In-Box Review
MBT-70 Main Battle Tank
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Aurora was one of the pioneers of plastic modeling. Their large series of standardized 1/48 scale models of aircraft and armor evolved from toy models into models as miniature prototypes that we expect today. However, Auroraís star dimmed and some of their models were issued under the K&B logo. Eventually Aurora died. Some of their molds were acquired and reissued by other companies. Monogramís 1/48 F-111, A-7, Fokker D.VII, Sopwith Camel and Se-5a are Aurora models. It was reported that Monogram bought the lionís share of the Aurora tooling but that most molds were destroyed in a train wreck in the late 1970s. Aurora has never been considered in the same league as Tamiya, but some of their 1/48 armor produced in the 1960s is as good, if not better, than what Tamiya released at that time . Their PzKfw V Panther, PzKfw VI Tiger II, IS-3 (or T-10 ?) Stalin, and M-46 Patton are considered toys in need of complete rebuilding. Auroraís MBT-70 will never be acclaimed as a benchmark of accuracy nor one of the better kits. But it is considered one of the cooler tanks Aurora gave the modeling world! Your reviewer offers mainly photographs and defers to you, as to whether that still holds true.
The MBT-70 / KPz 70 - Kampfpanzer 70 was a 1960s joint German - U.S.project to develop a new main battle tank using a number of advanced design features. It used a kneeling suspension, housed the entire crew in the turret, and the American version incorporated a gun-fired missile, the American XM-150 auto-loading stabilized 152 mm gun/launcher system. Germany favored their Rheinmetall 120 mm L/44 gun, then under development. Secondary armament for both consisted of a remote-controlled 20 mm cannon that popped up from a hatch behind the driver's cupola for anti-aircraft use, and a 7.62 mm machine gun mounted coaxial alongside the main gun. The use of an auto-loader for both versions allowed the crew to be reduced to three: commander, gunner and driver.
By the late 1960s the project was well over budget and the Germans withdrew from the effort, developing their Leopard 2 instead. Development continued in the US, but the per-unit cost had risen five times, and in 1971 Congress overrode the Army's objections and the MBT-70's funding was redirected to develop M1 Abrams.
The kit
Aurora issued this model in two phases: the sturdy square box with dramatic box art, and the 1970's small box featuring a photo of the built model. The kit consists of 92 parts of hard dark olive styrene (including four figures), and a pair of vinyl rubber band tracks. The parts vary between sharp and soft molding. Many suffer from molding and ejector marks, some sinkholes, and minor flash. There is no texture on the armor plating. No attempt to simulate any weld seams. Fine grab handles are molded on the turret sides. The tools and other storage are also molded on. There is some hinge detail for access hatches but none for the turret hatches; they open and close via hideous snap-tight fittings. Aurora supplied the both the main armament for both MBT-70 / KPz 70, the American XM-150, and the future German Rheinmetall 120 mm gun. Both are too puny, and both need the muzzle hollowed out. The radio aerial is horribly over sized, as is the bustle rack. The remote-controlled 20 mm cannon is just awful. An interesting feature is that Aurora made the advanced hydropneumatic suspension system to be raised or lowered. The figures are inconsistently scaled and are marred with mold marks. Their detail quality is pictured for you to judge. Donít look to closely. The late 1960's square-box release of Auroraís kits were so shaped to accommodate a vacuform terrain display base.
Decals and painting
Aurora included markings for two tanks, one for the U.S. Army, one for the Bundeswehr. Oddly, some decals are out of registry (the ď50" in the yellow circle) while others are not. One camouflage choice is described: overall olive. No paint brands are referenced.
Four easy-to-follow illustrated steps, with one sub-assembly, leads the modeler through construction, and to the painting and decal phase.
These models show up for sale online and at shows from time to time. Depending on the issue and box, prices vary dramatically. For those with a critical eye, detail references, and patience, this model can be improved. Otherwise, this MBT-70 / KPz 70 is not worth having except for nostalgia and fun.
Highs: Intangible nostalgic and fun factor. Model suspension system can be raised or lowered.
Lows: Lack of detail, detail is molded on when present, out-of-scale parts, inconsistent molding quality.
Verdict: For those with a critical eye, detail references, and patience, this model can be improved. Otherwise, Aurora's MBT-70 / KPz 70 is not worth having except for nostalgia and fun.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Suggested Retail: Varies
  Related Link: MBT-70 / XM803 History
  PUBLISHED: Sep 21, 2010
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


A good review and a nice trip down memory lane. I cut my teeth on these kits before moving onto Tamiya and other brands, mainly because my parents didn't want to pay the Tamiya prices that I had put on my Christmas list. I still have some of these in my stash having gone on a spending spree a few years ago buying a handful of the MBT-70 kits. Everything that is said about them is true but they were kits that screamed to be built. - Jeff
OCT 03, 2010 - 10:16 AM
Hi Jeff, Me too. Glad to rekindle the memories. These Aurora models were the "wow" factor for me when I first started building. Some are only worth the nostalgia (Panther and King Tiger) but a couple of them are actually decent models. And we may consider Aurora and Bandai ahead of their time as leaders of standard scale Quarterscale military subjects. And that box art! Several years ago I started--ugh, dare I say it--collecting them again. The Chi-Ha is still one of my favorite models of all time. I guess I am turning into "one of those" older guys who augments his latest-greatest gee-whiz models with those of his past. Anyway, I have several more Aurora models to review as time permits. The Churchill is in the ready bay. Anyone have a Swedish S-Tank they'd like to donate?
OCT 03, 2010 - 04:29 PM
This was actually the first tank model I ever built myself. There were two versions of the Aurora MBT-70 produced; the original "smooth" kit and a retooled "textured" kit. That's the original issue, the second retooled issue came in the small white box. The retooled "textured" kit includes a gritty non-slip texture to the upper hull and turret surfaces. They also added a coiled up cable to the upper surface and some additional suspension detail to the hull sides in between the road wheel arm gaps. There's also third boxing of this kit. A white cardboard box version that was part of the Young Model Builder's Club and was mailed to members. It included the later "textured" kit but had a sticker with the artwork of the original square box applied to the box. It's the more rare of the three boxings. I have several of these kits in the three different boxings (only one in the cardboard mail box though). J-Hulk (Brian Keaney) built an accurized version of the kit about 5 years ago, I then sent him a spare kit so he could do one OOB. I don't remember which one I sent though. Brian Keany's MBT-70 In this shot, you can see some of my Aurora kits and a couple of the Bandai ones as well.
OCT 04, 2010 - 01:58 AM
Did this review ever bring back some fond memories from my youth. I built a number of Aurora kits back then and vaguely remember them with joy. Your darn article got me to finally rummage through some old boxes that have been languishing in the basement for decades. To my great surprise I found two that contained carefully packaged assembled kits. In an envelope in one box was also the original assembly instructions. I thought that I had built about four or five but I found more. The Long Tom, MBT-70, King Tiger, M8 Artillery Tractor (X2), S-Tank, Sherman, Centurion, M109 and M26 tank. Hope these pictures of the instructions bring back more memories. Cheers, Jan
OCT 04, 2010 - 04:55 AM
I kept all my Aurora instructions too, but only the armor. I had built the strange offerings by them also, the Buffalo, Sc-Fi stuff, naval ships, horror movie figures ... well, you get the point. I am glad I stuck with armor. The glow in the dark "Forgotten Prisoner" was the best! - Jeff
OCT 04, 2010 - 05:59 AM
My Mom has all my boxes that I got as part of the Model of the Month club. One of which is the Rat Patrol offering. I recall building that thing on more then one occasion.The models are long since gone though. Nice review that brought back some good memories when building a model under the shade of a tree with your friends was a common practice. Oh for those simpler times.. "Q"
OCT 04, 2010 - 11:19 AM

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