Panda 1/35 Cougar 4x4 MRAP

KIT #: PH 35003
PRICE: $44.95 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes photo etch parts.

HISTORY

 

 The Cougar is a South African-designed United States MRAP and infantry mobility vehicle structured to be resistant to landmines and improvised munitions.

It is a family of armored vehicles produced by Force Protection Inc, which manufactures ballistic and mine-protected vehicles. The automotives are integrated by Spartan Motors. These vehicles are protected against small arms, land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using a combination of design features and materials to protect both the crew and engine compartment against a wide range of attacks. A Monocoque type, V-shaped hull extends to the engine bay and serves to direct the blast away from under the vehicle. The dual air-conditioners help keep heavily dressed troops from overheating in temperatures over 100 F (38 C) in Iraq.

3500 of these vehicles were delivered to the USMC, who is the major US user of the Cougar MRAP.

THE KIT

MRAPs and similar vehicles seem to be the latest craze from modeling companies with vehicles in this category having been released by a number of China-based plastic kit makers in the last couple of years. The good news is that it seems all of these kits have been excellent.

Panda Hobby now adds to that mix with their new Cougar 4X4 MRAP. If you have ever built one of Panda's military kits, you know that the detailing of the parts is first rate. This one is no exception. You also know that there are a lot of them, and again, this one is no exception.

The front and rear suspension pieces are little models in and of themselves. No molded in brackets and braces on this one as all these parts are separate. Since this has to be strong, none of the photo etch is used on these assemblies. These will then fit onto the lower hull along with the drive shafts and the Vee shaped transfer case, itself made up of seven pieces.

Once the drive line is attached to the lower hull, then the fenders, fuel tanks, rear stairs and so on are fitted. These assemblies do use some of the photo etch bits and these parts are used where they provide the greatest detail. I should mention that the fret is very nicely done and not just a mass of teeny bits as is often the case, though there are some parts that are relatively small.

Once the lower hull is fully built, and this includes installing the four very well done vinyl tires, one then goes on to building the interior. While the kit is by definition a curbside in that it has no motor, the interior is quite highly detailed. A full driver's section along with passenger seats, a full radio suite and racks as well as interior storage is included. This is where much of the small p.e. bits are used.

The upper hull has separate doors with full inside and exterior detail. While the instructions show them closed, it would be a simple matter to display these open, and after all the work put into the interior, this is what I'd do.

On the outside are storage boxes and all the windows are those super thick looking armored glass items one sees on similar vehicles. There is a turret on the top that appears to be manned so I would guess this is not a CROWS system item. This is also very detailed and uses quite a few pieces in its building. It appears it mounts a venerable .50 cal machine gun, possibly the longest serving military weapon of all time other than a knife!

The kit instructions are in book form and consist of 20 well drawn and very large construction steps. There is no painting information during construction and I've often wondered how someone who is not familiar with these vehicles goes about getting the interior and suspension colors right. A full exterior painting guide is provided and no surprise, the vehicle is overall desert tan. The decal sheet is for one vehicle and offers all the appropriate stencils that one finds on these sorts of vehicles. All of the dash instruments are provided on the decal sheet.

CONCLUSIONS

I have to say that I am continually impressed by the quality and detail that Panda Hobbies puts into its kits. They pick interesting subjects and I would think that the kit builds as nicely as it looks in the box.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar_%28vehicle%29

Thanks to Glen Coleman and Panda Hobbies for the preview kit. This one should be on your store shelves.

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