Gran Ltd
1/72 GAZ-39371 Vodnik Armored Personnel Carrier
  &  GAZ-39371 Vodnik 'BRDM' Vehicle
Kit Number: 7212 - APC Version; 7213 - 'BRDM' Version
Reviewed by  Patrick Keenan, IPMS# 31192

[kit boxart image] [kit boxart image]

MSRP: $17 USD each
Styrene Plastic; 18 clear & 40 gray plastic pieces (BRDM has 45 white pieces instead of gray ones).

The two (2) GRAN Vodnik kits I am reviewing are 1) GAZ-39371 (kit #7212): Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and 2) the 'BRDM' vehicle (kit #7213), usually called the GAZ-3937-10 Armored Scout Car. I guess the reason some refer to this vehicle as the 'BRDM' version is because it sports the same turret with 14.5mm cannon which was fitted to the ubiquitous Soviet BRDM-2/3 Scout Cars and/or because it fits the same role as the earlier scout cars.

I decided to review both the APC and BRDM kits at the same time. They are essentially the same kit, except for the fact that the 'BRDM' has an additional 5 pieces. Unless noted, my comments will cover both kits. If something differs between the kits, I'll make sure to make a point of it so you know.

Now, a bit of background on the vehicle is in order because it might not be one you're familiar with. The GAZ-39371 "Vodnik" is Russia's answer to the US HMMWV all purpose vehicle. FYI, In Russian, "Vodnik" means 'water spirit' (comparable to the seafaring Davy Jones and his famous locker). Like the US "Hummer" the 4x4 Vodnik was created to handle all types of duties for its respective country's armed forces. Some of these duties are troop transport, cargo carrier, weapons carrier, scout/reconnaissance vehicle, communications/liaison vehicle, etc.

In fact, some might say the Vodnik is even more adaptable/flexible than the Hummer. Why you ask? Well, the Vodnik is constructed in modular form and can be quickly changed (measured in minutes and hours - not days) to suit the mission at hand. The lower chassis and hull are of a basic design, size and shape and are used for all vehicle configurations. However, the upper body is made up of two modules; not surprisingly called 'front' and 'rear'. The upper hull modules come in a myriad of different options that were created to carry out the different probable missions encountered by the Russian military. For instance, the front modules come in different cab configurations and power pack options (e.g. 1 man vs. 2 man cab; bigger engines), whereas the rear modules come in assorted flavors, such cargo container, flat-bed, mortar carrier, weapons carrier, etc.

Kit Accuracy
To be up front with you all, I don't have much of any reference material on the Vodnik in my personal collection. Surprisingly I also found it relatively difficult to come up with many photos or info online as well. Most of the stuff I did find online seemed to be repetitive, including the same photos and almost the same written info verbatim coming up at many different website. The two websites I was able to access decent photos and ended up using the most were "JED- The Military Equipment Directory" and Don Busack's "Prime Portal".

After comparing both kits with the available photos I did find, I believe that the accuracy level of the kit is decent at best. The models appear to be a conglomeration of a number of different Vodnik versions, but not any one version. I believe that once built, the kits will look like a basic Vodnik, so that will work if you want a general representation of one in your collection. However, if you want a drop-dead accurate version of the APC and/or BRDM vehicles, you're out of luck. Let me explain further…

First of all, the BRDM kit has access panels on each side of the front of the cab, under the front windscreen. From what I've seen in photos, the real BRDM vehicle does NOT have them. Interesting though, the APC vehicle photos I've seen do have them, and the APC kit does too. Second, the BRDM kit has a firing port on the left side of the rear hull module. The real vehicle photos I've seen do not show that firing port. Third, there are details missing in the kits, that I've seen in photos of the real vehicle, including firing ports on the rear double doors, the rear bumper/step combo, the left side antenna and its mount (which is fairly large compared to most), a large right side circular protruding fitting (a sensor perhaps?), etc. Lastly, there are some details of the kits that appear to be outright wrong including the crew access hatch on the left side of the rear hull module which opens the wrong way and the top right access hatch above the cab opening toward the front, instead of toward the rear.

FYI, I was very close to giving these kits a worse accuracy rating than I did. However, because of the HUGE number of production versions of the Vodnik and because I had difficulty in finding photographic references as well, I decided to give them a bit of a break on this portion of the rating.

Instructions/Packaging The kit instructions provided by GRAN are black & white and come in four pages, complete with a page of background information (Russian and English), and a parts/sprue diagram layout. That leaves two pages (split up into 5 building steps) which show how to construct the vehicle kits. On the surface that seems like a small amount of steps, but considering the size of the kit and the smallish number of parts, it was more than adequate. The instructions use 'exploded view" illustrations to show the construction process and they are easy to use and understand.

[review image] [review image] With that being said, there was what I personally consider a "problem" with the instructions for the BRDM kit. Well, there's no easy way to say this but, the instructions provided were for the wrong kit. Since the instructions were sealed with the kit parts, I can only think that all the kits were made up this way, not just my review sample. Although, the BRDM version is simple to construct without the specific kit instructions (there's only five extra pieces for goodness sake), I still feel this is a problem. I guess it might be a personal issue to me and ultimately it is the simple principle of the situation which I find bothersome. In a nutshell, to me there is no good reason to not include the correct direction sheets with a kit. To me that is sloppy and then I begin to wonder what else a company might have skimmed over or glossed over. Again, in a truly practical sense, this is not a big deal and you won't have any problem building the kit. It just drives me nuts. Yes, I can be 'high maintenance'; just ask my wife.

The kit packaging GRAN provided was not typical of that what would be found in a model store or via on-line hobby shop. The kit pieces and instructions were sealed together in a plastic bag but they only came with flattened kit box tops. No box bottoms were provided (Editor's note - that was me {John N}. - saving a few IPMS pennies in shipping costs).. Seeing that I cannot make a full assessment as the bottoms were MIA, I can only rate the box top. The tops provided were constructed of thin cardboard and contained a color photo of the each Vodnik vehicle version. It's not the greatest box I've ever seen, but it would probably do the job.

> Quality of Casting/ Detail Level of Parts
The quality of part casting for the Vodnik kits is decent to moderate. Most parts are cleanly cast, but there is some flash present on some parts. This should be easy enough to clean up with a #11 bladed hobby knife or your sanding utensils. The upper body/hull and interior parts are molded in clear plastic which in my opinion makes it easier to construct, mask and paint when compared to building the same pieces with opaque plastic hull sides and clear windows. The only problem with the clear plastic pieces is that the parts are more brittle than the colored plastic, so be careful when cleaning them up.

However, the detail level of the parts is VERY basic and what I consider 'clunky' or toy like. To me, 'clunky' means that the parts are limited in detail and only basically represent the parts of the real vehicle. The kit does appear like it will look like a Vodnik when finished, but the fine detail I've come to expect in the year 2007 just isn't there. For instance, the wheels provided in the kits only have a generic tread-like appearance and have no specific pattern besides basic horizontal ridges. Just comparing them to the photo on the box shows their softness of detail. Another example is the roof mounted machine guns. Yes, they look like a generic MG, but I can't identify it as any real one. The closest I can come to describing it is that it looks like an M-14 (U.S infantry) rifle or M-1 Carbine on a stick.

[review image] [review image] [review image]

Fit of Parts
Honestly, once I saw the limited detail of the model kit parts, I really thought the fit of the kit would be bad. However, I have to say that the fit was actually decent and didn't pose any major problems for me. It's not Tamiya quality in terms of fit, but if you are a modeler with even limited experience, you'll do fine. There were only a few parts which were fiddly and I only used a bit of filling putty (specifically at the lower rear-end of the vehicle). About the most difficult portion of the kit construction was adding on the wheels/suspension to the lower hull. You have to be REALLY careful how you do this otherwise the entire lay of the vehicle will be off and be crooked and uneven, since the tires will not meet the ground at the same points. The kit will look like it has blown a tire or two and/or has blown out its suspension. On the other hand if you want to pose this vehicle on uneven ground, then the suspension/wheel design will facilitate its positioning.

Normally when building a kit for a model review, I don't replace any of the company supplied parts with ones I've made. One exception usually is giving a kit a new radio antenna, but that is about it. The reason I do this is that I want you all to see the kit in "all its glory" so you know what you're getting for your money. However with this kit, I had a lot of problems leaving things as is due to the basic clunky detail. I did restrain myself for the most part, but I have to admit I replaced the side rails with brass rod. Without doing so, the rails would have looked about a half foot in diameter. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself on this account.

Decals, Marking Information and Painting Information
There were no decals (and thusly no marking information) provided in the kits. That's okay because quite frankly I haven't seen any photographs of vehicles with any markings applied anyway. Admittedly, the references concerning the Vodnik are quite small in number, so I am not saying that these vehicles don't have/have never had markings applied. I'm just saying I've not seen any photos (possibly due to censor screening???).

The Painting information provided by GRAN is more than adequate. Line drawings of the vehicles are provided with the vehicle colors indicated by letters. They are clear and easy to understand, however no specific US Federal Standard Numbers or modeling paint references are given. This isn't a problem to me in this case as the colors indicated are, Khaki, Black, White….

I finished the model in the Tamiya Acrylic Paints. The vehicle's overall camouflage was replicated with the XF-52 "Flat Earth" and XF-58 "Olive Green", while the tires were colored XF-63 "German Grey". Please note: I determined the camo colors solely on a WAG (Wild A** Guess) and speculation. I used the color photo of the box top as a guide and matched the colors by eye. I usually don't like to do this sort of thing, but since information is fairly scarce on the Vodnik, I figured it wouldn't be too much of a problem. Also, since the interior was very sparse and I didn't want to take the time to detail it, I used Tamiya X-19 "Smoke" for the windows. The smoke color is clear and is used for tinting clear plastics. Finally, to weather the vehicle, I used MIG Productions "Pigments" color P029 "Brick Dust" to give it a dusty look to it.

[review image] [review image] [review image]

I was a bit disappointed in the detail level of these kits. Also, the accuracy level is suspect in many instances. The models appear to be a conglomeration of a number of different Vodnik versions, but not any one version. I believe that once built though either kit will look like a basic representation of the Vodnik. If that is your aim, the price is cheap when compared to resin kits of this vehicle which are produced by other companies. However, if you want a drop-dead accurate version of the APC and/or BRDM vehicles, you're out of luck.

Thanks to GRAN Ltd. for the review sample.

Recommended with Reservations.

[review image] [review image] [review image]

Information, images, and all other items placed electronically on this site
are the intellectual property of IPMS/USA ®.