I am not sure why but I was looking forward to the release of this kit perhaps more than the others in the current flurry of new models and this was in spite of my disappointment with previous Kinetic releases. With those the problem might have been that Kinetic has chosen subject which was also released by other companies, so the comparison with competition was inevitable and unfortunately not very favourable for Kinetic.
Now RG-31 is different. Though this vehicle was used in recent conflicts quite a bit, there was no one showing an interest in releasing this vehicle in 1/35 scale. Until now. It might not be the coolest looking armored/protected car out there – I would dare to say this title would go to the MaxxPro (hey Riich models, where is the promised kit…), but still quite outstanding though. One of the reasons of my interest was of course the fact that the vehicle is also used by the Canadian army.
So when I saw the kit on the vendor table at the HeritageCon the other weekend I did not hesitate and picked one. After having inspected the contents I must say that Kinetic improved the quality visibly and the model is in my opinion much better than their M109. It does not reach the levels of Dragon in molding quality or level of detail, but it still does look very nice. Details around the fenders and rear doors seem to be well done as well as wheels. Sprue attachments are bit heavier, but not worse than with many other producers on the market. Molding is fine with just minimum of flash around the edges of the parts. Some of the details are bit heavy, so I would wait for photoetch sets for this kit to replace some of those, such as the gunners shield on the roof.
Looking at the instructions, suspension seems to be quite detailed, but not overly complicated to build. Interior details provided are bit spartan and will definitely benefit from either scratchbuilding or aftermarket parts. Small photoetch sheet is provided for some of the finer parts (e.g. lighs protective mesh). .50 cal provided in the kit is also little lacking in terms of surface detail and I would rather replace it with resin replacement.
Markings provided are only for the US units in Iraq and one for a UN vehicle in Lebanon.
Again, I cannot comment on the fit of the parts as I have not tried to build this kit yet.
For me important factor will be how easy (or difficult) it will be to convert this into Canadian version. One will most likely need the AFV’s M151 remote weapon station set (kit 35157) which is used instead on Canadian vehicles instead of the gunner’s post on the roof. Even this set will need some conversion as the smoke dischargers are of different style. I will be looking for advice from experts on the web, but the good news is that Miloslav Hraban from Real Model is apparently already working on the conversion set. Hope he will not let us wait too long.
I would also expect that some aftermarket company will sooner or later come out with the photoetch slat armour for this vehicle.
So, to make your own judgement, see below few shots of the details of the parts. I must say I like this kit and am looking forward to building it, though I am not sure when will that happen…
I believe this kit should not be missing on the shelf of any modeller interested in modern armor.