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El Viejo Dragon - German Motorbikes and Pilots (C72/03) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer El Viejo Dragon
Scale 1/72
Set Code C72/03
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 4
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items 2 solo motorcycles, 1 sidecar
Size Tall
Material White Metal
Colour Silver
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945

 

Review 

Though covering extremely rare subjects and of a very fine quality, due to unexplainable reasons, the manufacturers of some great 1/72 kits have taken the decision to cease production. Such approach characterise several cottage industry representatives still in the business and it is quite odd while the topics are of huge interest for  target groups and might represent a reliable source of further income. Nevertheless, out-of-production sets could be found in the catalogues of the industry giants and obviously, of companies that do not exist anymore. The out-of-production feature brings with it a higher price for the set in case as well as a desperate hunt of the interested hobbyists and collectors in shops or eBay. With a little luck, those efforts might be rewarded and the joy immense.

Some of the most wanted out-of-production sets on WWII Germans were issued a period ago by El Viejo Dragon (EVD), a company acknowledged for impressive sculpture, accuracy and passion for details. Nowadays the manufacturer lists in their catalogue a good range of kits on the topic and to those should be added other three out-of-production, namely German Infantry Walking 1939-45 (C72/1), German Panzer Crew (C72/2) and German Motorbikes and Pilots (C72/3). From the three sets, perhaps the most interesting and desired is the last one while it brilliantly treats the motorcycle issue, giving perhaps the best interpretation available within a Braille Scale figures and motorcycles kit. Furthermore, the set puts forward not one but two types of the most famous WWII German motorcycles. To such attraction should be added the Kradmantel (motorcyclist's protective coat) dressed by all the figures of the set, an item of clothing extremely popular in all branches not only between motorcyclists and quite rare encountered in the 1/72 scale.

BMW R75 sets out as the widest spread motorcycle in the 1/72, kits like Armourfast's "WWII German BMW with Sidecar", Atlantics WWII German Combination Motorcycle, Italeris WWII German Motorcycles, and Hasegawas Kubel wagon with BMW Side Car treating the subject in a more or less correct manner. Not the same thing can be said about the Zundapp KS750, only Armourfasts "WWII German Zundapp Motorcycle" granting attention to this intensively used bike. Perhaps the best and most detailed 1/72 versions of BMW R75 and Zundapp KS750 come from Propaganda, the latter motorcycle including a sidecar, too.  However, while most of the other interpretations on these motorcycles encounter over-scale problems, the EVDs versions are truly 1/72, perhaps the most authentic interpretations available in kits with figures.

WWII German Commandment granted enhanced attention to motorcycle and grouped it in various organisation schemes or attached to different units like Panzer. In WWII, the German Army was definitely the largest employer of motorcycles, making use not only by their own products, but also of captured French, Belgian, British, and US ones. Reconnaissance, courier, traffic control were common duties of such units, but many times they used their vehicles for transport or tow light weapons, carts etc. KStN 147/1941 provided for a motorcycle platoon to include 39 army-men with 27 solo and 3 sidecar motorcycles as well as two vehicles. Kar98K was the most common personal weapon of the motorcyclist ("kradmelder), but also some pistols and MPs could be found at officers, NCOs and specialised soldiers. Likewise, MGs, mounted on the sidecars were standard enforced, a motorcycle unit having to be strong enough for engaging the enemy. 

Seeing action on all fronts starting with 1941, BMW R75 and Zundapp KS 750, were specially designed for the Wehrmacht and had almost 70% of parts interchangeable.

Developed in 1939, Zundapp KS750 entered in service in 1941 and had been produced in around 18,695 pieces until 1948 by the plant in Nuremberg. Weighting 420 kg, with a displacement of 745 ccm, reaching a top speed of 95 km/h and with excellent cross-country abilities, assessments indicate it as one of the best WWII German motorcycles. Likewise, Zundapp KS750 received several sidecars, namely BW40 produced by Zundapp or BW43 and W.Krad.B2 manufactured by Steib. When thinking at a WWII German motorcycle, almost sure the first emerging image is the one of the famous BMW R75 sidecar. Entered in service also in 1941, the BMW R75 was produced in 16,500 copies until 1946, but Russian M72 and different Chinese motorcycles inspired after the Russian one are BMW R75 clones made years after the end of war. Exactly like Zundapp KS750, BMW R75 weighted 420 kg, had a displacement of 745 ccm, reached a top speed of 95 km/h and fitted its famous sidecar on a rectangle chassis. In addition, the cross country performances were impressive, the motorcycle being almost unstoppable on any terrain.

Arriving in the cardboard box used by EVD for marketing also higher scale figures, the kit features as artwork the three motorcycles as well as their riders in identical poses with the ones available inside. The content comes wrapped in a protective plastic bag, preventing accidental breakage. After un-packing, the product reveals in all its beauty, impossible not to be remarked from the first glance. No assembly guide is supplied either for figures or motorcycles, but everything is extremely easy while the two separate trunks and legs fix in a single place, the handlebars are identical for all bikes and the sidecar matches only to a single motorcycle, the BMW R75. Anyway, the artwork delivers enough information on how the motorcycles and crews should finally appear. Front and back licence plates are available, but no decals are provided. The issue is by far not very simple, an answer coming from Dragon plate numbers jungle decals supplied in various kits. Still, emplacing those decals on the EVD motorcycle plates sets out as an extremely complicated operation, requiring a huge amount of time and patience. Furthermore, the small size of the back plates makes almost impossible to accommodate a registration number including the unit and several ciphers. In this light, a faster and easier solution might be simply trying painting the abbreviation and some numbers and if the result is not satisfactory, which is more than possible, then adding some mud on the plates will succeed covering the imperfections in a realistic manner.   

The two Zundapp KS750 are just the same and except the handlebars, no other assembly is necessary. Carefully sculptured, these motorcycles catch enough details of the original models and the panniers seem to be the leather type. The engine section reveals lots of details and for other ones, a simple paint work might fast and facile solve the issue. Through painting could be depicted quite satisfactory various buttons, cables and other stuff found on the real motorcycle. Not very clear is the representation of front brake and clutch levers on the handlebars, but those might be enhanced via painting. When it is the case, the seat excellent accommodates the rider and for a genuine appearance, the ring handle designed for the back seat passenger needs drilling at all EVD motorcycles. Related to wheels, particularly their spokes, the usual matter often encounter in the scale of full modelled wheels is repeated also here. However, because of smaller diameter of wheels and the disc brake covering a good part of the spokes, the appearance is not as annoying as in case of bicycles.

The BMW R75, comes with sidecar and it would have been interesting to receive a sidecar to one of the two solo Zundapps while except Propagandas kit, no other Zundapp KS750 has been done with sidecars. Nevertheless, on the one hand perhaps when the EVD set was crafted, Italeri and even Armourfast kits have not existed, and on the other hand, EVD interpretation still remains the best, of course not counting the highly detailed but hard to put together Propaganda resin models which are sold without crew.

Although having the sidecar, assembly remains uncomplicated and quick, except the handlebars the hobbyist having to attach to the motorcycle the sidecar though the pin and hole system that definitely impose gluing. Likewise, before emplacing the sidecar, this has to be put together, its wheel and spare wheel covered by a tarpaulin as well as the MG34 being delivered separately. Both wheels fix in their positions very fine and superglue gel does a wonderful job for a durable bond. A little more complicated is for the MG while on the true models the weapon was set in a device formed by one bar across the sidecar and a vertical one, the last part being not supplied by EVD. For this reason the hobbyist has to scratch-build the vertical bar, maybe cutting a part of a staple, fixing the MG on top of it emerging as the effortless way out. Anyway, adding the MG34 is optional, many times the sidecars missing the weapon as many references attest. The present MG does not feature any ammunition, but if desired, DML and Preiser 50 round drum magazines or OB Grigorov 7.62 mm ammunition belt could be adjoined. Another small problem raises the equipment items featured over the spare wheel, some modellers might be a little disappointed by their smaller size appearance. Removing and replacing those with more in scale Preiser, DML or Caesar similar items is possible and not extremely intricate, but again, not really obligatory, the given equipment not being repulsive. These are represented as fixed by the straps used to tie the tarpaulin, which was more than possible and a current practice of the WWII German motorcyclists. As for the tarpaulin itself, not ony various colours are available, but also different camouflage patterns, of course in accordance with the type of unit featured on the license plates. On the topic, it would not be very indicated to have a WH unit and canvas painted in a Waffen SS camouflage pattern.

In order to acquire a quite genuine look of a real BMW R75, just as it was previously described for the Zundapp motorcycles, painting work could solve many cable, button, dial, and bulb issues. Moreover, modellers have the opportunity to depict the famous BMW emblem emplaced on the left side of the tank and sometimes on the mudguard of the side car, although those are not mandatory while many times those miss or were covered when the motorcycles were repainted in the field. Both the sidecar and motorcycle are delivered with correctly emplaced panniers and all of those appear as the metal model. The sidecar provides enough space for its designed passenger included in the kit and the rider ideally takes place on its seat. Likewise, this motorcycle is intended to be on the move, so the handlebars should be grasped by the melder and he really does it thanks to the bending propensity of the material, easily to be adjusted to reach in the appropriate position the hands of the person manning them. Neither the rider, nor the passenger require gluing in their locations, but for increase stability, particularly if the vehicle is often moved, like in wargaming, then at least the rider should be fixed through glue in a definitive location as well as the handlebars in his hands.

As regards the figures, all are dressed in Kradmantel (motorcyclist's protective coat), a piece of garment specially created for motorcycle troops for protecting them against dust, rain and wind. The item entered in service in 1934 and it was a rubberised cotton twill coat featuring a feldgrau wool collar, and an unique button system for wrapping the bottom tail around the legs, if desired. Kradmantel proved to be very popular and frequently worn by soldiers belonging to other units although regulations set up clear interdictions on the matter. All received steel helmets and marching/jack boots and most of them were endowed with motorcycle gauntlets, featuring trigger finger and made either of cloth or leather. Other clear details are the goggles held on the helmet by one trooper as well as the Feldgendarmerie half-moon shaped gorget shining on the chest of another. The insignia and entire attire are perfect for motorcyclist units, gloves, helmets and long boots being extremely important when riding a motorcycle. Because the Kradmantes were worn in all seasons and on all fronts, there are no climate or area restrictions for these soldiers which might be employed since the beginning till the end of war. However, their use on Africa front is quite tricky while a special version of the Kradmantel, much lighter, was issued for that front and the here presented ones seem to be the regular versions due to their thickness. The mantels are pretty nicely depicted, with some specific details such as buttons, wool collars, and shoulder boards as the only insignia allowed on such mantels, but still missing one detail, namely the large hip pockets. However, these pockets would be harder to spot on the seat figures and most of them are like that, the absence of the pockets being mainly revealed by the single standing mini, the Feldgendarme. Furthermore, this is the only figure armed with an MP40 and equipped with the appropriate right hand ammunition pouch and a map case/dispatch pouch on the left hip. The other troopers, though having belts feature no weapon or gear, which might be regarded as a draw back by some modellers bearing in mind that motorcycle units wear armed and geared exactly like regular infantryman and engaged enemy in the same manner like their infantry colleagues. Anyway, sculptor might have an excuse, his variant of motorcyclists without weapons and gear being completely covered by reference images featuring some real solders in the same manner. Indeed, motorcycles were intensively used not only on the front, but also behind the lines, at a safe distance from the enemy where weapons would not have been necessary. Still, hobbyists wanting to have first line motorcyclists might add Preiser DML or Caesar weapons and gear on these figures, a more than facile thing with the support of the belts supplied by the sculptor.

The first figure of concern in the present review would be the Feldgendarme while he is the single figure not sitting on the motorcycle. Feldgendarmerie members are quite difficult to find in the scale, and certainly this is is one of the best. Armed as it was described few lines above, the gorget from his chest turns him into a special figure, somehow different than the rest. Although more models were in service, in general 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. Most of the time, in order to be visible during the night, the eagle, buttons and logo were painted with luminous paint. We can distinguish on this gorget many of these elements but due to its small size, definitely all of them are almost impossible to be painted by the hobbyist. The duty of this Feldgendarme is traffic coordination, job emphasised by the round traffic wand raised up in the right hand, as stopping a vehicle for control purpose. The way of holding the wand is extremely interesting, attesting the fact that the maker has got some inspiration from images of the period. Similarly, his MP40 naturally slinging on the back, the correct shape, position and angle of the ammunition pouch as well as the map case/dispatch pouch worn on the left bring a major contribution to the brilliant appearance of an extremely accurate military policeman. Indeed, one of the main attributions of Feldgenarmerie had been traffic control, those units regularly exploiting the potential of motorbikes, so a perfect figure for this set. Of particular interest is sculptors approach to this Feldgendarme, dismounted from his motorcycle, but ensuring the vehicle and giving the chance to the modeller of emplacing it in the close proximity. Nevertheless, it should be greatly praised the incentive of endowing this figure with a motorcycle, being dismounted the manufacturer could easily refrain doing it. No stander is supplied, but the piece can be simply scratch-built or the bike propped by a fence, wall, tree or other similar stuff. An interpretation offering the motorcycle for being exploited in conjunction with figures from other sets represents the use of this Feldgendarme as dismounted pillion passenger of the Zundapp with driver. Such interpretation is supported by the pose of that figure, clearly sitting on a stopped motorcycle and for enhanced detailing, he can be turned into a Feldgendarme by gluing on his chest a gorget, Preiser’s “Military Police. Guards” kit providing separately one such insignia.

The second figure allocated to a Zundapp KS750 is perhaps one of the best versions over a motorcyclist in the scale, in spite not driving his vehicle for the moment. The pose has deep roots in reference images, and the EVD sculptor really succeeded to transpose in the 1/72 scale the true appearance of a melder and his motorcycle. With one leg on the ground and the other mounted, he holds the handlebars with the left hand while the right is propped on the knee. This is the soldier wearing goggles on the helmet, a most common practice at motorcyclists, all his attitude evoking either a driver resting after a long ride or one prepared to take a long voyage. Even without gluing it on the saddle, the mini awesome succeeds to hold the motorbike in an authentic position and perfectly balanced. Little attention should be paid to the left arm while its palm has to reach the handlebar. In order to find the right angle, when even a millimetre counts, it would be wise fixing first the handlebars and before fastening in final position the body to test how the left arm gets best to the handlebars in order the palm to firmly grasp it. Superglue gel is the most advocated adhesive due to its capacity of offering few seconds for further readjustments before eternally stick. Nevertheless, the bending capacity of handlebars can give a small helping-hand on the matter.

Having practically three wheels including the sidecar one, those confer an ideal stability and allow the sculptor to portray the crew of a motorcycle with sidecar either on the move or halted. For the two solo Zundapps the maker voted for unmoving vehicles, but the BMW R75 is depicted, most surely, while advancing, although a stopped interpretation is appropriate, too. The driver leans forward adopting a correct position on the motorcycle and holds the handlebars with both hands. For attaining a natural appearance and a right leaning angle, the trunk and legs are given separately. It is highly recommended before gluing forever the trunk and legs to repeat again the procedure of testing the way the arms arrive on the handlebars.

The passenger in the sidecar is an excellent addition to the set, greatly accommodating in his place, but in this purpose part of his left leg, from the knee below, was skipped. Nevertheless, when arranged in his seat, the missing part is impossible to be noticed, but this limits the use of this mini just to sidecars or vehicles hiding the legs or at least the left leg. Though having he MG34 in front of him, he clearly does not hold it, preferring to keep his hands down on the knees. Like for the other figures, these have been supplied separately, but their gluing does not impose special treatment. To this mini is somehow unclear if the left hand has or not a glove, so the modeller might select the option he wants, maybe a palm without glove would be a nice touch and a spot of colour on a  motorcyclist's protective coat. Receiving a non-combatant appearance, the BMW R75 crew flawlessly match with the rest of the figures put forward by the kit.

All poses are tremendously natural and convincing in what they do while the multi-part move towards definitely supported such achievements. In fact, the motorcyclists from here might form the basis of a perfect vignette, where the Feldgenarme has already stopped for controlling the solo rider on the Zundapp and now is preparing to halt another vehicle coming on the road, respectively the BMW R75. However, not only this example, but also endless scenarios are appropriate, according to the modeller’s needs and imagination.

Although missing some, the level of details might be assessed as pretty high both on motorcycles and figures. Garment put forward enough characteristic features as well as authentic folds while anatomy is wonderful, with perfectly balanced proportions and excellent facial details, expressing reactions in accordance with the carried out activities. The gauntlets cover most of the palms, but it is possible counting the right number of fingers which also reliably grasp the handlebars. In spite adopting various stances, no discrepancy is registered in terms of bodies or helmets sizes.  

Flash is kept in a normal to low percent and the figures and vehicles can be pretty fast cleaned up with the same tools employed on plastic and resin kits. Excess of material is completely absent, the multi-part advance obviously facilitating this. The white metal used here is one of the most suitable, not soft but not sturdy, capable to bend but not break even if the pieces are cast thin such as handlebars. Concerning painting the material, white metal undeniably imposes primer, or else the work of the painter will start wiping out when minis are handled. So, after cleaning the product of flash, of major importance is not forgetting priming both motorcycles and riders. The material is also very glue-able, cyanoacrylate cement, in particular super glue gel, making a strong bond between parts made either of white metal or resin and hard plastic. Thanks to this, hobbyist wanting to replace or affix extra weapons and gear on metal figures has this opportunity, Preiser, DML or Caesar proposing lots of options on the matter.

If most of the kits taking in WWII German motorcycles were mentioned in the first part of the review, and because the EVD riders wear Kradmantels, now it would be the turn of sets comprising figures dressed in the same protective coats to be enumerated. In this light, Armourfast's "WWII German Zundapp Motorcycle" and "WWII German BMW with Sidecar", Hasegawa's "Schwimmwagen & Kettenkrad", Preisers Military Police. Guards and TQD Castings Halt! Feldgendarme propose several figures wearing Kradmantels. In addition, for some years Preiser has promoted their intention to issue two sets having as topic motorcycles, all the incorporated soldiers featuring Kradmantels. Unfortunately, the two Preiser sets have remained just a promise until now, and definitely both of them are some of the most anxiously waited kits in 1/72 scale. Considering the size of bodies and gear, the EVD figures match the best with the Preiser Feldgendarme in Kradmantel from “Military Police. Guards”. Moreover, that Feldgendarme also waves a traffic round wand, so a terrific partner for the here presented military police representative.     

Rather addressed to static model builders and collectors than wargamers, no bases are ensured either for the standing figure or the motorcycles. Nonetheless, all of these can be easily set on various types of bases and many wargamers prefer using their own stands. Taking into account the serious need of motorcycles in wargaming, for those searching not only quantity but also quality, corroborated with the smooth assembly, the EVD offer might appear tempting, too.

Until nowadays, proper detailed and truly 1/72 mass production motorcycle kits are missing, the few interpretations being far to cover and authentically depict the immense number of German motorcycles deployed in WWII. Likewise, the answer coming from the cottage industry in terms of sets of motorcycle plus figures is almost inexistent. Beyond doubt, EVDs German Recon Group sets out as the most straightforward representation of WWII German motorcyclists and their vehicles. The inclusion of the legendary Zundapp KS750 and BMW R75 with crews perfectly interacting with machines, as well as the most in scale representation of the two motorcycles are few other advantages of the present set. Regrettably out-of-production from unknown reasons, it is highly hoped that one day EVD will find means to reissue this outstanding kit, for the great satisfaction of all target groups, including the huge number of motorcycle fans.  

 

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