Thursday, December 10

A Cougar in the desert - François builds Panda’s 35th scale Cougar 4X4 MRAP

It has taken some time – about 120 hours to be more exact – and some encouragement from his friends, but François has finished Panda’s 1/35 scale Cougar 4X4 MRAP. And it turned out to be a very nice looking, and highly detailed kit. Here’s the story of his build...
Build Review: Cougar 4X4 MRAP
by Panda Hobby
Kit n°: PH 35003
Scale: 1/35th
Part Count: 520 + Photo-etched parts + decals
Price:¥5,220/ USD $42.70/ €38.91 from HobbyLink Japan

The Cougar is a very impressive military vehicle and quite a complex one, almost as much as the Panda kit in 35th scale that has only recently just been released. At 520+ parts inside the number of parts in the box could discourage a few modellers out there as it very nearly did François He loved the idea of this rugged vehicle and so he got straight into the gluing and the cutting and sanding. We reckon the best review is a build review so we thought building this kit would be the best way of showing you just what the kit is like.

The biggest part of the construction of this kit is the crew cabin of the Cougar. There are plenty of parts here to create the needed detail and the level of surface detail looked very good indeed on the cabin one peice mould.
The sprues are packed with lots of parts, all very nicely detailed.
Just take a look at all the detail on the cabin floor:
The sprues are just packed with parts. Although these are very nice, some of them won’t be seen on the finished kit.
Some model makers would use PE for this detail but the plastic here is good enough and easier than PE
There are no injection marks or pins in visible places, which is a good thing and it will speed up the construction.
The kit contains a lot of transparent parts, 54 parts on no less than 3 sprues – even though the instructions show only 2 sprues - hmmm…
…And a very impressive number of photo-etched parts, some of which are extremely tiny. Oh, and sorry about the flash...
The tires of this Cougar are made in vinyl and well detailed as well.
So far that’s it for the plastic: lots of parts, very nicely moulded out of the box.

The instructions are quite good but have one big flaw according to us: you haven’t got a clue on what colours you should use for the interior of this kit. It’s a pity that so much work went into this kit, without including this. The only thing left to do is googling. And good luck with that, it’ll take some time before you find something useful.
The construction of this kit will keep you busy for many hours and although we like the details, the construction of some sub-assemblies might be just a little over the top in some places. Like the underside of the Cougar, where you have to glue close to 100 small parts.
Some areas are very complex to construct. Our advice: stay cool, take your time put on some good music. Some areas get extra detail with photo-etched parts that have to be folded. Not always easy without a folding-line. Parts like the mud-guard were replaced by plasticard, which is much easier to use.
The interior of the vehicle is packed with detail and this will keep you busy for quite some time as well. Again, research is necessary to get the colours right. Some of the details are very fragile, like the hinges on the seats. François replaced the very thin parts with home-made metal inserts. The instructions aren’t always that clear and even indicate parts that aren’t in the kit, such as the lateral details of part A45 ...  strange.
When the interior is installed, the top and bottom part of the Cougar are joined. This didn’t go as well as it should. François had to fill a gap of over 1mm with plasticard and putty. The armoured glass is extremely tight and needs some adjusting. In the end, brute force was necessary to get it in the right spot, but there’s a lot of risk for the transparent parts to crack.
One problem that we often noticed, was that a lot of adjustment points were too small and had to be adjusted. The exhaust of the Cougar needs to be modified as well and received some masking tape to make it look more realistic.
The wheels, doors and turret are similar to the other areas of the kit: nicely detailed, but very complex to construct. Again: take your time and stay cool!
Each front door is built up out of 14 parts. Some plastic parts are so tiny that they are smaller than the sprue connections!
The turret is also very detailed – 23 parts without the gun -  but oh so very fragile. But hey, by now, you’re used to it, right? It is a lot of work, but the end result will be impressive! The armoured glass in this area should be green, so out with the green transparent paint.
With everything constructed, François could get started on the painting stage. At last ! First thing to do: mask what needs to be masked.
Ready for painting! See the gap that needed to be filled?
Primed and pre-shaded with red-brown.
With the final colour applied, the Cougar really starts to look like the real thing!
And now the fun part begins: the weathering. François is always very keen to try out new products, such as washes, pigments, chipping products, etc. This Cougar is a perfect subject for this! The photo shows the progress on the turret:
Adding depth to surface of the Cougar.
After a wash, the details are highlighted and some chipping is done. She starts to look more realistic by now. In the next step, some pigments will be used.
The underside can be weathered in a much heavier way.
Revell and Mig pigments will finish the weathering process. After this, it is time to unmask everything and finish the kit. After 120 hours, that’s a relieve!
Time to show the end result:
Quite a sight in the rear-view mirror... Take the next left hand turn. Quickly!
Lots and lots of details to show ...
Ready for anything, this Cougar!
And one more, in situation with dust from the chopper all over the photo (sorry for that ...).
So, what about this Panda 1/35 Cougar 4x4 then? Well, it is a very impressive kit, with an enormous amount of parts. This Panda kit has quite a bit of similarities with its Kitty Hawk stable mates, in that the detail is very nice, but the construction is not as easy as it could be to build. Panda seem driven by the aim to fill the kit with detail, but one that needs an experienced modeller to finish to a top standard. It might have been better if Panda had taken some extra time to make the fit just that little more snug, and maybe some painting instructions for the interior, sometimes the instructions are not always as clear as they could be.. That’s it for the negatives.

The end-result is fantastic, not a quick build but the details are very nice. We noted that Panda has recently released the Cougar 6X6, which is an even more impressive machine. Being bigger, it will probably have even more parts…

 ... maybe we’ll let François have a breather first!

Model: François Laloux
Text: Nicolas Deboeck

Many thanks to Panda Hobby for the kit to review & build.