by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
A technical is a type of improvised fighting vehicle, typically a civilian or military non-combat vehicle, modified to act as a “force multiplier” similar to a military gun truck. It is usually a fast and maneuverable open-backed pickup truck which packs a big punch when mounted with a machine gun, light anti-aircraft gun, recoilless rifle or some other kind of support weapon.
During the Libyan civil war, both regime loyalist forces as well as the anti-Gaddafi forces used technicals extensively. Given the type of warfare that had been carried out in the conflict—wherein highly mobile groups of soldiers and rebels continued to move to and from on the desert terrain, retreating at a time and then suddenly attacking to regain control of small towns and villages in the Eastern rebel held parts of Libya—had led to the technical becoming a vehicle of choice for both sides. Some trucks carried the Soviet-made ZPU anti-aircraft guns, recoilless rifles or even helicopter rocket launcher pods.
MENG Models recently released the first in line of 1/35 scale Toyota Hilux pickups armed with ZPU-1. The model itself is really good and pretty easy to assemble, but it lacks the “human touch”... So here it is, a perfect solution for your Libyan rebel Hilux model; a resin 3-figure pickup crew from Black Army Models.
The three figures are sold separately, but since they are designed to represent Toyota crew I thought it would be easier to write a group review rather than describing each individual figure in separate reviews. The figures are packed in hard cardboard boxes. Each box features Black Army Models logo and a box art picture of painted figure. The box also credits Gabor Szabo as both the sculptor and box art painter.
After opening the zip-lock bags and reviewing figure parts I was very happy seeing the pieces are cast really well with no imperfections in the resin. The details on the figures are crisp and well defined. Resin casting blocks are not big and should be fairly easy to remove. I like the fact resin plugs on the arms are located on the elbows instead of the more usual shoulder carriers; this way the upper arms can be aligned perfectly to the torso.
The figures can be easily built with excellent fit of the pieces; if placed correctly there are almost no visible gaps between the parts so minimal putty work is needed. The anatomy of all figures is really good with natural and well balanced poses.
The figures represent vehicle crew with the driver and two passengers, one sitting in the front seat and the other in pickup bed. The figures are dressed casually, so they could easily represent rebels or revolutionaries from almost any modern conflict. Although designed for the MENG Models Toyota pickup, these figures can probably be used in a variety of other 1/35 scale vehicles as well.
The driver figure (35-15) consists of 4 parts:
- full body with legs,
- right arm,
- left arm,
The figure is sculpted in a casual driving pose, with his left hand on the steering wheel and his right on the gear stick. The figure wears jeans and hooded sweatshirt, with knitted cap on his head and sports sneakers on his feet. All the clothing is sculpted well and the details nicely defined: the hoody features full zipper and kangaroo pocket with draw strings hanging down the front, the cap has a delicately sculpted texture to it, and the sneakers even have pattern on their soles.
I have to admit I didn't have MENG kit to fit the figure into the driver's seat myself, but I have seen the driver placed in the MENG pickup and it did fit very nicely without any cutting or sanding. I have no idea how the figure fits into other 1/35 scale vehicles, but I suspect it could need a bit of fine-tuning.
The passenger figure (35-16) consists of 5 parts:
- full body with legs and head,
- right arm,
- left arm,
- weapon carrying handle.
This figure is sculpted sitting in a pickup cargo bed holding his weapon. The figure wears a sweater and pants rolled up at the ankle, with shemagh scarf and goggles strapped to his head and boots on his feet. Again, the clothing items are really well defined; folds on the pants, boot details, shemagh tassles and the goggles... very nice work from the sculptor.
I also like the choice of weapon for this figure... FN FAL was highly respected weapon among the Libyan rebels and used in even higher numbers than the omnipresent AKs. The weapon supplied with the figure looks good, with the sleek FN FAL design nicely represented in scale and the carrying handle cast separately. The weapon parts are very thin so some care is needed when cleaning them off the casting block.
The passenger figure (35-17) consists of 4 parts:
- full body with legs,
- right arm,
- left arm,
The figure is sculpted in a casual sitting pose, holding his hands in his lap. The figure wears jeans and uniform shirt, with a scarf around his neck, beret cap on his head and sport sneakers on his feet. The BDU shirt is sculpted well and features two chest and two waist pockets. The scarf is nicely presented around the figure’s neck; the rebels typically used these as face masks.
Again, I don't have MENG kit to position the figure into the passenger's seat, but I have seen both the driver and passenger fitted well in the pickup without any need of modifying the figures. Moreover, the passenger figure has a recess in his right leg so the vehicle door can be aligned well with the rest of the model.
“The Toyota Hilux is everywhere… it is vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It’s ubiquitous to insurgent warfare, and actually, recently, also counter-insurgent warfare. It kicks the hell out of the Humvee.” The words of Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger and now a fellow of the Center for a New American Security, describe the nature of Toyota technical well. MENG Models released their first 1/35 scale Toyota Hilux model quite some time ago, and until now the only aftermarket accessories for it were resin wheels, weapon upgrades or stowage sets. Now, with the Black Army figures modelers have the option of adding crew to the vehicle as well.
The figures described in this review represent 3-man vehicle crew in 1/35 scale. The figures are sculpted really well and have nicely balanced poses. The cast is great and there are no imperfections in the resin whatsoever. In addition, the pieces fit perfectly and all the figures are very easy to build. Although envisioned as Libyan rebel fighters and designed for MENG Toyota pickup, due to their casual outfit the figures can be used in number of different scenarios and quite possibly, in number of different 1/35 scale vehicles.
Edit: Since this review was published, Black Army Models joined these three figures in a 3-figure set called "Modern Mediterranean Fighters" (35-18). While the individual figures are sold for $12, full 3-figure set costs $30... cool!