by: Eric Buchanan [ ]
Originally published on:
The MaxxPro was designed to meet both Army and USMC requirements for a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle to replace the HMMWV in operations.This was due to the high number of deathsbecause of the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) by insurgent forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MaxxPro is built by Navistar Defense on the Navistar International 7000 series truck Chassis, using an armor package developed by Plasan of Israel. The MaxxPro uses an armored crew capsule with bolt on armor for easy repair. Like other MRAPs, the MaxxPro uses a V-shaped hull to direct the force of a blast away from the crew. The vehicle modeled by Panda is the M1235A1 MaxxPro Dash DXM. The Dash DXM is a lighter weight version of the MaxxPro that uses an independent suspension developed by Hendrickson for better cross country performance and improved roll-over resistance. The Dash is easily recognized by the lack of a box shaped extension on the roof. It also has horizontal bars across the grill and a break in the bodywork allowing the top of the V-shaped hull to be seen above the air conditioner units. The DXM is recognizable by the use of the full independent four-wheel suspension. The spring units and lower A-arms are very distinctive.
The kit comes in a medium sized, top opening box like all Panda kits Iíve seen. The painting on the box top shows an M1235A1 moving over dusty terrain. The vehicle in the painting is festooned with a ton of antennas. This is not the configuration of the vehicle in the kit. The ends of the box repeat this painting. On one side of the box you can see marking options which show the correct configuration of the antennas as modeled in the kit.
In the Box:
Once opened you will see the individually bagged sprues, an instruction booklet, a single sheet, two sided paint and markings guide and a sheet that shows which MRAP variants are produced by Panda. Oddly, instead of calling them MRAPs on the sheet they are called MARPs!There are six sprues of tan plastic, B, C, D, F, and M. Sprue F is repeated with both copies being in the same bag. There are two sprues of clear plastic, GP1 and GP2 which are bagged individually. The four vinyl tires are bagged together. The upper hull and frame are separate moldings and are not bagged. There is a small photo etch fret along with a decal sheet in a small zipper bag. In total there are 346 parts in tan plastic, 32 parts in clear plastic, 33 photo etched parts and 4 vinyl tires. That is a grand total of 415 parts. That is less than half the parts contained in Broncoís new M1124 MaxxPro.
The instructions are printed booklet style with a glossy, magazine like cover. The box art is repeated on the cover in color along with some warnings in English and Chinese. There is a parts map showing all of the sprues on page 2. All of the pages, with the exception of those printed on the cover are on regular weight matte paper. There are eighteen steps that are illustrated with clean line drawings in grayscale. There are a very small number of color callouts for the dash and cabin door interiors, but for nothing else. Colors listed are all for Gunze Sangyo paints. Construction starts with the interior around which the body is built. The frame is added next. Then comes the suspension, and final exterior details. The last bits to go on are the OGPK turret and antenna suite. There does not appear to be any options in the kit and only a small number of parts arenít used. There are enough parts to build 6 passenger seats, but the instructions say to build 5. This is because there are parts for 3 seats on sprue F which is repeated.
Detail is very sharp and is a great improvement over earlier Panda kits. This is a curb-side kit as it contains no engine or way to open the bonnet. There is some flash on many parts. There is also a large number of knock-out pin marks on many parts that will require work to hide as they will be visible once the kit is complete. The upper hull is one slide molded piece. It has good definition on all exterior sides with sharp bolt head detail. There is no detail on the inside of the upper hull with the exception of the inner face of the gun ring. The bonnet is molded as part of the upper hull and has a few mold lines that will require removal. The line between the hood and grill should be a recess but because it lays along a break in the slide-mold it is slightly raised. The frame is a bit of slide molded magic. While it lacks the overwhelming number of parts in Broncoís MaxxPro, it will do the job quite well if the finished model isnít turned upside down. The engine oil pan and transmission are molded as part of the frame like you see in many 1/24 scale car models. Once the well done suspension is added, there will not be much of the frame visible in any case. The interior of the model is very sparse. There is minimal equipment in the interior such as the seats and equipment racks, but the walls and roof are devoid of any detail at all.Upon close inspection of the instructions I was able to find that there is, strangely enough, the basics of the main cabin intercom system on parts C30 and C31. The seatbelt and nets behind each seat will have to be scratch-builtor sourced from the aftermarket as will all of the radios, counter IED equipment, wiring and interior walls. The backs of the passenger seats are hollow while the driverís seat is solid with nice detail. The cabin doors can be opened but without tons of work to add detail to the interior I wouldnít recommend it. The windows all show some waviness on their surfaces. They are perfectly clear and scratch free. The windshield, front door and far rear windows are molded with a lip around them rather than being thick enough to accurately portray the armored glass of the real vehicle. There is no lip around the side windows, but they are still too thin. The windows on the OGPK are also molded too thin with the lip around them.Exterior detailing is well done, but there are a few compromises for ease of build. While Panda gives you the exterior wiring conduits, you will have to add all of the wiring for the antennas, lights and DVE yourself. The photo etch fret is very well done and the parts are used to good effect.The tires are made from a type of shiny, hard vinyl. The detail on them is good and the faint seam down the center of the tread should be easy to remove by sanding. The decals are well printed and in perfect register. Under magnification all but the smallest print is legible. There are quite a few decals included for the interior and their locations are called out during assembly. Markings are included for two vehicles which I assume are US Army.
Overall I have to say this is a good kit and will build into a model that certainly looks like the MaxxPro Dash DXM. It should be easy to build and should be suitable for those with only a few models under their belts. Pandaís kit engineering has certainly improved.