by: Jason Bobrowich [ ]
The ASLAV and LAV series has evolved over the years with a variety of modifications and updates to suit the various users around the globe. One of the most visible upgrades to the vehicles in recent years has been the use of the Michelin XML tires. The XML tires give a noticeable stocky and solid look to any LAV they are mounted on. Not only do the XML tires provide an added level of mobility to the LAVs but they also improve the overall cool factor from a modelling perspective.
There have been several model and aftermarket producers that have produced their versions of the XML tires over the past few years providing modellers the ability to choose the tires they feel will look the best on their LAV project and suit their budget. Hobby Fan, Maple Leaf Models, Real Model, and Trumpeter to name a few have all produced XML tires either as aftermarket items or as part of their kits.
The up and coming company Arms Corps Models owned and operated by Jason Miller now continues the voyage into the aftermarket modelling world with the release of the 1/35 Bulged XML Wheel Set designed for the Trumpeter ASLAV and LAV kits providing the modeller another great option for LAV accessories and updates.
THE WHEEL SET
The wheel set is cast in resin and includes eight tires with the wheel hubs cast in place on the front and the mounting points for the axles cast on the rear. The wheel set is designed for the Trumpeter ASLAV and LAV kits. When looking at the back side of the wheels it is evident by the mounting posts that there are four rear wheels and four front wheels based on the size of the mounting posts required for the Trumpeter kits.
The level of casting is very high. There were no overt casting flaws visible on any of the eight wheels in the set. I was very pleased to see excellent depth in the tread pattern and very well defined scribing and angles on the tread surface. Clean up is very little as the casting blocks have been kept to a minimum. The location of the casting blocks will make it very easy for the modeller to use this area as the point of contact for the tire surface on the ground.
On the front of the wheel the hub and bolt detail is very nice. The planetary gear face sits slightly higher than the multiple vanes and these should, in fact, be all at the same level when compared to reference images of real vehicles. The bolts are well shaped and pronounced and look good except for two countersunk bolts that should be in between the two sets of bolts that are spread out more than the others. This is a very minor detail omission but if I didn’t mention it someone else would have. This would be a very easy detail to add with a small pin vise drill bit. The wheel mounting bolts are nicely cast as is the small valve stem and recess.
The face of the tires is void of the “MICHELIN” lettering. This may be a result of copyright issues and the fact that the lettering is not visible on all XML tires with the naked eye as the tires wear and become dirty. There is very tiny surface lettering on the tires in the form of an ‘X’, “RADIAL”, and the tire size. The markings on the side wall appear near identical to what is on the Trumpeter rubber kit tire sidewall.
What sets this wheel set apart from the Trumpeter tires is a visible yet subtle and realistic bulge at the bottom of the tire where it will meet the ground. This looks the part of a weight bearing XML tire and can commonly be seen on ASLAV and LAV series vehicles on a variety of terrain surfaces.
I compared the Arms Corps Models’ wheel set with XML tires offered by Trumpeter, Maple Leaf Models, and Real Model. I did not compare them for size as not all of the tires have the bulged look and dimensions would be slightly different. I simply compared them for visible detail and for ease of clean up and use.
I randomly selected an XML wheel from each of the producers from my stash to compare side by side. You can see by the images that there are no overt errors by any producer but the level of detail in the tread pattern, sidewall details, and the hub details do vary. I compared the wheels with real images of the XML tires in order to get a good sense of realism in contrast to the various kit tires.
My intention was not to rate the tires against each other but to visibly compare the variety of details to provide modellers alternatives based on their needs. The Arms Corps Models’ wheels have great detail on the tread pattern. The tread pattern is equally as good on the Trumpeter vinyl tires but as they are made of rubber the details appears softened. The Maple Leaf Models’ tires have the Michelin lettering visible while the other wheels do not. The Maple Leaf Models’ and Arms Corps Models’ wheels have the center hub raised above the vanes while the Real Model wheel has them flush. The Maple Leaf Models’ wheel is lacking the double raised reinforcing bead around the circumference of the sidewall while it is visible on the other wheel sets. Finally the Real Model sidewall appears to be more recessed than the other three tires.
Clean up for all three of the resin tires is fairly minimal. While the casting blocks are different sizes a modeller should have no issue removing all of them with a razor saw and some sandpaper to finish them up.
The Arms Corps Models’ wheel set does not include a spare tire. This is available as a separate item as ACM 35860 1/35 XML Spare Wheel.
Modellers should note that the wheels themselves and the bolt pattern are the original set up for the XML tires on the LAVs. Both Australia and Canada uses this type of pattern on the ASLAV series, Bison, and Coyote. Over the last couple of years further updates have occurred with changes to the hubs and the overall bolt pattern. This can be seen on the USMC LAVs with the LAV SLEP upgrade and the new LAV-A2. The Arms Corps Models XML wheel set does not have the correct wheel bolt pattern for the upgraded USMC versions. Canada has also begun to upgrade and replace the original hub and wheel bolt pattern set up with the newer multi-bolt version so modellers need to refer to real life references if they are stickler for details.
I think Arms Corps Models are offering a very good aftermarket replacement wheel set for the Trumpeter ASLAV and LAV kits. The details are very good and the raised portions of the hubs are not overtly visible and could be sanded down if desired. The weighted bulge sets this wheel set apart from the others in my opinion. The bulge is realistic and not overdone. It will give a LAV a sense of both bulk and of motion to a certain degree if the wheels are turned. I am impressed with the overall quality of the wheel set and the reasonable price.