Being one of the most used German vehicles of WW II, the BMW R75 has already been issued by Italeri and Tamiya. Now, here comes the challenger from Ukraine - will the offering from Master Box Ltd. beat its predecessors? The BMW R75 is still, to this day, one of the most recognizable motorbikes. Developed by BMW in response to a request from the German Army for an off-road capable sidecar carrier, it was, for its time, quite advanced. With the side car wheel driven from an axle connected to the rear wheel, the motorcycle was, in effect, a three-wheeled vehicle. With a capable differential system, the bike was highly maneuverable, despite its size and weight. It was also quite durable, benefiting from the standardization effort undertaken by the Army, which made it compatible with another “classic” German bike, the Zundapp KS 750. Usually armed with a machine gun, either an MG 34 or an MG 42, it also packed quite a punch for its size, making it a good, if somewhat improvised, infantry support weapon. The design turned out to be remarkably durable – in fact, if properly maintained, an R75 will carry its owner into worst terrain to this day.
Packaging and instructions
From the outside, the box looks like a typical Master Box release, black and white scheme with a nice looking box art. Surprisingly, the illustration is not a typical piece by Andrei Karaschuk but a composition made by Enzo Maio. >While the cover art is colorful and striking, the rest of the images on the box are much more subdued. In the back, we have a set of CAD drawings, showing the bike's sub assemblies – these might be quite useful while building the kit – and two roughly colored front, side and rear views of the motorcycle.
Opening the box, we find a resealable bag (quite a good idea for storing un-built kits) containing the single sprue, wrapped in the kit's instructions sheet – pretty good idea when it comes to keeping the parts at least a bit safer from harm – and two small sheets of decals. The instructions are printed on a single large sheet of paper and consist of three parts: A photograph of the sprue with part numbers shown, explanation of color and marking variants, and assembly instructions proper. While the latter are done in a typical “exploded 3D drawing” style and are quite clear, the number of color variations, for a model of this size, is quite impressive.
In fact, there are six sets of markings, namely for:
1.A generic Panzergrau vehicle with Red Cross markings, 2.A vehicle belonging apparently to Kurt Meyer during his campaign in Normandy with the 12th Waffen SS Panzer Division in Normandy, 1944, painted dark yellow, 3.A vehicle used by the Ramcke Brigade, 1942 or 1943, painted in typical DAK desert yellow color, 4.A vehicle used by the 14th Fallschirmjager Division, Anzio, Italy, 1944, camouflaged with a combination of dark sand and olive green colors; actual camouflage is not shown though, 5.A vehicle used by the 24th Panzer Division, Stalingrad, Russia, 1942, painted either Panzergrau or whitewashed, 6.A vehicle used by the 24th Panzer Division, Stalingrad, Russia, 1942, again painted Panzergrau, but sporting a different set of markings.
Apart from a sheet containing numbered sets of symbols and license plates, there is also another small decal set, containing more license plates, a BMW symbol in black and white, and five road signs, three of them of Eastern Front provenance. I do not know whether MB has its own decal printing department, or outsource it somewhere, but both sheets look quite nice, the decal film being thin and closely following the contours of actual markings.
Made from a typical Master Box plastic – yellow-brown, a bit softer than current DML signature gray plastic – the sprue holds approximately 80 individual parts. These are not numbered on the sprue itself – that's what the photo in the assembly instructions is for. While such an approach allows to pack more stuff onto the sprue and reduces the waste of material, I find it a bit problematic, since it makes the modeler flip the pages of the instructions incessantly in order to check what's the part number for the sub assembly currently being built.
First, in terms of engineering, I am really happy with the amount of pin marks on visible parts, which is none whatsoever. Unless you plan to, for instance, leave the ammo boxes open, or make a diorama with mechanics servicing the basket's insides, there will be no need for removing any mark.
Moving onto details, I can safely say, they are quite superb. There are multiple small parts, which perhaps make the assembly quite intricate, but I can see how rewarding it will be. The engine is a kit in itself, made from fourteen parts in total, and as far as I am concerned, should look like the real deal and you might want to add some cables where appropriate, but it is not necessary. The frame, on the other hand, is very delicate and needs careful handling in order not to break it – fixing would be nigh on impossible and making a new one would complicate things and probably involve a soldering tool. On a side note, the frame would be a great aftermarket item for the bike and would make its construction much easier. There are other, no less delicate parts, from grab handles and the exhaust pipe to extremely fiddle steering crossbars.
The sprues also contain two machine guns, both the MG34 and MG42, and both nicely detailed – maybe not to DML Gen2 standards (and if anyone wants to change that.. there are many leftovers from each Dragon kit), but well done nonetheless. Overall, when it comes to the level of detail, I am sure everyone will be satisfied, provided they do not break the bike frame or the basket support.
Enough positives, time for some criticism. First, this is actually the first Master Box release where I find flash problematic. Its not that there is lots of it, on the contrary, but it's right where it counts the most. You guessed it, the most fiddly bits are the most problematic. While dealing with it on the handlebar, or even the frame itself, is perfectly doable, cleaning the wheel sprockets will be a major problem. Without either a very sharp knife and a steady hand, or an aftermarket replacement, removing flash from these will be nigh on impossible. I have also noticed several sink marks, but these are placed either in places covered by other parts, or not too pronounced.
Finally, in terms of detail, I'd have a single comment, having found no other obvious problems, even though such analysis should be made by someone with good photos of the original and a good eye for detail. The tire tread, or rather the complete lack of it, when compared to CAD drawings and pictures in the assembly instructions, doesn't look too good. While understandable, taking into account the limitations of injection molding, which can be overcome only by complicating things – see DML tires for their Sd. Kfz. 234/3 – a different material might be beneficial, resin for instance. Who knows, maybe we'll get some replacement, but for now, one either has to accept it, or find a way to correct the issue on his own either by making new tires, or scribing the tread onto the ones in the kit. Both ways will be time consuming and difficult, which puts the whole endeavor in question.
While not exactly perfect, the newest Master Box release is a solid kit of a popular subject. Being highly detailed, it will build into a small gem on its own, enough to be a centerpiece of a small diorama certainly. Naturally, there are problems to be overcome during assembly but the effect will be worth the effort. Also, it will definitely be cheaper than its future competition from Lion Roar. Taking the level of detail into consideration, I'd say it's a bargain.
Highs: Completely new tooling, good quality plastic. Massive amounts of intricate detail, clear instructions; quite a few marking options.Lows: Delicate parts that are prone to breakage. Small amounts of flash in inconvenient places. Some areas need precise assembly.Verdict: Great little kit, if possibly a bit hard to build due to all those small and delicate parts. Would be a great focusing point for a small diorama, or an accessory for a bigger one – Kurt Meyer discussing something with one of his tank commanders perhaps?