(Panda Hobby)

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When Panda Hobby released their M-ATV in late 2011 I immediately bought the kit, despite of some negative reviews on the net. The kit is packed with cleanly moulded details in sand coloured plastic.

The Panda Hobby kit

When Panda Hobby released their M-ATV in late 2011 I immediately bought the kit, despite of some negative reviews on the net. The kit is packed with cleanly moulded details in sand coloured plastic. The standard of moulding is excellent although there is a very small amount of fine flash around some parts, including very fine moulding lines on the parts, but these can easily be removed with a sharp scalpel. Surface details are excellent. There are some minor fitting issues in the chassis, but these can be easily corrected. The kit includes a simple interior which is sufficient when building the model with closed doors.

The Pro Art Models conversion set

I knew Dirk from Pro Art Models was planning to release a comprehensive interior set for the M-ATV, so I put the model aside until the set became available. I assisted Dirk with designing the drawings for the needed PE parts for his conversion set and when I received the first test shots from Pro Art Models, building started again. I must say that this conversion set is the most comprehensive interior set I have even seen! With the release of this set Pro Art has raised the bar again once more.

The interior

With the chassis and suspension completed (I only replaced the suspension springs with metal ones and added the hydraulic lines) work started on the interior. Only the PE rack and dashboard of the kit were used, all the rest will be replaced by resin and PE from the update set. After cleaning up the resin parts I temporarily attached the radios on the rack to determine the wiring. Data communication systems, switch boxes, cables and wires were added to the roof section, and the seats with safety belts were assembled. Safety belts were made using Tamiya tape.

Painting the interior

Painting started with acrylic Semi-Gloss Black as a base coat, followed by a light coat of the exterior colour consisting of a mix of Sandy Yellow and Deck Tan, lightened with some White. The interior parts of the cabin were weathered with oils (see painting and weathering part of the exterior). All detail painting of the radios, switch boxes and wiring were done with Vallejo acrylics. This step was time consuming but it’s fun to do and once finished I was very satisfied about the result, although not much of the roof section can be seen once the cabin compartment will be closed.

Normally I would paint the seats with Vallejo using the layering technique, but this time I choose for oil paint. I first airbrushed a base coat of Sandy Yellow. The oil paint technique consists of adding a thin base layer of Olive Green (620) to the whole seat, followed by highlighting of the flat surfaces of the seats with Buff Titanium (024 Daler-Rowney), and blending it with the Olive Green base coat. After 24h drying time a pin wash with VanDyke Brown was added to the details, followed by another highlight session using Buff Titanium. After again a 24h drying time details were highlighted using Nickel Titan Yellow Light (279). Safety belts were painted and highlighted using Vallejo paint. This method of painting with oils is a basic technique which is easy to apply and gives you the opportunity to make corrections in every stage. And if necessary, wipe away the oil paint with some mineral odorless White Spirit and start all over again. A few years ago we did some testing on weathering techniques using several brands of oil paint, and the Rembrandt range of Talens gave me the best result because of its very fine pigments, but high quality oil paints of other brands will do the job too. Once everything was painted, the radio and communication equipment was installed and final wiring and cables were added. Lots of wiring was used to create a busy look. As the Oshkosh M-ATV is a mine-resistant vehicle, all seats on the real vehicle are attached to the floor plate and roof using straps. So I made 0.5mm wide straps using very thin paper tape and added them to the bottom of the seats and floor plate first, using superglue. I also added the straps to the mounting brackets under the roof plate. Giving extra length to the straps would ease rigging once everything was installed. After assembly of the cabin, some fine tipped squeezers and a lot of patience were needed for final rigging of the straps through all the mounting brackets, ensuring a tight fit. Not an easy task with limited access to a very busy cabin, but once finished the result will give you great satisfaction.

The exterior

Now all parts of the exterior were added. The turret was kept aside for ease painting. Some extra details were made using Evergreen sheet, bolts were added, and I made some simple Jerry can racks as shown on one of my reference pictures. The wind shields in the kit were replaced with the ones from the Pro Art set which are made from light tinted clear resin, which is a huge improvement, especially the ones in the turret shields as the kit glasses are hollowed. The wind shields were glued into their frame using White Glue and when dry all windows were masked off. 

I temporarily glued the doors using a bit of White Glue which saved me time on masking. The armored wind shields of the turret were kept aside and will be placed after the airbrush session. I assembled the beautiful LiveResin Mk.19 with S.A.G. shield, made sure it would fit properly in the front of the turret and kept it aside for separate painting. As a last step antenna mountings and cables were added.

Painting the exterior

Due to the long building stage, I sprayed a thin layer of Methanol onto the surface of the model to get rid of any leftover fingerprints or other greasy spots and dust particles. If you want to try this method, be sure to wear the right personal protection and always use it outside or in a well ventilated room! For airbrushing I like to use Tamiya and Gunze Sangyo acrylic paints (both can also be mixed), thinned down with Tamiya’s genuine lacquer thinner (bottle with the yellow cap) at a ratio of 25% paint / 75% thinner. For general airbrushing I prefer my Harder&Steenbeck Infinity airbrush (compressor set at 1bar), for finer airbrushing I use my Iwata CM (spraying at 1.3-1.5bar). When using solely Matt Tamiya paint I always add 25% Clear (X-22) to my paint mix which will result in an even smoother satin finish, which is the ideal base for the upcoming filters, and thus avoiding that often seen rough surfaces. I prefer to spray my models first with a light coat of Semi-gloss Black (X-18) which will not only serve as a base coat to prevent shine trough of the different colors of the plastic, resin and PE on the model, but also as a last check for any irregularities in the surfaces. If so, this is the moment to make some last corrections with putty before airbrushing of the actual layers starts. For the M-ATV I started with a 5/1 mix of Sandy Yellow (Gunze H79) and Deck Tan (Tamiya XF-55), each session adding more White to the base colour to create the highlighted surfaces which receive more light from above. I always try to use the pre-shading technique but somehow it’s still inconvenient for me, so after the highlights were done I loaded my Iwata CM with a dark brown, almost black, mix and post-shaded the complete model. Personally I like to start very light. Looking at the pictures one can see a very light Sandy Yellow, but it will turn darker once weathering starts. The model was put aside for about a week to dry, Gunze paint needs a bit longer drying time than Tamiya paint before it’s completely cured. Normally I would continue with adding coloured enamel filters, but Dirk showed me an interesting alternative using oils and flat brushes, so I decided to give it a try. I put a dot of Raw Umber (408) on a cardboard and waited 15 minutes to allow the cardboard to absorb the oil of the paint. Then, using a fine tipped brush, I added small amounts of Raw Umber to those places on the model for creating shadows, immediately blending it in using a flat brush Nr.6. It’s very important to use a completely DRY brush for this, any remains of White Spirit will wipe off the oil paint! Working around each panel goes quickly. Don’t worry if the shadows are too wide. With the shadows completed I took a dot of Buff Titanium and, using the same method as previous, I narrowed and blended the shadows in with the base colour until I was satisfied with the result. It is important to let the oil paint dry for at least 2 days, otherwise the following pin washes will solve the oil “filters”. In the meantime I gave the chassis its weathering treatment. Using the Lifecolor Rust set (UA701, UA702, UA703, UA704) I added Rust to strategic places, followed by some filters using Raw Umber. Shadows and highlights were added using Vandyke Brown and Buff Titanium. As I didn’t want to cover my model with dust I only added some dust to strategic places on the lower chassis using several thin washes of Humbrol Brown Yellow (94), Mid Stone (84) and Khaki Drill (72). With the chassis finished and the previous treatment with oil paints dry, I carried on with the pin washes around all details using Vandyke Brown (403) to give the model more depth and to accentuate all details. Paint was thinned down approx. 20% paint / 80% thinner and applied with a 000 brush from the Winsor & Newton Series 7. Don’t forget to wet the surface with some thinner before the pin wash is added, otherwise the wash will not flow around the details but it will spread all over the surface, this way darkening the model which has to be avoided on such a light colored model. Lots of scratches, scuff marks and chippings were added using different mixes of VanDyke Brown (403), Permanent Madder Brown (324), Nickel Titan Yellow Light (279) and Titanium White (644) oil paints. The main reason I opted for oil paints for the weathering stage is the long drying time because this will give me plenty of time for making any corrections. The sides of panel lines can be lightened up using Nickel Titan Yellow Light and Titanium White, keeping in mind the sunlight from above. Some final chipping were added using my favorite Vallejo color SS Camouflage Black Brown (822). Rust streaks were created using Burnt Sienna (411). Try to add the chipping and scratches (light and heavy) as random as possible and be aware to add them to logical places. It is important to do your research on used materials on the vehicle, e.g. the engine hood of the M-ATV is not made of steel, so don’t apply rust to it… Details were enhanced using thinned white. All these techniques are very easy to apply and the result will be a nice model with lots of tonal variation to look at. The dry mud on the lower part was made using a mix of Tamiya texture paint soil effect (Dark Earth) and grit effect (Light Sand), building up the mud in several thin layers. When dry some filters of Burnt Umber and Buff Titanium were used for blending in the mud, for more visual effect the mud was slightly drybrushed using Nickel Titan Yellow Light. The rubber tires were given a base coat of Vallejo Black Grey and “dusted” with a wash made of Buff Titanium. When dry the dust turned out too light, so I gave the tires an additional filter of Humbrol Brown Bess (170) to tone down the dusty appearance. The Mk.19 received a base coat of Matt Black followed by a dark brown glaze using Vallejo SS Camouflage Black Brown (822). When dry some graphite was added to the details using my finger tip. This will result in a smooth metallic sheen and I personally find this technique much more convincing than using Gun Metal. At this stage the armored glasses were added to the turret. I decided to add some bullet impacts. For this I used 0.15mm thick microscopic glass, placed transparent tape to one side and created the impacts tapping a sharp steel nail to the surface. All you need to do is putting the damaged glass in front of the resin glass, the tape will be invisible afterwards. All credits for this technique goes to my friend Per Olav Lund who showed me his technique on one of our club evenings. Looking at my reference pictures, I decided to add steel wire mesh to the sides of the cargo bay. The wire mesh was made of copper wire using a jig, carefully connecting the wires to each other using superglue. The wire mesh was cut to size, painted with rusty tones using the Lifecolor Rust tones and glued in place. I received Pro Art Models’ latest set of headphones. These were assembled, painted, wired and added to the interior. With the weathering phase done it was now time to start with all the accessories for the cargo and other details.

Painting the accessories

All accessories for the cargo bay were cleaned up and I began with the composition of the cargo. When I was satisfied I took some pictures of the layout for reference purposes later on. The jerry cans and ammunition boxes were airbrushed separately using various green and sand colored mixes to create the first differentiation. Mean Jerry Can decals from Echelon were added to the jerry cans to break up the colors. Drums, canisters, gas bottles, heavy duty cases and all other equipment were airbrushed using different shades of Red, orange, Yellow, Black, Dark Grey, Blue etc., each color toned down with some Sandy Yellow for blending in with the vehicle. Weathering was added before gluing each item in place. Several slings and straps were made using Tamiya tape and Pro Art’s PE clamps, and hand painted after attaching them to the model. The backpacks were cleaned up, primed and hand painted with Vallejo. A sports bag was also added, painted pale red with white Adidas striping to act as an eye catcher in the cargo bay. Jerry cans and other items were attached to the model with straps made op Tamiya tape and Aber buckles. I added an orange strap across the engine hood to break up this clean section of the model. Antennas were made using the superb precision tubes from Albion Alloys, which fit perfectly into each other. Other small items like helmets, weapons, shoes and personal gear were hand painted and added to the cabin, turret and cargo bay, and finally some blue water bottles completed the model. The challenge of adding and painting the accessories for the cargo bay is that they have to be colorful but still blend in with the complete model. An easy method to achieve this is to add a bit of Sandy Yellow to each colour. If necessary some sand coloured filters using enamel or oils can be used to tone down the colors. I didn’t use any pigment powders on this model as it can make your model look dead and dull.


I enjoyed every minute of building, painting and weathering this model. And although some minor issues with the chassis it is still the best kit available on the market today with excellent and sharp details. And if you want to pimp your M-ATV then the Pro Art Models’ upgrade set is an excellent choice. Their set is of the highest quality as we might expect from Pro Art Models, as are their sets of backpacks and accessories. I hope I have clarified my painting and weathering methods on this model, and maybe you want to give it a go too after reading this article.

Word of thank

First of all I would like to thank Dirk Vangeel from Pro Art Models for giving me the chance to build this model and sending me all necessary pieces. My special thanks goes also to my club friends Rudi Meir, Kristof Pulinckx, Staf Snyers, Marijn van Gils, Pascal Tognon and Gert Mertens for their advise and constructive comments, and of course all the other guys at the KMK club for having great times together! A big thank you to Per Olav Lund for showing his technique regarding broken glass, and I want to thank Ralph Zwilling too for sending the necessary pictures.

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Model specifications

PH35001 Oshkosh M-ATV MRAP (Panda Hobby)
PAU-35052 Upgrade detail set for M-ATV MRAP (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35011 Modern Oil/chemical Drums and Canisters Set (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35023 US modern equipment set 1 (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35036 Modern heavy duty cases (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35038 Modern clamping tools (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35040 Low pressure gas bottles (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35041 Modern ammunition boxes (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35045 Modern military & civil backpacks (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35046 Modern military & civil hanging backpacks (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35047 Jerry can set for modern vehicles (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35048 US modern equipment set 2 (Pro Art Models)
PAU-35057 Modern Headphones set (Pro Art Models)
35A16 Chains (Aber)
A042B Blue bottles (Accurate Armour)
D356016 Mean Jerry Can decals (Echelon Fine details)
M357150 M-ATV mirrors (Echelon Fine Details)
LRE 35079 MK19-3 40mm Grenade machine gun (LiveResin)
SKP156 Lenses and Taillights for M-ATV (SKP Model)
Precision tubes (Albion Alloys)

For more and high diffenition pictures, look in our gallery

Hugo Luyten

~ Member of KMK since 2003~