by: Adam Berhidi [ ]
One of Takom’s latest releases, the Bundeswehr T3 Transporter bus is a great addition to the collection of anyone interested in modern subjects as this vehicle – the Volkswagen T3 (although the maker is not specified anywhere due to copyright reasons) – was used by the German and several other armies as well. And since it was/is a very popular and widely available transporter bus it can be used as a civilian vehicle too, so diorama potential is huge in my opinion.
Unfortunately I was unable to dig out detailed information on the military versions so I cannot really comment on how the features of this kit relate to those of real life vehicles. Army T3s came in several configurations, like ambulance, military police, and different trucks. Whether the basic transporter is the same as factory original civilian versions painted in military colors I cannot tell.
Also based on the few photos I was able to find there might be smaller differences in the lights and the wheel hubs, and the fuel filler for some vehicles is moved towards the back on the right side. Unfortunately the only Bundeswehr ISAF T3 I managed to find a photo of, has this layout, so cannot be portrayed accurately using this kit – although I cannot stress enough that I was able to find a very limited number of pictures only.
The kit comes in a small box (lower shipping charges and CO2 emission – everyone is happy) with a nice and colorful design and sharp matt prints, including sprue shots on one side. Unfortunately the box proves a little too small as the car body does not have too much space next to the sprues, some additional protection would have been handy here in the form of a separate compartment.
This set contains 124 parts on 4 individually bagged sprues (plus 5 tires and the body) and we also get a figure that is made up of 5 parts.
The instruction sheet is half the size of what we are normally used to but does the job perfectly as this is a rather simple kit. It contains 33 easy to follow steps on 8 pages and the instructions are very clear as with each step only a few parts are added. The only thing that is missing here are the colors for the interior and the figure. The painting and marking guide is provided by Ammo, here we can opt for three versions: Bundeswehr ISAF Afghanistan 2002 (NATO green), Syrian Army 2006 (pale green), SFOR (without specifying nationality) Bosnia and Herzegovina 1997 (three-tone NATO camo). Unfortunately the color codes are not provided for other manufacturers.
The parts quality is up to today’s standards with no ejection pin marks visible and no sink marks, flash or any other imperfection present. The details are sharp and the car body is a little gem. It is molded in one piece thanks to the advanced slide-molding technology widely used by Chinese manufacturers, and based on my references it is spot on. There are two tiny mold lines on each side above the edges of the windscreen but these can be easily sanded off.
The windows are clear enough and have no distortion but way too thick, most of them are at least 1mm – that would be 35mm in the real world. However it is not really visible unless one of the doors is open.
The chassis is a single piece including the frame, parts of the floor, the spare wheel holder, fuel tank and some wiring – all very well made and spares some time especially for the beginners. The lower half of the engine is molded together with the suspension (except for the springs) and transaxles – this T3 has a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. As this part is not too visible what Takom provides is enough. The tires have a nice pattern but lack the markings – although this would be very small anyway in this scale. The hubs are well detailed and although it is not offered in the instructions, the covers (A1) can be left off as per the reference pictures. It is a useful feature as these covers should have a VW sign in the middle but not adding them can solve this issue. The front wheels are steerable if we follow the instructions carefully. Mud flaps would have been a welcome addition but they are not always present on the real vehicle.
The interior floor is a single part again and has no details at all except for the cargo compartment – but that will be covered later. All we should add here are the seats comprising of a few parts only. The dashboard has nice details including the air intakes, but the pedals are too chunky. On the bright side the viper blades are superb. The interior panels have a nice basic detail just like the inner side of the doors – except for the rear door that has none. As usual with the interior of any kit, a lot of scratchbuilding is needed and the Takom T3 is no exception if we want to leave the doors open (floor details, safety belts, etc.).
The doors fit well and all of them can be opened, however the hinges oversized and lack the details. Furthermore the door handles are all molded on which kind of ruins the overall appearance we get with the superbly molded car body. Giving them as fine separate parts should not be an issue for today’s manufacturers. The rear door lacks any design on the inner side and the telescopic arm is provided for the open position only, and its attachment points are not marked on the car’s body.
The rear and front bumpers look perfect in terms on detail and design, as well as the radiator grilles. However, the license plates are too small but this is an easy fix. The headlights have a hollowed body so they can be painted in a very convenient way.
The trademarks are dealt with in an interesting way. Takom provides a molded circle with an “x” in the middle as the logo on the front/back and leaves to the modeler to “make the logo you want” by adding two tiny sticks from the sprue, thus creating a VW logo. Although the wording Volkswagen or the VW logo does not appear anywhere in the kit. Nice trick – and no violation of trademarks. The text “TRANSPORTER” and sometimes “VOLKSWAGEN” is still missing though from the back.
The figure included is a bit odd as it represents a soldier that is definitely not in the front line of duty: he has no helmet, no extra magazines, no pouches, no sidearm, etc. It is well made though in my opinion, with a nice G36 rifle.
This little kit is a nice addition to any collection and with the both military and civilian use and the positionable doors the diorama potential is huge: imagine German soldiers disembarking through the sliding door or Syrian rebels unloading supplies through the rear door, just to name two that pops into my head. The design and the detail are superb and construction is very easy so it is really a fun build. The interior is pretty basic though but should be fine with most modelers. What bothers me a bit is the lack of painting instructions for the interior and the figure, as well as the molded-on door handles. All in all I am pleased with this release.