|1/35 Bantam BRC 40 w/crew|
|Kit Number: 35014|
|Reviewed by Scott Hollingshead, IPMS# 34786|
Distributor website: www.dragonmodelsusa.com
One of the things that I have enjoyed most about writing these reviews has been researching the items, not just for reference photographs, but for the history as well. In my investigation of the history on this particular vehicle, I found multiple conflicting reports, so let me comment on what seems to be accurate. To begin with, Bantam actually made the first vehicle that most people would recognize as a "jeep". Both Bantam and Willys Overland were in competition to build the first "light reconnaissance and command car". Although Bantam had a slightly higher bid than Willys, they were given the go-ahead to produce their pilot vehicle. This one-off vehicle led to modifications that were built into the BRC 60, short for Bantam Reconnaissance Car, in 1940. The BRC 40 was first produced in 1941 and over 2600 were created (the number varies based upon which source you look at). Most of these vehicles were provided to Russia and England through the Lend-Lease program. Although not modeled in this kit, over two dozen of the BRC 40 vehicles were made with four-wheel steering.
Upon opening the box, the modeler will find three gray sprues and one clear parts sprue. There are ninety-nine gray parts used for the BRC 40 and four clear parts. You will not have any left over parts when you finish the kit (ok, no intentional left over parts). I was surprised at the amount of flash present on the parts, especially for a new kit. Most parts require some clean-up; the worst were the heads for the figures. There is an additional sprue that contains the fifty-one parts used for the five figures that are provided. The decal sheet contains the vehicle numbers, and multiple decals used on the figures.
This was the first MiniArt kit that I have built, and I must say that it went together very well. The gray plastic used is similar to what Dragon utilizes in their kits, and the level of detail molded in, is rival to the best kits I have seen. There were no joints or seams that required the use of a filler or surfacer. I would mention that several very fine detail parts included in this kit will require a good pair of tweezers, and if you are like me, some form of magnifier. The locating pins and holes, where used, lined up dead on. One more word of caution here is that some of the mounting pins are also sprue attachment points. Even though it did not cause issues later on, I did cut off the pins on at least two of the parts by not catching this soon enough.
My only complaint in building this kit deals with step 7. To build the car correctly, parts B10 and B17, and B11 and B18 need to be swapped. For some reason, this step shows the rear shocks mounted on the inside of the leaf springs, when in fact they belong on the outside. All of the following steps in the directions show the correct arrangement.
In my research, I did not find exactly how many of these vehicles were used by American troops, which may take away the accuracy of including these figures. MiniArt has also released kit 35048 which includes Russian figures, and may be more historically accurate.
The inclusion of a full engine and battery are appreciated by a detail person like me. Again, these parts are molded very well, and the detail is fantastic for this scale. The tire tread patterns are also very well done, and look convincing when assembled. Be cautious with part A1 that goes around the upper edge of the passenger area, as it is very fragile (but easily fixed). I also found two of the grill slats broken when I opened my kit, but this was also easily repaired.
As far as my hits for this kit, I would have to again mention the overall level of detail in the parts. The figures are also very nice, with sharply molded hands (one of the ways that I typically judge a figure kit is by how realistic the hands look) and clothing. Assembly was straight forward (with the exception of step 7), and the fit and finish was very good on both the car and the figures. The decals reacted just fine to Micro Set and Micro Sol. Another word of caution here is that the decals will sometimes craze a little with the Micro Sol, but will settle down beautifully later. The ranks on two of the figures, Military Police markings, and unit badges were a nice addition that I am not used to seeing with figures.
For the few misses that I encountered, I would again mention the infamous step 7 with the parts in the wrong locations, and mislocated rear shocks. I had a little bit of a challenge getting the white stripes on the MP’s helmets to set correctly, and wound up with a little overlap in the back of one. It would have been nice if the figure standing on the car would have been shown from the front in the directions rather than from the side, as it does leave some guess work for the builder. With the exception of the white and blue markings on the decal sheet, I am not sure that I buy into the colors used, as the rank and unit markings did not look quite right to me, but then I am a former sailor. Finally, the color references on the back page of the instructions are pretty far off. Play it safe, and just use reference photographs to determine your colors.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to anyone interested in adding a Bantam Reconnaissance Car to their collection, as this really is a beauty right out of the box. The figures, even though their heads all look like Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now", are well done, with good detail. This is a welcome kit from MiniArt, and I look forward to seeing what they release in the future.
For another look at the MiniArt BRC 40 with Soviet troops, see Perry Downen’s review. Thanks to the folks at Dragon Models USA for providing this sample and to IPMS for letting me have it to build and assess, and to you for taking the time to read this.