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Panda MaxxPro M1235A1 Dash DXM

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale armored vehicle kit
Kit:No. PH35032 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$63.99
One-piece body; sturdy frame; clear lenses for most lights; decals for dashboard; sharply molded vinyl tires
A plethora of ejector-pin marks and stubs; minimal detail-color callouts; errors in instructions; interior lacks electronic gear
Injection-molded, 437 parts (32 PE, 4 vinyl), decals
To protect troops from IEDs and rockets, Navistar developed the MaxxPro family of Mine-Resistant, Armor Protected vehicles, or MRAPs. The smallest is the Dash, optimized for operations in Afghanistan; the DXM introduced in 2011 has an improved suspension. 

The light tan plastic in Panda’s DXM features excellent surface detail. A one-piece body is beautifully molded with just a few faint mold seams around the nose that are easily sanded off. The hood is molded in place and no engine is provided.

However, many moldings are marred by ejector-pin marks and stubs inside that must be removed before assembly. The kit provides basic interior components but lacks electronic gear and seat belts.

Two clear sprues supply lenses for the main lights and windows for the vehicle and gun turret. Rather than being solid, the ballistic glass blocks are hollow. None of the clear parts are tinted.

A small photo-etch (PE) fret gives screens for the side pods as well as jerry-can racks and other details. Unfortunately, the fret in my sample wasn’t fully formed, affecting three parts.

The assembly diagrams are clear, but detail-painting instructions are a bit sparse. A small decal sheet has markings for two DXMs from unnamed units. The painting and marking sheet includes five-view drawings of both subjects, with GSI Creos Mr. Color paint references. There are a couple of errors in the decal guide, but it was easy to figure out what was needed.

The cab’s center rack went together easily, but I had trouble with the equipment rack for the right side of the troop compartment. The problems were exacerbated by the lower bracket (Part PE4) being one of the poorly formed PE parts, and it lacked scored bends.

The dashboard decals fit well; a hair dryer helped them conform to molded bezels.

The turret gunner’s platform is molded in the stowed position, so it will need modification to add a figure. Overall, the interior fit the body OK; I filled a small gap on the right side with epoxy putty.

The one-piece frame eliminated alignment problems. Pay attention while building the axles, as they are identical except for the steering linkages on the front. Be sure the wishbones (parts F5) are positioned correctly with the holes for the drive shaft pointing to the center.

Fitting the axle assemblies to the springs required a bit of wiggling, but eventually they clicked into place. I left off the wheels until most of the larger details were added to the body.

Several detail parts, such as the hinges for the top hatch, had locator holes on the body but no corresponding pins.
The position of the back hatch is optional, but wait until final assembly to install it open. Deviating from the instructions, I attached the jerry-can racks after the rear wall and side fender bins were in place; the racks rest on the rear fenders and it’s difficult to judge the position otherwise.

I was disappointed by the gun turret. While the assembly diagrams show detail inside the side shields, there is none — just ejector-pin marks. The gun and its shield need to be glued because the mounting points for both are too loose to hold position. The ballistic-glass windows are noticeably hollow.

I painted with Tamiya acrylics: body, wooden deck tan; dash, medium gray; and seat cushions, khaki. The decals lay down over clear gloss with help from Microscale decal solutions.

The instructions call Part GP8 the taillights, but that is the large headlight lens. Use parts GP9 instead; unfortunately, the kit provides only two and you need four. I used lenses punched from clear styrene sheet. Bare-Metal Foil trimmed mirrors.

In one final hiccup, the cab doors didn’t fit closed. So, I posed them open.

I spent 37 hours building Panda’s MaxxPro Dash, and the finished model matches photos on Navistar Defense’s website. Molding flaws and instruction errors marred what would have been an otherwise enjoyable build. But the finished model looks good, and it could be turned into a showstopper with extra details.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2018 issue.
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