It's not hard (at least not for me), to remember when anything related to Soviet military equipment and operations was a mystery in the west. Not until the cold war Soviet Union fell apart in the 1980s did, we get a good look at what the Soviets had been up to. This set from ICM give us the basics needed to portray what we might have seen behind the “Iron Curtain”. This kit includes two ZiL-131 utility trucks, a Mig 29 9-13 variant and 32 PAG-14 prefab airfield paving plates to create a base.
Everything is packed in ICMs typical rigid cardboard box with a full color sleeve. Inside are four separate bags of parts all molded in the soft grey plastic ICM seems to use on all their products. The instructions come in a glossy color folder but two of the three are small black and white single pagers. Starting with the trucks, the Zil-131 share a common chassis which is a six-wheel drive design and include full drive trains and a cabs with interiors. Once the basic chassis are done, each truck gets different payload sections. The first is a command truck with a working office complete with a power unit and a spare mounted on the rear. The second is an APU used to start aircraft. On the plus side, these vehicles are cast with open grilles and a lot of detail in the form of very finely molded parts. The downside is the soft plastic compound ICM and most other European companies seem to be using these days. I lost count of the repairs I had to do on parts that broke during removal from the sprues and during construction. Also, be very careful with cement. The plastic will liquefy into shapeless blobs if you over do it. The chassis on both trucks had a bow in it that made getting the wheels on the ground a challenge. Lastly, the glass on the cab side windows seems like it should go on the inside. The instructions have you do it from the outside.
The MIg 29 kit is the same as the recently issued “Ghost of Kiev” kit. It does fit the theme of the set as the 9-13 version was introduced in the late 1980s. Assembly is straightforward but leaves some tricky joints to fix on the nose and between back of the wing and front of horizontal stabilizers. Accuracy wise, the ejection seat is a block that need to be replaced and the exhaust is not at all like the real thing. A full missile load is included. The problem with this model as built is it would require a pilot or ground crew figure. The blow-in auxiliary doors are molded open and the main intake covers are closed. This would only be the case if someone were running the engines. The instruction sheet is small and details such as landing gear installation will require some outside references to figure out.
I used Tamiya acrylic paints on the trucks and some old Model Master enamel colors for the Mig. The decals provided allow you to build a Soviet or Ukrainian airfield scene. I didn’t have any issues with them. All of this is set on 32 tiles that represent prefab tarmac tiles seen on many Soviet and Warsaw pact airfields. You could glue them edge to edge, but I made a frame to confine them and provide a flat base to glue them down. Here again the plastic compound didn’t like the glue I used to fix them to the base and I got some sink marks in them.
In conclusion, this is good start on a diorama. The trucks gave me some trouble, but I don’t normally build vehicles in this scale. The Mig kit at minimum needs a replacement seat but it looks decent when it's done. This set is literally lifeless, it's begging for some people and a ladder to board the Mig. Those things are available elsewhere if you want to finish this set to its full potential. I would recommend this kit to at least intermediate builders based on number and size of the parts. A decent value for the price.
Thank you ICM for providing this sample and IPMS for sending it my way.