Its a fine day indeed when you return home to find that package you were expected finally cleared customs and its time to play with some new toy soldiers. 🙂
Well today a heavy one arrived from America, sent by Special Artizan Service Miniatures. I had hoped to have posted up a review of Spectre’s newest Humvee kit today, but unfortunately that’s been delayed a little while. Instead I’ll be giving my first impressions on what’s on offer with this lot.
The GMV Flyer
An Overview of the Vehicle
In today’s post I’ll be specifically looking at SASM’s new GMV Flyer, which has just gone on sale as of this month on their web store.
As I’d mentioned in an earlier post, the GMV Flyer (also known as General Dynamics Flyer Advanced Light Strike Vehicle Platform …yeah, a mouthful) is coming into service with the United States Special Forces and potentially other Western militaries as a replacement for the Humvee. The vehicle currently comes in two main variants, which have their own armour kits and options weapons stations. The Flyer 72 and Flyer 60 – the nomenclature coming from the individual widths of 72 and 60 inches; with the 72 typically featuring six seats, and the 60 having four like the Humvee (with additional seating being available based on the removal of equipment).
Special Artizan Service Miniature’s “GMV Flyer” from my measuring appears represents the smaller of the two vehicles, the 60. It features the extra armour package available to the vehicles, which fully encloses the kit. With its mounting of an M230 Chain Gun the model fits into the role of the SOCOM variant of the Flyer, which suitably means that it could be paired with SASM’s other new release from last month, the US Navy Seals.
The model comes as a resin hull with additional pewter elements and details. In comparison to older SASM kits which I’ve purchased this an improvement on their previous all resin vehicles, though that may be purely down to personal taste.
These pewter parts include the four wheels plus a spare one, wheel axles, turret ring and the chain gun. With additional stowage provided for extra ammo boxes on the roof and doors (the real vehicles having the option for multiple window mounted machine guns).
What impressed me the most was their forethought to include a set of metal wing mirrors. In past experience wing mirrors are often left out from model kits as they’re liable to break, and when they are included they tend to be made from plastic or resin, which doesn’t really help with that problem – often meaning that I ever leave them off or scratch build my own set. SASM’s kit features a nice looking pair, which shouldn’t be liable to break with your usual gaming usage if attached right.
All of these hold a level of detail which you would expect with a wargaming kit, being well defined and with little in the way of apparent smudgy details that I could find. Images of this particular variant of the Flyer are a bit scarce online, but from those I could find it seems to be a fair representation of the vehicle. The obvious hooks, vents and other small details are well covered , barring the odd missing small bolt on the back of the front headlamps and that the headlamp covers aren’t hollow (which would have over complicated the kit), but everything seems to conform with the generally “flat” looking appearance of the real up-armoured vehicle.
Now, I hear you asking “That SASM stuff is all 3D printed right? How are the print lines?” Well, first off from what I know about the company the final products aren’t 3D printed, just the master vehicles which are then used to make the moulds. What that means is there isn’t any variation between individual models with the print quality, its the casting quality where the variation would lie just like any other company. For a model which master began as a 3D print there’s none of the characteristic stepping on any of the round pieces and very minimal (to the point that its only noticeable when the light catches it) traces of stitching on some of the surfaces. This “stitching” will likely be imperceptible once there’s a coat of paint on it, which just goes to show the leaps and bounds that 3D printing has come over the years (ah, and certainly if you’re buying a rig for commercial printing like SASM clearly has).
But, are there any Defects?
I’ve already talked about the kit’s overall quality, but what is there that could be improved or didn’t come out quite right in the casting process?
Well the first thing that could my eye is that this model’s clearly gone through some cleanup process after it was cast up. I noticed this with my other SASM vehicles. With the older ones there was the odd air bubble on the underside of the vehicle, which someone had already filled in and sanded prior to shipping. I can’t tell you how many resin kits I’ve bought where there’s imperfections all over the vehicle which have just been left out for the customer to fix themselves. Whilst to be fair that sort of thing takes minutes to deal with with a scalpel and a dab of clay, it was nice to see that the kit had been touched up a bit beforehand.
With this kit however, the amount of bubbles that I could find I can count on one hand. There was two in fact. One on the underside at the rear, which to be fair wouldn’t be seen at all when gaming, and another on the toe hook. The second one perhaps has a bit more impact, but still something which could be sorted out with a bit of filler. As you can see as well there appears to be some defect above the left hook on the below image as well. I didn’t notice this when taking the picture, but its just a bit of flash (not mould stepping, and if it is it must be relatively minor).
The casting quality’s obviously progressed from those older vehicles to the point that the only cleanup that I can see on SASM’s behalf is where the bits of sprue have been removed and sanded down to save the customer a bit of work. SASM’s clearly checking each of their casts before sending out to customers, which is a higher level of quality control that you’d expect with most manufacturers …at least based on some of the horror stories out there.
There is flash however, and what I mean by that is there’s the usual minor bits of flash about the pewter components which takes all of a few minutes to remove from the whole set of parts. Its fairly thin and when removing it none of it was in areas where that would risk damaging any of the details. Most of it literally just twisted right off.
More importantly, there’s no great big mould lines on any of the components. And by that I mean that there’s nearly none at all. Once the flash is removed from the parts they’re good to go, expect from one the larger ammo boxes which fit to the doors. Those had some extra flash about where the moulds would connect which required a scalper to remove, though it was thin enough that there wasn’t much risk of damaging anything.
Ah, so can I find any real problems with the vehicle? Well the detail of the indents in the armour plates on the underside of the vehicle could perhaps be a bit deeper, but that’s being really picky unless you intend to have the vehicle up ended on its side for a diorama (and in that case there’s not a “diorama” level of detail on the underside as you’d expect with a 1/35th scale kit anyway). Whilst the real vehicle is fairly basic looking, it “feels” like there should be more details on the vehicle than there actually is. Blame that one on General Dynamics.
To me it seems like a perfectly well put together little kit which seems on par with a plastic one in terms of the amount of casting defects you’d find, not the creations from a resin hell you’d pick up from garage suppliers a decade ago.
The kit comes with no instructions to aid assembly. However, its simple enough that the promotional images available on the SASM website were enough for me to put it together in a standard configuration.
So as to prevent my usual accidental heavy handedness when it comes to putting together these kits, I started by attaching most of the base details to the main vehicle first before attaching the wheels. I’d recommend starting with the door ammo boxes first, then the head lamp covers, followed by the and rear wheel. For the roof ammo boxes I marked out their positions beforehand so they lined up correctly. Starting 1.2cm from the front for the middle one, and with the side ones angling back to 2.4cms.
The chain gun comes in a few separate parts itself, which I didn’t find too fiddly to put together (none of the “oh gargh!” moments when it comes to attacking the ammo belt to the gun…). The ammo belt did require bending a bit to have it properly line up the with feed on the box, but that’s about it. The barrel’s a bit thicker than it needs to be, so it wasn’t tremendously bent in the post, which I gently bent back straight. SASM notably seems to go for these slightly larger barrels on their pewter guns, likely to prevent just this problem and potential breakages (and to be fair, when I say they’re a bit larger than others, they’re still tiny. The barrel’s thinner than Spectre’s DHsK)
Then comes adding on the axels and individually attaching the wheels (making sure to use a flat surface for these so they aren’t wonky). Once they’re attached then there’s only really the small details like the wing mirrors and antenna left (which, ah, I’d gotten ahead of myself with and attached earlier …but a careless knuckle of mine has me advising you leave this till last). Where the wheels connect to the axle there’s a bit of leeway for the axle’s plug to into the wheel’s connecting hole. The wheels seem held on fine enough with some super glue, but I’ll probably go back and fill in the slight gap there just to make them a bit more secure.
With that the kit was put together, taking all of around Fifteen minutes from start to finish. Now, with my usual vehicles I’ll go ahead and laden the thing with a bit of stowage. With these streamline “ultra-modern” vehicles, I’m in too minds about making them too well “lived in”. I may go ahead and add a few loose bits to the rear deck which the crew maybe want to have to hand to add a bit of colour, but’ll probably leave most of it bare as with the armour kit the vehicle’s likely used for shorter raids than patrols.
So, overall what do I think? Its a nice little kit. Could SASM done more with it, sure? There’s no gunner figure for the chain gun available at this stage, but I hear there’s potential for a separate set to be released at a later date (similar to how Spectre Miniatures do their’s). The kit’s also set up specifically in its SOCOM variant, with the M230 Chain Gun, which isn’t too much of an issue, but it’d be nice if SASM were to cover some of the future weapons this vehicle may be mounting (as its still early on, who knows how others will use it in the field). Though saying that, that it includes a gun at all (and this particularly unique one), is appreciated, rather than having to purchase one separately.
For those looking to pick one of these up, its currently available on the Kings Hobbies and Games website for the princely sum of $20, pretty much what Spectre are charging for their own Humvee which is likely its closest competitor. Personally, between the two when it comes to modern games I feel like the Flyer has a bit of an edge when it comes to the cool factor.
Its still maybe a bit niche as it ramps up production, however the Flyer is definitely a top of the line piece of kit, with that Sci-Fi look which has you thinking you’re playing a game set in the world of District 9 or something. If you’re looking for a vehicle which is a bit different from your run of the mill Humvee or technical for your own Special Forces I’d say give one of these a shot. At the least your opponent will be cooing at the thing wondering why you’ve brought an Infinity model to the game… 🙂
Tune in next time once I’ve been able to properly go through the rest of this box of stuff. Meanwhile expect some more Post-Soviet terrain coming for my Modern miniatures collection once its been given a proper coat of paint. Cheers guys!