13205, M2A2 Bradley OIF. 1/35th-scale injection molded styrene kit. Contains: 355 injection-molded styrene parts, 18 poly caps, two lengths of vinyl track, two decal marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 13 steps. Price: $38.00 USD.
There have been 1/35th-scale kits of the Bradley IFV around for nearly 20 years. Tamiya was the first, followed by the Academy clones. In 1991, Tamiya upgraded their original version to Desert Storm standards, while a second very recent upgrade added so-called ODS (Operation Desert Storm) features. Academy has now done an upgrade to OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) standards. Unfortunately, they have continued their penchant for producing nice-looking kits, with some interesting details, which are, unfortunately, not especially accurate replicas of the subject.
But all is not totally lost, as in most ways this kit is really no worse than any other Bradley on the market in this scale, while it does provide for some interesting detail differences (or enhancements), such as the following:
The entire superstructure, along with the side armor panels are molded together as one single part, using a multi-part, or slide-mold.
The lower armor skirts have the later style of attachment points connecting them to the upper appliqué armor section. This is the first time that particular feature has been represented in a 1/35th-scale kit.
The grab handles seen in the center of the lower skirts are all separate parts, for a much better appearance (its about time!). The steps/handles seen on the bottom of a few skirts are also separate parts.
The drive sprockets have opened spokes (although the original solid types are still included; dont use them, of course). This is superior to the Tamiya kit, which despite all of its iterations, still has the spokes as solid moldings
There are a couple of nice spares provided such as two road-wheels and a drive sprocket tooth ring.
The 25mm gun tube is the fluted style, and by the use of a slide mold, has the bore end already opened up (the original non-fluted gun tube is also supplied).
There are new 7.62mm ammunition boxes for the outside edge of the turret bustle storage rack; they are rendered using a slide-mold for better detail and easier clean-up.
New CIP panels for the superstructure sides and rear plate.
New parts to represent the rubber sheeting seen on the front end of each of the hull sides.
New engine exhaust shroud.
The engine access hatch lid is a separate part, but there is no internal detail.
Those are all positive points; now for the negative stuff.
The tracks are of the older style and are not appropriate for Bradley IFVs used since Operation Desert Storm (although its not impossible to suppose that some of these vehicles may still have an old set in use). Blast Models as well as Friulmodel, make replacement sets of track.
There are no shock absorbers for the lower hull sides, but these will be hidden after construction if the skirts are used in their normal configuration. Its the same on the Tamiya kit. Blast Models set 35023K, provides the shock absorbers.
The lower skirt sections should be separate pieces; they should also be thinner and be of the sandwich style. Its the same on the Tamiya kit.
The bolt patterns on the side appliqué armor and skirts are not entirely accurate in some places; in particular, the rear starboard plate has a row of small holes that are incorrectly positioned. They should follow the contours of the superstructure plate aft of the turret, where it kinks. Its the same on the Tamiya kit.
The newer style of mounting the lower skirts to the main upper appliqué plate should be accompanied by substantial detail changes to the upper plate, in the way of various clips (presumably for the ERA packs). None are present.
Other bolt patterns do not precisely match reference photos, especially the turret and the upper glacis plate. It is a somewhat similar situation in the Tamiya Bradley, but that kit seems better in this particular area than Academys kit.
The glacis plate itself, where it meets the front mud guards, is incorrectly shaped. The cut-out area above the mud guards should first run vertically, make a 45-degree angle, and then a 90-degree angle (both angles from the original vertical). The Academy kit goes vertical and then 90-degrees. The Tamiya kit has this feature properly represented.
The final drive housings are too small. Its the same on the Tamiya kit.
Very poorly-done lower bow appliqué armor plate. Tamiyas is clearly superior.
The rear hull/superstructure plate (part B-6) has extensions on either side of the troop ramp, when the plate should in reality be flat. Its the same on the Tamiya kit.
The troop exit ramp lacks the open/close mechanism, just like the Tamiya kit.
The drivers hatch lid, if left open, has no detail inside of it. Its the same on the Tamiya kit.
The gunners sights are solid inside, although they have separate doors. Tamiyas is opened-up and clear acetate material for the windows is provided.
The gunners external sight linkage has been over-simplified; there is no representation of the clear Plexiglas reticule. It is the same situation in the Tamiya kit, although they give a clear part for the reticule.
There is no platform provided next to the port side of the turret. Tamiya provides this part.
The decals (only two vehicles are represented) lack many of the smaller items needed, making them rather incomplete; Tamiya has clearly done a much better job of it.
Virtually no stowage is provided; again Tamiya provides a great deal in that respect, plus some (not very well-done) figures.
Many will bemoan the lack of any interior detail, but I cannot fault the kit for that (in general) as it would have significantly driven up the cost. This is also a matter of detail tastes; if you leave all hatch lids closed, the lack of interior details is a moot point. The lack of the recently seen ERA packs will also be percieved as a detriment by those modelers who want to model the latest upgraded vehicles. In this respect, I have to agree; it would have been an excellent selling point had these items been included. The instructions are clearly drawn, and the decals are cleanly-printed in thin film.
So, there we have it.
For the modeler who is looking for the ultimate Bradley kit, this latest product will be a disappointment. For those who are less discerning, this latest offering may be quite acceptable. For myself, I am still waiting
Recommended with reservations.
Frank V. De Sisto
Academy kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.academy.co.kr
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The sharp-eyed reader will note that I said the lower bow plate for the Academy kit is essentially incorrect and that the Tamiya part is much better.
A look at Terry Ashley's review over at PMMS will provide proof that I missed this item. The Academy part is in fact correct for the Bradley with the newer features.
And, I had no clue whatsoever about the way the gun mantle was modified!
My thanks to Terry's sharp eye and my apologies to all for presenting improper information.
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