Tamiya #35234 M20 Armoured Utility Car
Cookie SewellKit Review: Tamiya 1/35 Military Miniatures Series No. 35234, U.S. M20 Armored Utility Car; 219 parts (210 in light olive drab styrene, eight vinyl, one nylon string); retail price $33
Advantages: First kit of this vehicle in this scale in styrene; equal of the M8 kit; some nice touches
Disadvantages: expensive, some odd deletions and lack of obvious choices for options and decals
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: For all US and wheeled armored vehicle fans
Based on the kits released last summer of the M8 "Greyhound" armored car by both Tamiya and Italeri, it was obvious both companies planned to release the companion M20 armored utility car on the same chassis. Tamiya has again won the race and has theirs on the street first, and like its older sibling, is a beautiful example of state of the art modeling.
The M8 kit has had the turret and interior sprues removed and replaced by a new sprue of 48 parts which provides the parts for the armored coaming and interior which goes with this variant. A new figure of a driver is also included, but the commander figure from the M8 is retained. Also, a number of extra parts from the M8 are included due to the now-standard industry practice of sprue swapping to cut costs, and if you have the M8 kit and would like extra mines or ammunition, they can be found in this kit.
Directions are given to open the holes for the correct position for the OVM stowage; Tamiya planned for this better than Italeri, which only provides M20 style stowage on its M8 in preparation for the M20 kit they will release later on.
Decals continue to be excellent, with a three options provided: one for the 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion of the 2nd Armored Division, one from the 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion (complete with "Crunchin' Kitty" logos as well) and one from the 2nd Dragoon Regiment of the Free French Army's 5th DB. All are well done with good registration, and recent experience shows them to be very easy to apply, with the exception of the engine deck stars which taketime and patience. (Hint: this goes on better if you leave the engine vents parts A23 loose until the main section of the decal is in place.)
Once again, however, there are some quirks in the kit. It also comes with the new Tamiya standard of gas cans without spout caps, which seems to be an odd thing to overlook on such a consistent basis. There is no external stowage, nor does it come with the high power SCR-506 HF AM radio set which was more common in this vehicle due to its C3 functions. It retains the SCR-508 VHF set which came with the M8 kit. Also missing is all but token stowage, and no exterior items. (This is a moot point, as while some modelers prefer custom fitted kit parts for stowage, others prefer to make their own as it looks better; however, you have no options here except to either make it or purchase after market items.)
Also surprising in their absence are any of the flashy command vehicle schemes with flags and markers which were frequently found on this vehicle. A number of division commanders appear to have preferred it to either a Jeep or a halftrack, and many of them sported more interesting markings and schemes with the Armored Corps colors. All in all, relatively good value, and based on the fact that the M8 kit was the most popular at AMPS 99 with 13 of them being entered, the M20 will probably be well in evidence over the next year at many model shows and on many shelves.
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