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M1126 Stryker (ICV)

AFV Club 1/35 M1126 Stryker (ICV) Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2007 Manufacturer AFV Club
Subject M1126 Stryker (ICV) Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35126 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-etch
Pros Excellent exterior detailing Cons No interior
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $41.95

First Look

M1126
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M1126
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M1126

The US Marine Corps made the leap from tracked armored personnel carriers to their Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) in the early 1980s in order to have the capability to rapidly deploy a combat capability anywhere in the world without an excessive airlift effort. The US Army was reluctant to make the switch to wheeled vehicles, preferring instead its M1 Abrams tank, M2 Bradley APC and M3 Bradley.

When the Army's mission shifted from defending the line in Europe to more fluid operations worldwide, they reconsidered the LAV, only to have Congress choose the HUMVEE to meet their mobility needs. In Desert Storm, the Rangers borrowed a few LAVs from the Marines and found they didn't quite meet their needs.

By the turn of the century, the Army had embraced the need to have some of its forces capable of rapid deployment into remote areas where the transport of the M1 and M2 would be difficult and maintenance on those same vehicles would be nearly non-existent. A trade show was hosted to look over the available wheeled combat vehicles to understand the state of the art and the issues in adopting such a capability into US Army doctrine. A source selection followed and the team of General Motors/Canada and General Dynamics Land Systems (makers of the M1 Abrams) was selected to tailor the GM-designed vehicle to meet US Army requirements.

The vehicle family was named for Medal of Honor recipient PFC Stuart Stryker. The M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) is designed to carry a crew of two and a squad of nine.

Earlier this year, Trumpeter released the first 1/35 rendition of the M1126 Stryker IFV. We not only gave the kit a good look (reviewed here), we also built the model (look here). A month or so later, AFV Club released their own version of the kit, so we decided to give this version a look as well.

This kit is molded in olive green styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus separate upper and lower hull moldings. One tree of clear parts is provided for periscopes and lenses. One fret of photo-etched parts is also provided as well as eight rubber tires.

When I reviewed the Trumpeter kit, there was very little information available to the average modeler on the Stryker but that has since been rectified by THE reference on the subject, Wings and Wheels Publications' Stryker in Detail.

The layout of this kit is similar to the Trumpeter kit though for the record, this is in no way a copy of the Trumpeter tooling. One immediate difference in this kit is the parts layout. The upper hull of the Trumpeter kit had many of its details pre-molded into the sides whereas the AFV kit uses laminate side parts to capture the detailing. This isn't bad, it is a less expensive way to tool the kit. Where the Trumpeter kit had six parts trees and upper/lower hull parts (there were two additional trees with rucksacks and bundles), the AFV kit uses eight trees plus upper/lower hull.

I was a bit skeptical of how this kit would work out with the angled hull shapes of the Stryker. AFV Club creates some interesting kits, but having built a few, I know they can also be a bit challenging. From my own experience, the Trumpeter kit fell together nicely, and from what I've gathered from others' experiences, the AFV Club builds up nicely too.

So which kit is better? That is an interesting question. The AFV Club kit has better detailing in the M151 Remote Weapons System, the Trumpeter kit missed the mark here.

The AFV Club wheels and tires are evidently better as I've seen a recent 'aftermarket' product for the Trumpeter kit to correct that kit's wheels using castings of the AFV Club's wheels and tires. I would think that for a little more than the cost of the resin wheels and one kit, you could buy both kits and bash the two kits together.

The AFV Club kit does differ in some external details, but like the Trumpeter kit, the tooling represents the vehicle as it appeared at the time each company did their research, and as you know, the Stryker has been significantly updated several times since then. Whichever kit you select, you'll have the job of configuring and updating the model to represent the point in time you're modeling.

The AFV Club kit has fewer photo-etched parts in its offering, consisting primarily of the intake and exhaust grilles. The Trumpeter kit had these and cable cutters, storage racks, and other details in photo-etch. Eduard has since released their own photo-etch set for the Trumpeter kit (with one for the AFV Club version no-doubt not far behind) so the photo-etch playing field is leveled here.

One other interesting difference between the two kits is the clear parts. AFV Club provided the periscope lenses in clear. Given the silver-maroon appearance of the periscopes in the actual vehicle, I don't think these clear parts offer any value since they'll be painted up as well.

Here is where AFV Club get's my vote - the Trumpeter decals were done with separate letters and numbers so you had the priviledge to build up whatever serial numbers/ID numbers you'd like. Bunk! That was one of the more painful and time consuming decal experiences I had in some time. AFV Club provides you with markings of a select number of vehicles without all of the pain.

This will be a relatively easy build straight from the box as this kit hasn't been over-engineered. Like the Trumpeter kit, there is no interior provided, but also like the Trumpeter kit, the various hatches can be posed open should you opt to scratchbuild your own interior.

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