by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
The following introduction is as supplied by ICM;
The Zil 131 was the main all road truck of the 1970’s and 80’s,. and its serial production was begun in 1967. This truck featured high reliability and all road abilities. The basic model was mainly used as a personnel transport or cargo truck. These trucks were supplied to Warsaw Pact countries and also many countries in Asia and Africa. Between 1967 and 1990 about 1,000,000 trucks were produced at the Zil plant. The improved model 131 N has been in production since 1986, but later production was moved to the Ural production plant. There were many types of Zil 131 trucks produced for civilian and military use, one of those types is the command version as replicated in this model.
I will begin here by thanking ICM for continuing their improved packaging process. They have provided a rigid flap lidded cardboard box with an additional separate card lid with the box art; this approach has resulted in a packaged model that should survive any reasonable handling the world’s postal services throw at it. The contents of the model are listed below, but ICM do package all of the sprues inside a single re-sealable plastic bag and this does result in some bowing of the sprues. It does however prevent movement of the parts and so avoids damage.
8 tan sprues
2 clear sprues
8 vinyl rubber tyres
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
A good look over the various injection moulded parts is pleasing for the most part. I did not locate any short shots or broken parts present, there are a lot of flow lines present on the larger mouldings, but none of these look or feel to have caused any issues that will need to be tackled. One thing there are quite a few of is ejector pin marks that will ideally be addressed by the modeller. One positive on the ejector pin marks is that most of them are recessed rather than proud and so easier to deal with in my opinion.
Shock horror the chassis is a multi-part assembly; this is an ICM kit and so what did you expect. In truth I really like how ICM tackles the chassis of their models as it allows this area to be faithfully replicated and provides the modeller an easy way to add any upgrades or scratch work they wish. There is of course a down side to this approach, and that is that care needs to be taken during assembly to insure that the chassis is square when finished, get this wrong and the rest of the build will be a real pig.
Engine and Gearbox
ICM always put a lot of work into the mechanicals of their models and this offering is no exception. The engine and gearbox is well represented here despite ICM not providing photo etched detail parts, but ICM do a pretty good job of providing quite fine mouldings where needed and for those who wish I am sure a photo etched set will be available. One thing I recommend the modeller tackles to lift the engine further is to add some wiring detail as that will be eye catching. One issue that I am struggling with is the exhaust; the majority of the exhaust is clearly shown being installed, but the end of the pipe suddenly appears in the instructions without previous mention that I can see. The fuel and air tanks are well represented in the model only requiring some seam lines to be dealt with, but I again advise the fuel and air lines are replicated to lift the detail to a higher standard.
Suspension, Axles and Drive
The leaf spring suspension units are the weak area of this section, this is due to the front set being moulded as part of the chassis and both front and rear sets requiring some careful clean up to remove mould seams without damaging the detail. The axles and drive shafts have very nice detail present throughout, but again careful clean up of parts will be needed. One thing I would have liked to see offered here would have been the ability to show the front wheels turned as I feel it adds interest to the look of the finished model. Taken as a whole and despite my concerns this should look like another nice area of the model.
Truck Cab and Bonnet
The truck cab looks the correct shape to me and so I see no issues there of which I am aware. The few recessed panel lines that are part of the mouldings are nicely done and realistic in appearance. The cab interior is pretty basic, but then again what did you expect of a Russian truck. The instrument panel is lifted via the use of decals and I suspect that the after-market companies will offer alternate options in time. The doors have been supplied separately to the cab, and this is an aspect I approve of. In addition to that ICM have also used separate door cards and door furniture; again these are aspects of which I approve as they look better than moulded on features and give the modeller options. The glazing for the cab is of a nice thickness and I see no issues with their use. The step plates and mudguards look good with the tread plate being nicely replicated. The lights are supplied with clear glazed lenses which look quite good; however if SKP Model release a set of lenses and taillights for the model they will lift this aspect to a good degree. The bonnet or hood if you prefer is again a separate moulding and this will allow the work that ICM and the modeller puts into the engine and bay to be displayed. Another aspect I like about this release is that the grills of the front grill are open rather than being moulded as a solid piece of plastic. The only downside to the cab area is that there are a number of ejector pin marks that will need to be addressed; however it is my opinion that this area of the model has been very nicely done by ICM.
The command cabin is very nicely detailed on the outside, but is devoid of any interior detail and this aspect is the only let down of the model for me. It really is a crying shame that the interior detail is missing as ICM have added great options via the use of separate doors and even windows that can be assembled in an open position. I would like to see ICM offer internal sets for the modeller who purchases this model and who wants to have an interior in it as the display options scream out for one. The internal faces of the rear cab do have some ejector pin marks that will need work for anyone looking at working at adding an interior.
Instructions and Decals
The instruction booklet is printed on matt paper inside a glossy cover. The instructions guide you through the build via black and white line drawings, and as best as I can tell there are no glaring errors in them. The instructions also provide five base finishing options and six country/unit markings covering;
Soviet Army 1986
Czechoslovakian Army late 1980’s
Soviet Army late 1980’s
Russian Army late 2000’s
Ukrainian Army late 2000’s
The unit/country options are;
Soviet troops in Germany
GDR People’s Army
This is a very good model all things considered and is only let down by the lack of an interior for the command cabin. All other aspects of this model are very good I feel and make the kit well worth picking up. For those of you who fancies their skills with the airbrush and hand brush ‘Frenchy’ has added some great pictures to the replies in the news story covering this model.