In this review I intend to cover all of the highs and lows with this kit in an out of the box fashion, as a modeller who has an intimate knowledge of the vehicle. I will be including a VERY detailed, if not picky, look at all of the ASLAV modifications for the Phase III.
The review will not be a full history lesson or how to fix up the kit, but will explain what inaccuracies exist in the kit and will explain some of the differences between the ASLAV-25 Phase II and III modifications included in this kit.
To begin, what confuses most people is the difference between Type and Phase.
The term Type refers to the hull type:
- Type 1 ASLAV-25
- Type 2, ASLAV PC
- Type 3 ASLAV- F/R
Then we have the Phases:
- Phase 1 were the trial vehicles from the USMC (LAV-25s and 1 LAV Recovery). Bison’s were used as PCs. The ASLAV-PCs are basically Bison’s but with a different top hatch and ramp design.
- Phase 2 were the initial delivery of ASLAV’s (25, PC and Fitter/Recovery) to units.
- Phase 3 was the second purchase of vehicles with some changes/upgrades. But still retain some aspects of Phase II. All ASLAV’s were later completely upgraded to full Phase III specifications across the board later on.
The Trumpeter kit is a hybrid of Phase II and III. However, once the Phase III program started (2003-2004) and the initial vehicles were sent to units after the upgrade, not all of the Phase III’s had all of the external mods. The crew commander’s sight head assembly and cam pole stowage rack are two items that were not upgraded in the first Phase III batch delivered. Some vehicles also did not have spare tyre racks and drivers windscreen box.
The first, second and third rotations of the Security Detachment (SECDET) in Iraq were completed in Phase II ASLAV’s. Subsequent rotations were Phase II upgraded in theater to Phase III.
Opening the box we find:
- 332pcs (including 4 clear parts).
- 10 Sprues including lower hull, upper hull, 9 vinyl tires (including the spare).
- 3 Photo etched frets.
- 1 Decal sheet.
- 10 page easy to read and understand instruction sheet with the usual isometric exploded view drawings.
- 2 page painting/decal guide.
The kit is well packed with all the sprues in separate bags.
Soft foam like material has been carefully wrapped around a few of the finer parts such as the turret bins.
The sprues a well laid out and numbered clearly. All the parts are cast crisply with very little or no flash. There are a few injection pins marks on some of the parts.
review in depthSteps 1 through 3 Lower Hull and Suspension Assembly:
Covers the building of the main drive shafts, differentials, prop shafts, shock absorbers and the rest of the suspension and steering system. Pretty much the same as the other LAV kits Trumpeter have produced, apart from opening holes for the propeller guards.
The detail is quite nice, but, for modellers that have not built one of these LAV kits before, care will be need when removing part A22 (steering arms) from the sprue.
Step 4 Lower Hull Assembly:
Now we start on one of the ASLAV Family of Vehicles (FOV) generic parts, the Trim Vane. The detail is nice but the slides for the trim vane extension is lacking the extension lock detail. A7 the “Bash Plate” is oversimplified but it is under the vehicle so it won’t be seen on most kits anyway.
Step 5 Wheel Assembly:
Pretty much straight forward. The front and back of the wheel rims are glued together and then the vinyl tyre is slipped over. Or alternatively the back rim inserted into the wheel and then the front rim with hubs, are glued to the rear half.
The detail on the rims is a bit soft in places, namely on the bolts on the deepest part of the rim and the depth of the rims is also a bit overdone by about 2-3mm. Where as the hubs themselves are quite nice.
There is no tyre company name (perhaps because of copyright issues) on the side wall of the tyre but the segmented reinforcing ribs have been faithfully reproduced as has the tread pattern.
Step 6 Lower Hull:
Care will be need here with the removal from the sprue and assembly of the propeller guards.
I would recommend adding these parts close to the completion of the model. They are very thin plastic parts and are easily snapped, and must be some of the most beautifully thin injection cast parts I have seen.
A nice addition to the kit are the “Key Hole” photo etched parts (PE-A7 and PE-A5) for the raising and lowering of the wheel support arms when changing a flat tyre. The small PE parts numbered PE-A10 are orange reflectors. These should be painted the same orange colour as the front and rear indicators. The painting guide does not cover these reflective items.
Step 7 Attaching the Wheels:
This step should be left after the painting has been done. Not a hard step, but it will be easier to paint the lower hull with them off.
Step 8 Upper Hull Assembly:
Firstly a few things on the upper hull. The weld beads are there but too pronounced. When the hulls are made the weld beads are grounded back almost flush with the panels of the hull. There are weld beads along the right hand side of the engine deck, these should not be there, but there should be a couple of panel lines (for want of a better term). See Fig.1
The engine deck itself is also not quite right. The gap between the front and rear decks is about right but the front half of the deck needs to be higher by about 1.5mm and the front edge of the deck should be a further 1mm in height.
The engine deck hinges are lacking detail of the latch lock on the right hand side.
The later versions of Phase III have welded covers over the episcope's on the hull and combat doors. This not covered in the kit.
Trumpeter has with this kit tried to make the shock absorber housings round on top, but it is still not quite right. As for the continuous tie down points, they are cast on but do look the part.
The periscopes have a rectangular piece added to the face of each periscope. This is incorrect for the M27 periscope. They are completely flat. See Fig. 5 for clarity.
The windscreen bin, parts D51, D52 and D72, sadly, is one of the letdowns of the kit. It is under sized in its thickness and angle at the bottom of the bin. The top part of the bin in actual fact has no top. The brush guards (Step 8 B-B and C-C) are nicely detailed with PE. But the lower two triangles PE-14 and PE-13 should meet together at a point in line with the bottom corner of the bin. See Fig.2
Parts D40, D41, D68 and PE-A6 make up the muffler and exhaust. The brush guard is added later in the build. Couple of things here, no extractor (see Fig.3) and the PE strap for the muffler guard (part D26). The PE is a bent, flat piece where it should be a bent piece of angle iron. Not a biggy, but I did say I would be quite picky.
Speaking of being picky, the pioneer tools (axe, mattock head and shovel) in this step and Step 9 are nice but not quite the right shape for “Cyclone” brand tools. Again the instructions show a mount that is deficient from the actual parts and this is missing from the cutting edge of the axe.
D27 and D24, make up parts for the camouflage pole stowage mounts. D27 only needs a bit of sanding in one place to bring it up to speed. D20 the rack for the camouflage net is just lovely. A nice bit of casting again.
There doesn't seem to be any problems with the headlight clusters. However the headlight brush guards are not quite right. But the painting guide shows them more accurately.
Step 9 Upper Hull Assembly:
Heads up Display for the driver (parts D7, D25, D30, D61 and D67) are oversized and have a part that has me stumped. Part D7 is either a complete fabrication by Trumpeter or they have mistaken the HUD blackout curtain for an armoured cover of some kind. Disregard D7.
D61 the instrument panel, has a dome added to the face of it. There is no dome. The instruments have a clear flat Perspex face to them.
They have included a couple of nice options in this step. The first one is to use PE instead of plastic for the ATGM wire cutters. The second is folding mirrors. However the mirrors on the ASLAV’s FOV have a two piece mirror and not one as depicted in the kit. The PE for the mirror is also not right. The box art shows the correct way the mirror is attached to the arm. Trumpeter has the correct mirror mounts for the left and right sides. The mount on the right is the older Phase II version. Where as the one on the left is the newer style. No problem here for late Phase III's. However for the initial Phase III's the right hand side will need the same mount as per the left side.
Another nice addition is to have PE engine deck mesh. Unfortunately it is incorrect. ASLAV engine decks have two sets of separated mesh for each deck in a square pattern and not as a diamond pattern as in this kit. But the lifting eyes for the deck are nice.
The flat top of the ventilator part D66, is about 2mm to narrow across the top, but for the straight out of the box modellers, it will do.
D26 and D74 make up the rest of the exhaust. In all the parts are quite good but will require a bit of filler in places.
Step 10 Rear Panel Assembly
D1, the rear section of the hull is nicely detailed but have a couple of small mistakes with the trailer power socket rotated in the wrong direction and the air line brush guard position. No biggy.
The traffic indicators and brake light assemblies D12, D13, D23 and G2 are a bit over engineered, but I can see where Trumpeter is going with the idea of the clear parts (G2).
Just remember not to remove the small rectangle that is attached to the sprue. This is the black out marker. The brake light/ indicator on the left hand side as I stated is over done but works. It hangs out over the side of the hull as depicted in the instructions, but should have a “U” shaped mount on the back of the part so that it stands proud of D1 (rear hull part) by about 1mm. This so that it does not interfere with operation of the spare tyre mount.
The spare tyre mount D5, D42 and D43, is a bit oversized, but OK. As are the mounting plates D58 and D60. But if this is a worry than don’t use it. Not all Phase III ASLAV-25’s have it fitted anyway.
The spare tyre is nice and can be assembled in the same manner as described in step 5.
Step 11 Attaching Lower Hull:
No comment here is required.
Step 12 Machine Gun Assembly:
The “Platt” mount for the GPMG MAG58 is a real let down. The gun itself E1, which looks like a MAG58 at 20 yards, but on closer inspection, it is far from OK. Trumpeters other weapons in the past have been very nice, but this one is seriously lacking detail and refinement.
As for the Platt mount itself, the same comment applies here as well unfortunately. Detail is lacking, the parts are grossly undersized and some parts to the mount have been missed altogether.
Step 13 Turret Assembly:
Firstly a bit on the turret top. It is well cast along with the rest of the kit but the detail is soft in places. The periscopes have a rectangular piece added to the face of each periscope. This is incorrect for the M27 periscope as described in Step 8 and as seen in Fig.5. The Platt mount machine gun repositioning plates are also missing from the crew positions. See Fig.4. The grab bar in front of the crew commander's position is too long. Fig.4
Continuous ties downs are included on the turret and are of the same good detail as described elsewhere but there is one run missing from the right hand side of the turret.
It is also missing the sight adjuster in the front of the crew commander’s sight.
Trumpeter has included the spent link chute C3 and C17, in this kit. A nice addition that could have been in the LAV-25 kit as well. It is well detailed and more or less accurate. C3 has an ejector pin mark that will be a bit tricky to fill and sand.
The two types of gun sights seen on the initial Phase III’s ( M119 and M36) are included and also has the option for the upgraded crew commander’s ballistic sight cover to match the gunner’s for later Phase III’s. The ballistic covers C33 and C35 are detailed well, with one of the parts being PE. The sights themselves C24 look OK from the front, but the back of the sight head C16 lacks a lot of the bolt detail around the base of the sight and there is no detail on the back of the sight housings. The earlier style sight head, C34, is detailed well, but can only be modelled with the sight cover C23 in the closed position. The sight adjuster in front of the crew commander's sight is the wrong shape. See Fig.4
Another let down in this kit are the crew hatches C13. The ones depicted in the kit are the Phase II style hatch inside and out. The Phase III hatch has a different locking mechanism, more padding , different combat locks and hinges that fold all the way back onto the turret. See Fig.5
Antenna matching unit (AMU) bases C29, C30, C31 and C32 are nicely detailed apart from the bottom of the mount that should be flat and not rounded. The actual AMU’s C27 are poorly represented. Fig.6. As is the coil base of the GPS C37. Fig.6
The turret bustle bins C10, C14, C20, PE-B11, PE-B3, PE-C3 and PE-C4 are fantastic. But the instructions state that the mesh PE-C3 should be attached to the bottom of the bin. This is incorrect. The mesh is on the inside for the bottom part of the bin and PE-C4 is on the outside as the instructions state. Same goes for right hand bin in Step 14.
Again Trumpeter has not included a coaxial machine gun for the mantelet C2 or the mantelet cover on C12. But do supply the mantlet boot retaining strap and bolt in PE (PE-10).
Step 14 Turret Assembly:
Describes the fitting of the left hand side turret bustle bin. As described in step 13 the bottom PE needs to be on the inside of the bin. As is PE –C2 for the rear bustle bin C7. PE-B6 on the right hand side of the rear bin is missing the crew cooking gas bottle mount attached to it. But again, for the early Phase III's this is not a problem.
The smoke grenade launchers C25 are quite nicely detailed but the mounting arms C39 need to be about 2mm longer. And yet another nice addition, PE chains PE-C7.
The barrel for the M242 Bushmaster 25mm chain gun F1, has the correct number of ribs running down the length of the barrel. Yet another part that should have been in the LAV-25 kit. The flash suppressor F2, is also correct with the 3 rows of 4 slots. Care will be needed to drill this part out. There is a hole there already but it should be used as a guide to drill it out more. The only problem I have with it is that it (F2) looks a bit undersized.
Painting and decals:
The full colour painting and decal guide is printed on nice gloss paper front and back.
The camouflage pattern depicted is not too bad, and only incorrect in a couple of places.
I can not comment on some of the colours that Trumpeter recommends in the painting guide, as these are brands I don’t use. The Model Master paints I use are, Tan FS 30219 and Field green FS 34097.
The decals are nicely printed and cover a lot of the markings seen, but, and there seems to be a lot of “buts and howevers”, the spelling is pretty bad to the extent in places it looks like the artist has randomly bashed the keyboard.
The markings for “BULLRYDER” in Painting Guide A should have the chevron point facing to 12 o'clock to denote “B Sqn”. Painting guide B “ADRENALIN RUSH” needs to have a black chevron on the right hand side of the vehicle as shown in B.
Some advertising for this kit states that the markings are for 2nd Cavalry Regiment and 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment. Either way, Australian Tac markings do not denote what unit the vehicle is from. The instructions don’t say what unit the markings are for either.
I have been anticipating this kit for some time now after Trumpeter stated they were doing one about 18 months to 2 years ago. Then when Trumpeter asked members of Armorama to help out with the kits accuracy a few months ago, I must admit I was a little worried. Not because I thought the members would steer them in the wrong direction, but because I was a bit worried about if they would actually take note.
It is disappointing that with all the images on the web, together with published information in the form of books and help from Armorama, some of the basics should have been done better.
As it turns out the advice members gave was not taken onboard in its entirety, hence the problem with the accuracy of the kit and missing details. I think it was a bit late to ask for advice when test shots had already been made.
There is enough information on the internet and in the ASLAV thread on Armorama to build at least 2 different Phases and 2 different Types for that matter.
Canadian fans will probably buy this kit as well to convert it to the Coyote.
I have no doubt that Trumpeter is now one of the world’s leaders in plastic injection kits, but the soft detail is something that should have been rectified before the kit was released. The technology in injection model making is now starting to give resin kits a run for their money.
However, in saying this I would still recommend the kit not only to those who build out of the box, but also to those who are not afraid of a bit of extra work to bring the kit up to speed. As the built up model looks like an ASLAV, but only at a distance. It’s when you come in closer that the problems will start to show.