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Early M3 Lee Basic Update Set

Armoured Brigade Models 1/35 Early M3 Lee Basic Update Set First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer Armoured Brigade Models
Subject Early M3 Lee Basic Update Set Scale 1/35
Kit Number ABM012 Media 130 parts in grey resin
Pros Fixes the most egregious faults with the upper components of the Academy M3 Lee kit; provides for maximum use of the kit parts where applicable Cons Sources of supply for ABM kits have been erratic in the past
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $17.00

First Look

Back during the AMPS 2000 International Show well-known Canadian modelers Sid Arnold and Dave Dean brought down their first samples of a new line of kits which were dubbed Armoured Brigade Models. These were focused on correcting the rather elderly and quite awful Tamiya M3 Grant and M3 Lee kits, and were either modularized for use by modelers to fix specific parts of the kit or combined into a complete kit of the M3 Lee which made its debut at AMPS 2001. Their one drawback was availability, for at both shows ABM could have sold far more items than they brought.

Fast forward six years, and the new Academy M3 Lee was released in May 2006. But while it corrected many of the massive failings of the 30 year old Tamiya kits, unfortunately it added some new ones of its own, primarily a bad suspension set and an exaggerated cast turret. ABM has now modified its older moldings, which were first rate when released, reorganized them, modified them to fit the Academy kit, and re-released them.

This is the turret set, which now provides 14 parts to fix the turret and cupola from the Academy kit. It provides a new, accurate turret shell with casting numbers and a nicely done mantelet in place, a new rotor with optional counterweight (not provided by Academy), a counterweight for the stabilized M2 (short barrel) 75mm gun, and two new rear stowage bins.

The directions are excellent, as they show where most of the kit's failings are found and also provide very good descriptions of how to correct them. Most of the first two pages cover how to fix the problems with rivets and the missing brackets and fasteners on the upper hull. Modelers will be happy as "before" and "after" photos are provided, so since the rivets and bolts used are in light colored plastic it is quite obvious as to what changed.

Assembly of the turret is integrated into the assembly instructions for the M3 kit itself, and photos show how the update kit's parts differ from the base kits's parts. Other than some very quick cleanup, little is different than just the kit assembly and it should be a snap for any modeler to carry out this update with few problems. Note that this set also includes correct size and shape stowage bins for the rear deck.

Overall, this fixes one of the most annoying problems in the kit and one many modelers are reluctant to do on their own.

Thanks to Sid Arnold of ABM for the review sample. For further info on distributors contact Sid at