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Minifigs' T-80B and BMP-1

Product #
Suggested Retail Price
£3.10 GBP

Product #
Suggested Retail Price
£2.40 GBP

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Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP writes:

Since the N scale Moderns were jointly owned with Neil (Minifigs Productions in the UK) I can bring them back alongside my AIM ranges. We were on the cusp of reopening a limited capability for March 2020, but then COVID-19 dropped in and brought it all to a scorching halt. Finger's crossed that this major annoyance of biological harrassment disappates soon. It waas really nice to re-read the article and the comments! Bosted my morale by a lot! Thanks.


Revision Log
17 October 2005page first published

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PeteMurray writes:

I recently received two samples from Minifigs' modern N-scale armor range: a Soviet-made T-80B tank and a BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle. Although the BMP-1 is not pictured on the U.S. Minifigs' website, it is available. You might try calling or e-mailing Minifigs for details (as well as other released-but-not-visible models) for more information or orders.

About the T-80

The T-64 was introduced as the most capable and innovative tank in the Soviet inventory in the late 60s. Continuous modernization programs kept the T-64 lethal through the 1980s. In 1983, the T-80 was introduced as the new high-technology, high capability tank in the Soviet arsenal, eventually replacing the T-64 in the breakthrough role.

The T-80 boasts some impressive features. There are three crewmen: Driver, gunner, and commander. Soviet tanks since the T-64 have used autoloaders — the joke goes that the Soviets ran out of left-handed midget bodybuilders for loader crews. It has a very high power-to-weight ratio which translates to high mobility across terrain, and is the first Soviet tank to use a turbine engine. The 125mm main gun is the same very effective gun found on the T-64, with improved targeting capabilities (the T-80 was the first Soviet tank to feature a laser rangefinder). The gun can also fire the AT-8 and AT-11 anti-tank guided missile, and further models have been fitted with explosive reactive armor and improved imaging and sighting systems. All of this comes at the cost of interior space (a perennial problem in Soviet tanks), mechanical complexity, and ravenous fuel consumption. The T-80 is found in service with Russia, the Ukraine, and Pakistan today. Most other clients (and even the Russians, to some extent) have preferred the complementary T-72 — a less capable but far simpler and cheaper tank to operate and maintain.

Telling Soviet tanks apart is something of a learning experience. One quick tip is to check the road wheels — Soviet tanks have a variety of wheel arrangements which are useful for telling basic tank models apart. In the case of the T-80, the three pairs of road wheels are not evenly spaced, having a particular irregular staggering of pairs. There are also the the side skirts (not found on the T-64 or T-72).

What You Get

T-80B components

The model is of a T-80B, one of the early production models and pre-dating the use of ERA. Instead, this model employed the composite K ceramic armor, which was supposed to improve defense against APFSDS penetrators.

The model is in nine parts: hull, turret, left and right track assemblies, the gun barrel, two external fuel drums, the snorkel, and the tank commander's hatch. The hatch can be assembled opened or closed. Since there is no commander figure included, you may want to assemble it closed.

As far as assembly goes, some filing or gentle bending may be needed in order for seamless fits. There was some flash on my model, particularly the thin sheets in the wheel assembly and a mold line running around the hull. These are not too difficult to remove.

T-80 track flash

Reference photos I found show the fat end of the snorkel should go to the right side of the turret. The auxiliary fuel drums have a squared-off supporting bit to assist the join to the racks on the hull. I suggest you include these — the T-80 was enough of a gas guzzler that they'd be in common use, plus they're another point of distinction.

The mushroom shape of the turret is captured, as is the thermal wrapping and fume extractor on the barrel of the main gun, but the spacing of the road wheels is just a bit off. Tank purists may be able to find additional points of structural inaccuracy. No AAMG is included — a little disappointing on an otherwise fine model. There's a small hole in the rear of the turret which could be impressed into a socket for a radio antenna for command tanks. I really like the turret details — ammo boxes, sights, smoke grenade launchers, and a searchlight — lots of fun stuff to paint up.

How Would I Use This Model?

If you wanted to play the popular hypothetical Warsaw Pact/NATO European land war between 1983 and 1989, this would be a fine choice for your elite Soviet Guards Tank regiments. If you're really picky, that'd be the Guards and other shock forces in the Southern Group based in Romania. You'd use it up to about 1985, when the ERA models started appearing, and the T-80s start getting circulated to other regular frontline units.

In gaming, the typical Soviet tank is a low-tech affair that makes up for quality with sheer numbers. The T-80 is fast and tough — a high quality tank that you'll have to employ with great care! The T-80 in most rules should be capable of going toe-to-toe with the best Western tanks out there. It should be more than a match for an M60A1 or A3 or a Leopard I. Having a speedy, high quality tank in a Russian player's arsenal is quite a change!

About The BMP-1

The BMP-1 is the grandfather of all modern infantry fighting vehicles. It was the vehicle that marked the shift from sending infantry into combat in an armored box to giving them a vehicle that was capable of fighting alongside them on the battlefield, an idea that spread to the other major land armies of the world. BMP stands for Bronevaya Maschina Piekhota - which translates, simply enough, as "infantry fighting vehicle."

The BMP-1 is equipped with a 73mm main gun which fires the same projectile as the RPG-7. On top of the gun is a rail for launching the AT-3 Sagger missile. Infantry riding inside have firing ports that face to the flanks. The vehicle is amphibious, and moves through the water by its tracks rather than jets or a screw. It has a crew of three and eight dismounts, and the vehicle commander leads the squad when it exits the vehicle. There are two large rear doors, and four hatches on the top of the rear deck for the infantry. The BMP-1 was widely exported to Soviet client states, and remains in use throughout the world. The AT-3 sitting on top of the stubby main gun is one of the most distinctive ways to identify a BMP-1, even if you can't see all the details of the boat-shaped hull.

As with most Soviet armor, the quarters inside are cramped and storage is at a premium. Furthermore, the armor is extremely thin, and the vehicle is vulnerable to everything except small arms fire to the front—heavy autocannon fire, to say nothing of a tank or ATGM hit, can kill or cripple the vehicle.

In a typical Soviet Motor Rifle Division, one regiment will be equipped with the BMP-1, while the remaining two regiments will have the wheeled BTR. In a Tank Division, particularly in Guard Divisions, the single motor rifle regiment will have BMPs.

What You Get

BMP-1 components

The model consists of five parts: hull, turret, left and right track assemblies, and an AT-3 missile and its launcher rail. My favorite feature of this model is that these are a separate item, which means you can add or leave it off the turret as you see fit (I plan to leave mine off). Some microarmor lines cast the missile as part of the turret, which means you have to either file it off yourself or let it alone. The option to exclude the missile means you can date the model to later conflicts or clients where it would be far less likely to be equipped with missiles. It's also nice to know that the BMP crews found that the AT-3 could fall off the rail in rough handling — fiddly bits are found on prototypes, too!

BMP-1 track vent

There are some vent nubs left on the front of the track assemblies. Do not confuse these bits with the headlights on top of the track. There was also some flash around the mold line, but it was thin sheets and I was actually able to clean up one part with my thumbnail.

Assembly is simple. The wide, smooth faces of the hull and back of the track assemblies should form a nice broad surface for superglue to adhere to. There is a small area on the gun for the AT-3 to be glued to (if you're worrying about that). Remember that the headlights go to the front. If you've filed them off, then a quick Google for reference pictures can show you which of the track mudguards should go to the front.

How Would I Use This Vehicle?

There are countless gaming uses for a BMP-1. Nearly every nation which bought arms from the Soviets bought at least a few BMPs. From Gulf Wars I and II to the Yugoslavian Civil War to the clashes between Central Asian warlords, the BMP has seen action. You could conceivably use it in a predominantly infantry game — while it would be strong enough for infantry to have to respect it, it is still vulnerable to man-portable weapons. While not as glamorous as a BMP-3 or a T-80, it is ubiquitous and plausible for most Warsaw Pact or Third World armies or scenarios involving these.

For our hypothetical WP/NATO European Theater 1985 game, you wouldn't see a BMP-1 in the same division as the T-80. You would see them operating with T-72s and T-55s, particularly in client states like Poland or Czechoslovakia. The Soviets would use them up to the early 1980s, at which point they'd be replaced by BMP-2s.

The Verdict

Modern microarmor games involving Soviet equipment practically require the BMP to make an appearance, so this is a very welcome model to have in the stable. Having done the majority of my Warsaw Pact gaming with T-72s and T-55s and envying NATO's much tougher tanks, it will be nice to field a tank whose primary advantage is not "it's cheap!"

Microarmor gamers in 6mm might consider moving up to this scale. The models are larger and more distinctive. At this scale, adding things like vehicle numbers and markings are no longer for neurosurgeons. You might want to field smaller units (companies instead of battalions) in order to preserve some room for maneuver on the tabletop. The cost per tank works out to be about the same as a 25mm miniature. These are also small enough that you can smuggle them to work and assemble them on your lunch hour.

Assembled T-80B and BMP-1