by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
A one-man "walking space-hopper" in 1:20 doesn't sound likely to be particularly large, so it was a real surprise when Hasegawa's Camel arrived in a quite enormous box! There's little space wasted inside either - it's well stuffed with sprues and accessories, all bagged individually for protection in transit. The kit comprises:
113 x pale cream styrene parts
35 x dark grey styrene parts
1 x "smoked" clear part
10 x moulded plain rubber hoses
3 x ribbed rubber hoses
2 x lengths of rubber hose in 2 sizes
15 x vinyl joints (plus a further 20 unused)
1 x metal rod for an antenna
Decals for 6 x colour schemes
Moulding of the styrene parts is excellent throughout, with no flask or sink marks that I can find. Ejector pins seem to have been kept well out of harm's way, as far as I can tell. The complex contours of the body have required a multi-part mould, so there's a faint line to clean up – no more than a few moments' work. The surface finish of the walker's body and cockpit pod is essentially smooth, with just a few neatly engraved panel lines, but the finished model will have a very busy appearance thanks to plenty of added equipment and cabling. A quick test fit of the main parts shows no problems. Inevitably, there's a seam running around the spherical cockpit to take care of, but the fit is very precise. The body is an impressively large sub-assembly, building up from 5 main pieces to form a very solid foundation for the rest of the model.
A few detailsConstruction begins with the legs and feet, and you realise straight away that this is one kit where you really do need to read the instructions and follow them pretty precisely. The reason is simple - almost everything is designed to move, with hinged and sliding push rods, aided by vinyl joint sockets. Get cement in the wrong place and the whole thing will lock up, so take you time and get a clear feel for how each sub-unit is designed to move before applying any glue. Rubber hoses connect the moving items, allowing everything to flex realistically. Although these are shown attached at each stage, I'd actually fit them after painting to avoid awkward masking.
The rocket motor nozzle and blast vane are designed to pivot on a gimbal mount, while the cockpit pod is supported ahead of the body section on a pair of fixed "arms". The cockpit's interior is nice and busy, with almost 30 parts connected by a veritable cat's cradle of rubber hoses. The result should look excellent if painted carefully to make the details on the sidewall inserts pop out. The overall interior colour suggested is a suitably Germanic RLM 66 (a very dark grey), so careful highlighting will be needed to avoid everything getting lost (particularly behind the dark-tinted cockpit canopy). In fact, I'll probably try to break things up a bit with some RLM 02 on control boxes etc., along with some Luftwaffe-style colour-coding of the various systems in keeping with the general Maschinen Krieger theme. A nicely sculpted 8-part male pilot figure is included with an optional space helmet.
On the exterior of the pod there's a pivoting laser gun (the Camel's only armament), while behind it is a neatly detailed equipment bay which can be partly exposed by leaving off an optional "collar" fairing. Personally, I'd have liked to see the equipment itself a separate item to make painting easier, but that's a minor gripe as it will be largely hidden away.
The various moulded rubber hoses and cables are good quality but, almost inevitably, there are slight mould lines - particularly on the ribbed hoses. If this is a problem for you, thin vinyl tubing or cord from a fishing tackle shop would make a good substitute for the plain hoses, while the ribbed connectors are luckily not designed to flex, so you could always replace them with lengths of guitar string.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly guide is very good, breaking everything down into 28 manageable stages. There are a number of "info views" throughout, and the cockpit interior is treated to almost a full-page of cutaways to ensure you connect everything up correctly. Gunze Sangyo paint matches are given for the details at each stage.
The painting guide is printed in colour on a separate card and on the back of the box, however the overall exterior colour is mentioned in a footnote in the final assembly stage and is hence easy to miss. Six schemes are shown - all basically grey or off-white, with varying levels of mottled camouflage to match the lunar terrain:
1. 7th Yeomanry Regiment 3rd Ground Attack Company
2. 101st Regimental Space Combat Team
3. 2nd Flight Test Squadron
4. 320th Armed Regiment S Company
5. 320th Armed Regiment K Company
6. 310th Armed Regiment Woodpusher Company
The decals look to be excellent quality, with everything printed in perfect register with minimal carrier film on the sample sheet. There are plenty of flamboyant personal insignia provided, while the sheet also includes a mass of servicing stencils which have a separate placement diagram on the colour scheme card.
ConclusionHasegawa's LUM-168 Camel is a really impressive kit, and one that simply begs to be built! It must be 20 years of so since I last tackled one of the original Maschinen Krieger models, but on the evidence of this I'll definitely be tracking down more of Hasegawa's growing new series. Highly recommended.
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