Monday, October 5

In-Boxed: 1/35th scale AC-40-137A Soviet Firetruck from ICM Models

We know that Andy Moore has a bit of a thing for large, rugged civilian vehicles (who doesn't?) indeed the scope for subjects and weathering are countless. He has started his build of ICM's new 35th scale AC-40-137A Soviet Firetruck already but has paused to give us an In-box review of the contents before sprues are cut. Check it out in Pt.I of his story...

In-Boxed: AC-40-137A Soviet Firetruck
Manufacturer – ICM
Kit Number - 35519
Scale - 1/35
Price - £35.99 From Model Hobbies UK (it is hard to find not boxed as the Chernobyl #2 kit)
Product Link on the ICM Website
ICM brought their Zil-131 kit to the market a few years ago, and since then they've been steadily releasing new versions of this ubiquitous Russian truck. Today we're looking at the latest incarnation in the form of the AC-40-137A Firetruck.
The Zil-131, on which the AC-40 is based, has been one of the main Soviet and Russian military trucks since its introduction in 1967. Its rugged construction, strong off-road ability, and a simple and easy to maintain design made it highly adaptable to a number of roles in both military and civilian hands. 
The AC-40-137 Firetruck version of the Zil-131 first entered production in 1970 and became one of the mainstays of fire brigades throughout Russia and the wider Soviet states. 
Along the way, it was upgraded to the AC-40-137A which featured an increased water tank volume and enhanced equipment. The type is still in extensive use in many countries of the former USSR. 
One of the AC-40's most notable moments came in 1986 during the initial response to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the subsequent clean-up operation. Many of these firetrucks are still lined up, slowly rusting away, at the vehicle graveyard at Rassokha.
Although this kit doesn't include markings for a Chernobyl firetruck, ICM have also released the AC-40 as part of their Chernobyl series which includes Pripyat Fire Brigade decals, along with four firefighter figures and a printed background panel to create a simple diorama.
The Kit
First off, we've got really nice artwork adorning the box which makes a great first impression. Under the lid, we get one of ICM's standard heavyweight cardboard boxes with a second, integrated lid which helps keep everything safe inside. Opening that second lid, you'll find 7 sprues in a light grey styrene, most of which are newly tooled for this release, with just a couple of common sprues carried over from the previous Zil-131 kits. In addition, there's a clear sprue, also changed for this release and 8 vinyl tyres. Completing the contents are the decal sheet and the instruction manual.
Sprue A
This is one of the common sprues carried over from the previous Zil-131 releases, and many of the parts on here aren't required for this build. Those that are needed are mainly engine and transmission components.
Sprue B
This one's a new sprue for this release, and holds several replacement parts for the unused ones from sprue A, including a new engine side piece and modified chassis rails. Those rails have a minor issue that cropped up during the build, which we'll get on to later. Like all the other sprues, the quality of moulding here is very high with some very fine details, but it's let down slightly by quite heavy mould lines running around most of the parts which results in quite a lot of clean-up.
Sprue C
Here we've got most of the components for the double cab. Unlike the single cabs on ICM's previous Zil-131 releases which had separate door parts, the cab sides here have the doors moulded integrally meaning they can't be posed open. The upside of this though is a simpler and faster construction, and less chance for parts misalignment.
Sprue D
This holds the parts for the rear body of the truck. The real AC-40 has large equipment lockers down each side of the rear body, but sadly these are moulded shut on the model. It would have been nice to be able to pose those open and have some extra firefighting equipment to add to the lockers. 
You can, however, pose the rear door open to display the included PN-40 pump. 
Sprue F
This holds the remainder of the part for the rear body, including the ladders which have been moulded very finely with a nice in-scale look to the rungs. They'll need to be handled with some care as they're quite delicate but should look great on the finished model.
Sprue E1 (x2)
The final grey sprues hold the wheels, which have very nicely moulded bolt detail. The wheels are completed with the connection pipes for the tyre inflation system, which are also supplied on this sprue.
Sprue G
The clear sprue holds the cab windows and headlights, along with the all-important warning lights for the roof. As these are moulded clear, you'll need to paint them with clear blue before installing them.
The vinyl tyres come attached to a small stub of sprue and are well moulded, but lack any sidewall detail and look a little plain as a result. They also have a noticeable seam line running around the perimeter of the tread which will need to be removed – not an easy task with this type of material. 
If you're not keen on them however, there are aftermarket resin alternatives from a number of companies that will provide better detail, less clean-up and a weighted effect. 
The build manual comes as a good-sized A4 booklet with clear line drawings for the build steps, which are broken down into 146 stages over 30 pages. Colour call-outs are listed throughout the build, with codes for Revell and Tamiya paints.
The decal sheet is printed anonymously but is done to a very high standard. The printing is sharp and clear, with no registration issues. The only minor issue is the shade of blue on the shield emblems which may be a little too light, at least compared to some reference images and the side-views in the paint guide. It's possible that this colour varies on the real vehicles though, so it could well be correct.
Marking Options
Well, it's a fire engine, so it's going to be red – what else were you expecting? ICM has included four schemes and they're all pretty similar apart from their respective regional markings and number plates. That being said, there are photos of AC-40's with more unusual schemes such as the blue-trimmed one show earlier in the review. Maybe some aftermarket decals will appear in time.

From the box, you can build one of the following.

Sergiev Posad, 2000's 
Moscow, 2000's 
Kiev, 2000's 
Vinnytsia, 2010's 
Overall, this is a great new release from ICM. We're snowed under with new kits of tanks and military vehicles these days, so getting something a little different in 1/35 makes a nice change. Having said that, these firetrucks were also used by the Russian Army, so you could still fit one in with a collection of military models. The quality of the mouldings looks to be very high and generally seems to be accurate to the original. 

Click on this link to see how it all goes together in part two of the review which will be coming up soon on TMN.

Andy Moore 

Thanks to ICM for sending this kit to Andy to Review and next up to build. You can see more about their models on the ICM Website