by: Darren Baker [ ]
The Zil series of trucks were and still are widely utilised Russia, former Soviet BLOC countries and Africa, it is said that production ran to 1,000,000 vehicles during a production run from 1967 to 1990. The Zil 131 was produced in many forms and used for many purposes both military and civilian, the majority of the trucks were of course transport for materials and troops. ICM amongst others has provided a good range of Zil 131 trucks in 1/35th scale with this offering of a recovery truck version being the fourth offering in the series from ICM I believe.
This offering from ICM is provided in the now familiar sturdy cardboard tray with flip top and a separate card lid with the model artwork on it. I am a big fan of the packaging ICM use due to being able to have good expectations of the product arriving in the condition it should be in. Inside is an instruction booklet of 32 pages inside of which is a small decal sheet. In addition to this there is a single re-sealable plastic bag that contains ten tan sprues, two clear sprues in separately sealed bags and eight vinyl tyres.
Starting with an examination of the parts reveals no real issues that will need to be tackled. The only thing that stands out to me is that there are a number of ejector pin marks that will need to be addressed depending on how you intend to display your finished master piece. A look over the instructions booklet leads me to believe that they have been provided in an easy to follow format. The layout of the parts on the sprues looks to be logical and there are no excessive connection points.
The chassis of this offering is a multiple part affair and so very well detailed, but it does need to be remembered that making sure the chassis remains square is an absolute must for a good finish. Looking at the contents of this area shows a model that has everything except for wiring, fuel and brake lines. The fuel tanks and braking system are otherwise very nicely presented in this model from ICM and a great starting point for those who like to super detail their models.
The engine, gearbox and mechanical features connected to this area of the model have been well presented including some very fine features. I do think that some elements could be better presented in photo etch, but ICM as a rule does not provide photo etch with their kits and so it is up to you haw you wish to progress; I suspect a photo etched set is not far away to enable upgrading of the model as a whole or specific areas.
The suspension, axles and wheels of this offering are for the most part very good. Detail is generally of a high standard, but one of my pet hates is present in that the wheels cannot be assembled or shown in a turned orientation. The vinyl tyres included with this offering will be a bone of contention starting with the love them and hate them aspect. The tread pattern looks quite good with the moulding seam being very light and I believe easily tackled. An examination of the tyres did reveal some minor distortion on the side walls in some cases and this may prove difficult to remedy. I believe that resin tyres/wheels are available for previous releases and these should be ok for this model.
The truck cab is very nicely rendered in this offering from ICM with one minor gripe on my part. The dashboard of the truck is nicely represented and even includes decals for the instruments. The pedals are supplied as separate parts and so defined rather than a shapeless pre moulded lump. My complaint about this area is that the seats look bland and have no character to them, they need to have a lived in look replicated on them. The cab roof has some ejector pin marks that need addressing but is otherwise good. One aspect that always gets me with ICM is that they produce some exquisite detail in plasticICM engines and then hide it under the bonnet; I have looked at this and it is possible to finish the model without securing the bonnet to the model. The doors of the truck have been provided separately, and while these are not intended to be left open I believe it is an easy option on this kit. A big plus is that ICM have provided the doors with separate door cards and handle detail that hides ejector pin marks and adds to the overall look.
The box structure on this offering from ICM is in my opinion stunning. ICM has provided a very complete mobile workshop that can be viewed easily by not securing the roof to the model. The box structure hides the detailed compressor and generator, but some minor scratch work will resolve that. Nicely represented work surfaces are included on both sides and again with a little scratch work some of the draws could be opened displaying tools inside which are easily obtainable in photo etch. ICM has included a number of nice additions here in the form of a pillar drill, vice, grinder and even includes light fittings. This really is a very impressive part of the model. So other than a few ejector pin marks that need to be addressed specifically on the inside of the roof you can decide just how far you want to take this area.
The ‘A’ frame for the winch can be assembled either stored or in use depending in your needs. I like that the wheel on the frame end has been provided as a separate part due to the improved look it provides. The modeller will need to decide how they wish to replicate the cables for this area as these are not provided in the kit; I suggest a fine twist metal cable for the purpose, but you could try a suitable twine if you prefer the ease of its use.
The decals for this model provide three Russian examples and a Ukrainian vehicle, but I am sure that due to the limited decals required a number of vehicles used by other countries could be easily replicated.
Looking at this from a purely truck model offering I can only say get one due to the display options it represents. It has a few weaknesses such as the inability to display the engine in an accurate manner plus the tyres could do with replacing, at least where this example of the model is concerned. The interior of the truck bed cab makes this model shine and it is great to see ICM tackling interiors so well; yes I know the previous offering also contained a great interior.