A dream kit come true: Trumpeter’s 1/35 JGSDF Type 82

One of my early COVID isolation acquisitions and builds was Trumpeter’s 1/35 modern Japanese Type 82 Command Post Vehicle. It came my way via a super deal on Ebay; I think it was less than $25 including shipping and handling.

When I first caught a glimpse of this vehicle in a Japanese armor fan magazine back in the early 90s, I fairly swooned. I dig modern wheeled armored vehicles, and this one scratched the itch: it was new, exotic, and futuristic-looking. The signature bright green and baby diaper brown camouflage of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force added to its model-genicness.

Rear view of the Trumpeter 1/35 JGSDF Type 82

I enjoyed the build of this Trumpeter kit, and didn’t encounter any unpleasant surprises for a kit of this size and configuration. Minor flash, parting lines, a few sink marks throughout. The tires and wheels are well engineered with fine sidewall detail and the wheel hubs mercifully molded separately for easy painting. I used the old Pat Hawkey trick of sanding a flat spot on one side of each of the assembled tires, testing the flat spot until it was large enough to allow the tire to stand on it own. Suspension assembly was a good mix of detail and functional sturdiness with big ol’ steel rod axles that ensure the wheels will be square and the model will sit level. One disappointment was the tow cable—should have sought out an aftermarket replacement, but I take a certain amount of Shep Paine pride in working with what comes in the box, so I can live with the fuzzy, fraying string that passes as a tow cable. As often happens with large, complex-shaped hull parts, the top, bottom, and rear bulkhead required some clamping and filling to get right—not a fatal flaw, but something that requires some careful analysis and reverse-engineering of Trumpeter’s famously nonsensical instructions.

Those instructions are my only objection to this otherwise serviceable kit. The assembly order has the builder attaching all appurtences (actual industrial term for all the grab irons, driving mirrors, antennas, weapons mounts, brackets, etc, which I will snobbily and proudly mansplain to you readers that I learned during a visit to the M1 Abrams tank factory) to the hull top and bottom before joining and filling them. The instruction’s assembly order is foolhardy, and is complicated by the pesky windshields and hence visible driver’s compartment of this vehicle—a more sensible order is to build and paint that interior, mask the windshield, join and fill the hull halves, then appurtency. The other grief with the instructions is vague and/or contradictory part placement illustrations, which can be solved with some good reference photos (here’s a link to a useful walkaround, to which I mostly paid attention).

I kept the weathering to a minimum. All the photos I’ve seen show these vehicles either ready for a parade or nearly so, not surprising for a commander’s vehicle in an army that rarely sees combat. I used Tamiya’s JGSDF Green and Brown over Black Mr. Surfacer primer, followed by AK Panel Liner for brown and green airplanes. A final touch was some modest oil dot filtering intended to bring out the saturation of the brown (red and umber) and green (yellow and blue) camouflage.

As I went through the build, and thought back to when the Type 82 came into my awareness, I felt profoundly lucky to have this particular kit. Where once we turned to rare, expensive, and difficult to build vacuforms and crude resin kits for such oddball vehicles (read well into the 90s as anything other than WWII German or American subjects), now we have Trumpeter’s and Hobby Boss’ ‘B’ offerings with their baffling instructions and slightly off-kilter but eminently buildable engineering.

Rare vacuforms and resin kits didn’t scare me back then. I discovered Modellbau Schmidt’s line of vacuform 1/35 armor while I was still in the US Army in Germany in the late 80s. I built several Bundeswehr (West German Army) vehicles, including a Spähpanzer Luchs, from their kits. My introduction to Verlinden was via its early, solid block kit of the Vietnam-era V100.

Type 82 from the side. The weapons were exquisite; the tow cable fuzzily disappointing.

Those early vacuform and resin armor kits were tests of modeling skill and endurance. First, the builder had to solve the major assembly problems, like building a square and structurally sound hull and turret, figure out how to make the turret movable, and in the case of a solid cast resin hull, how to remove a pour stub the size of a pack of cigarettes. Then there was the selective cannibalization of injection molded kits and outright fabrication to add details and markings.

If a Type 82 kit had been available in the early 90s, it would have been produced in ‘bad old days’ vacuform or more likely, crude resin. And by ‘available’, it would have meant figuring out how to actually lay hands on what would have been a rare garage kit available in some exotic overseas country.

I’ll take this Trumpeter kit I bought on eBay and like it, thank you very much.

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