Crossroad Eastern Front, WWII era
If some of this review seems like déjà vu all over again, it is, as this is the second time that I have been afforded the opportunity to review a Master Box BMW R75 motorcycle. But there are some great changes with this release. Included in this delivery is a photoetch fret containing parts to build up the wheel spokes, as well as five figures (two Russian and three German). A separate sheet is included for instructions on the wheel assemblies, with directions for assembling the figures shown on the back side of the box; along with a photo of the parts sprue for them.
I am still very impressed by what the folks at Master Box have released, as this remains a solid representation of the R75.
Upon opening the box, as with my previous review, you will find two sprues that are contained in plastic bags sealed on one end similar to the way Eduard seals their PE sets. The photoetch fret is in a bag of its own. The directions for the motorcycle remain unchanged, and are printed on a single 11-11/16 by 16-1/2 inch sheet of paper. As aforementioned, there is also a 3-5/16 by 7-3/4 inch sheet for assembling the photoetch wheels. The main directions have one side that shows front, back, left and right side, and top view drawings at the top and assembly steps beneath. The other side shows the part locations on the sprue on half the sheet, and four-view drawings for the markings on six different bikes.
The plastic sprues are molded in a tan plastic that are expertly cast with very fine detail. As an example of this detail, the wheels actually have valve stems molded into them. One problem that I found on my sample was that one of the tires was not completely filled during the molding process, leaving a small sink mark on the interior of the tire. The other issue was some flash on the delicate plastic wheels that would need to be cleaned if the builder elects to utilize them instead of the photoetch assemblies.
As I mentioned in my previous review, the moldings are very intricate and appropriately thin for this scale, so I would recommend this kit for more experienced modelers (it may be frustrating to those with less experience). Included on the sprue for the bike are both an MG 34 and an MG 42, rivaling any I have seen for detail. Although the assembly instructions show the mounting of either gun, I elected to leave them off to provide more room for the figure.
The decals for this release are on a single small sheet; they are thin with minimal carrier film around the individual decals. Aside from the red crosses for one bike and blue BMW symbols, all of the decals are black and white, so there are no issues with them being out of register. The letters and numbers are all well printed. The markings included in this kit are for the following vehicles:
- An ambulance bike in the Wehrmacht (red crosses are provided)
- 12 SS Panzer (commanded by Kurt “Panzer” Meyer) at Normandy in 1944
- Ramcke Brigade of the German Paratroops in Libya and Tunisia in 1942/43
- 14 Fallschirmjager Division at Anzio in 1944
- 24 Panzer Division at Stalingrad in 1942
- Bonus alternative for 24 Panzer Division at Stalingrad in 1942 (which are the ones that I used for this review)
As I mentioned above, I used the markings for the 24th Panzer division at Stalingrad in 1942 for my build. This calls for a simple panzer gray paint scheme. I elected to paint the figures with spring/summer camouflage patterns. The back of the box conveniently shows color photos of spring/summer and fall patterns for both the German and Russian cloth. Overall construction went well, with most parts fitting just as they should have, and the design of having separate wheels and tires made for easy painting and assembly of those items.
The fit issues that I encountered were an incorrect locating slot on one-half of the gas tank, and the two-piece sidecar body. The gas tank was easy to sand and touch-up as was the outside of the sidecar, while the inside of the sidecar did not go nearly as well.
As I elected to use the photoetch wheel assemblies, I did not know if I would run into a fit issue as I did with my previous build. Sure enough, I had an issue, and initially damaged the first wheel half that I attempted to install. I broke out my digital caliper this time, and found that the outside of the wheel was .005 inch larger than the inside of the tire. This was corrected using a diamond coated cylindrical bit in my trusty Dremel tool, and further test fittings. I was able to salvage the wheel assembly that I damaged initially, and I did not have any further issues with them.
To add some extra dimension to the wheel assemblies, I did use the plastic tools provided with the MiniArt Harley Davidson motorcycle that I reviewed last year, and it seemed to work well for me. One additional tip is that the directions make it look like PE Part 8 needs to be rolled lengthwise to make a very thin axle, when you really want to roll it to end up with a larger diameter, shorter piece. You will also need to enlarge the openings in the wheel centers to get them to fit on their mounting points, and this can be easily accomplished using a small round file.
The highlights of this particular kit in my opinion are again, the level of detail (such as the valve stems on the wheels); the optional machine guns, and variety of decals. There are also parts in the kit for the gas lines to the engine, the throttle linkage, and a very intricate gun pivot for the sidecar.
For most of the construction, I was able to pre-paint the items on the sprue prior to assembly (the gas tank and sidecar required a little clean-up and paint touch-up after assembly, as one would expect). The figures make for the beginning of a nice diorama, and they built up with no issues, but I would recommend having the bike built up so that everything can be properly positioned before the glue dries. I do not know if the folks at Master Box read my previous review, but the “miss” that I identified with a lack of tire treads, has since been corrected with a very nice pattern.
My “misses” for this kit are pretty much the same as they were the first time around, again dealing mostly with the instructions for building the bike. Many of the steps have vague guidance on where parts are actually to be joined (especially in steps five and seven). With very few locating pins and holes, I spent a fair amount of time using my reference books and the directions for the Dragon re-release of the old
To finish the motorcycle I used Model Master Acryl paints for the German Panzer Schwarzgrau, I used Aircraft Interior Black for the seats, and rubber covers on the front fork shocks. I used a combination of Warbird Tire Black and Andrea Flat Black for the tires. I brush painted small areas where the decals were to be placed with Future, then used Micro Set and Micro Sol to install them. In addition, I used Solvaset to help draw down the BMW symbols, as they were initially not quite forming over their locations. I applied a final coat of Microscale Micro Flat, and then applied a Warpigs Raw Umber Filter and then added some
This was my first attempt at camouflage paint schemes on 1/35 scale figures, as I have only attempted such techniques on 1/16 scale ones in the past. I used the Andrea Color Flesh Paint Set for the skin, and then used combinations of Andrea, Vallejo, and Panzer Aces colors for the uniforms, custom mixing many of the shades.
Overall, I would still say that this is the best 1/35 scale BMW R75 kit on the market, and I would highly recommend it to others interested in building one of these bikes for their collection. As an additional note, I did see that this kit won the Modell des Jahres award in 2010 from Modellbau Journal Online (a European production).
My thanks to the folks at Master Box and Dragon Models USA for allowing the IPMS-USA to review this kit, to John Noack for allowing me to perform this assessment, and to you for taking the time to read it. I would also like to take a moment to thank my fellow modeler Jonathan Baab for loaning me a base to allow me to pose the bike and figures for a couple of final photographs.