Articles

CMK - Guard with Bicycle (ML80342) _________(EXT)

  
Manufacturer CMK & Artmaster
Scale 1/72
Set Code ML80342
Year -
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items 3 bicycles
Size Medium/Tall
Material Resin
Colour Cream
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review

Virtually, everybody likes bicycles, one of the most convenient and efficient means of transportation ever invented and even nowadays proves reliable and effective both on short distances and in crowed cities. Of course, since its development, the advantages conferred and low maintenance costs could not let indifferent the military strategists that found numerous utilizations for the bike, especially during the World Wars the world thrown in. Acknowledged for its capacity of exploiting any available object, the bicycle benefited by a special status within WWII German Army, being widely deployed on each and every front. Footage with long columns of cyclists invading Poland or marching in Champs-Élysées are well-know as well as lots of photos taken during Battle of Berlin, showing soldiers and Volksstrum riding heavy loaded bikes. KStN allocated bicycles almost to all infantry companies, but those vehicles intensively served in Luftwaffe, Mountain and Artillery units as well while Panzer and Kriegsmarine soldiers occasionally appear on bikes. In addition, in case of shortage of horses, bicycles were regarded as proper replacements for animals in cavalry units.

Taking into consideration the huge scale employments of bicycles within the WWII German Army, few Braille Scale producers have striven making available this mean of transportation. However, due to the thickness of those vehicles, particularly thin parts as spokes, issuing a fair representation of a bike comes out as a true provocation, most of the times, no matter it is about mass-production or cottage industry tenders, the attempts seriously failed.

CMK is one of the few resin makers occasionally providing inside their figure sets few photo-etched accessories and within its Maritme Line, CMK planned to approach the bicycle in a different manner, supplying photo-etched ones in two sets, “Guard with Bicycle” and “Dockyard workers II with bicycle”. Unfortunately, also this effort and method proved unsuccessful, the bicycles arriving too slim, sensitive, and featuring some odd, even funny components. It should be stressed the same photo-etch is deployed in both the just mentioned sets and the figures are identical in terms of poses, the only changes intervening as regards clothes and head-gear.

Packed in the usual CMK clear plastic box attached to a cardboard sheet but branded as for “Maritime Line”, the potential customer can see the full content comprising three figures and the photo etch with bicycles. The artwork presents the painted versions of the miniatures while on the back of the box, hobbyists find out, though other information, that the set was developed in collaboration with the German producer Artmaster. In fact, this is the main argument between the really slight differences in terms of sculpting style and size of figures between “Maritime Line” and regular CMK. Most of the 1/72 WWII German soldiers issued simply as CMK are designed by Milos Antifeist and arrive little taller and thicker than their comrades in the other line.

As usual, the figures need assembly and all have got separate arms and heads. Anyway, putting together is smooth and a good point is that the allocated parts are set on the same slot with the body. As a resin product, super glue (cyanoacrylate) is the recommended adhesive, the gel formula ensuring an extremely durable bond and offering few seconds for further readjustments, too.

The creator envisaged these soldiers in different ways, two of them riding the bicycles and another dismounted, walking and pushing forward the vehicle. This last mentioned figure is certainly a nice touch and brings some novelty in the field, most of Braille Scale WWII German Army bike riders being showed as peddling. For introducing easier distinctions between the two mounted poses, the sculptor arranged their legs unlike, but also facial details and few other things are altered. Below the soles of the riders there are placed the pedals, practically this representing the common solution adopted by the great majority of the companies that issue 1/72 bicyclists.

In terms of attire, all of them put on M36 uniforms, M34 overseas caps and shoe ankle boots but gear completely miss, except belts no other item being seen. The title of the set highlights these soldiers represent guards and it might appear odd to see such soldiers without any weapon or equipment. Bearing in mind these figs belong to “Maritime Line”, perhaps the lack might be justified by the intention these riders to patrol inside a harbor. Nevertheless, they are ideal to depict troopers riding during a leave or in a peaceful and safe area like an airfield, camp or town, far from the battlefield. Numerous reference images reveal WWII German soldiers in the same manner, thus no accuracy problem. On the other hand, thanks to the presence of belts and the excellent glue-ability of the material, modellers can easy arm and equip these soldiers with related items, available as separate pieces within a large amount of Preiser, Caesar, and Dragon hard plastic sets.

Anatomy is truly great, with excellent proportions, better than similar troopers issued by CMK in the other line generally characterized by quite big hands. Facial details confer to these army-men a lifelike appearance due to properly carved eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths and ears, also hair appearing natural. Palms fit to normal proportions and fingers are precise, most of the times convincingly grabbing the handle-bars. Attire present skillful details as shoulder and collar boards, buttons, pocket flaps and received quite suitable folds.

Concerning cast and mould, the miniatures arrive with a low amount of flash and without excess of material, removing from the slots and cleaning them representing an easy operation. Still, little care should be taken when doing it because resin is more sensitive than plastic or white metal. However, this is a top quality resin, not fragile and capable to resist to powerful shocks without breaking. Only a couple of small air-bubbles were discovered on the reviewed sample but not in key places and can be easily fixed with white putty. Painting the minis comes out as a real pleasure, the material greatly integrating enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, holding those despite repeated handling.

Neither for the walking figure, nor for the bicycles there are supplied bases, but this is normal bearing in mind the product mainly address to diorama builders. Obviously, in case of permanent displaying, gluing the bikes in the scene is mandatory. Due to the rarity of the subject, corroborated with fairly good appearance, the product might interest the gamer as well, but considering the hair dimensions of the of the tires, the bikes should be glued extremely strong on bases.

Because of their size, these figures greatly works with troopers form the middle/tall side of the 1/72 scale and while their uniform is the most commonly encountered in Braille Scale, they find thousands of comrades to work with. Noteworthy matches are attained with Preiser, Airfix, Esci/Italeri, Revell, HaT, Zvezda, Caesar and Pegasus Hobbies, just to nominate some mass-production companies with offers, but also cottage industry puts forward a comprehensive catalogue on the topic. Normally, they brilliant match with all the figurines released under “Maritime Line” logo and a choice to increase the number of riders could be the inter-linked set “Dockyard workers II with bicycle”. Tenders featuring WWII German bikers are scarcely encountered in Braille Scale, the most familiar being HaT’s “WWII German Bicyclists” and “WW2 German Bicycle Infantry”. In contrast with CMK’s bicycles, HaT’s representations are much thicker thus a good collaboration is harder to be obtained, but still possible if finding proper emplacements.

With reference to the photo-etch with bicycles, this accommodate the three vehicles and the saddles which are delivered next to each bike. While the two mounted figures have already resin saddles sculptured under their bottom, practically only one bike needs to receive that item, obviously the pushed one. No guidance for setting the saddle is provided, although it would have been great the piece to have a small hole where the pin from the bike to enter, in that way ensuring a better fixation. The thin liaison between the parts makes the vehicle sensitive and special care should be taken while handling it. However, not only placing that saddle is the only operation required for getting the real appearance of a WWII German bicycle, hobbyists having to perform other tasks for all the three vehicles after removing those from their locations. Because of the way of making the photo-etch sheet, the handlebars must be twisted and turned with the hand grips facing the riders, the pedals have to be bent outside and the headlight to be lowered down in order to get a genuine depiction. The size of the photo-etch and its undesirable propensity to breaking complicate the maneuvers and it is highly recommended to take care and not rush in performing those compulsory actions. Cracking some of them does not represent a reason to despair, a drop of superglue immediately solves the issue and wise it should be doing it immediately for avoiding losing those pieces.

All three bicycles have got a quite slim overall appearance and might look good only from profile, as presented in the artwork. Due to the size and complicated way for creating those, the vehicles come in a simplified manner, completely skipping representative parts as front brakes, air pumps, bells etc. Furthermore, other components as headlights, forks, and grenade boxes received strange forms, thinner than those were normally. The funniest parts are the racks, reproduced here as just simple bars without forms, merely set above the rear mudguards. Each rack should have been shaped at least as a rectangle, exceeding the frame and because the shortness of the bar, there is not enough length for bending in order to obtain a more suitable form. Anyway, a suitable solution for covering the inadvertence is fixing some items of gear over the bar, Zelbahns, backpacks or bread-bags abounding in Preiser, Caesar, and Dragon sets emerging as valuable choices. The chains and hand grips seem properly modelled and sized, although it should be acknowledged that even the frame is close to correct proportions. Together with the already indicated oddly shaped parts, the thickness of the tires contribute to the slimmer look of the vehicle. A proper representation of bike wheels, especially the related spokes, is extremely difficult to be reached in 1/72 scale. This time the producer thought to apply two solutions for wheels, one approach without spokes for the two bikes that presumably go faster while the third one, the pushed model having less speed, received spokes. Though being separated, the spokes are fairly thick, with almost the same thickness as the frame, aspect that certainly contradicts reality.

A positive thing is the designer introduced elements to distinguish the vehicles, none of them being repeated although all these bikes are of the same type, illustrating the standard military model deployed within the WWII German Army. The easiest to identify is the pushed one after its spokes, but also there is a difference between those moving at higher speed, namely an extra mud guard or something related shaped as a triangle set at the rear wheel and placed on the spokes. In my childhood some boys used to create such a triangle with wires of different colours for “embellishing” their bicycles, maybe reminiscence from older models that featured something there.

Thrown inside a truck could be an extra utilization, the most appropriate bike in this purpose surely being the one with spokes. In addition, for its allocated fig hobbyists might find something else to push or do with his hands while for the riding guys is harder to determine a different task to perform.

In a certain manner, CMK and Artmaster should be commended for the search and openness in finding a suitable solution for making available correct WWII German bicycles in 1/72 scale. Although overall acceptable, their endeavor proved not to be sufficient, Braille Scale still needing better interpretations. Nevertheless, these bicycles are superior to most others encountered in the scale and at least viewed from profile, the vehicles might look satisfactory. Arranging some gear on the racks can hide the hilarious appearance and these figs definitely will emerge great either in a back-front environment or accompanying a column of soldiers and vehicles on the way, some extra gear and weapons for the CMK riders being advocated in this purpose.  Bearing in mind its sensitivity and the necessity of bending some parts as well as to properly glue the riders on vehicles and correctly fit the handlebars in their palms, this kit is mainly suggested to advanced modellers and for displays not involving repeated moves. 

 

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