesn’t yet appear on the website. Model number 8802 is an Abrams M1A2 tank in desert camouflage. I’m not sure if there is a model #8801 – a different tank or perhaps just a colour variation on the Abrams.

I bought this model from a Chinese eBay vendor who advertised it as “diecast” and with rolling wheels. A quick comparison of the photos showed it to be different from the partworks Abrams I have in my collection. It turns out that this is a 100% plastic model (consistent with the company name) and although the road wheels and idlers rotate, they tend to fall off when rotated. The rear drive wheels do not rotate. Tracks are separate vinyl. I can understand the vendor’s confusion, since it is a very heavy model, at least as heavy as any of the metal partwork equivalents in the same scale. At first touch, I thought it might be resin with perhaps a solid cast base. However, the photo of the disassembled tank shows the largest diecast metal slug I have ever seen on a model and this is the source of it’s “heft.”

All-in-all, it is a very well done model with fine cast parts (and accessories that I did not include in the photos). The turret rotates, and the barrel elevates. It compares quite well with the Dragon (an early model with metal hull) in both scale and detail. Just out of curiosity, I compared it to the Waltersons 1:72 scale radio control (sold by IMEX in the US) and it is a completely different model. So, I’m disappointed that this is a plastic model, but pleased that it is an original product to display alongside my other Abrams tanks. Apparently, although box details are all in English, it is still only available through Chinese vendors.

 

Nice lines and crisp casting feature on the 1:72 Heng Long M1A2 Abrams. Missing are the separate accessories – two guns and one antenna

Heng Long cast into plastic base

#Chassis with large zamac slug to add weight. Double road wheels rotate but are two separate pieces press fit and not glued. Rotating dislodges the outer wheels in some instances

Dragon M1A2 left, a gold standard for 1:72 scale armour. The Heng Long compares well on scale, accuracy, and price

More typical Heng Long product is this 1:70 scale (although HL does mostly larger scale vehicles) radio controlled Tiger Tank. This was sold with an identical model as duelling tanks in what appears to be a “Flashing Combat tank” series. Heng Long branding appears on the outer box and base of the model

Classy packaging implies there is a series of tanks

Tank comes mounted to a plastic plinth with clear plastic cover and includes a separate plastic “sign” identifying the tank (not shown)


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Playart APC

By Robin Godwin,

This picture is copyright of the taker and was found on the Internet with no attribution..

The APC was not included in the Playart Tanks article as I haven’t manage to buy one yet. M-113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) looks to be a good model with running gear similar to the tanks.  This seems to be a rare beast and although they do appear on eBay from time to time, they often bid to very high prices for what was a cheap toy.

So for completeness here is an example of the APC still in its blister pack.


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Playart Tanks

By Robin Godwin

Photographs of the models taken by the Author are shown captioned below the text.

When, or perhaps if, collectors think of Playart (Hong Kong) models, they usually think of “junk” models or, at best, simply inaccurate toys for kids designed to compete with Hot Wheels. While re-reading some old print Model Auto Reviews, I came across a two-part Playart article (MAR 99 and 100) by Don Elliott. In fact, Don referred to Playart as the “the uncrowned king of junk models” but I think this is a bit harsh – you could always determine what the subject was in the main 1:64(ish) range, so that implies some accuracy. He was a self-proclaimed “junk collector” but also wrote many articles on serious models like Ferraris. Don reviewed many of the cars in the various series, but did not cover in full detail the one Playart series that, in my opinion, easily lifted the manufacturer out of the junk category. Even though they were made and sold as toys in the 1970s and 1980s, the Playart tank series of six models was head and shoulders above some similar Asian competition at the time, such as Zylmex (Zee Toys, Hong Kong) and Mandarin (Singapore – Mandico tanks) and likely the equal of established small-scale contemporary Japanese military ranges from Tomy and Diapet. There were more than just the six tanks in the full range of Playart military models, including what looks like a reasonable M-113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) with running gear similar to the tanks, but that one seems to be a rare beast. There are some “soft-skinned” (unarmoured) vehicles, such as a Jeep, Schwimmwagen, Troop Truck and more, which appeared after the tanks, but these fall back into the junk category with their go-fast wheels.

So I will talk only about the six tanks (because I don’t have the APC), and start by listing the common features which include; all-metal construction except for wheels and most axles (more on this later), antennae and some ancillary bits in plastic; working endless tracks in vinyl (unique to each vehicle except the two German tanks, the Panther and Tiger 1, which use the same track, but didn’t in real life), with rolling wheels, rudimentary suspension, traversing turrets, and elevating gun barrels. See the photograph below for the list of the models as printed on the back of one of the boxes.

Regarding the axles, all except the Sherman have three metal axles with push on plastic rollers. The metal axles are used to add strength to the drive (sprocket) wheels and idler wheels (at the other end, but undriven) and a centre set. All the other axles are one piece axle/wheel mouldings entirely in plastic. The Sherman has no middle axle in metal due to its unique suspension layout. This arrangement ensures that heavy loading (as in child play) is borne by metal axles, ensuring a longer life for the toy.

A note here is that I will make no real effort at accurately discerning scale, since there is no manufacturer indication of scale and the models appear to be made to fit the box. There are, however, some comparison photos after the text showing the Playart tanks with other makers models with specified scales (and which I generally trust to be accurate) which will give a rough estimate.

I mentioned that these were a cut above both the regular Playart efforts and contemporary products from some competitors. Purists will take issue with the finer details, but as toys, the Playart models feature very accurate running gear and overall features. The right number of road wheels and return rollers is present. But, there are some distortions in my opinion: the M41 Walker Bulldog was wide, but Playart have it too wide; the Chieftain sits too low (this seems to be a common error with many manufacturers’ Chieftain models), and the Centurion is missing a very obvious gap between roadwheels number two and three. Again, all excusable in what were cheap toys for the time. The photographs below will show both accuracies and inaccuracies of the models.

A caution if looking to buy these online. The plastic used for the wheels is not as strong as it should be, and the tracks are tight fitting. Often the wheels/shafts that are press fit on to the metal axles at either end of the drive train will crack, and simply fall off the axles. Also, although not common, I have a model with some “wheel melt” (much more common on early Solido models with rubber tires on plastic wheels) although it seems to only manifest on the drive and idler wheels, which suffer the greatest tension from the vinyl tracks. Check with the vendor before you buy. The boxes are all the same size, and very flimsy. These are heavy models so boxes take a bit of a beating. The glued main box seam almost always comes unglued. That said, the tanks are securely held to a cardboard insert via a plastic “key” that fits and turns 90 degrees into a “keyhole” in the base of the model. The model can’t move fore or aft, but can move up and down on inside the box, which can deform the fitted antennae. Later issues of the models (well, at least one that I have) have a clear formed plastic insert piece that keeps the model in place so it doesn’t move at all. On these, the “keyhole” is missing on the base.

Model #7800 Walker Bulldog (M41)

All marking and numbers are nasty vinyl stick-ons and not nice neat transfers. Some manufacturing expediency – the road wheels on this model are common with those on both the Centurion and Chieftain, but not the drive/idlers

Each model has cast identity on base. Note the “keyhole” for fastening to cardboard box insert. Note three metal axles as described in the text. The rest are all plastic

Playart Walker Bulldog, right, with Combat Tomica M41 Bulldog left. These may be slightly different versions, but exaggerated width on Playart is very evident. The Tomica series was to 1:87 scale, as stated by the manufacturer, so Playart may be 1:72ish

Playart Bulldog, right, with Diapet Type 74 MBT (Main Battle Tank) listed by manufacturer as 1:75 scale.

Model #7801 Sherman Tank.

Accurate suspension and running gear

Sherman base. This model came in what I assume to be later packaging with formed plastic insert to hold the model, so no “keyhole”. Note only two metal axles on this model, fore and aft

Playart, left, and Dragon model right. I accept the Dragon as being close to exact 1:72nd scale, so Playart a bit larger. Both models are accurate, just slightly different versions.

Same two models from above.

Playart #7802 Centurion MK3.

You can just see a bit of the wheel melt on the drive and idler wheels

Playart Centurion, left, with what would have been a Hong Kong competitor, Zylmex. The Zylmex came with plastic gun, antenna and tow cable, but chassis has too few road wheels

Playart #7803 Panther Tank.

Hole at front of cupola should have a plastic machine gun, but mine is missing

Playart # 7803 in “Model Power” branded box. These Playart models were initially distributed/sold in Woolworth stores in the US (apparently after the deal with Husky models (by Corgi) ended). After Woolworths, Model Power, mostly a railroad hobby name, took over distribution. No mention of Playart or which tank was inside anywhere on the box, but the model still had Playart cast on the base

An earlier Woolworth box as indicated on back. Front of box was clearly marked Playart.

Playart #7804 Tiger 1 Tank

Perhaps the most modelled tank of all

Base of the Tiger 1 Tank. Clumsiness and positioning of the “keyhole” may contradict my earlier claim that the key/keyhole fastening mechanism came first with the shaped plastic insert coming later – hard to tell

Dragon Tiger 1, left. Playart, right, has survived the test of time reasonably well, given that the Dragon is a 1:72 scale collector’s model. Dragon wheel configuration represents most common arrangement on the real vehicle but I did see a photo online of the Playart configuration

Same models from above showing Playart pretty close to 1:72 scale.

Playart #7805 Chieftain Tank.

Sits a bit too low in my opinion

Playart Chieftain, left, shown beside a fairly recent Chinese copy of Matchbox Battle King #103 Chieftain (originally introduced in 1974).


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Atlas Dinky – 80b Hotchkiss Jeep

By Maz Woolley

As we have come to expect the latest in this series from Atlas is another French Dinky replica seen already in the Continental Dinky collection. The Hotchkiss Willys Jeep 80b.

For once the Postman had no problems delivering this through the letter box. The box seems tiny compared to other vehicles in this series at only just over 7cm in length and under 4cm in height. The Atlas replica box may convey the spirit of the original but the end flap is re-arranged as some text has been removed, “C’EST UNE FABRICATION MECCANO” the lowest line on the original box is absent. In addition French Dinky credited the artist who created the box art but on the reproduction the signature of J. Massé is absent.

Hotchkiss made about 32,000 Jeeps under licence from Willys in France until the mid 1960s. Production was originally at a factory in St. Denis in Paris but was later moved out to Stains which is a suburb to the north of Paris. It would appear that these were largely assembled from parts taken from Jeeps left in Europe when the US forces went home after the Second World War.

French Dinky had already sold a WiIlys Jeep as number 25 J in the early 1950s but I believe that this was the same casting as the Dinky UK Jeep which is considered to be less accurate than 80b. 80b was introduced in 1958 and was short lived being re-numbered as 816 in 1959. Some models were fitted with a driver but this replica is not and there is no hole in the casting for one to fit in either.

This replica has lovely even matt paint and the lights are neatly coloured. The tinplate screen is well replicated and the three spoke steering wheel is on a delicate shaft. The scale of this model is said to be 1:48.


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Land Rover Lightweight – The Compact Land Rover

By John Quilter

All photographs by the Author except for the photograph of the real vehicle. 

 

By Dennis Elzinga (Land Rover Lightweight) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Land Rover enthusiasts may be unaware of a somewhat obscure, at least in the USA, Land Rover known as the Lightweight or AKA, Air Portable. Back in the early 1960s the British Army was using Westland Wessex helicopters often based on commando carriers. Their need was for a 4×4 vehicle that could be carried slung on a pallet underneath these helicopters. The early helicopters weight carrying capacity was rated at 2500 pounds. That was less than the existing Series II 88 inch wheelbase Land Rovers. So the diligent Land Rover engineers set about getting the weight down to tap into this new market niche. This was accomplished by narrowing the body and chassis by 4 inches and fitting narrower axles front and rear. The engine remained the trusty 2.25 litre petrol or diesel four cylinder. The diet consisted of redesigned front fenders which along with the doors, hood, windscreen, tilt hoops and upper sheet metal were removable. What exactly was done with the removable panels when the vehicle was in use is unclear. The best efforts of the LR engineers was able to get the weight down to 2650 pounds, still too heavy but luckily by then the Wessex helicopter rated carrying capacity was increased to accommodate this figure.

Initial production began in November 11, 1968. These were the Series IIA versions with a typical mesh grill. The front fenders and hood were the most notable styling differences. The entire concept put this Air Portable version much closer to the old WWII American Jeep. Width was five feet and the tires were either 6.50 X 16 or 7.50 X 16. The electrical system was 24 volt. Many were sold to NATO and were used in non RHD territories so some were made as LHD and some were even specified with the Land Rover 2.25 diesel, particularly but not exclusively the Dutch ones. In total the military in over 20 countries used these unique Land Rovers.

After about 1,500 to 2,000 were made the standard Series IIA was superseded by the Series III in 1972 and the Lightweight followed suit with some upgrades. Most notable is the use of the trapezoidal shaped plastic grill which also probably saved another pound or two. These units got the new advanced gearbox with synchromesh in second, third and fourth gear and some, particularly those used for radio communications tasks, were fitted with 24 volt electrics with alternators. In around 1980 the engine got two more main bearings bringing it up to modern standards.

As an interesting note, back in about 1965 the British Motor Corporation launched the Austin Mini Moke, a sort of utility version based on the ubiquitous Austin Morris Mini. This vehicle was offered to the UK military, and even to the US Army, as a helicopter portable vehicle. At less than 900 pounds it was well within the air portable weight limits. In fact, carrying two would be quite possible. Unfortunately, this micro sized utility vehicle was only 2 wheel drive and with only 10 inch tires was sorely lacking in ground clearance. Of course at only 900 pounds, four beefy solders could probably boost it out of any mired in the mud situation. Nevertheless, when the military took issue with the lack of four wheel drive, BMC pressed on by designing the Twini, which was a twin engined version, one engine in front and one in the rear thus achieving the 4 X 4 requirement albeit with considerably more complexity. Still, the UK and US Army did not buy it, but for students of British Leyland history one of the prototypes is carefully preserved at the British Motor Heritage Museum at Gaydon in the UK.

Now to accommodate collectors of really miniature Land Rovers in 1:43 scale, two scale model makers have introduced replicas of these Lightweights. For those unfamiliar with 1:43 scale it is, in this writers opinion the gold standard of miniature vehicle collecting largely because of the incredible variety of vehicles replicated in this size. These two Lightweights measure about 3.37 inches in length. Not one, but two separate model makers are now producing these. Best of Show (also known as BoS) a brand name of Model Car World based in Florsheim, Germany (www.BoS-Models.de) make the dark green Series III shown which has a hardtop in cream to match the wheels.

This version appears to be a civilian version as there are no military markings or extra external equipment fitted. Given its “light weight” this item appears to be made in resin, now a common modelling material used by many of the Chinese makers of scale models. As with all the Lightweight Land Rovers the spare tire is on the bonnet held in place with three straps. The grille is the Series III plastic type and the head lamps are mounted outboard on the wings along with the side and indicator lamps.

A glance at the undercarriage shows front and rear axles on half elliptic leaf springs, and two propshafts and an exhaust system with a transverse rear silencer and tail pipe exiting on the left rear. There are seats for three across in the front with the driving position being RHD. The rear could accommodate another four on inward facing seats. This item is sold under the product code BOS43670.


Now moving on to the other version made by Oxford Diecast of the UK (www.oxforddiecast.co.uk) this is in United Nations livery in olive drab color with a lighter green fabric tilt. This is a Series IIa and clearly a military type with a shovel attached to the rear. Again, RHD but with only two individual seats in the front and no apparent seats in the rear. Union Jack decals appear on the bonnet and tail panel plus UNITED NATIONS and their logo on the flanks. The registration plate 5412 FL 91, is part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Judging by Oxford Diecast’s prior business practices, over time they make many versions of a given model cleverly using the base casting but with many colors, liveries and differing features. This United Nations one is just one of many that are planned, this one is marketed under their product code Product Code: 43LRL001. The tooling for this model, will be used to produce it with a Canvas back and also a hard back with and without side windows. The version without side windows will have a full rear door but the one with side windows has a tailgate and half door. Oxford have also produced a large number of extra parts – signs, battery boxes, beacons etc to enable them to release the model in a number of different liveries.

The subject of this report is the first model of this type produced by Oxford and is in a UN livery. Check the Oxford Diecast website for future versions later this year and in 2018. Indications are that this will be followed by two hard back models in Military Police and the RAF Red Arrows livery. Images can be found on the internet by model number 43LRL001/2/3 etc.

Building a collection of miniature Land Rovers can be almost as much fun as collecting the 1:1 versions and best of all, they require no registration or insurance and generally don’t need the mud washed off.

Editor: For anyone who is interested in Lightweight Land Rovers and who hasn’t the space for the 1:43 versions Oxford are also producing UN and Military Police versions of this in 1:76 scale these are scheduled for release in the first half of 2017.


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Promotional Military Land Rovers

By John Quilter

This article has been transferred from the old MAR Online area on the zeteo website in order to ensure that the most relevant content remains available to MAR Online readers. Any references to cost or availability will be out of date at this point in time. Please note that this was written sometime before the Land Rover Defender production ceased.

Over the decades Land Rover has been a supplier of vehicles to the military, primarily the British Army. The original Land Rover of 1948 was in fact a UK effort to produce their version of the ubiquitous US Jeep from World War II. The subject of this article is a purpose built military Land Rover known as the 101 for its wheelbase in inches. It was a forward control vehicle using a detuned version of the aluminum 3.5 litre V8 that Rover had acquired the rights to manufacture in the mid-1960s after Buick and Oldsmobile had decided their cars had grown too large for a 3.5 litre engine.

Rover developed a prototype of this forward control vehicle in 1968 but pre-production vehicles did not start to be made until 1972, a fairly long gestation period. It entered service with the British Army in 1975 and production continued until 1978 by which time 2,600 had been made. Fifty 101 vehicles were acquired by the Australian military and used to tow Rapier missile carriers. One experiment that did not prove successful was a two wheeled trailer powered by a prop shaft connected to the main vehicle’s power take off. The vehicle featured an unique centre mounted Nokken winch which could be used to pull the vehicle out of difficulty from multiple directions. The 101 was used in many guises: general cargo carrier, ambulance, and radio carrier. There were both left and right hand drive versions all of which used a four speed manual gearbox with a two speed transfer box. It weighed 4242lbs unladen and its width was 6 foot and half an inch. It used huge 9.00 X 16 tyres.

In the late 1990s the 101s were decommissioned by the British Army and many came into private hands and clubs grew for enthusiasts. As is sometimes the case some of these had very low usage with the Army. It is said that when the Ministry of Defence contract had been completed Land Rover offered to produce more but the MoD declined the offer. Later, in the 1980s when some of the initial batch needed replacement they went back to Land Rover for more but found that the tooling had been destroyed so no more were produced. The MoD bought some Defenders and Pinzgauer vehicles instead. With the ageing of the current Defender it remains to be seen if Land Rover under Tata ownership will continue to produce a product for military use.

The model reviewed appears to be some sort of promotional item as there is no branding other than the Land Rover oval logo on the handsome cardboard sleeve that fits over the Perspex display box. On the base of the model is only ‘Land Rover 101’, ‘made in China’ and ‘1/43’. In taking some measurements I find the 1:43 scale designation is approximate as the model is in fact slightly larger than 1:43 scale and according to my calculations comes in more like 1:41 scale. It appears quite wide, more like an American H1 Hummer. The model reviewed is the general service cargo version which has a removable canvas tilt which when removed shows facing bench seats for passengers. The cab has separate seats, one on each side of a rather high centre console that covers the engine and has a protruding gear stick. Behind the black right hand drive steering wheel is a nicely detailed pair of main instruments. The short front sloping bonnet is storage for a shovel, some other indeterminate tool and what appears to be a very, very long starting handle. Headlamps are mounted low in the body in recessed damage resistant pockets. Interestingly these vehicles were available with either a 12 or 24 volt electrical system. It appears that the side boards can be folded down rendering the vehicle capable of carrying large bulky loads. The base shows the engine sump, gearbox and transfer case and the offset propshafts to the front and rear axle. An aluminium exhaust snakes its way back to a very large rear transverse silencer and then to a tail pipe exiting around the left hand rear wing flap. Towing points are provided front and rear.

Although only the cargo version in a camouflage color scheme is shown other versions have been seen in pure olive drab and desert sand. There are also versions of the radio car and ambulance that have non fabric bodies which were created by the Army after purchase from Land Rover. These have been seen in many colours. All are nicely detailed models but the stickler for exact 1:43 scale might be disappointed.


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ATLAS VEHICLES OF THE VOLKSARMEE

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

 

Atlas Editions Germany has announced the immediate cancellation of any more models in this series which I have been describing for MAR Online. Three collections of vehicles of the former DDR remain: DDR Auto Kollektion; DDR Nutzfahrzeuge; and DDR-Motorrad Kollektion.

Atlas seem to be quick to close down collections which are not selling as they hope and to replace them quickly. The Dinky Collection was closed in the Autumn of 2016 for example. The latest collection from Atlas in Germany is an Ambulance collection which has started with a Mercedes-Benz Binz ambulance which will be familiar to all those who collected the James Bond Vehicles series.


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More about Plastic Military Models from Politoys

By Robin Godwin

 

My quest to acquire all the Politoys plastic military range has resulted in new information, for me at least. I recently purchased #18, Auto Anfibio (DUKW) from a Mexican vendor. Well actually it’s made by McGregor, that unlikely sounding Mexican company that received many of the old Politoys dies. I’ve never seen a full listing of McGregor production and, until this listing, did not know that the early plastic military dies had also gone to Mexico (even Paolo Rampini does not list them). I don’t have the Politoys version to compare, but the wheels are obviously McGregor originals, and not from Politoys tooling. This is a real shame, as it transforms a reasonably accurate model into a very toylike version, sitting way too high. Usually McGregor added their name to the base and replaced “Made in Italy” with “Hecho en Mexico” but this model has merely had the die ground out a bit to obscure “… in Italy”. It appears also that the die was changed to remove the separately attached spare wheel/tire that was carried on the rear deck of the Politoy. Perhaps the very wide McGregor wheels were unsuitable for this application.

One of the original points in this ongoing series of articles on plastic military vehicles (that started 20 years ago in MAR 109, March 1997) was to compare the Politoys models with the originals from which they were apparently copied. In the very first article, I admitted that I did not know from which original this DUKW had been copied, even though I owned the superb French Dinky #825. A couple of subsequent letters to the editor led to the consensus that it was indeed copied from the French Dinky. But a side-by-side comparison shows that everything about the two models is different (see photos), so I believe this model was not copied from the Dinky, even though release dates are compatible. It should be noted that all the Politoys copies have some subtle differences from the originals (including scale), but these two DUKWs simply do not look to be related. Since these Politoys date from the early 1960s, I’ll have to redouble my search for a contemporary model that may have provided the inspiration.

 

2769 McGregor top, and Dinky bottom. The Politoys spare wheel/tire would have sat at the top rear – another difference from the Dinky

2770 McGregor top, with missing prop at rear. Note die modification to obscure “… in Italy”

2772 French Dinky #825 from 1963. Not, in my opinion, the inspiration for the Politoy

2771 The McGregor. Not sure when this actually dates from, but the Politoy original is thought to have been issued in 1964, as #18 in a series of only 19 vehicles

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1:87 Scale Märklin/Schuco Military Vehicles

By Robin Godwin

 

Dickie-Schuco are now the owners of Märklin (thanks to our Continental Editor Hans-Georg Schmitt for confirming this with Dickie-Schuco). Back in 2007, Märklin introduced a superb line of 1:87 military vehicles under the 4MFOR brand name. Although they were designed primarily as accessories for HO trains, and in particular, the Märklin Bundeswehr train sets. These were also released as 4MFOR items, but I won’t talk about the trains. The 4MFOR vehicles were exceptional and collectable in their own right. The series initially consisted of soft-skin vehicles (unarmoured), armoured wheeled vehicles, tanks, and AAA mounted on a tank chassis, all unique to the German Army. Later some of the models and rolling stock were issued in Danish, Swiss, Netherlands and Austrian Army markings – mostly based upon Leopard Tanks and Gepard AAA (Leopard chassis). The vehicles were largely die cast with some plastic detail components.

I was disappointed in one aspect of the models – the tank tracks and rolling gear. The first 4MFOR catalogue from 2007 showed what looked like separate tracks mounted on accurate rolling gear – in the catalogue photos one could see daylight through the gaps between the road wheels. These must have been pre-production prototypes, as the models were issued with wheels and tracks as one-piece (per side, that is) coloured plastic castings and with no daylight visible. They look like plastic, and in fact, appear to be less detailed than the metal hull casting. I suppose, as display pieces, this doesn’t really matter, but rubber or plastic tracks running on metal wheels would have looked much better, and been more consistent with the general construction of the vehicle.

The 2008 4MFOR catalog illustrated a Mercedes-Benz LG 315 canvas roof military truck which, to my knowledge, was never actually issued as a Märklin. There was a 2009 catalog (which I don’t have), presumably with more future releases illustrated, but things went very quiet on the 4MFOR front soon after that. I can only assume that the line did not sell particularly well, or that Märklin was in financial trouble, and production ceased. Perhaps portending the Schuco acquisition, a few of the soft skin vehicles issued by Märklin as 4MFOR vehicles were actually sourced from Schuco which, of course, were sourced from a Chinese manufacturer – see photos.

Schuco is now issuing a Military 87 line, and the first issue was the Märklin Mercedes Benz truck illustrated in the 2008 catalog. It is a beauty, with metal bonnet, lower cab and tractor bed. Everything else is plastic. There are two more recently issued vehicles which I believe had Märklin origins but which were never issued. These are a steel roof MB LG 315 military truck, and a Marder Infantry Combat Vehicle. This would indicate that design and pattern work had likely been underway at Märklin, but production was never started. The latest Schuco releases are the Serval (light Special Forces vehicle) and two versions of the Wolf G (by Mercedes Benz), a light Utility Support vehicle that is a military version of the G-Wagen. Both the Serval and Wolf were issued as Märklins, with 4MFOR cast into the bases, but likely this has now been changed to Schuco. These vehicles are not inexpensive at 20 to 30 Euros each, but you do get what you pay for. I’m looking forward to some Schuco original vehicles.

Leopard Tank illustrated in the 2007 catalog showing what must be a pre-production sample. Note gaps between road wheels and what look like separate tracks


A production Gepard Anti-Aircraft gun, mounted on a Leopard chassis. Note the one piece wheels and tracks, looking very “plasticy”


2008 catalogue illustration of canvas roof Mercedes-Benz LG 315 Army Truck. To my knowledge, never sold as a Märklin


The Schuco issued Mercedes-Benz LG 315. Look carefully and you can see a tiny perfectly-formed plastic MB emblem above the radiator. For those who care, the license plate is different on the production model


Base of Mercedes-Benz LG 315 with Schuco cast in


Simple but very effective packaging – no screws or wires


Märklin 4MFOR #18706 VW 181 Open Police Vehicle


Base of Märklin 4MFOR VW 181 – oh my, it’s actually a Schuco, long before Schuco owned Märklin. Keyhole in base is for key-like fastening to a plinth that was not used by Märklin 4MFOR. This fastening system is typical of High Speed, likely the original source of the Märklin/Schuco model.


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