Meng Model
Pick Up w/ZPU-1
Meng Model 1:35 Scale Kit #VS-001
Review by Terry Ashley

Meng Model
This is the first kit from new manufacturer Meng Models labelled Pick Up w/ZPU-1 and appears to represent a 1997 Toyota HiLux 4x4 Duel Cab SR5. The kit also includes the Russian 14.5mm ZPU-1 single barrelled Anti-aircraft gun and a single seated gunner figure.

While I’m no Toyota expert and stand to be corrected here the model matches available images and data of the 1997 HiLux quite well although details of production types can vary between countries. As you would appreciate in this day and age of corporate greed the kit doesn’t include any model branding to avoid the licence fees etc. and this leaves plenty of scope for aftermarket people.

The kit:
The kit consists of 108 plastic parts with some in black, grey and white plastic, 10 in clear plastic, 16 etched metal parts with a black anodised finish, 5 rubber compound tyres, a 20 page colour instruction booklet and small decal sheet. The quality of the plastic moulding is good with no apparent flash and a bare minimum of pin marks with very clean crisp detail on the plastic parts although there was the odd sink mark on a few of the parts. You should note the black plastic is noticeably softer than the grey/white plastic and will need a little care while trimming the sprue attachments, but the detail crispness doesn’t suffer due this.

Etched parts
Meng Model

You will also have to take care working with the black plastic as it is quite difficult at times to see the detail and where to trim and position parts, added to this the softer plastic resulted in a little flexing with some parts making alignment a little difficult at times, this and the positioning was most noticeable with the suspension parts.

The clear plastic parts especially the large single piece window section are quite thin and very clear without any hint of distortion or internal mould flow lines that can sometimes effect large areas of clear plastic, the usual care is needed when removing the clear parts from the sprues due to hard brittle nature of clear plastic.

All the chassis and suspension parts are in black plastic with the lower chassis frame is a single large part that is cleanly moulded without any warping and this includes the undersides of the engine oil sump and gearbox, this being the only engine detail included in the kit. Added to the chassis are the front differential and workable front steering arms and linkages allowing you to easily position the front wheels. Unfortunately the clips on the end of the steering rod (part A10) are too large to grip the pins on the wheel hubs and you will need to glue the linkages in place at the desired wheel position.

The lower sump guard includes the lower wishbone suspension arms with separate shock absorbers with a two part transfer case added behind the engine and short drive shaft.

The two part exhaust pipe/muffler will need the pipe drilled out for a better appearance and was added along with the fuel tank before moving to the two part rear differential/axle with separate leaf spring units, shock absorbers, and brake drums, the instructions show to fit the rear drive shaft before the differential.

The interior floor section includes the front wheel wells and added to this are the two bucket front seats and rear bench seat although no seat belts are included and these can be added from tape or similar. The central floor consol has two separate gear levers and the fixed internal door panels, these are in one piece due to the cab doors being moulded in the closed position and included detail such as the arm rests and door handles and while not much of these can be seen after assembly there is scope for addition details should you wish?

The main front left hand drive instrument panel has well done details on the instrument cluster with decals for the dial faces as well as the centre consol and right hand detail. The three driver’s foot pedals are moulded under the panel and are fairly basic but you can’t really see these after assembly anyway.

The steering wheel column has the three control stalks included with a separate steering wheel with the correct features for the model and the separate hand brake lever added to the panel. The assembled instrument panel is attached to the floor section with the fully assembled interior tub attached to the lower chassis frame via locating lugs for a precise fit.

Body Shell:
The large body shell is a single moulding that includes the cab and engine compartment with separate hood but has the doors moulded in the closed position which does limit the diorama and presentation potential somewhat. There are some fine mould seams along the edges of the body which are easy to remove. Added inside the body is the large clear window part that has the windscreen and side windows moulded as the one large part with just the rear view mirror added, the sun visors and central roof light are also moulded in with the clear window part. The rear can window is a separate part and you of course need to fit the windows before proceeding.

Exterior detail on the body is nicely done with the contours matching photos of the model type well although the door handles could be better defined. Additional parts are provided for the side door mirrors, windscreen wipers and the front grill and bumper which have excellent definition on the grill work. The radiator grill badge is just a plain oval ready for an aftermarket Toyota badge with clear ‘glass’ inserts for the head lights and side light units as well as the indicator lights in the lower bumper section. The lights will need to be painted on the inside before fitting as they sit on the black plastic as well the white areas behind the grills are visible and this would need to be painted before fitting the grills.

The body shell is fitted over the assembled chassis/interior tub with the instructions showing the do this before fitting the front radiator and bumper sections as the front of the body shell clips over a tab on the floor pan. There is one thing to note when fitting the rear of the body to the interior tub, there are two locating lugs on the tub and corresponding holes in the rear body wall but the lugs shouldn’t fit into the holes as you might think. The rear body wall should sit on the lip of the tub and rest against the lugs, a little confusing to say the least (see images).

Once assembled there is a sizable gap between the top of the inner door panels and the outer body window sills that can be seen through the large windscreen but there is little you do about this as this stage of assembly unfortunately.

Rear Tray:
This is a fairly simple assembly with floor that includes ribbed anti-slip strips and the wheel wells, the two sides with detail included on both sides, the front wall, the rear bumper section and the tailgate that is movable and can be positioned open or closed. The tailgate has etched folding arms to hold in the level position; these arms need to be bent to shape but there is no indication of the actual bend points and you have to judge it via the instruction illustrations. These would be omitted if fitting the tailgate in the closed position as well as a couple of other smaller etched parts added inside the tray sides.

There are also the clear plastic light clusters on each rear corner and a two part roll bar with etched mountings should you wish to build the pick-up as a civilian vehicle without the gun mounted? To fit the roll bar you need to drill out four locating holes in the top of the wheel wells as indicated with indentations on the undersides of the wells.  Assembly is straightforward with good fit of the parts and the assembled tray fit to the chassis as with the body.

Also provided are the four mud flaps in etched metal added to the four wheel wells and the under body panels below the doors to finish off the upper body.

The five one piece wheel rims are the stylised SR5 ‘alloy’ rims and lower profile wide tyres sold as options other than the “normal” steel rims and higher profile off road tyres on these models of the HiLux.

The rims are cleanly moulded without any cleanup other than the sprue attachment bur but watch as the hubs are different for the front, rear and spare wheels provided. Detail on the rubber compound tyres is well done with good tread pattern and depth as well as legible “Dunlcp” (with a ‘c’) and “Grandtrek ATZ “ embossing on the sidewalls, this is a deviation from the actual “Dunlop” and “Grandtrek AT20 “ for the same licencing issues as mentioned above. A minor issue is a little bit of rubber flash on the shoulder of the tyre which you may want to carefully remove; this can be an interesting exercise with the medium.

The wheels are designed to just glue in place on the axles with the spare added under the rear tray, it’s probably best to leave these off till last to aid in the painting process.

ZPU-1 14.5mm AA Gun:
This is basically a kit within a kit and is an excellent representation of the dominative ZPU-1 which first entered Russian service in 1949 and subsequently used by dozens of countries and in many localized conflicts in Africa and the Middle East both on the wheeled carriage and vehicle mounted as in this kit.

It is made up of many small parts in black plastic and etched parts with a choice of two air cooled barrels with round or elongated perforations depending on your choice. Detail on the gun parts is excellent and matches reference images very well apart from the barrel length which appears to be about 10mm too long while other items such as the etched sights adding excellent definition. I don’t at this time have any 1:35 plans to verify the gun dimensions but dimensional data shows the overall barrel length as 1346mm or 38.4mm in 1:35 scale , this does include the section of barrel inside the receiver leaving approx. 33.4mm exposed length, give or take a fraction. The overall length of the kit barrel is 43.5mm, this extra length is also apparent when viewing reference images of the ZPU-1. The barrel changing handle is also about 5mm longer that it should be.

The small round base in particular has numerous small plastic and etched parts for an excellent appearance, but there were a couple of fit issues the inner locating hole and notch in part X17 should be enlarged slightly for an easier fit and the fit of the etched disc PE-B1 is very tight over the central lug on part X8 and you must ensure that the etched disc sits flat onto the base (part X8). The two sections of the fine etched site has to be bent at right angles and using fine tweezers to hold the part while bending is advisable, when fitting the long sight arm make sure the sight is aligned parallel with the barrel elevation.

The three outrigger legs should have three holes drilled along their length as indicated by the moulded indentations to add further detail. Fitting the legs to the base is a little tricky and patience will be needed not only fitting the three legs simultaneously but getting them to sit level on the ground.

Added to the base is the gunner’s seat made up of five plastic and etched parts for another delicate assembly. The etched back rest (part PE-B2) needs a subtle bend added and there are four small pins on the backrest support (part X14) for the etched part but these don’t mate to the holes in the etched part very well and you are advised to just cut off the small pins and glue the backrest directly to the supports. There is also a very small etched bracket (part PE-B4) that has to bent to a U shape and care is needed due to the small size if the part.

Other than this and the care needed due to the number of small and finely moulded parts assembly is fairly straightforward if a little fiddly with gun able to be elevated but you need to glue into the desired final position. The assembled gun fits neatly into the rear tray of the pick up but the tailgate must be in the lowered position obviously.

Gunner Figure:
Also included is a seated gunner figure made up of 6 parts, the head torso, two arm and two legs and wears typical casual gear and sneakers with a dust mask over his face as seen in numerous images of African or Middle East conflicts.

Detail on the figure is best described as adequate but I guess there isn’t a lot that can be added to the casual clothes being worn and it can be painted in and colours you wish? You may want to test fit the figure into the tray with the gun before the glue dries to make sure any leg or arm adjustments are required as there is not a lot of spare space with the gun fitted. The figure can be posed just sitting relaxed on the top of the wheel well or on the gunner's seat whichever takes your fancy.

Assembled figure
Meng Model
The colour instruction booklet is a high quality production with the usual exploded view assembly illustrations that are easy to follow as there aren’t really any real complicated areas in the construction. The gun is probably the most complicated due to the many very small parts but with care there shouldn’t be any problems?

Included with the instructions are colour illustrations of two options red or blue as well as the white on the box top but you could basically finish the kit in state of disrepair as you wish. Also included are paint numbers for Hobby Color, Mr.Hobby and Vallejo colours used during the construction.

The small decal sheet is well printed and has the instrument cluster and two 4WD badges plus the full alphabet in both black and white letters, well two of each letter.
This can be used to apply the tailgate TOYOTA name but note that no all vehicles in this model year range had the name on the tailgate so check references.

Meng Model
Meng Model
Meng Model

This first kit from Meng Models is designed very much along the lines of civilian car kits with the different coloured plastic, body doors moulded closed and the large one piece windows more so than specific military models such as the recent HMMWV kits orientated towards military scenarios.

The interior is quite complete but there is plenty of scope for additional detail such as seat belts and smaller detail items with the large clear part lacking any detail on the pillars and lower body join. The exterior is quite nicely done but after all there isn’t a lot of additional stuff on a civilian vehicle like on a military vehicle in this regard but again the engraved lines for the doors are oversized from what they would be if the doors were separate like with the separate engine hood.

The standout feature of the kit is without doubt the very well done ZPU-1 14.5mm AA Gun with excellent detail (not withstanding the barrel length as mentioned above) on the many fine plastic and etched parts as well as the choice of barrel types. The intricate sights as etched parts and the folding base legs adds to the overall appeal of the gun and hopefully Meng will release this as a separate kit with the wheeled carriage? 

Overall this is a nice kit for a first up offering and offers numerous possibilities for civilian pick-up or armed as depicted and can be used in virtually any location Worldwide. It bodes well for future releases as the quality of moulding is also well done with relatively easy assembly and overall good fit of parts other than the quite intricate suspension, and as mentioned the black plastic used and the small parts with the gun needing care.

Rating 7.5/10

The Sprues:

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Sprue Detail Images
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Build Images
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Thanks to Meng Model for the review kit.

Page created September 7, 2011

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