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In-Box Review
Umex Backhoe Crawler
Universal Backhoe Crawler
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Two of my favorite construction machines are the backhoe and the Caterpillar. Put them together as a backhoe crawler -- who could ask for more? Umex made this Universal Backhoe Crawler for their Minimovers series, item U-304.

The early 1960s was a time of many model companies and hobby alliances. In Austria Umex was an early maker of detailed 1/87 HO scale models for the railroad community. They had a small series of construction machinery known as Minimovers. In North and South American Umex was distributed by the late great AHM. Associated Hobby Manufacturers, (until recently was reincarnated as IHC, INTERNATIONAL HOBBY CORPORATION, until IHC's recent demise) was a multi-faceted hobby powerhouse c.1960s-80s. Modelers of that era, especially model railroaders, no doubt had some of AHM’s products.

Sometime in the mid-60s Umex and Minimovers joined Roco. Roco distributed the Minimovers with their Minitanks series of military vehicles (Please see "RELATED LINK" below in the SUMMARY box for Minitank reviews).

Minimovers models are:

• U301 Caterpillar 4-wheel tractor
• U302 Caterpillar 4-wheel tractor
• U302 Caterpillar Traxcavator
• U303 Caterpillar 16 grader
• U304 Universal backhoe crawler
• U305 Caterpillar D8 bulldozer
• U306 Hamm road roller
• U307 Universal crane truck
• U308 Caterpillar 631A scraper
• U309 Euclid R45 dumptruck
• U310 Construction crane
• U311 Hamm tandem roadroller
• U312 Universal clamshell crawler
• U313 Caterpillar grader
• U314 Caterpillar 4-wheel scraper (for U301)

According to our friends at 1/87thscale.info, "Umex was an Austrian company that produced assembled plastic models of construction equipment from the 1960's to the 1980's (?). There were about a dozen models which were all accurate in scale. Almost every model was moulded in a bright yellow plastic with black detail parts and soft plastic tires. The Euclid truck and the Hamm rollers were also moulded in orange. Umex and Roco seem to have cooperated in some way since the Cat grader was also available in military green in the Roco minitanks series during the 1960's. Eventually Umex disappeared from the market but three of the models were reissued by Roco (they probably bought the moulds) in 1982. There were some changes to the models but the imprint on the bottom still read Umex. The Roco models were all released in a yellow that resembles Caterpillar yellow.
Roco models were:

    1403 - Caterpillar 16 grader (Z-97 in the Minitanks series)
    1404 - Caterpillar 631A scraper
    1405 - Caterpillar 630A tractor plus 482C scraper

In 1999 Puget Sound Casting began manufacturing an Umex copy, it appears to be a 'remould' in resin.

97013 - Euclid R45 Dumper"

Umex Universal Backhoe Crawler
This model was packed in Umex’s red and white blister card that both displayed and protected the model--please see the link Click here for additional images for this review below. On the back was the history of the "trackhoe".

The molding is sharp and without sinkholes or flash. The model is snap-tight, parts held by tabs and slots. There is a basic interior detail of two seats and some levers. Other features:

    • The superstructure rotates.
    • Positionable boom.
    • Moveable bucket.

Umex did not use any clear lenses for lights. They also forgot clear windows.

This model was mainly a toy and in the fashion of the era, the boom and bucket move; the boom is raised and lowered via an unsightly metal crank on the right side, while the bucket is moved with a string attached to a lever on the boom.

I have not found many of these models on on-line auctions. I like the movable parts and the nice detail.

Umex Universal Backhoe Crawler isn't up to modern standards but can be made to look good on a model railroad or construction diorama.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here – on RailRoadModeling.net.

[1] 1/87thscale.info

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Positionable parts and the nice detail.
Lows: Toy-like cranks and lack of clear parts.
Verdict: It will look good on any model railroad or construction diorama.
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: U304
  Related Link: Minitank Reviews
  PUBLISHED: Aug 14, 2012

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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