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Meng 1/35 scale "technical" pickup with ZPU-1

Kit:VS-001 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$33
Black anodized photoetched metal; posable front wheels;
No engine; poorly molded side mirrors; mag wheels only; very fragile/fiddly weapon
Injection-molded, 150 parts (16 photoetched, 5 vinyl), decals

First used in Somalia during the 1990s, the term technical refers to a civilian or normally unarmed military vehicle equipped with weapons, usually a machine gun or rocket launcher.

Meng Models of Hong Kong has released the first injection-molded kit of a technical in 1/35 scale. The vehicle is a four-wheel drive 1997 Toyota HiLux armed with a ZPU-1 anti-aircraft gun. The kit is molded in three colors: white for the body, gray for the interior, and black for the chassis and ZPU. The cab is nicely molded in one piece with a separate bed and hood. However, you’ll need to glue the hood down; no engine is provided in the kit.

The five tires are nicely molded in soft vinyl, but they do have some slight flash on their edges. Clear parts are provided for all the lights and windows. Two small, black anodized photoetched-metal frets are provided, one for the truck and one for the gun. A small decal sheet provides instruments for the dashboard, as well as letters in both black and white if you want to add Toyota to the tailgate, although that was an uncommon feature on the 1997 HiLux.

The instruction booklet features large, clear, and uncluttered assembly diagrams and a full-color painting guide. A figure of a masked gunner dressed in jeans and a “hoodie” is also included.

While I don’t build a lot of automotive kits anymore, I was surprised by how small the model is compared with a standard 1/24 scale truck. I started assembly with the chassis. The front wheels can be turned if assembled correctly, but for some reason my wheels only want to turn right.

After painting, the interior went together with no problems. The decal for the dashboard is a nice touch. Detailed painting information is provided throughout the instructions.

I masked the rear window and added it to the body, but I left out the main window molding (Part E10) until I had finished painting the camouflage. I also left off several small parts, such as mirrors, windshield wipers, and light lenses. Meng provides an optional roll bar for the truck bed if you decide to build your model unarmed (or with a different weapon).

While Meng shows the vehicle painted basically showroom stock, there is a huge variety of painting options. During my research I found a picture on Wikipedia of a Liberian Toyota HiLux painted in a four-color scheme, so I did my best to duplicate that. It would have been nice if Meng had included a set of standard rims as an option; I painted my mags with Alclad II aluminum.

Assembling the gun was the most challenging part of the kit. There are many small pieces, several of which have tiny attachment points. Like most instructions, Meng would have you add several small detail parts before building an assembly. But it is much easier to build the main assembly, then add the detail parts. I could not get the photoetched-metal base disc (Part PE-B1) to fit the base top (Part X-8) without slightly enlarging the hole in the center. Watch the position of Part PE-B3. If placed incorrectly, it can interfere with the left side of the rack (Part X-18). The attachment of the gunsight linkage (X-1) is very weak for such a large part. I drilled out the attachment point to make it more secure. There are two different gun barrels, one perforated and the other slotted.

While I didn’t have time to paint the figure, I did assemble it and found it fits pretty well in the gun seat.

I spent about 23 hours building my Toyota technical, a little longer than usual due to the complex camouflage scheme. The finished kit exactly matched the dimensions I found on the Internet for a ’97 Toyota HiLux.

While even an intermediate modeler would be able to build the basic truck, assembling the gun takes some experience with small parts. Still, the model is a little jewel and would fit in any modern armor collection. I also suspect it will be popular with diorama builders and those who like to distress their models.

As I write this, Meng does not have an American importer. But the kit is readily available through Asian web retailers.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2012 issue of FSM


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