M998 Conversion Set
for Tamiya Humvee kit
MIG Productions 35-121

    A year ago someone could have said that there was enough Humvee kits on the market. There was an ESCI kit (out of production for several years, but still can be found), there was an Italeri kit and finally we had Academy kit. Each of them was manufactured in several variants, so there was a lot of kits to choose from. In addition Revell of Germany released re-boxed Italeri kit with additional parts to make M998 cargo / troop carrier variant (also available from Academy) and Tamiya also re-boxed Italeri model, but with extra parts to build a prototype variant with M242 Bushmaster cannon. Academy model was considered the best of all Humvee kits, although in some details Italeri kits (later, corrected releases) were superior. Academy kit was in quite obvious way based on Italeri model, so most parts were interchangeable and it shared dimensional inaccuracies of Italeri kit. Only Italeri offered the four seat M998 version with the full length canvas, as Command HMMWV (misspelled on the kit box as Commando HMMV).

    This year Tamiya released their M1025 kit and while initial comments were usually "Why? We already have so many Humvee kits!", the first reviews made it clear that this is the best kit of them all. It has its small problems (like missing pedals - but for me it is advantage - no need to remove them to add PE parts!), but overall it is definitely much better then other Humvee models. Most important is that it is the first dimensionally correct Humvee kit. This however made it very difficult, if not impossible to swap parts with older kits. And so far Tamiya released only two hard-top variants of Humvee: M1025 and M1046. No soft-top Humvees are available yet from Tamiya, although some features of their current models are actually correct only for soft-top variants (fiber glass engine grille, rubber protectors on windshield frame and lack of larger rivets on the body). 

    In November MIG Productions released their M998 conversion set for Tamiya Humvee and it is the first conversion set for Tamiya kit on the market. I originally planned to use parts from old Italeri Command Humvee kit to convert Tamiya model to M998, but as the size of the Italeri model is different, some serious plastic surgery would be necessary. In Dec/Jan issue of Tamiya Model Magazine International I spotted the ad of MIG with their new conversion set and immediately ordered it. It arrived yesterday.

    The conversion set comes in a small box with a nice photos of the finished model on one side. Inside the box is a single resealable bag with resin parts, protected by a few styrofoam chips. No instructions are provided, but they are not really needed. Conversion set consists 16 cream colored resin parts (click on the title photo above to enlarge it): four doors and four handles, front roof canvas section, rear roof and sides canvas section, rear curtain, two antenna mounts with support brackets and separate C-pillar (to make short roof variant).

    Parts are cleanly molded with just a couple of air bubbles, but these are in places where there are very easy to fill. All parts are attached to their pouring blocks by thin strips of resin, what makes it very easy to remove these blocks. I used a tip of sharp knife - almost no need for sanding at all! I wish all resin sets manufacturers would use this idea!

    One thing immediately disappointed me when I first saw all parts - there is no detail on the bottom side of the roof.  Both roof sections are quite thick (with the rear being just way too thick), so adding this detail is hardly possible. If you don't plan to detail the interior of the model this is not a problem of course, but if you do, then it may be really difficult to improve the look of these parts from the inside. Probably it was just not possible to make this parts much thinner in resin - actually I think that vacuum formed parts would be much better here. Still I feel that at least some attempt should have been made to "suggest" the presence of roof support frames. Luckily all doors feature basic internal detail, although only external door handles are provided.

No details on the bottom of the roof. 
Click on the picture to enlarge.

    The canvas roof of the old Italeri kit did not look realistic. It had a lot of wrinkles on it, but almost no sag and support frames on sides of the rear canvas section were not marked. The MIG set parts have exactly the opposite problem: there is too much sag and no wrinkles at all! The support framing is clearly visible, but the canvas surface is perfectly smooth - looks more like stretched rubber than canvas. I checked many pictures and in reality there are always some wrinkles on the surface (although not as many as in Italeri kit) and the sag, particularly on the sides of the rear canvas section is never as big as in MIG set. Straps and buckles are nicely molded on sides of rear canvas section.

A bit "rubber-like" surface of the canvas. 
Click on the picture to enlarge.

    As I mentioned before parts are very easy to remove from their pouring resin blocks, so I decided to do some dry test fitting. The rear section of the roof fits tightly - it actually has to be stretched a bit to sides to fit, but it is easy to do. It is possible to expand the sides of the roof slightly after warming the part in hot water, but it is not really necessary. The rear curtain part with window in it does not fit the roof part, when fitted separately from the model, but don't trim these parts! Once the roof is on the vehicle body, the sides will be stretched and the rear curtain will fit perfectly! Front door fit nicely, but there is a gap behind the rear doors which needs to be filled (I thought that I removed too much resin there, but the gap is also visible on the demo photo on the box).

Parts dry fitted with masking tape. 
Click on the picture to enlarge.

    I also dry fitted the C-pillar part that allows you to build the short-roof version of the M998. It fits nicely, but I would really prefer to see the full canvas curtain with window there. Of course it is easy to add this part from some metal foil or tissue paper, but I think it should be just as easy for MIG to add this part to the set to let us build this variant as it is most commonly used (MIG Productions based their set on vehicles seen in Iraq, where indeed troops sometimes ride their M998s without the rear curtain installed).

Parts dry fitted with masking tape. 
Click on the picture to enlarge.

    Despite all the issues I mentioned earlier, I'm really glad that I bought this set. I you decide to use it without any modifications, you will still get a cool looking Humvee variant. The set is easy to use and should not present any problems even to less experienced modeler. I will most likely use milliput to improve the shape and texture of the canvas and will also try to thin the roof parts down a bit inside and add some internal detail. It will be a bit extra work, but nothing particularly difficult. I recommend this set to everyone who want to turn the Tamiya kit into a different looking Humvee.



Copyright © 2003 VODNIK,    mailto:pawel@vodnik.net