Universal Carrier Mk.II
Riich.Models continues expanding its line of British Universal Carriers. This recent addition is the Mk.II series. I expect we will continue to see more versions of this vehicle, which saw widespread service during World War II.
Upon opening the box, you will find 13 sprues (one clear), two photoetch frets, a piece of thread, a piece of chain, brass tubing, and 32 springs (for the road wheels). In total, there are over 400 plastic parts and over 120 photoetch pieces. Add in the thread, chain, and springs and you have a truly multi-media kit in your hands.
The instruction booklet has 38 steps, several of them with subassemblies, so you know you are in for a long haul in the assembly of this kit. The assembly guide is fully graphical, no description or color codes, and the painting instruction are provided on a separate sheet printed in full color. Marking options cover seven different vehicles, all of which have a basic olive drab finish. Only the regimental markings differentiate the Carriers from each other.
The first eight steps relate to assembly of the hull, transmission, rolling wheels (including those beautiful metal springs for the shock absorbers) and a very detailed engine—most of which will be visible due to the photoetch screen on top of the engine compartment.
The next step has you assemble the tracks (link and length style). If you are careful, you can dry fit the wheels, forks, and sprockets to assemble the tracks and then remove the fully assembled track and wheels set subassemblies for ease of painting.
The next 20 steps take you through the construction of the full interior, driver seat, gunner, radio compartment, troop stations, engine compartment, gun racks, etc. There are plenty of photoetch parts to provide accurate scale thickness for details like the driver seat legs and supports.
A note on the instructions: In many of the steps there are subassemblies shown in one orientation, but in the following steps the subassemblies must be rotated to fit in their final position. Therefore, be on the lookout for small arrows indicating that subassemblies have to be rotated or flipped before being added to the main hull.
The final 10 steps cover details like the footsteps, gun straps, guns, towing hitch, headlights, water/oil cans, and a great looking folded canvas molded in plastic.
This boxing includes no figures, but honestly, with all that great detail and a full interior, you don’t want to obscure it by adding three or four figures, right? Another minor note: The box is arrives very full, packed with sprues, and there will be no room in the box to store all the subassemblies as you move through construction.
The finesse of the detail in the molds is outstanding. I was not able to find any ejection mark or mold lines in any part that would require extra cleaning work. Sprue gates are small and should not damage the part when removed. The pieces have been molded with raised and recessed detail to allow for drybrushing and pin washes as needed. The side hull thickness, even when molded in plastic, is very thin.
This kit is the ultimate representation of the Universal Carrier in 1/35 scale. It is going to take many years of plastic model development to beat the level of detail on it. The phrase that comes to mind when looking at this kit is “state-of-the-art.”
Taking into consideration the large part number, including over 100 photoetch parts, and the multi-media nature of this kit, I can only recommend it to experienced modelers.
I would like to thank Dragon Models USA and IPMS/USA for the review sample.