Unboxing Heller’s 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1

I bought this kit as part of a larger package several months ago and it was just sitting around on the stash since, considering its age (the kit itself seems to be at least 20 years old, probably even more), I knew this was not going to be a modelling highlight.

After opening the box, you’ll be faced with the following parts:

  • five styrene sprues in of a light brown color
  • one separate part for the turret
  • a vinyl sprue containing the tracks and two towing cables
  • a small fret with photo etched parts
  • a small sprue with the clear parts
  • a small sheet with decals
  • a piece of tissue to be optionally used for camouflage
  • an A4 sheet of instructions

The parts are packed in sealed plastic bags which partially helps protect them from scratches. The clear parts are packed separately which is nice but the styrene sprues are partially packed in pairs.

In my case, all parts were still attached to the trees, with no visible damage. This is also due to the rather thick attachment points and the not-too-hard-not-too-soft plastic used on this kit. Speaking of which, one of more nice attributes of this kit is the quality of plastic used. I find it a tad soft but it is very easy to work with.

The thin parts (the suspension has some of these) are also surprisingly stable and robust. I had problems removing thin parts from the tree several times with other kits but not with this one.

The level of details is not too deep but OK for a kit of this age and price range.

The molding is very well aligned but there is some major flash on most sprues. Fortunately, the flash is very thin and easy to remove with a hobby knife.

To get back to the box content, the first piece is the turret.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 turret
The turret

One thing I have noticed while comparing the turret to my reference images is the door on the front-left side. I was going to build a UN version and all images were showing vehicles without this door. Fortunately, there seem to be enough material below it so it can be removed without being left with a large hole to fill. Still, this is going to be a fiddly work.

The next sprue is containing the gun and further turret elements.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 sprue
Sprue with gun and turret elements

The back access doors on the turret also seem to have an issue concerning the access handles. These are molded on and again wrong compared to the UN vehicle images.

The upper and lower hulls as well as the lower hull sides are provided on a separate sprue. The level of details is rather low on these parts.

Personally, I would have preferred to have the sides of the lower hull molded on as it proved to be very tricky to properly align and glue them during the building process. Still it can be done properly with some attention and patience.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 upper and lower hull
Sprue with upper and lower hull parts

The next sprue contains a lot of small parts belonging to all parts of the vehicle. My preference here would have been to divide this sprue in two separate ones to ease the handling. We all had that moment when you hook yourself to one of the small parts to rip it off or brake it the next second.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 sprue with small parts
Sprue with small parts

The sprue carrying the muffler, suspension pins, spare tracks and some wheels seems to be reused from another AMX 30 kit, according to the molded label on it.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 sprue
Muffler, pins, wheels

The fifth styrene sprue contains the wheels. The misaligned center holes on several of the wheel parts will probably lead to some alignment problems and will need to be corrected.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 wheels
Wheels

The vinyl sprue contains the tracks along with two towing cables. The level of details is fine on both. I particularly found it interesting to have vinyl towing cables since the vinyl is more flexible and will allow for more freedom when positioning it on the vehicle compared to the stiff styrene version found on other kits.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 vinyl sprue
Vinyl tracks and towing cable
Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 sprue
Vinyl tracks and towing cable

Another nice addition you wouldn’t expect in a kit of this price range are the PE parts for the exhaust cover.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 PE parts
PE parts

A small sprue of clear parts is up next. There is also some molding flash on these parts but nothing you can’t easily remove.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 clear parts
Clear parts

The decals are not that great. The printing is not very sharp and the edges are jagged. I going to resort to the content of my spare decals envelope as I plan to build a UN version.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 decals
Decals

The piece of tissue added for camouflaging the gun is another nice add-on.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 camouflaging tissue
Camouflaging tissue

Last but not least, the instructions are provided as an A4 leaflet. The building process is split in 29 steps, with exploded views on each step. Some of the steps could be more detailed, like the assembling position of the suspensions.

Heller 1:35 AMX 30 AU F1 instructions
Instructions

There is a section describing the application of the camo tissue as well as one talking about maneuver markings.

The suggested painting schemes include a French (three-color camo) and an Saud Arabian (single, sand-colored camo) version. Interesting enough, the Saud Arabian version is not provided with any decals.

The kit is OK for the beginners as it contains only a few parts and is easy to assemble. The level of details could be improved but is overall acceptable. Although, it is probably no match for the current Meng kit, its price is still unbeatable.

Once built, the kit will surely render a somewhat different armored vehicle for your shelves.

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