Rebel MATV Apache: a sort of review.

My DCH troops needed some softskin transport and recon, and seeing as I can’t find anyone that actually makes a 15mm scale G-Wagon I had to either scratchbuild one and cast it (not yet) or buy something else.

I decided to go with Rebel Mini’s MATV Apache, which looks like an uparmoured HMMWV (at least on the website). I also picked up some Nanjing Tractor Factory No.7 (by which I mean cheap Chinese knock-offs) HMMWVs that I picked up at Daiso. They were already painted in hideous blue and had “POLICE” on the side, so a repainting was in order.

Firstly, the Rebel figures.

Intially all looked fine, at least in the ziploc bag in which they are shipped. They come surprisingly exploded, with the body, chassis, wheels, weapons and turrets all separate. More irritatingly, some of the weapons are in separate pieces as well.

On closer inspection, though, things weren’t so good. The resin cast body was appallingly cast. The moulds are clearly in bad shape, with obvious tears that are now filled with resin. One side of the model is was excruciatingly bad, with the doors being sort of vague, formless lumps out of which you have to carve your own detail.

These doors will need to be carved into shape. Or resculpted. Note the highly visible seam going through a grille that isn’t even properly aligned.

The metal chassis was quite thick, so you think that it would be reasonably good. Unfortunately, they were all bent, and had to be straightened. This is less easy than it sounds, because bending a 5mm thick piece of metal not particularly trivial. Once they were bent to the right position, the fit was reasonable.

The wheels, fortunately, were circular and well cast, needing only a little bit of work to clean up where the metal was injected into the mould.

The cupolas were less poorly cast than the rest of the model, but they still had very obvious lines that were a bit of a nightmare to remove.

Less excusable are the .50 cal MGs and other weapons on the sprue. To mount them, there’s a very obvious hole in the roof where they go. This seems reasonable until you find that the base of the .50 cal can’t actually fit there. To make it fit would involve cutting off most of the mount and remaking a new one from scratch, which is completely unacceptable, as it’s probably easier to scratchbuild a .50 cal. Ultimately, I ended up not gluing the weapon into place (holding it with bluetack in the hole) and having it slightly crooked as if it were pointing to the side. It doesn’t look quite like it should but it’s certainly less work.

In addition to that, I could see no compelling reason why the ammo box needed to be separate from the weapon itself, and that there were, in fact, very few points of contact between the two. Gluing it on was securely was a challenge as the parts are too small to pin easily.

Let me put all of this in perspective — it took two nights (about 5 – 6 hours) to clean and fix 3 Apache models for painting, which is a bit ridiculous. If I wanted them to look really good, with all holes filled and errors repaired, the time would be doubled (or even squared).

The Tractor Factory 7 Hummers required no real prep. The wheels are too small, but seeing as I didn’t have any spares (although I suppose I could have bought some Hot Wheels and swapped) I left them as-is. Also, there’s not much you can do to it anyway.

Painting the models was pretty straightforward, as I was going for basic desert khaki, which meant they were basically only one colour.

Here’s the basic procedure

  1. Basecoat with appropriate khaki, using an airbrush
  2. Highlight/drybrush with a lighter colour (Bleached Sand)
  3. Wash with a mixture of Future, sepia acrylic ink and water (50% Future/Water, plus enough ink to give a hint of shading)
  4.  Tires in a rubbery colour, drybrushed with a dirt colour.
  5. ┬áThe windows were painted with a mix of white, black and Payne’s Grey. I blended by adding more white to the base mixture
  6.  Miscellaneous accoutrements painted in the usual fashion (weapons, lights, etc)
  7. Weather with various dirt colours using an airbrush; the wiper area was masked off using liquid frisket
  8. Final weathering with powdered pastels.

I ended up putting the armoured cupolas on top of my cheapass HMMWVs, mostly because they look a little bland from the top. Because I’m a great proponent of flexibility, though, they’re just held on with bluetack, so I can swap them out if desired.

This is how they ended up:

One of these things is not like the other

Tiny tires are excellent for desert warfare.

The sprayed on dirt is kind of hard to see, because it’s a) subtle, because most dirt doesn’t actually ever completely obscure the base colour and b) khaki is the colour of dirt anyway.

By pure coincidence, the bargain bin Hummers are almost exactly the same size as the Rebel Apaches. Unfortunately, though, both of these are grossly overscale for 15mm. The width of a HMMWV is approximately 2m, which should be about 2cm if you use a generalized 1/100 scale for 15mm, or 2.2 cm for HO if you’re one of those people. These are significantly larger. Although, to be fair, they are not actually marketed as scale models of actual HMMWVs.

Luckily, I’m not one of those people who will lose sleep over this, but if you place them next to say, a Peter Pig technical, or a building, they look a little odd.

On the whole, assembling and painting these wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience. I’d give the Rebel Apache a resounding “Meh”, or about 6/10. I’m certainly not in a hurry to order any more of them.

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