Articles

MIG Productions - German Kradmelder (MP 72-058) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer MIG Productions
Scale 1/72
Set Code MP 72-058
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items Gear&Weapons
Size Tall
Material Resin
Colour Cream
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Superglue Gel)
Convert-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review   

WWII German Commandment assessed motorcycle of key strategic importance and organised motorcycle units in independent formations or attached to others, practically such vehicles and specific gear being intensively used by soldiers of all branches, including Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. Main tasks fulfilled by motorcycle units were reconnaissance, courier, traffic control etc. KStN 147/1941 organised the motorcycle platoon as 39 army-men with 27 solo and 3 sidecar motorcycles as well as two vehicles but other different schemes were encountered during WWII. Due to the nature of missions, often motorcyclists were involved in combat and the unit had to be strong enough to engage the enemy. Because of that the usual weapon of WWII German motorcyclist (kradmelder) was Kar98K, but also some pistols and MPs were found at officers, NCOs and specialised soldiers while MGs, mounted on sidecars were supplied, too.  

A popular and of great interest subject finds its transposition in 1/72 scale just inside few kits targeting WWII German motorcycle and rider(s). Regrettably, most of the machines are over-scaled and the crewmen are often dressed in uniforms, missing the well-known Kradmantel (motorcyclist's protective coat), specially designed for protecting the motorcyclist against rain, wind, dust, mud etc. Though issued for motorcyclists, due to the conferred advantages and interesting cut, that item of clothing became very appreciated and desired by army-men of all branches and proudly worn in spite regulations provided for interdictions on the matter.

Produced in huge numbers along WWII and copied after by West Germany, France and Switzerland, at the moment in the 1/72 scale motorcyclist’s protective coat registers a low presence. Few tenders, including more or less detailed interpretations exist, put forward by mass production and garage manufacturers. Concerning mass production, it is only Armourfast/HaT's "WWII German Zundapp Motorcycle" and "WWII German BMW with Sidecar", kits unfortunately addressed to wargaming and featuring a quite poor representation of the Kradmantel. In hard plastic Hasegawa’s "Schwimmwagen & Kettenkrad" and Preiser’s "Military Police. Guards"have included one figure in Kradmantel each, Preiser’s interpretation over this famous piece of clothing being the most exact. On the other hand, cottage industry submits some soldiers in Kradmantels, such as El Viejo Dragon’s “German Recon Group” and Martello International’s “Halt!Feldgendarme” within specialised or mixed sets, but definitely those furnish superior versions of the mantel. 

Created for motorcycle troops since 1934, Kradmantel was a rubberised cotton twill coat with a feldgrau wool collar, and a unique button system for wrapping the bottom tail around the legs for sealing the rider against rain and wind as well as for a better sit on motorcycle. When riding, the biggest enemies are cold and moisture, so a protective coat would have been mandatory for keeping the soldier dry, preventing external factors to affect the combat aptitudes. Furthermore, an admirable designing idea was providing the option of forming the “legs”. Even wearing the longest coat, driver’s thighs are exposed to rain and that tried preventing the German “legs” alternative, ensuring also a more comfortable mount and journey. Another characteristic of the coat were the two large diagonally angled slash hip pockets with button down flaps, ideal for putting gloves, cigarettes,and other stuff. It is great noticing that those pockets are extremely clear and authentically shaped here. Likewise, the correct number and location of buttons, including those from the bottom of the skirt, the original shape of front closure and cuffs enhance the perfect apparition of these Kradmantels.  Except collar boards, insignia were forbidden on those coats, and the waffenfarbe painted by the hobbyist will determine the membership of these figures that fully respect historical accuracy.

The kit comes in the regular MIG Production package, regularly utilised by other aftermarket producers, and rest in a sealed plastic bag attached on a cardboard showing as artwork the assembled and unpainted version of the content. It is stated under the title and it can be clearly noticed from the fist view, except the two figures made with separate heads and arms, there are also assured an assortment of gear and weapons. The two bodies are delivered on an individual slot displaying in the middle the logo of the company while for the arms and heads two distinct slots were employed. It is remarked for two figures there are supplied three heads, two with helmets and a bare head, and it would be good keeping the remaining one for future projects. Weaponry is complete and in full accordance with the standard endowment of Kradmelders, the kit making available one MG34, one Kar98K, one MP40, and one pistol in holster, so the modeller has at hands plenty of choices for arming his soldiers. Equipment arrives in sufficient amount for motorcyclists and consists in one canteen, one gas mask container, one dispatch/map case, one MG pouch, one MG ammunition box and two MP40 ammunition pouches, one for the left hand and one for the right hand side.

Both troopers wear the motorcyclist’s protective coat, marching/jack boots that might be covered by protective over-boots, and in completion of the biker appearance, there can be added the two heads with steel helmets featuring goggles in the most convenient position for motorcyclists. Likewise, one rider received motorcycle five finger leather gloves/gauntlets. Excellent is also sculptor’s incentive of depicting not a single but two models of goggles, the most used by melders and easily identified due to dissimilarly shaped lens frame. However, the most important plus point of the set is illustrating both ways of wearing the motorcyclist's protective coat, one opened and the other wrapped around the legs. Various sets supply minis in Kradmantels but the present one is the single tender in 1/72 scale proposing the coat wrapped around the legs, increasing with much the value of a two figure set.

Necessary for motorcyclists were not only Kradmantels but also long boots, helmets, goggles, and gloves, such items of clothing and gear being supplied to these figures as well. The specialised long coat was worn in all seasons and on all fronts since the beginning to the end o WWII, so there are no environmental, area or period boundaries. While the present protective coats have a thicker appearance, sending them to Afrikakorps is a little more complicated, a lighter version of the coat was issued for the Africa campaign.

The two poses depict two dismounted Kradmelders, not in too dynamic stances, but the multi-part approach gives modellers freedom for customising the figs as he wishes. Standard they are in the middle of a short chat for preparing the mission or sharing what they saw or experienced during a carried out action. Though managing pretty fine alone, emplacing next to them a solo or side-car motorcycle would be great. In this respect, while El Viejo Dragon’s “German Recon Group” proposes three motorcycles for four figures, one of those might work well for MIG Production’s figures, particularly considering those are the most in-scale vehicles from 1/72 kits including bikes and riders. However, the little over-scaled versions launched by Italeri and Zvezda could be deployed as well, but definitely best choice for the present riders comes from Propaganda, the French manufacturer possessing an extended catalogue with 1/72 resin motorcycles without figures.     

Due to material, required assembly, and price, the kit mainly targets modellers and collectors but as far as the proposed topic is pretty occasionally covered in comparison with the major role played by motorcycles within WWII combats, some wargamers might have the set on their tables, too. Indeed, the product is fair for such utilisations, the resin is of high-quality, not easily breakable and the miniatures have not so fragile parts.  Additionally, assembly does not involve much labour, even for an inexperienced modeller it is a matter of minutes to put together the kit. Limbs and heads go very well in places while the optional gear and weapons could be arranged as wished. In this regard he has at hand the artwork, but also references, its own imagination, or the present review.

The artwork suggests one bareheaded soldier, armed with Kar98K while his team-mate has got a steel helmet and an MP40. However, except the head option, the hobbyist benefit by numerous choices for arming the last mentioned figure according to his needs. The one with “legs” clearly should get the Kar98K while on the left hand side the sculptor has already endowed him with the related ammunition pouches. To this figure, modellers can adjoin a MG42 and pistol holster, as personal weapon of the MG gunner. Furthermore, the MG pouch where the cleaning tools were kept as well as the MG ammunition box are appropriate for the figure in the role of a MG gunner who has just removed the weapon from its side-car mount. Nevertheless, the ammo box might be forwarded to his colleague and held in the left hand. Likewise, just the pistol holster looks like another option for an officer or specialised soldier but the left hand is shaped as holding something even if the artwork shows it empty, its hook form keep asking for an object. The artwork features the MP40 in the right hand in a bizarre position, held with a single hand and without related strap set around the neck. For the just mentioned reasons, corroborated with the shape of right palm, it would be much better gluing the weapon in the left hand, in this way attaining a much realistic stance. Certainly, the pose hinted by manufacturer is possible with a strap around as well as other poses, but is should be remembered that the left hand profile almost implies an object.

Moreover, the artwork features for this guy MP pouch on left side but bearing in mind the impressive details achieved by the sculptor on attire, it would be recommended adding pieces of gear as low as possible, at least in front, letting the eyes to enjoy at the real valour the masterpiece. Of course, in case of endowing the figure with MP, then it would be compulsory ensuring minimum one related ammunition pouch and it would be wise selecting the right hand side pouch because the Kradmantel is worn closed and the pocket on that side cannot be perceived. 

The same approach of less equipment would be even better to apply for the other figure while as previously mentioned, this is the single one in the 1/72 scale wearing Kradmantel with “legs” and any item of gear would affect its perfect look. The artwork endorses the idea of fixing the gasmask container in front which was the regulated position when riding, but the related strap misses. Because of that and considering the just highlighted things about gear of this figure, it would be better putting aside this container. On the other hand, the same artwork shows the soldier keeping his Kar98K on the back and again the strap was not depicted, so the rifle is suspended in the air. In case whishing to add the weapon and aiming at a realistic appearance, the hobbyist has several choices, either to fix it as suggested with a scratch-built strap or gluing in the left hand, the shape of the palm greatly fitting in this purpose.

MIG Production has accustomed the clients with impressive sculpture and this excels here as well, the figures charming the viewer through accuracy, remarkable level of small details, and admirable anatomy. Bodies, limbs, palms, and heads respect the human proportions while faces have got outstandingly carved eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths, ears, and hair. Palms might receive various objects and have got clear fingers, including those covered by gloves. Several times highlighted inside the present review was the fact attire is marvellous, correct in length and shape, also abounding in tiny details like buttons, creases, pockets, and flaps. Noteworthy there are the two distinct models of goggles, superbly depicted and set on the helmets. Weaponry is also great in term of details and size as well as the pistol holster, canteen, gasmask container and MG box. A little over-scaled emerge the MP40 ammunition pouches and the dispatch/map case, but nothing disturbing, so these might either be used or replaced by more in-scale similar items included in plenty of Dragon and Preiser figure kits.

Multi-part and first-rate cast, the miniatures arrive without excess of resin or air-bubbles while flash and film carrier is light, cleaning and putting together the two figures requiring only few minutes. Body parts and gear go great in positions, without gaps and the recommended adhesive is super glue gel, durably fixing the pieces and according few extra moments for further readjustments. While the minis are delivered without bases and in spite their good balance, the same glue can be used if it is intended to permanently set the soldiers in a vignette or diorama. No matter what paint would be selected for finishing them, those will splendid adhere on the top resin engaged by MIG Production, lasting in time and handling, especially because best is to use a gloss varnish, for reproducing the true aspect of the material Kradmantels were made of.

As rest of MIG Production 1/72 products, these riders are in the tall side of the scale and from the figures in Kradmantel forwarded by the sets indicated at the beginning of the review, they find the ideal colleagues within  Martello International’s “Halt!Feldgendarme”, the miniatures having almost the same size of bodies and gear. Nevertheless, troopers wearing the same attire proposed by other tenders do not differ too much from these points of view, and with little inspiration in arranging, differences between fade away. In addition, there are few sets in the 1/72 scale incorporating motorcyclists without Kradmantels such as Italeri’s “WWII German Motorcycles” and Zvezda’s “German Motorcycle R-12”,the figures being issued in the tall side of 1/72 and first-class matching, too.

The motorcyclist's protective coats submitted by MIG Productions within “German Kradmelders” are perhaps some of the most accurate and hyper detailed, the outstanding abilities of the sculptor succeeding to represent in the 1/72 scale the most important features of the attire. Furthermore, the present kit offers the only opportunity to see in Braille Scale a key attribute of this item of garment, namely the “legs” choice, definitely increasing its impact in the scale even if does not include any motorcycle. Practically, the kit forwards a comprehensive guide on Kradmantels, clearly illustrating the two possibilities of wearing and the most representative details of that famous outfit.   

 

Historical Accuracy 10
Anatomy 10
Poses Quality 9
Details Quality 10
Mould Quality 10
Sculpture 10
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 10