Bandai 1/144 Type-74 Hover Truck – North Pole Express

They Type-74 hovertruck is one of those "extra" pieces of mechanical design that really helps to complete the realism of the Gundam universe.

They Type-74 hovertruck is one of those “extra” pieces of mechanical design that really helps to complete the realism of the Gundam universe.

The world of Gundam is vast, and there are a lot of different mobile suits in it. However, there are more than just mobile suits on a battlefield; just like any other weapon, MSs don’t operate alone, and the amount of support hardware fielded in the UC timeline is staggering. One such “extra” is the Type 74 Hover Truck, first seen in  the Gundam 8th MS Team OVA and then in the MS IGLOO computer animated series as well.  

The Type 74 is a high mobility-type of multipurpose vehicle that can be used for transport of personnel or cargo, as well as for spotting, acoustic detection, mobile command post and whatever other duties you can throw at it. The first kit of the vehicle was a 1/35 rendition in the UC Hardgraph line of ultra-realistic, hardcore “armour-like” models. However, Bandai also issued a pair of these handy little haulers in 1/144 as part of its MS Gundam the Ground War set, including an RX-79(G) and extra weapons.

This deluxe kit was designed for those who wanted to create 1/144 dioramas, and includes figures as well as spare “GM Heads” for the Gundam, as seen in the anime. The Gundam in the box is just the 1/144 HGUC offering, but the bazookas and hover trucks are new! The thing is, I’m not a big diorama builder, but I got sucked into buying the kit because I love the hovertrucks. However, I had no idea what to do with them; until Christmas was coming!

The Kit:

The 1/144 Type-74 is a nice, simple little kit of a very cool vehicle. It is amazingly well-detailed, and contains a type and level of detail you would expect to see in an armour kit, not a Gundam. There are greeblies all over the surface; smoke dischargers, vents and multiple hatches and rivets fill out the impression of the vehicle as a realistic, viable piece of combat hardware.

As you can see here, there is a lot of surface detail all over the hovertruck! Armour fans will be delighted, and it's in scale to the "World Tank Museum" kits of a few years ago!

As you can see here, there is a lot of surface detail all over the hovertruck! Armour fans will be delighted, and it’s in scale to the “World Tank Museum” kits of a few years ago!

It is moulded in a medium bluish grey, and consists of only a few pieces. All the lift fans and chassis are one piece, but the nose and tail support spades do move and lower if desired. The small cupola on the roof turns, and mounts a beautifully-rendered multi-barrel autocannon. Even in 1/144, it’s clear that the cannon is a rotary one, so well is it moulded.

The model also can be built in several ways; there is the “pickup” version, which is just the truck with nothing in the bed. There is also a tarpaulin-covered unit or a command unit for the back of the truck. Full waterslide decals are a major part of the UC Hardgraph series, and this kit also comes with them. This is a nice change from the juvenile self-adhesive plastic and foil monstrosities most Gundam kits come with. This is a further point of proof that this kit is for serious modellers.

The detailing continues on the belly of the truck, too. Notice the nice fan blades in hoverfans, as well as the black "skirt" as one would find on a conventional air-cushion vehicle.

The detailing continues on the belly of the truck, too. Notice the nice fan blades in hoverfans, as well as the black “skirt” as one would find on a conventional air-cushion vehicle.

The Idea:

As you may know, I already have a Santa Gundam, Reindeer B’Cue, a Sled Jabber and even an Elf Mech! Even together, these pieces don’t QUITE make up a full Christmas vignette. However, what if I had something to bring the presents to the Santa Gundam and Sled Jabber? This was the thought I had. I needed some kind of transport to help stage all the presents that the Sled Jabber would carry. Looking at it, the Type 74 sure seemed to be the answer!

However, there was a potential problem; could the truck actually hold one of the Sled Jabber’s presents? A quick check showed that the smallest of the presents would be a perfect fit! Awesome!  However, I needed a “Christmas-y” colour scheme. The Santa was red, as was the Sled Jabber, so what could I do? Then I thought of doing something in the silver and gold tones, similar to the bright ornaments and garlands one associates with Christmas.

The proof is in the putting -  of the present in the rear hold! This shows just how perfect the Type 74 was for loot-hauling  duty!

The proof is in the putting – of the present in the rear hold! This shows just how perfect the Type 74 was for loot-hauling duty!

Building and Painting:

Building the Type 74 is not particularly difficult. However, in order to avoid having to install the forward support spade before doing other work, I chose to alter it a bit. I cut out the end stops on the guide tracks so that technically the spade can be pulled right out of the vehicle. This of course means I can also put it into the vehicle whenever I want to. Since I wasn’t deploying the spade anyway, this was no biggie.

Other than that, construction was straightforward. There’s not a lot to this little guy, so just some fine sanding of gate attachment points and I was away.

To paint the truck, I first primed it with Colourplace grey primer, and then painted the whole truck in Model Master Acrylic Steel. This is a perfect primer for any other metallic colour. I then used my MMA custom-made gold for the main body. This is made from MMA Brass with some yellow added. I used various metallic shades including Steel, Aluminum, Silver, Brass and Jet Exhaust to paint the bulk of the vehicle. I did the “skirts” on the hoverfans in black, to simulate heavy rubber.

From above, you can see some of the different metal shades I used. I wanted it to stay festive, but still be visually interesting.

From above, you can see some of the different metal shades I used. I wanted it to stay festive, but still be visually interesting.

The detail on the Type 74 is too fine to outline conventionally. Even using pencil, the detail would not really show up. Thus, I decided to try something new for me; a wash. I figured that, since all the armour guys I know do this, it would likely work out okay. I mixed up a wash of some MMA Aircraft Interior Black (a somewhat painful colour to use, if you’re curious), some Future and some distilled water. The water is a thinning agent, since obviously washes are thin. The Future was there to help bind the MMA pigments as well as improve adhesion.

I applied the wash and was amazed at how well it worked! I can definitely see why armour guys do this; it flowed all around the vehicle and with a bit of prodding, nicely highlighted all the surface detail. Since there weren’t any decals, a final satin coat was all that was required to finish off the hovertruck. That’s a lot easier than I was expecting!

The wash, because it contained Future, dried shiny and made the final satin coating very easy. Look how well it flowed around all those details.

The wash, because it contained Future, dried shiny and made the final satin coating very easy. Look how well it flowed around all those details.

Precious Cargo:

 In order to really “belong” in the Gundam Christmas Diorama, the hovertruck needs to be doing something. Well, as I mentioned before, the normally-outfitted “open back” truck has just enough room for one of the small presents found on my Sled Jabber. Of course, I couldn’t just put a present in the back; that was too simple! I needed a pallet for the present to go on!

In all honesty, it wasn’t just completism that made me want to pallet mount the present, I will admit. The little presents are only wrapped up Styrofoam cubes, and the wrapping isn’t all that even or flat on the bottom. Thus, the presents tend to sit funny when they’re just placed on a surface. However, buy taking some time to make a simple pallet, this can be avoided and the present will sit nice and level in the truck.

All I needed to do was cut a small piece of balsa wood and give it a wash with Citadel Baddab Black and Devlan Mud to give it a real-wood, aged appearance. The present was then glued to this plate with Zap-a-Gap CA, and when all was said and done: Voila! Instant stable load!

This simple pallet makes the present sit nicely in the hovertruck's bed. It took me about 5 minutes to make it.

This simple pallet makes the present sit nicely in the hovertruck’s bed. It took me about 5 minutes to make it.

Conclusions:

I have always liked the Type 74, and while I was excited to have a couple of kits of it, I’m not a diorama builder, so I didn’t know what I’d do with them. However, this use of one in my Christmas setup has worked out amazingly well. It nicely completes the ensemble and allowed me to work at some new techniques, like washing entire vehicles!

The kit is well detailed and extremely flexible, in terms of optional accessories. There is a lot of potential for hardcore modellers with this model-in-a-model; numerous diorama scenes have already popped into my head! It’s a bit more complicated than I would have thought, though, so I wouldn’t suggest it for younger or less-experienced builders.

That having been said, it’s an excellent kit with high-end detail that both Gundam and armour fans will love. Unfortunately, I guess you’re just going to have to buy the Gundam and all the extra parts as well in order to get it. Oh well… I think we’ll make do, eh?

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