by: Jim Rae [ ]
The last few months have seen, if not a blizzard, then at least a flurry of announcements of a series of German Staff Cars in 1/35th scale. Rarely in modeling can we see anything approaching a trend, but this must come close. The 'Heavies' have been well-covered. Apart from a few glaring absences, vehicles such as the Tiger are now, between the various manufacturers, pretty much a closed circle. The manufacturers are now looking to the many types of softskins which have not been covered so exhaustively. This trend, if I can call it that, has many possibilities for the dioramist as well. It's a lot simpler (and frequently more-convincing) to build a diorama round a smaller vehicle and a few figures than around a bigger subject.
The Admiral Cabriolet WWII German Staff Car from ICM, (kit #35471), comes on 5 sand-colored styrene sprues with a 6th containing clear parts. A total of 185 parts (plus an additional 36 for the figures) are provided along with an 8-page instruction booklet and a small decal sheet with markings (registration plates) for 4 vehicles. All this is contained within a thin cardboard box, which may not bear up well during transit.
ICM's Admiral Cabriolet - In Some Detail
Very little is present with either excess flash or moulding defects. In fact, just looking at the sprues, the quality of moulding is as good as anything done by ANY other manufacturer. Attachment points are a lot thinner than those of many other manufacturers and should clean-up easily. The plastic used by ICM also seems to be of a higher-quality with an impression of a greater density (and therefore crisper detail held on the individual parts).
Looking at the parts layout, a couple of impressions come to mind. It appears, that the parts breakdown is pretty close to the construction of the original. The Sub-Frame (chassis) alone consists of 11 parts which rather than one large moulding (as is usually seen) means that warping is avoided. The Engine consists of 28 parts allowing for finer detail (three parts alone make up the radiator) with only the need for some fine wire for the cabling from the spark-plugs needed to turn this into a superb representation. The Wheels are constructed using a series of 5 discs which does allow for a more realistic finish also. Areas such as the compartment also show a good degree of 'finesse' and there's been a lot of thought put into aspects such as the seats, dashboard and even the rear trunk which looks pretty close to scale. For the Tilt, two options are provided, open or closed with the former being a nicely-rendered representation in 7 parts. What is on the debit side are the front and rear doors. These are moulded closed although opening them up should be a pretty simple job. Once again, the designers have done a thorough job, looking at how the vehicle went together and producing separate parts whenever possible to avoid the model looking like a 'moulding'. This will require more work in assembly and a lot more care, but it'll be worth the effort.
I was impressed with ICM's V3000s and made the point that the company had crossed a 'threshold' in quality. Now with this, once again, they have set an even higher standard. The quality and design of THIS model is frankly sublime.
As to the subject, this was a frequently seen and used vehicle. It was used by high-ranking Field Officers and therefore more common than other vehicles. Herein lies its commercial sense. With other (more grandiose) types of Staff Car you could, out of interest, build one belonging to a particular member of the Regime's 'Elite', with a subject like this you could build several.
The following comments are not a criticism of the model, rather some observations on its presentation. A lot of us 'impulse-buy'. Go into a store, pick up a box and get instantly enthused by it. Unfortunately, although the content of the box is superb, I feel that some modelers may pass on it as it isn't as well presented as it deserves to be. The box-art, although well-done, doesn't really capture your attention as it deserves. It's a bit dark and perhaps a touch too 'atmospheric' - it doesn't really call attention to itself as it should. Although millions, on reading this Review will abandon work, children and the marital home to rush out and secure themselves several of these models, a lot of modelers are still steered by the initial impression from the box.
These comments aside, and bearing in mind it IS just a first-look, I still rate this model very highly indeed. .