By Tom Clark - images & text © 1999
^ The manipulators - artistry in resin
^ Typical track section for the upper and lower track segments. Don't cut the connections between cleats, only the sprue!
^ Required reading and reference material.
For those not familiar with the "Dominion: Tank Police" manga by Masamune Shirow, the Bonaparte Police Tank is one the main stars, a paranoid little hedgehog of a tank designed to fight crime in the streets of Newport City. The model in question here represents the latest incarnation of the Bonaparte, found in the manga: "Dominion: Conflict(No More Noise)" which is available from Dark Horse Comics. In the new manga, Bonaparte has gone from being a one-of-a-kind custom model to the mass-production mount for the whole Tank Division.
The model here is by TVC-15, also called Workshop Cast. I acquired this one from Rainbow 10. It retails for 8800 yen, not bad for a resin kit, and the quality of the kit is very good. One thing you might notice is that it's SMALL! Those of you who measure value by the pound might be disappointed. The hull measures about 3" in length, or about the size of an M151 MUTT jeep. It's also the same scale as the Fusion Models Kodiak Heavy Gear, which would make for a rather bizarre diorama...
The kit comes in a cardboard box with a printed color picture of the finished model on the top. Inside are four bags of parts and a sheet of "waterslide decals." One of the bags has 3 clear parts; a vacuformed dome for the "bubblegum machine" on the turret, and two translucent headlight covers. The headlight covers are rather ragged, and one of mine will probably require some reshaping.
The remaining 40 or so parts are all yellow resin, of exceptional quality. There is a lot of finely molded recessed detail on the hull - you'll notice several triangular arrays of small holes on the turret and hull. These aren't casting pits, they're supposed to be there! There are some major tabs to be removed, particularly on the track bogies. These have to be removed carefully from the teeth of the drive wheels. The only molding problems I noted were a seam around the lower half of the spherical main turret and another on the main hull, but neither should be a major obstacle.
The "Ninja Foot" tracks are the most noticeable feature of the model, and make up the largest number of parts. The upper and lower runs of track are molded as a single group of cleats, connected by a bar that blends in with the track bogie when assembled. There are also several separate cleats that are glued around the front and rear of each track bogie. Don't get the track sections from each bag mixed up - they're handed to go on the left and right bogies!
The remaining parts are small details that are glued to the hull and turret. This includes a half-figure for the commander's hatch, presumably of Leona Ozaki (the Bonaparte's commander). The other details are a commander's hatch, a siren on a mast, the gatling "stinger", a pair of broadside turrets, and a VERY nice pair of manipulator arms. These last are new feature of this incarnation of the Bonaparte, and are very detailed. They can be posed either folded behind the turret, or extended. I'd love to pose them extended to show them off, but they are delicate enough to make me want to protect them by posing them "stored."
On the downside of the kit, the directions are rather skimpy. There's only a single sided sheet, with some low-resolution pictures to help. And, of course, they're in Japanese. Having the manga around as a visual reference would be a definite plus. How you are supposed to attach the track bogies to the hull is a particular mystery, and if anybody out there can give me a clue I'd appreciate it. My current plan is to put the main hull and the track bogies (without cleats) on a flat surface, mark the contact points and put some substantial pins into the hull to mount the bogies on. The bogies have recesses on the back that seem to bear out this plan, but I'm strictly guessing.
The negatives don't outweigh the fact that this is an very good kit of a rather unusual subject. It's an accurate representation of the Bonaparte found in the "Conflict" manga, and frankly not enough Shirow mecha makes into kit form. The more the merrier! I wouldn't recommend this kit to beginners, but to modelers who've had a few resin kits under their belt this should be fairly easy. The track bogies will pose the greatest obstacle, but careful planning and dry fitting of the cleats and bogies should prevent any major problems.
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Last updated on 2 August 1999.