Sunday, June 17, 2018

4-Tonner in a Tin

The AT-105 Saxon is a cold war era armored personnel carrier. It was intended to provide rapid transport for troops from the UK to reinforce BAOR units in the event of attack by Warsaw Pact forces.

There have been several resin and white metal models of the Saxon in 1/76 scale, but up until a couple of years ago, there was nothing in 1/72 scale.

The first 1/72 scale model of the Saxon was a diecast car made by Toyeast Ltd. as part of their Tiny City product line. The particular vehicle was a Hong Kong Police PTU Vehicle.

This is the 2017 release of the model –
the 2015 release was PTU 90

Their most recent release from earlier this year is a Saxon in ISAF livery.

Armada Hobby has also released a series of resin Saxon APCs this year, but at over triple the cost of the diecast model, I'll stick with the diecast models for now.

Anyway, here is my lineup of Tiny Saxons.

PTU 94 (ATC64104) and PTU 91 (ATC64112)

PTU 94 is the second release of the standard HK Police Saxon. The first release has the markings for PTU 90, and is probably difficult to find nowadays.

PTU 91 is a Tiny VIP Club member exclusive, though it was available in retail at just a slight premium compared to the regular model. It has a platform over the roof, but I'm not sure what purpose it serves.

PTU 95 (ATC64110) and PTU 96 (ATC64384)

PTU 95 is a limited edition, and PTU 96 is a 7-11 exclusive. The models are identical except for their markings. The only other difference besides the roof number and license plate number, is that PTU 96 carries the HKPF emblem on the armored cowl over the radiator.

These models [counting PTU 90 which I don't own] account for five of the seven Saxons used by HKPF. The models are quite nice with decent detailing, though they are missing the spotlight and smoke grenade launchers that are mounted on the cupola.

The last two models are military vehicles.

UN (ATC64021) and ISAF (ATC64229)

These models are identical to the police versions, except they have a machine gun in place of the dome light on the roof.

Most of the pictures of Cold War era and UN Saxons that I have seen show them without the radiator cowling. The cupola looks a bit high, but it's difficult to determine when comparing to photographs taken from ground level.

My ISAF vehicle was defective, and was missing the rear steps. [looks like the ISAF Saxons just don't have this part period] The plastic parts can also be a bit fragile, so it's best to handle the models by holding the sides. I think I cracked the ramming bumper when picking the model up by the front and rear, but luckily I have some extras of the ISAF Saxon since I bought them on sale for half off.

The models are put together using screws rather than the usual rivets found on diecast cars. This will make it easy to remove the hulls for stripping and re-painting.

Overall, these are nice diecast models that are entirely suitable for wargaming. I'm not sure how useful they are as a base for conversions for scale modeling, but there are some very skillful people out there who have done more with even less of a starting point.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


The glass-encased Gyrosphere is a fictional amusement park vehicle used in the Jurassic World movies.

They remind me a lot of the Le Bar Cars (aka Leswing Car, Happy Car, or Leisure Car) produced in China for use in amusement parks (although I'm not sure if they're used in any actual amusement parks anywhere).

Anyway, Matchbox makes a toy of the Jurassic World Gyrosphere (MB1112) which I picked up at a local WalMart when I saw it on sale for 94¢.

The Gyrosphere measures about 33mm in diameter. It differs from the movie vehicle in that the dome is tinted blue, and the side doors are opaque instead of being clear.

I was unable to find any official dimensions for the vehicle, but it looked pretty close to being 1/72 scale based on pictures from the movies. Certainly the seats in the Matchbox Gyrosphere look okay for 1/72 scale passengers.

I did find out that the acrylic dome used for the movie prop was 87" in diameter, which would make the Matchbox Gyrosphere close to 1/67 scale. That's close enough for me.

If I can find additional Gyrospheres at 94¢, I will pick up a couple more to try some modifications. I'd like to see how easy it is to take one apart to add some passengers, and also to recreate the doors in clear resin.