Saturday, October 2

Build Review Pt I: 1/48th scale T-90A & GAZ-233014 “Tiger” - Taming the Tiger...

The dual boxing of Suyata's 48th scale T-90A & GAZ-233014 “Tiger” hit our benches recently, with Paul Lee taking up the challenge of building both of these kits to see what quality Suyata is bringing to our hobby. Today, the GAZ Tiger is built, painted & finished in part I of his story...

Build Review Pt I: T-90A & GAZ-233014 “TIGER”
Manufacturer: Suyata
Scale: 1/48
Type: Polystyrene, and waterslide decals multimedia Kit
Price: $36USD  from Hobbylink Japan
Suyata's facebook page
Today: Pt I: GAZ-233014 “Tiger” build.
To properly give both of these two kits their own airtime and not confuse readers by chopping and changing between builds, Paul takes on the GAZ Tiger in part I of his build story. He completes the kit with part II of the kit, the T-90A Main Battle Tank next week.

A look inside the box with the two kits inside...
The Subject: The "Tiger" Gaz-233014 Armoured Vehicle
The GAZ Tigr (Russian: Тигр and English: Tiger) is a Russian 4x4, multipurpose, all-terrain infantry mobility vehicle manufactured by GAZ, first delivered to the Russian Army in 2006. Primarily used by the Russian Federation's armed forces, it is also used by numerous other countries. The GAZ-233014 is the military variant of GAZ-2330 “Tiger” high-mobility vehicles which resembles the US "Humvee" and are therefore called the “Russian Humvee”.  It entered military service in 2007, and the “Tiger” is capable of achieving an off-road speed up to 120-140km/h thanks to its high mobility design. 
A crew of six includes driver and co-driver plus 4 Special Forces personnel. The armament consists of roof ring mounted AGS-17 30mm automatic grenade launcher and “Pecheneg” 7.62mm MG which can be simultaneously operated by two crew members through the open hatch. The cabin can also host a large storage of ammunition and RPG launchers.
This version of the "Tigr" has third-class ballistic protection in accordance with GOST R 50963-96 side and aft projections. In the frontal projection, the machine is protected by a class 5 Standard. In the roof of the car, there is one big revolving door with folding lid and two brackets for mounting weapons. 
Firing of personal weapons crew and troops through opening armoured glass in the doors and on the sides of the car. In the cabin air space for the driver, older cars and 4 people landing. Provides space for stacking of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades type RPG-26, the radio station and the radio-controlled explosive devices blocker.
You can definitely see the influence of the American HMVEE when you look at the forward sections of the GAZ although it is shaped a bit more like a van rather than a car. Construction of the GAZ starts off with the chassis and drivetrain, and this is a fairly straightforward build and presents no major issues. The steering is fixed so the wheels cannot be posed at an angle, but it wouldn’t be hard to change that yourself if that is what you want to do.
The instructions ask you to mate the chassis to the body of the vehicle next, but that would only make painting a more difficult task later on so I didn’t do that yet. However, the instructions do not give you any painting instructions apart from the marking schemes so I assume that it would be black and painted it accordingly. The tyres are provided in vinyl and very nicely moulded without a big seam down the middle which is nice because they can be quite difficult to remove in vinyl.
Construction then moves on to the main body of the vehicle, and as I mentioned earlier, the kit gives you pretty much the full interior of the passenger compartment with the driver and passenger seats, and various ammunition racks. Unfortunately, as mentioned above as well, there are no painting guides for this so it was off to Google where I found this image, which even matched the layout that Suyata gives you. The bad news, is I’m sure you’ve already noticed, is the camouflage that is all over the interior. As it turns out, the interior of the vehicle is lined with Kevlar for extra crew protection, which is quite a big omission to me.
Realistically, you could hand paint the camouflage, but decals would easily be the ideal solution. Unfortunately camouflage decals in 1/48 are not that common, although I did have a set of 1/35 camouflage in the stash, and while it would be out of scale, the amount of the interior you see once it is all closed up is minimal so I thought I would give it a go. Unfortunately, those decals turned out to be so brittle that even breathing on them would cause them to snap let alone trying to get them in place so I had to resort to doing a black interior.
The instructions don’t mention it, but the rear doors can be posed open. The side doors don’t have any visible hinges like the rear, but a bit of glue will give you opened side doors. The roof hatch has the option of being posed closed or open, which would be great for showing off some of that interior, but without the camouflage, it just doesn’t look as good as it could. As you can see, there will not be much of the interior that will be visible once you close it all up which is a bit of a shame. Equally hard to see are the pair of instrument dials dial decals situated behind the steering wheel, but they are a nice touch nonetheless.
Closing up the panels of the body presented no problems at all and only a small amount of filler was needed for the joins. You are given lens’ for the headlights and front indicators, however the rear indicators and brake lights are moulded solid which is a bit of a disappointment but not a deal breaker. The front windscreen is sandwiched in-between an interior and exterior frame, however the external frame comes with the wipers moulded in place which makes it a bit of a challenge to mask the windscreens in preparation for painting so I left it off to paint separately.
There are four “marking” schemes in the box, two in the familiar Russian three tone camouflage, and two in plain green. I use the word marking loosely because three of the schemes only use decals for the number plates. I was originally intending to do a camouflaged vehicle for the Gaz, but after the T-90, and the more I looked at the Gaz with the gaudy big red stars for the Victory Day Parade, the more I fell in love with it and changed my mind to do that instead. The only issue now was that the profiles showed the white vehicle numbers underneath the tools and cable attached to the outside of the vehicle. However, pictures of the actual Victory Day vehicles showed that these vehicles didn’t have the tools and cables attached to the outside. Indecision is a killer. After my previous adventures with painting the T-90, I went to Zashchitniy Zaleno for the main colour and found it looking quite different to the T-92, although this was probably because of the previous colours I sprayed on the T-90. The decals went down well over the mostly flat surfaces, and the big star on the bonnet really didn’t even need decal softener but I brushed some on anyway.
I finally got to attach the chassis and gave it a black/brown wash to finish it off… Or so I thought. I’m not one of those who likes pristine models so I just had to give it a lightish spray of Tamiya buff. The tyres were given a dust coloured wash, particularly in between the tread pattern to give it a nice dusty look.

Here it is, completed and looking very dirty - something you don't often see with new Russian vehicles
Once upon a time, you would be nervous about new manufacturers and the quality of the kits they would release, but I we appear to be living in an age where the quality bar just keeps getting higher and higher. This is two stunning kits by Suyata, and while I’m not the biggest fan of 1/48 armour models, these two are great examples with what can be done in the smaller scale, with detail even rivalling what can be done in 1/35. 
The only disappointment I have is with the GAZ and the lack of interior decals for the Kevlar lining, and lack of painting guides for the various sub-assemblies. While Suyata may very well have intended the Gaz to be an exterior model only, it was a waste to have all that interior detail closed up. Don’t let that dissuade you though because the engineering of these two kits is absolutely faultless.
The second part of this build , that of the T-90 MBT to accompany this kit,will be posted next week here on TMN
Paul Lee

Thanks to Suyata for sending this kit to build and review