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Trumpeter 1/35 scale USMC LAV-25 Piranha

Kit: 00349
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555, www.stevenshobby.com
Price: $24.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 292 parts (8 vinyl), decals
Pros: Detailed suspension, accurate tires, drilled gun barrel, painting instructions
Cons: Some flash; missing wire cutters, coaxial and commander's machine guns, and rearview mirrors; mesh frays
With the current action in the Middle East, Trumpeter's release of the LAV-25 is a topical addition to most armor collections. Molded in light-gray plastic, the parts are crisp but have some flash. The hatches can be posed open or closed. The crew hatches have basic interior detail, but also have ejector-pin marks that need to be removed if the hatches are to be shown open. The hollow vinyl tires fit easily over the wheel hubs and have better detail than resin ones I have in my collection. Four Marine Corps figures are included, but I decided not to build them.

I had to place the driver's view ports before gluing the hull halves together. The lack of grooves for the clear parts to slide into allows them too much room to move. I glued the front of the hull halves together first, then the sides to ensure proper alignment. The fit of the rear hull plate (B1) was poor and needed filler.

The differentials and tie rods for the suspension are delicate, so care was needed separating them from the sprues. To help assure proper "sit" of the model, I glued the shock absorbers to the suspension at the same time as the kingpins. The wheel hubs and steering vanes were left off until painting was completed.

The detail on the hull is good, but it's missing the prominent wire cutter. The turret is missing its wire cutter too, however its mounting bracket is present. Assembly of the turret was straightforward, but the turret basket was trouble. The provided mesh frayed when cut and did not react to liquid cement. I softened the plastic on the basket frame with liquid glue, pressed the mesh into place, then added a bead of super glue to hold it.

I left off the grab handles until the model was nearly finished to avoid breakage. Watch out for the fragile rearview mirror posts; strange, the kit has no mirrors. The tools and clamps are well-done.

The main gun muzzle is hollow - a nice touch, but no coaxial or commander's machine gun is provided. I used music wire for the antennas.

I chose the three-color NATO scheme, accomplished with Silly Putty masks and Tamiya spray paints. The decals worked fine. SFOR and Desert Storm markings are also provided, but are not mentioned in the directions.

I finished my Piranha in 19 hours, a good weekend build for most modelers. My main reference was Armored Car by R. P. Hunnicutt. Out of the box, it's a good start to an LAV-25, and the missing guns and wire cutters will likely become available in aftermarket detail sets soon.

- Michael Scharf

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