Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Review - Models 1/72, Hobby Den MTLB

The MTLB was produced from 1970 and included over 80 different variants across the estimated 12,000 vehicles produced.  The primary role of the vehicle was as an Artillery Tractor for Anti Tank or Towed 122mm artillery systems. Additionally the vehicle was used for APCs, Engineer, Anti-tank, Air Defence, Artillery Command and Observation Posts, Air Defence Command and Observation posts and Chemical Reconnaissance.  So a very versatile vehicle, within my forces I currently use them in the Artillery tractor, Command and Observation Post and 120mm Mortar tractor roles and have sufficient to mount a couple of motor rifle battalions if I had a desire to have a Finish or Northern Norway game.

I am aware of 3 different models on the market though I am sure their are more.  The 3 I have used all have their merits and cover quite different price points and skill levels as follows:
  • ACE currently out of production, if you look hard you can still find them for around £14 a unit.  They build to a very nice model of the system but come with the usual ACE challenges.
  • S&S The S&S model is the simplest of the lot with about 3 parts and has its limitations but it is also the cheapest at £9 including P&P which is excellent value.
  • In the middle of the field is the Hobby Dens offering and the subject of this review at €15 which approximates to £12 most of the time.

The Hobby Dens model is a resin and white metal re-cast of the old MMS metal MTLB and is a great looking model when built. Both my copies were crisply cast in cream coloured resin with no air holes or significant defects leaving no work to be done on the hull before assembly.  Resin has been used to produce the body of the vehicle and the turret with the hatches doors, weapons and tracks all being cast in white metal.  The white metal parts are well cast with excellent levels of detail and are generally flash free requiring little preparation before assembly.

Assembly is straight forward and simple, unusually for resin models hatches can be modelled open or closed which provides a lot of options for crewing the wagons as this includes the hatches over the crew compartment as well as the driver and commander.  all the hatches have associated receased hull areas  which allow crew figures to be set into the model.  It's a shame more manufactures don't take the same approach.  

The completed model builds into a nicely detailed representation of the vehicle which captures the hull shape well.  The model is a little larger than the ACE kit but works well with the 1/72 BMPs and tanks that I deploy it with.  All up a great model and one which with the demise of the ACE kits I will be using in my motor rifle battalions from now on.

In Soviet service they are generally seen very lightly stowed even when photographed in a range of the post Cold War conflicts.  As ever un-ditching beams are a feature of Soviet vehicles and there would appear to be a number of options for stowing them on the vehicle.

Either across the back as in the image from South Osettia above or along the side in what looks like a purpose built bracket.   Other than that I have seen images with tarpaulins/boxes stowed on the rear deck or along the side.  The only images of vehicles I have seen festooned with packs belong to the US Army's OPFOR. The marking options pretty much follow those outlined in the post on Soviet vehicle markings with Numbers and formation symbols appearing on the rear door and hull side.

The exact position on the hull side can vary with some vehicles sporting them on the rearward part of the angled front.

So with this in mind I have lightly stowed my MTLBs, using plastic rod and green stuff to place an un-ditching beam on to the right hand side of the vehicle along with a tarpaulin and crate on the back decks.

The two models having a slightly different arrangement of equipment.  Stowage is variously by Black Dog, Goffy.  The crew figure is one of Ellhiem's German tank Crew which make pretty handy Soviet Tank crew as well, The Driver in this instance could have been made for the model.

I have painted the vehicle in line with my other Soviet equipment in green, although having converted to an airbrush I am now using the following paint scheme:
  • The vehicle is given an overall coat of Tamiya XF-13 JA Green, and is then washed with a dilute solution of  badab black.
  • The panels were then painted over using a mix of JA Green and Tamiya XF - 65 Field Gray.
  • The detail was then picked out with a pin wash of Humbrol Blue Grey Wash.

  • The stowage, tracks and crew figure were painted with a variety of Vallejo colours, the whole vehicle was then sealed with a coat of Tamiya Matt clear and the decals were then applied using Micro set before receiving another coat of Tamiya Matt Clear
  • The vehicle was then weathered using the Humbrol dust wash and an overspray of Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow

I decided to mark the vehicle using both a vehicle identification number and a unit symbol, the unit in  the Soviet army being the regiment.

The decals used were from the modelcollect large decal sheet which has a variety of regimental markings and stencilled numbers although the numbers lack the variety of size need for the rear door and these I got from a Scotia set.

The MTLB is based on laser cut MDF bases supplied by East Riding miniatures, these are covered in a mix of sand and white glue before painting.  Once dry a range of basing materials have been used to create the vegetation on the base.

This is quite an exceptional model of the MTLB and stands up well in comparison to the ACE kit, I would even go so far as to say that I prefer it and in a number of areas it has better levels of detail.  Next years project is a BTR equipped regiment with a towed Artillery Battalion so I expect I will be making a few more.


  1. Nice review and a great looking finished model. I'm looking to get at least one MTLB for my Iraqi forces and torn between S&S or Hobby Den. Now I believe I will be going to Hobby Den.

    1. These are nice models with lots of Options as to how they are built due to the hatch arrangements, I hope you find it as good as I have. Let me know when you have built it :)