Ref : Heller #81130
Conversion : Blast Models #35006K
The upgrade program intends to extend the VAB life up to 2020. It comprises, amongst other improvements, an enhanced ballistic protection thanks to add-on armor plates, an all direction gunner protection, a new gearbox, a centralized tire pressure control, the installation of safety belts, an enhanced brake system with the ABS.
The kit is a conversion by
Blast Models for the Heller kit. The resin set comprises numerous
parts among which the upper hull, the lower hull add-on armor
plates, the waterjets, new stowage bins and jerrycan racks, a
weapon station. Two clear plastic sheets to represent the windows
are included as well. The kit comes in a cardboard box nicely
decorated by a color picture of the unpainted built model. The
small parts are issued in plastic bags and the bigger ones
protected by an air bubble plastic sheet. The instructions show
many pictures of the built model to help locating the parts. We
may regret that for various stages no explanations are given
about the correct location of the parts or the Heller ones to be
The carving as well as the molding are excellent. There are no air bubbles and the parts are undamaged. Some very fine parts are peculiarly fragile and require a lot of patience.
The interior is partially represented. In fact, the driver compartment comprises the new seats and the new gearbox cover. Some stowage racks complete it. The improvements are as follows :
The new generation radio set is detailed as well as its rack, in front of the vehicle commander (VC) seat a vertical wall with the radiological detector support is added. The heating system tubing on the VC side is done with thick electrical wire. The wiper engines are added as well as the tire pressure control panel under the dashboard.
Unfortunately the rear
compartment has been forgotten. Nothing helps improving the basic
kit. The adjusting consists of various supports and racks coming
from an Azimut set, some racks are home-made with photoetched
fret, the strengthening triangles forgotten by Heller and Blast
are added too. The latches and the safety belts are made of lead
foil. Two bench seats have been folded up. The nit-pickers might
add various wiring with the help of pictures.
The rear wall is detailed by the addition of the first aid box support, an electric junction box (the wiring is attached to the lower hull) and the water evacuation pipe linked to the water pump. The latter is glued to the rear left corner of the lower hull. This is optional and useful only if you use the waterjets.
The exterior of the
conversion kit comprises the upper hull, the add-on armor plates,
the weapon station, the side stowage bins, the jerrycan racks,
the new type wheels, the new taillights, the waterjets and other
small parts. From the original Heller kit, just the lower hull
and its transmission, the rounded air intake protection and the
reinforcing part on the roof remain.
The assembly come without a single difficulty. Prior to gluing the add-on armor plates, you need to fix the two hull halves together.
The few improvements are as follows : addition of a photoetch (Aber) engine grille, building of the towing cable supports, setting of the hatches axes, addition of the support of the waterjet transmission box, upgrading of the M2 HB MG with the Eduard set, building of the protection grilles for the headlights from metal rod, replacement of the mirror supports by metallic ones and addition of the wipers from styrene strips.
To give the kit a more living look, the wheel axles have been oriented. The side shutters are raised to match the inner molded handles. The rear doors handles have been replaced by classical ones. In fact, in some units, the handles still are of the former type unlike what proposes the manufacturer.
The decoration is classical too with the 3 tone scheme. The vehicle is dirty but not worn out as these variants have been recently fielded with the units. The decals come from the Heller plate. The circle with the number 2 inside must be painted light grey with a thin paintbrush as with the adoption of the NATO camo scheme, the white markings have disappeared.