MIG Productions were the first company to respond to many modelers requests for modern civilian vehicles kits in 1/35 scale with their release of resin Landcruiser models. These models can be built as either fully civilian versions, or as “technical” vehicles with various armaments installed. But the truth is these were hardly modern cars: Toyota LandCruiser BJ44 and BJ45, on which MIG kits were based, were introduced in mid 1970s and this means over 30 years ago. So while this was certainly a big step in the right direction, the truly modern car or truck kits were still not available in most popular armor modeling scale, until the release of the kit reviewed here: “Pick Up Hi-Lux”. The model is probably already familiar to Armorama visitors, as “US Special Forces” version of it was featured in an excellent article written by Adam Wilder, one of the authors (with Francois Verdier) of the masters used to produce MIG kit (link to the article
The kit is based on Toyota Hilux truck and most closely resembles a truck model manufactured between 2000 and 2003. But, most likely for licensing reason, you won’t find any mention of Toyota name in the kit and car manufacturer’s logo is omitted from kit parts. Even the name is spelled as “Hi-Lux” instead of correct “Hilux”. The kit can be built either as fully civilian version, or as a “technical” vehicle with Soviet / Russian Dushka heavy machine gun on a pedestal mount.
The kit comes in a small cardboard box with a photo of finished model, built and painted by Adam Wilder, on the label. Inside the box we get five plastic zip bags with resin parts and a small instruction sheet printed in full color with a series of photos identifying part numbers and showing the assembly sequence. Photos are quite small and on some of them the location of some cream colored parts is not clearly visible. I believe however that it should not pose any problems during assembly. Also included is an acetate sheet for truck windows – these are marked as printed outlines only and have to be cut out carefully by a modeler.
The set is comprised of 51 light cream resin parts for the truck and 13 additional parts for armament and cargo (Dushka MG with pedestal mount, ammo cans, a couple of fuel cans and very nice AK-47 assault rifle). The suspension frame is not cast separately, but instead the rear and center part is integral with cab floor and front section is integral with main cab part. Correctly depicted is the suspension layout of Hilux truck with independent front suspension with A-frames and more classical rear suspension with leaf springs. Included are parts of the bottom section of engine and gearbox, drive shaft and a few other detail parts to dress up the bottom of the model. Wheels are slightly flattened for weighted appearance and feature very nice tread pattern. We get a spare wheel to attach underneath the cargo bed. The cab comes in one large piece and only it’s rear wall is separate. This rear wall part also includes the front wall of cargo compartment molded integrally. Cargo bed is one piece with separate tailgate that can be attached open and has nice details on both sides. Additional separate parts to add to truck body are: roll frame, front bumper, side rear view mirrors and headlights radiator grille part. Glass for the windshield and other windows is provided as printed outlines on a acetate sheet that have to be carefully cut out and bent to conform to cab shapes. Windshield wipers are provided as separate parts.
For the truck interior we got separate dashboard and steering wheel parts, two front seats and a rear seat with separate seat cushion and backrest. Included are also three small parts for parking brake, transmission and gearbox levers.
Parts are cleanly cast with just a couple of small air bubbles trapped in resin. There is some amount of flash on several parts, but it should be easy to brush off. There is a thin resin film added to several parts to facilitate casting, for example all cab windows are filled with it. This has to be carefully removed, but it is very thin and removing it should not pose any problem. Usual casting blocks are present on all resin parts, but seem to be well designed and not particularly difficult to remove. There are areas where some minor repair work may be needed after these blocks are removed, e.g. on the front edge of the hood, but it is nothing serious. I think that the wheels are not perfectly circular, but this is quite common problem for resin wheels and here the deformation is very small and can be ignored – most modelers probably won’t even notice it. I haven’t noticed any warped parts in my kit, but both front seats look like the backrest is attached at slight angle to the seat cushion. It is very minor issue and barely noticeable – most likely caused by a slight error in master part, not casting process.
Very nice and crisp details are cast on parts surface and should look great under a cote of paint.
I’m personally disappointed by the use of solid cream resin for headlights, turn signals and taillights. Certainly very nice results can be obtained with skilful painting of these parts (as can be seen on the kit box and in Adam Wilder’s article), but it is not exactly easy and poorly painted lights can ruin the look of the whole model. While similar problem in Landcruiser kits is easy to correct, as those trucks have simple round headlights which can be replaced with MV or similar lenses, it is not so easy here. It would be so much better if these parts were cast in transparent resin, or maybe included were separate vacuformed “glass” parts.
I’m not particularly happy with acetate windows either – the material is not perfectly clear, but some pattern is visible on it (see photo) and gives windows “dirty” look, that can work well for some models, but not for all. I plan to use included acetate sheet only as a template and cut windows for my kit from thin clear styrene sheet.
I dry fitted main kit parts and they seem to fit quite well with only some minor trimming needed, typical for all resin kits.
As I mentioned earlier the kit is based on Toyota Hilux truck. It most closely resembles a model with double cab manufactured between 2000 and 2003. However, if for any reason you need an accurate model of Toyota Hilux, then I must warn you that MIG kit is not exactly it. While it is an excellent general representation of modern pick-up truck and closely resembles Toyota vehicles, it is certainly not very accurate replica. While overall dimensions seem to be very close to correct, there are numerous “errors” in the shape and details, although I’m not quite sure if these can really be called an error. After all MIG Productions don’t use Toyota name for licensing reasons and it may well be that shape of the model was also modified for the same reason. One of the most noticeable “problems” is the size of windows in rear cab doors. Hilux trucks are manufactured with three types of cabs: single cab with two doors and only front seats; extra cab with front and rear seats, but still only front doors and just narrow windows in the cab wall sides for passengers in rear seats; and finally double cab with four doors. MIG kit represents a version with four doors, but rear doors are too small and particularly windows in them are too narrow for double cab Hilux. Their size is somewhere between extra cab and double cab variant windows. The shape of the rear wall of the cab is also not exactly correct, as it should be much more undercut at the bottom near rear wheels. Shapes of fenders are a bit off too. Interior details are not correct for Hilux either with dashboard and steering wheel looking nothing like Toyota parts. But I’m sure that for most modelers these inaccuracies are not really important, as the kit will most likely be used by them as a generic modern vehicle, and not necessarily a specific truck model. There is one small issue with suspension details however, that many modelers building this kit might want to address, as parts are wrong not only for Hilux, but for any truck with this kind of suspension. While the fact that most suspension parts only remotely resemble real Toyota components is not a problem for most, the fact that kit does not include rear shock absorbers can be considered a bigger problem for some! Front shock absorbers are included, but attached incorrectly to upper, not lower A-frames as they should. They also don’t have springs around them, which are quite prominent detail on real trucks. Most modelers will probably also want to add internal rear view mirror missing from the kit.
And finally I would like to mention one fact that is not directly related to this kit, but to the other MIG Production release based on these same parts: “US Special Forces Hi-Lux”. The thing is that US Special Forces during OIF and OEF used mostly Toyota Tacoma trucks, not Hilux model. Even red Toyota shown on several photos used by Adam Wilder as a base for his excellent model featured in Armorama article (links to these photos are provided on MIG website) is Tacoma, not Hilux. While Tacoma is similar in general layout to Hilux (well, it’s also a modern big Toyota pickup!) it is noticeably different beast. While it is likely that US Special Forces used some Hilux trucks (e.g. ones captured from Taliban warriors or Iraqi Feyadeens), I believe their primary truck was Tacoma and this is the truck visible on most pics of US Special Forces teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, it is probably not really important issue for most modelers.
MIG Productions Hi-Lux kit is a most welcome addition to their product range and one that I was waiting for for a long time. This first truly modern civilian truck model in 1/35 scale can be used in a lot of ways on dioramas with scenes from Iraq, Afghanistan, Balkans or any other location. They can depict armed technical vehicles, press cars or just generic civilian trucks. While the kit is not a perfect replica of Toyota Hilux, it is certainly an excellent kit of a generic modern pickup truck.