by: Jim Rae [ ]
There are a series of well-established companies out there who, after many years, are still there. Unfortunately, for the modeler, several of these companies, while still surviving, have not done much in 're-inventing' themselves and, in the process, enthusing the modeling public.
ICM, on the other hand, have, in the last few years, produced a range of softskins, which have been notable not just for their technical quality, but also for the wildly-imaginative approach they have taken with the consideration of the product range. This, one of the company's very recent releases, shows that imagination is still at the forefront of the company's release policy.
Inside the box - the basic data.
35466 - Henschel 33 D1 WWII German Truck is a 1/35th scale, styrene model. The kit contains 314 plastic parts on 6, sand-colored, sprues with the 7th containing 10 clear plastic parts for windshields and lights. The 12 page instruction sheet is clearly-printed showing all the various assembly stages in the company's usual form, i.e. in 'exploded' view.
In a previous review of one of the company's recent releases, I expressed the thought that the box-art was, in a sense, not reflective of the contents in that it was a bit uninspired and wouldn't help sales particularly. This, I'm pleased to say, is NOT the case here, A very nicely-executed illustration is on the box-top showing a later, camouflaged 33 D1. The box itself seems a little more substantial as well, which should protect it better from the more enthusiastic employees of the world's postal services...
As we've come to see in recent releases from the company, the quality of the mouldings is excellent with little in way of mould-lines, sprue attachment points are at the (practical) minimum and no signs of warping on larger parts.
The instructions are pretty clear and logically set out. Once again, reflecting the (relative) complexity of the model, particularly in the sub-frame, suspension and engine, a lot of care will be needed in the construction.
The model variant is the commonly-seen 'stake' truck which is normally seen with tilt (or at least the tilt supports). No tilt is provided in the model although reference to contemporary photos and a bit of careful work with calipers should allow its construction (and the supports) relatively easily.
As to the subject, although by no means the most commonly-used German truck, around 22,000 examples WERE built and even the most cursory search on the 'Web will provide a lot of images. For those of us who have an abiding interest in the Spanish Civil War, it's no overstatement to say that this is definitely 'manna from heaven'! Due to the relatively early start to its production (1934) and its service in the Nationalist side, there's a lot of possibilities.
The markings. A small decal sheet provides 4 options for 2 Early and two Mid/Late war vehicles. Quality is good but unfortunately no concrete information is provided on units. Unfortunately, without a change in the front wheel to the earlier-type, the Early War markings can't really be used.
The wheels, the wheels!
I bet you thought I was going to have something to say about errors in the tires? Well, no, but the subject does need a little expansion. I've identified three distinct tire types. In reverse order, the first of these (provided in the model) consists of a reasonably simplified OFFSET pattern. This is absolutely correct for later vehicles.
The 2nd, also seen in archive photos, consist of a heavy tread in the form of chevrons in the center of the tire (see archive image at the side).
The third, only seen on EARLY (Pre-War?) vehicles has parallel tread with two ridges in the center. Now, as this was seen on a preserved example (in the Aviation museum in Madrid) this may well be simply an error although I tend to think it IS correct.
So, in summary, there's potential for at least one replacement set of wheels from the AM manufacturers although the kit wheels ARE accurate...
Summary and conclusions
Putting aside, for a moment at least, the technical aspects of this release, perhaps the strongest argument is the subject. ICM, if they choose to, have the potential to do several more models based on this chassis with variants such as fuel bowsers, workshop vehicles or communication trucks. The market is, in my opinion, overflowing with various versions of the Opel Blitz and frankly, we DON'T need any more.
Going back to the 'technical', the company are not only producing some first-rate models, they are also (sensibly) avoiding the pitfalls of loading their kits with what many would see as 'gimmicks'. I don't, for example, like vinyl tires, I honestly think that styrene ones are superior. Nor, do I particularly like the addition of PE - for the sake of it and because many now expect it. In some vehicles it's vital, and adds a lot, on others it sometimes simply notches up the price. The AM people are sensible, they'll do a PE set if they feel it needs it.
So, in conclusion, an absolutely excellent release which may not be as 'glamorous' a subject as the 'big cats' but certainly more widely-seen...