Articles

Hasegawa - Kubel wagon with BMW Side Car (31112) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Hasegawa
Scale 1/72
Set Code 31112
Year 1991
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items 1 Kubelwagen, 1 BMW R75
Size Medium/Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Grey
Flash Level High
Glue-ability Good (Pollycement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939 -1945

Review 

In a period when mass production and cottage industry kits on WWII German army were scarce, Hasegawa supplied to the hobby valuable kits, not all the time very accurate but often treating unusual subjects at that moment. It is well-known the tendency of key manufacturers to focus on popular subjects as armour, in 1/72 scale being available uncountable number of Panzers in all possible variants while softskins, especially cars and motorcycles, were almost completely ignored. It is Hasegawa’s great merit of not sticking only to armour, but also to carefully consider the softskin topic and make available 1/72 replicas. Furthermore, contrary to the regular habit of supplying vehicles without related crew, this manufacturer has strived to include in the box several figures to accompany the vehicle/s.

Obviously, the parts for building a small car like a Kubelwagen were too few for a mass-production kit, so Hasegawa opted for combining vehicles in the same box, an approach also applied by elder manufacturers like Airfix and Matchbox in the 1/76 scale as well as by Esci in the 1/72 scale. In terms of WWII German cars, Hasegawa succeeded to issue three kits, two combined with motorcycles and an individual one, featuring a bigger car, respectively a tentative to recreate the famous Mercedes Benz G4/W31 used by Hitler at parades.

Regarding car plus motorcycle kits, Hasegawa grouped in the same box a Kubelwagen and a BMW R75 while for the other chose a Schwimmwagen and a Kettenkrad, the first grouping being the subject of the present review. In mass production 1/72 catalogues, Kubelwagens are available in two kits launched by Italeri and Academy but none of those feature figures. On the other hand, more or less accurate BMW R75s are proposed by HaT/Armourfast in “German BMW with Sidsecar” and Italeri in “German Motorcycles”, the kits also incorporating related riders. Likewise, more accurate versions of Kubelwagens and BMW R75s are reachable nowadays in various garage industry offers, cast either in resin or white metal.

As usual, this review aims only at the supplied figures, though it should be pointed out that the Kubelwagen appears quite basic, missing plenty of details on the interior. Likewise, the BMW R75 with sidecar seems pretty small and not only lacks specific characteristics, but also the wheels are moulded full and excess of material is registered in various locations, the most annoying being at the fork, which comes filled with plastic. Moreover, the two delivered MG34, one for the Kubelwagen and the other for the sidecar, emerges overscaled and wrongly shaped. In addition, the system of fixing the MG to the sidecar is a futuristic one, an improvised solution that never existed on a real BMW R75. In this light, it should be better either not to fix in positions the MGs or to replace those with others more accurate available in the spare parts box.

The kit reached the shop-shelves in the standard Hasegawa 1/72 box and benefits by an artwork featuring a Kubelwagen and a BMW R75 in Africa, the drawings being clearly inspired by two well-known photos. Inside the box there are supplied not only the sprues and the common thick decals but also an assembly guide offering instructions for putting together both the vehicles and the soldiers. A brief history of the vehicles as well as an extremely useful and highly detailed chart on the parts and what those intended to represent are featured by the instruction sheet.

Figures are just three, a driver for the Kubelwagen, a rider for the motorcycle, and a standing officer for ground use. All of them are made of hard plastic and require few assembly, mainly arms, except the rider to which the trunk is separated from legs in order to better fit on the motorcycle. However, these soldiers are very poor, with ugly sculpted uniforms, palms, heads, and helmets, having a really toyish appearance. Dressed in the Early War uniforms, with M36 tunics and marching/jack boots, the officer got a peaked cap and breeches while his subordinates received regular trousers and steel helmets. Gear is almost completely missing, being provided belts, “Y” straps and a gas mask container for the rider.

The officer stands still and according to the assembly instructions, a piece of paper or map has to be added in his hands, specially configured in this purpose. He might be emplaced in various locations, perhaps sculptor’s idea was to be set near a vehicle as studying the map he holds. Of course, the object is not mandatory, without portraying an officer gesticulating. Likewise, the palms are suitable to accommodate other items like binoculars, weapons etc. At his turn, the Kubelwagen driver comes out skimpy, unable to properly handle the steering-wheel and also the rider of the BMW R75, practically both figures being useless in other purposes except wargaming.  

However, taking the advantage the minis are made of hard plastic, hobbyists might try improvements by using Preiser, Dragon or Caesar spare heads and arms as well as gear and weapons, such stuff being available in considerable quantities inside various sets of the just named manufacturers. Nevertheless, in terms of uniforms there are no solutions, so except the officer who passes as average, the two soldiers should be transformed into divers for vehicles where they are hard to be seen such as armoured vehicles or trucks. Practically, this is the only destination a static modeller can give to the minis in order to avoid binning, also saving better figurines. At least head replacement is highly recommended, as the part most visible if the proposed role is chosen, and of course, the legs of the rider should be let aside and the motorcycle to get another rider.

On such poor figures casting could not impress, they arrive with lot of flash and mould marks, huge and deep circles stigmatising their backs, the ugliest being encountered at the officer and should be filled in with putty or other substances. The good point is they are made of hard plastic, so flash is easily removed and assembly functions with any modelling glue (Pollycement). In addition, the material well receives enamels, acrylics, and artistic oils, properly retaining the artistic efforts even after intense handling. Because it was designed for ground utilisation, the manufacturer supplied for the officer a small round base, so those enjoying army-men on stands might find it useful.

The figs are in the middle/tall side of 1/72 scale and considering their attire, they match with plenty toy-soldiers, obviously almost all related tenders being superior in terms of details. To these troopers uniforms are extremely simplified and with unattractive pockets and flaps, in fact representing a characteristic of almost all Hasegawa figures provided within vehicle kits and targeting WWII German infantry. The same is valid for anatomy, with some strange proportions, poor palms and limbs, and bizarre heads, not because of facial details which might pass as quite satisfactory, but due to strangely shaped helmets.

In a certain manner, these army-men look like toys and at least the two privates are completely useless, even with further upgrades they remain appropriate merely for secondary utilisations as those pointed out few paragraphs above.  Still, manufacturer’s effort should be recognised, particularly in a period when drivers and riders were vey rare in the scale. Nevertheless, nowadays they are completely demolished by very fine army-men as those proposed by Preiser or Italeri, for mentioning just two mass-production companies with tenders on matching subjects. Not rated inside the below chart, vehicles are much better than figures and with some work and pieces from the spare parts box, these means of transportation might be turned into satisfactory models.

Historical Accuracy 5
Anatomy 4
Poses Quality 4
Details Quality 3
Mould Quality 5
Sculpture 3
Recommendation/Utility 1
Reviewer’s Opinion 3