Articles

HaT - German Motorcycles (8127) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer HaT; Armourfast
Scale 1/72
Set Code 8127; 990101
Year 2005
No. of Figures 21
No. of Poses 5
Additional Items 1 Zundapp KS750
Size Tall
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Average (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review

Following the collaboration HaT - Armourfast, in the field of WWII Germans resulted two sets made available in the same time and aiming at a couple of well-known motorcycles together with crews. As attempt, it was definitely a great one, not only such vehicles being of most interest, but also WWII German riders wearing Kradmantel (motorcyclist's protective coat) emerging as a blank space even inside the impressive 1/72 offer on that army. From unknown reasons, except HaT/Armourfast motorcyclists, one Preiser and one Hasegawa figures, there are no others in mass production tenders, the garage industry not ensuring many solutions, too.

Still, HaT/Armourst good intentions might be apprised as a partial failure because their motorcycles, instead of being in the labelled 1/72 scale, are noticeably bigger, closer to the 1/70 scale. However, the accompanying figures come in a correct 1/72 scale and taking into consideration these aspects, the present review will analyse just the motorcyclists, leaving aside their bikes. On the one hand, these two kits featured few original characteristics when reaching the market in 2005, such as first mass-production sets with all soldiers wearing Kradmantels, complete teams for the bikes, motorcycles in a quite glue-able soft plastic, and mass-production motorcycles without side-cars. On the other hand, the two sets have some major draw-backs, the most frustrating being the wargaming approach of the products, more toys than model kits, and the over-scaled vehicles.

Both HaT and Armourfast commercialise the kit in boxes sharing the same content, artwork, and shape but under different titles, HaT naming it “WWII German Motorcycles” while the other manufacturer voted for “WWII German Zundapp Motorcycle”, the second designation better introducing the vehicle, the illustrious Zundapp KS750.

In the front artwork a soldier riding a Zundapp KS750 can be distinguished, on the back being ensured a drawn guide for putting together the motorcycle and drivers. The box accommodates three identical sprues, each bringing in two similar motorcycles, two handlebars, and seven figures, two poses being alike and the drivers having separate arms, allowing better adjustment for grabbing the handlebars. From the five unique poses, three of them find their places on motorcycles, the other two comrades being dismounted. On account the drivers have separate arms, corroborated with the fact the kit puts forward two akin stances on the sprue, the arms of one of them can be glued in different positions, not necessary holding the handlebar, in this way getting some new stances that might be useful and definitely give diversity to the set.

Opposite to the situation of BMW R75 proposed by HaT/Armourfast in the other set, Zundapp KS750 is a rare presence in 1/72 scale, El Viejo Dragon in “German Motorbikes and Pilots” treating the subject together with crewmen while Propaganda forwards one but without any rider.

Developed in 1939, Zundapp KS750 entered in service in 1941, around 18,695 copies being produced by the plant in Nuremberg until 1948. Weighting 420 kg, with a displacement of 745 ccm, reaching a top speed of 95 km/h, and with outstanding cross-country abilities, statistics indicate it as one of the best WWII German motorcycles. In addition, Zundapp KS750 fitted several sidecars, namely BW40 produced by Zundapp or BW43 and W.Krad.B2 manufactured by Steib, but all the above mentioned kits, as well as the present one, show it as a solo motorcycle.

As the army making use of the largest number of bikes in WWII, German motorcycle units could be found inside a large array of organisation schemes or attached to different units. Likewise, because the domestic production could not cover all needs, the German soldiers rode countless captured French, Belgian, British, and US bikes. The motorcyclists carried out extremely dangerous tasks such as reconnaissance, courier, and traffic control, being tremendously exposed to enemy fire. Moreover, the motorcycles were frequently put to tow light weapons such as PaK35/36, various carts etc. According to the rules enforced by KStN 147/1941, a motorcycle platoon included 39 army-men with 27 solo and 3 sidecar motorcycles as well as two vehicles, but as usual, there were more regulations in the field. No matter the number of KStN, Kar98K stayed as the standard personal weapon of the motorcyclist, some officers, NCOs, and specialised soldiers receiving MPs and pistols. MGs were supplied mounted on the sidecars, in order to provide heavy fire power to the unit, an important weapon while as spearhead of the WWII German Army, frequently motorcyclists had to engage the enemy. 

Just as their comrades from the other HaT/Armourfast set, these riders have got the M40 Kradmantel, marching boots, goggles, and motorcycle five finger gloves, so they are properly equipped for riding the bikes. While his team-mates received as head-covers steel helmets, another fig got peak cap, so we are in the presence of an officer. Diverging form the other HaT/Armourfast set on motorcyclists, here four army-men wear the Feldgendarmerie half-moon shaped gorget, a clear clue attesting their membership to such unit. Motorcycles were often used by Feldgendarmerie, as an excellent mean of transportation for carrying on one of the main task, traffic control as well as in other purposes. Regarding gorgets, more models were available, commonly the Feldgenarmerie symbol featured an eagle in the middle, two buttons to both the upper tips, a banner to the bottom with the name of the unit and a suspension chain. For increased visibility during night, regularly the eagle, buttons, and logo were painted with luminous paint. The gorgets proposed here by HaT/Armourfast have at least two different sizes, but even the largest ones come plain and the mentioned details miss. However, with little effort, modellers might attempt to paint part of those for a more realistic appearance.

The main item of garment the set introduces, the Kradmantel, was a motorcyclist dedicated rubberised cotton twill coat designed to protect the rider against dust, rain, and wind. Delivered to troopers since 1934, the Kradmantel was easily identified after the feldgrau wool collar, unique button system for wrapping the bottom tail around the legs, and large hip pockets. However, due to its versatility, the motorcyclist’s protective coat was admired and worn not only by riders but also by soldiers belonging to other units, despite regulations providing strict interdictions in the field. Dressed in all seasons and on all fronts, for AfricaKorps it was made available a different type, lighter and without wool collar. Being quite thick, the model included in this kit looks closer to the continental version.

These motorcyclists are extremely light equipped, except the officer who has MP40, this being the single one without gorget, so he possibly belongs to any unit. No other has got any piece of equipment, weapon or ammunition pouches, wearing nothing except the belts. Even the officer did not receive ammunition pouches for his weapon that is very weird, particularly the huge magazine, definitely the MP having to be removed and eventually replaced with a more qualitative one manufactured by Preiser, Dragon, or Caesar, at disposal on separate spures within various figure sets. Furthermore, the same sources might be successfully employed for adding weapons, ammo pouches, and equipment on these riders. Although not impossible, it is quite odd to have Feldgendarmers without at least a weapon or pistol in holster, so for further improvements, it is highly recommended to appeal to the stuff delivered by the just highlighted manufacturers, especially based on the fact the hard plastic pieces outstanding fix on the HaT/Armourfast soft plastic with super glue gel.   

The poses of the three riders are unimpressive, and the same is valid for the two dismounted, one of them spotting the enemy through binoculars while the other, with a map or file in the left hand points with the right the direction to follow to his mounted comrades. If the hobbyist wants to waste a printed map, there is a place to do it. Concerning those mounted on motorcycles, best would be grouping them after the wrong gorget. In this light, the officer will ride alone and on the second motorcycle will take place the driver and the pillion passanger with gorgets. Leaning in front, the driver holds the handlebar, the pillion passenger maintaining on the motorcycle by holding the ring handle created especially in this regard. The obtained assemble aims to illustrate a motorcycle team riding fast, matching not only the supplied motorcycle, but also one in the true 1/72 scale, no matter it is a solo bike or one with sidecar.   

With reference to anatomy, the bodies are quite fair but the heads are extremely ugly and the officer’s one will be better changed due to the wrongly shaped and huge peak cap. The facial details are poor and even the guy with the map and the pillion passenger have big crescents on their faces where it should be the straps of the helmets. Because of that, suggested is painting the heads in case as wearing toques, a very useful and commonly displayed item of clothing when riding bikes. The driver and pillion passenger keep their goggles in position, covering in this way other potential awful facial details, the same doing the binoculars. A skillful painter might mitigate the skull look of these heads, but definitely the easiest solution would be swapping with better quality ones. Still, heads wearing googles are hard to find in the scale, Preiser delivering few separate ones with goggles/spectacles/sunglasses which might be transformed into motorcycle goggles. Total replacement of heads is advocated also due to the fact the helmets are bigger than the normal size encountered at 1/72 WWII Germans launched by other producers. An alternative to head changing is painting the helmets as having camouflage cloths, this softening and partially hiding the odd shape and size. The motorcyclist coat is still short but longer than in the previous set, so a slight improvement should be acknowledged. However, at their seated colleagues the fault is hard perceptible due to the adopted stances. The marching/jack boots are rough, but not impressive footwear is regularly met in Braille Scale, so not much to say on the matter. The Kradmantel should have reached almost the ankles but in Hat/Armourfast interpretation, it ends too soon. On the other hand, few specific characteristics are represented on these coats such as buttons, shoulder boards but many others miss. Nevertheless, a good thing is the reproduction of the left hand side large hip pocket, visible only at the standing figs. Bearing in mind this fact and because the coats of the standing figures included in the previous HaT/Armourfast set on WWII German motorcyclists neglect this key element, the present Kardmantels might be assessed as superior both in terms of length and accuracy.  

Making abstraction of the single weapon, excess of material is low and the cleaning operation of existent flash and seam lines goes smooth, more time requiring the upgrading or replacement of the MP40. Gluing the pieces involving assembly can be done with both super glue gel and polly-cement, but in case further parts are intended to be brought, those should be fixed with first adhesive. This soft plastic finely accepts enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils and even exposed to intense handling, hobbyist’s painting effort is properly retained. However, in spite the qualities of this wonder plastic, the new tendency taken up by HaT and Armourfast with their WWII German kits issued in 2012, shifting this material with the standard hard plastic, is greatly received. 

As pointed out several times along the review, motorcyclist coats are a scarce presence in 1/72 scale, few figures dressing that item of clothing within Hasegawa's "Schwimmwagen & Kettenkrad", Preiser’s “Military Police. Guards”, MIG Production’s “German Kradmelder”, and TQD Casting’s “Halt! Feldgendarme” and “1944 Ardennes Waffen SS Command”. Some of them have got gorgets, and other Feldgendarms, wearing different items of clothing are reachable in several mass production and garage industry sets. Certainly, even missing gorgets, the best match in terms of size, details, and even ugliness is achieved with the troopers proposed by HaT/Armourfast in the twin set. The motorcycles are well-suited to stay next to the WWII Volkswagen Beetle series released by Military Wheels, sharing the same over-scaled problem. Anyway, with the appearance of Vaillant figures and kits, labeled as 1/72 but in reality, larger, near to 1/70 scale, HaT/Armourfast motorcycles are proper additions for Vaillant products.

Closer to wargaming or even toys, static modellers might appeal to these miniatures to cover background places in a diorama and it has to be admitted that mounted on genuine 1/72 motorcycles and with some aftermarket parts, these riders will work in this purpose. The Kradmantels simply boost the value of the product in the 1/72 scale, so gamers, collectors or even some diorama builders could be interested in it. Of course, regarding reps of the last mentioned category, it is about those having difficulties in finding or purchasing the much more expensive or out of production miniatures dressed in motorcyclist protective coats, but certainly, much work waits for them in order to get something out of these HaT/Armourfast figs. 

 

Rates referring only to figures

Historical Accuracy 7
Anatomy 6
Poses Quality 7
Details Quality 6
Mould Quality 7
Sculpture 6
Recommendation/Utility 7
Reviewer’s Opinion 6