Monday, October 14

In-Boxed: Takom's 35th scale US Army 1/4 Ton Utility Truck w/1/4 Ton Utility Trailer & M.P. Figure

Takom has just surprised us this year by releasing new tool 1/35th scale Willys Jeep "US Army 1/4 Ton Utility Truck". We have already built ours, but paused before we showed you how it goes together to show you just what you get in the box in this first part of the review...

In-Boxed: US Army 1/4 Ton Utility Truck w/ 1/4 Ton Utility Trailer & M.P. Figure
1/35th scale
From Takom
Kit No# 2126
4 marking choices included
Photo Etch included
Kit designed by T Rex Studios
The kit comes with one figure included
Price: A$49.90 AUD/ £26.77 GBP/ $33.89 USD/ €30.69 EUR from Hobbylink Japan
Product Link on the Takom Website
A while ago we heard on their Facebook page that Takom was going to make a new 35th scale 1/4 ton Utility truck or for the layman, a Jeep. Also laid out was the whole family of this famous vehicle was in the planning...

The wording "family" suggests that this would be more than one release and a "family" being the important wording here, we might find ourselves "chock-a-block full of Willy" this year - there are so many alterations and variants of the jeep my head is spinning just thinking about them...

Hey - did somebody order a Jeep in-box??
The original "1/4 ton utility truck"
With the United States' involvement in WWII on the horizon, the government recognised a desperate need to replace its ageing fleet of Model T's, calling for a small, lightweight, three-seat, four-wheel-drive vehicle. Karl Probst started work on his design for a barely-solvent truck company called Bantam on July 17, 1940, and finished two days later. By the 22nd, the entire proposal—including cost estimates—was handed in to Uncle Sam.
Bantam didn’t have the capabilities to produce the sheer quantity needed to fight the Nazis, so the Army brought Willys and Ford to the table and handed them the blueprints. Ford had a number of innovations on its "Pygmy" design, while the Willys Quad, shown, even featured four-wheel steering.
The front's legendary shape was actually Ford's contribution - With the war looming, emphasis on both quality and ease of production meant Willys had to adopt several components, not the least of which was the Pygmy’s flat front grill, shown here.
While it’s commonly thought that “jeep” is a truncation of General Purpose vehicle, or GP, that’s likely wrong. Ford’s version was officially named GPW, where G means Government, P refers to the distance between the wheels (80 inches), and W stands for Willys, since the vehicles Ford produced were technically under license from Willys. 
Alternately, some say it was common lingo to refer to all military prototypes as “jeeps,” and that “peeps” even entered the lexicon briefly. All we know is...maybe?
The most interesting theory is that Jeep is named after a cartoon character. This little guy’s name is Eugene the Jeep. He’s a character in “Popeye” that was first drawn up a few years prior to the Bantam 4x4.
In the 4x4's first public outing, it was driven up the steps of the U.S. Capitol
When asked what it was, the driver replied simply, “It’s a jeep.” Two years later, Willys-Overland filed a trademark application.

A few other interesting subjects in the Willys family a modeller might take on...

The New "Willys" kit from Takom
OK, before now did not know much about this kit apart from the CADs and the box art - but here are some bits we were sure of:
- 1/35th scale injection-plastic kit
- Designed by Jason Wong and the T-Rex Studio from an original version of the Jeep
- The trailer is included in the kit as is the rear-mounted MG
- Full engine and chassis detail provided with the opening bonnet (hood)
- Photo-etch parts included
- 4 marking choices included
- There are many other jeeps in this series to be designed and built and you can be sure the Jeep range will be tested.
Takom's new 35th scale US Army 1/4 Ton Utility Truck w/1/4 Ton Utility Trailer & M.P. Figure:
The kit itself comes in a top-opening 30.3cm x 20.0cm x 5.0cm box with the excellent artwork of Jason Wong, a bit of a double duty here, as his company "T-Rex Studios" also designed the kit and the figure. A pretty talented guy one might think.
Each of the plastic sprues comes in its own plastic bag which is good for protecting parts - how long before people start to decry this as bad for the environment? (Imagine if they knew how many microplastics I had on my lap after a night of cutting, fitting and sanding?). Inside are six sprues in light grey plastic, one clear sprue, one sheet of photo-etch, one small decal sheet, and an A5  paper coloured instruction booklet.
The Plastic: 
Overall the plastic moulding on this kit is well-executed, with not many of those large, thick attachments Takom is known for, in their place are mostly sensible attachment points. There are a few mould seams on the parts, even the smallest parts needing the seam to be sliced or sanded from them. There are a few sink marks and injection marks I will point out as we look at each of the sprues in detail. A good thing for the modeller is that ejector marks are for the most part invisible inside the structure of the Jeep or under the car or trailer. 

Let's look at each of the sprues and parts in turn...

The Chassis: 
Saving a construction that needs to be jockeyed and squared up on a jig, the one-part chassis is quite strong as a base for you to do anything to the kit after construction. I know that I pressed pretty hard down on this while it was being made. It also cuts the time to build this kit for me, a part that you forget about as soon as the chassis is covered up.
There is a slight mould seam horizontally down the centre that needs to be removed with a sharp knife.
The floor pan and read sides of the jeep is the other large part in the box. Again, being moulded together this cuts down on construction time and adds strength to the kit. Only the rear of the jeep and the front fenders and engine shroud need to really be added to this part to make most of the outside of the jeep's body. 
Space for the fuel tank to be added to the jeep is under the driver's seat - what a place for that huh? Can anyone say "hot seat"?
The underside of the Jeep's floorplan here. A Takom logo will have to be removed if you want to show an overturned jeep, but that would be a waste to use a new kit on huh? Also, notice the large ejector pin marks that are hidden in the roof of the rear fender and the underside of the gearbox housing that are put in a smart place - thank you Takom for that.
Sprue A: This sprue has many of the smaller parts of equipment of the jeep littering it. Mostly smaller parts for the main, drivetrain and linkages for steering and universal, the Front firewall and engine block and parts for the external engine compartments with the hoses and fan belt. The external parts of equipment of the jeep, four fuel "Jerry" cans, a shovel and spade, three spare ammo boxes and the .50 cal machine gun and its mount are all present here on the sprue.

Parts of the .50 cal look pretty good here, although there is the slightest of seams that need to be removed along the length of the barrel on the top and bottom, the tip of the barrel is slightly recessed. You could get away with not doing anything else to this gun or you could tweak the barrel cooling jacket and tip a little with a fine drill if you like.
Sprue B: The trailer - This is a really simple construction to make the 1/4 ton trailer supplied with this kit. I am not sure why it was included, with not all thinking to use it on their scenes - but those who want one won't find a nicer in the same scale by the looks of things. The plastic looks nicely moulded with the only flaws being the ejector seams on the undersides which again, will not be seen. Being on its own sprue this could easily be omitted in one of the other jeep releases in the future if takom pleases.
Sprue C: Four main tyres and a spare for this jeep, along with two axles and diff, front and rear springs, the two front and one rear seat with cloth moulding for the padded parts, (under-seat) fuel tank, steering wheel and an M1 rifle in its travel pouch or outside it are also included for the driver's self defence.

The axle and diff are a two-part affair, with the diff housing on the other side of the picture here bing the second part. The front and rear axles have a solid base at the wheels moulded on. This does not give the modeller a chance to turn the wheels unless the modeller wants to do some surgery of their own, bummer that.

The tyres and wheels are moulded in two parts, with the other part being the housing of the inside of the tyres. a good trad pattern with little to remove make for some nice tyres, and the bolts of the wheels all being finely moulded here. All we are missing is the "Firestone" writing on the tyre walls.

Sprue D: A simple sprue with a lot of the parts that the driver uses to control or to make the Jeep work. The bonnet, dashboard, exhaust, windshield frame, radiator and headlights and a few other parts that bring the detail up on this kit are all here on this sprue.
Again with an eye to simplifying construction, it seems that Takom has given us the front grill joined to the fenders as a one-piece part. This was handy as heck during the construction, but it could be a handbrake to those who want to join all the upper body together in one part. We found a fix for that as I will show you in part two of this review when we build the kit.

By looking at the front grill of the jeep you can see that it corresponds with the chart provided below, making this a WWII-era jeep (bottom left).
The dashboard of the jeep (top) is moulded with raised details on the panel. There are also decals supplied with the kit to provide a realistic looking dashboard. 
The rear of the jeep's tray is moulded with reflectors and lights in place. Where this joins the sides of the jeep however puzzles me - it should join on the two vertical seams (that you can see here in the picture) instead of on the sides. How it is moulded creates two unnecessary seams on the side of the Jeep.
The bonnet (or "hood" as the Yanks call it ­čśë) is simply moulded as one piece with the cover of the firewall/ dashboard (part 22 to the left). Simple hinges join the pair and leave a fairly seamless gap once in place. If you want to show the bonnet up you will need to add some scale thick rope as on the real thing. The underside of the bonnet needs some ejector pin marks removed as we will show you in the build review...
The two front bucket seats are made in real life from tubular frame and cushion covered with canvas, and the designers replicated this pretty well in the kit.

The rear seat was wider and it could either be removed or folded in a joint halfway up the vertical pipe structure. Again thee were covered with canvas padded cushions for a little bit of a softer ride - imagine sitting in the back of this with such a short wheelbase!

The transparent Sprue: The windscreen and two headlight lenses of the Jeep are here in clear plastic. The two lenses are clear without ribbing, and the two versions of the windshield are slightly different, one having no windscreen wipers moulded on to it, and the other having plastic windshield wipers in place. The choice is yours. With the wipers moulded on to paint, or to use the photo-etched wipers to add scale realism.

The Decal Sheet: On the supplied decal sheet you will find markings for four different Jeeps, including an MP and "The Damned Yankee". The dashboard and smaller stencils for the jeep are also on this sheet. There are national markings for one Jeep only though. The decals are in register and the white looks strong and not opaque.
The colour guides: Four marking choices from AMMO are here, along with some helpful (lol) paint suggestion in their colours. I suppose you can use other colours  - but all of these pretty much start at US Army Drab.
Sprue E: The figure - designed by Jason Wong from T-Rex Studios, is a pretty good replica of a Jeep driver in this scale in plastic. It lacks the detail of some of the resin figures on the market, and it may not match the recent Tamiya plastic figures scanned off some well-known modellers we liked a lot recently, but he is good enough to paint and detail up as a driver of a US Jeep.
The reverse side of the figure showing the joints of the man, the hollow helmet that sits on a featureless dome of his head, and the front blouse of the soldier's tunic.
In the instructions, we have a basic guide of how to paint the jeep's driver, again with AMMO shades to match the clothing. It is good to get this guide, but of course, US Khakhi varies so take advantage of this, and make the figure your own.
The Photo-Etched Sheet: The photo-etch sheet is small, and covers only what is needed in this release, wiper blades and latches for the windshield, hooks for the trailer, a strap and the metal backing plate that the seat rests upon are all here.
The Instruction booklet: The slightly larger than A5 instruction booklet is printed in black and white, and as you can see here is presented nicely with no real problems with clarity or logic. 
The sprue map - pretty much what we have looked at in the parts of plastic so far. Note as we mentioned the trailer is captured on one sprue.
We start with the easy construction of the chassis, remember the seam marks you will have to scrape off, the springs have that same seam you will need to remove also. The wheels are mounted strongly on the chassis but do not turn.

The other two wheels and axles go on to the hubs, then we start making the Jeeps engine. It is a simple affair but if you want to add wiring harness then it will be of your own stock.
The universal link is attached to the gearbox and the engine and 4WD linkage are added at this part of the build. The exhaust is added here also, that secures to the bottom of the jeep later.

Step 8 is an alteration tot he build  - it sees the battery go under the hood. 

At this point, the top of the jeep starts to take shape. In the build, I will show you how to attach the front to the rear and make the whole top of the vehicle removable for simple painting of both the chassis and engine and the top of the Jeep's bodywork.

The fuel tank under the driver's seat goes in, then the bonnet (hood) depending on if you want to open it up or not - and then the other parts to better detail the bodywork in step twelve.

The dashboard and the instrument panel are detailed up at this time, the front seats also go into the jeep so you can paint them separately, I left them till last on my build with a bunch of other stuff to avoid breakage.

Your choice of windscreen with or without moulded on windscreen wipers is here, with a delicate windscreen frame take care when removing it! The rear seat goes in at step sixteen.

The dressing of the rear of the Jeep with the spare tyre and Jerry can is next, You will have to decide whether you want the Jeep's driver in before you fit the steering wheel in his hand. This is before we put together the optional .50 Cal on its mount.

Making the trailer is fairly simple affair - all on one sprue so no hunting around and easy to paint with no masking either!

At these last moments of making the model, we decide if you want the driver in place or not, and the hooks made from photo-etch for the tarp tie-downs and whether you want the trailer's stand up or down depending on if it is to be towed.
So there it is - the whole contents of the first of a new family of Jeep kits from Takom, or should we say for licencing purposes "Takom's 35th scale US Army 1/4 Ton Utility Truck w/1/4 Ton Utility Trailer & M.P. Figure".

We have already built this jeep and the trailer, so let's pause complete judgement until the next part of this review, where we put it all together and show you a few tricks to help make your Jeep a little easier. 

Here is a little teaser...
Adam Norenberg

Thank you to the people at Takom for sending this kit to me to review and build. Look forward to the construction guide in the near future...