by: Jim Rae [ ]
Unfortunately, the model manufacturers cannot now include the manufacturer's name in a model kit. This model, of the Mercedes Benz Type 170V is no exception.
All this apart, once again, it's great to see the less 'glamorous' side of military vehicles getting the proper treatment by the 'styrene' manufacturers. For too many years, a subject like this would have been the provenance of the resin manufacturers rather than the 'mainstream'. Releases like this allow many more modelers the chance to build a vehicle, which although in its military guise, is very much along 'classic' lines.
the 170V from Masterbox ltd.
The model is: MB 35100 - German military car, Type 170 V, Tourenwagen (1937-1940). The model comes on four dark & light grey styrene sprues, a fifth has the transparent parts and the last, five vinyl tires. In total, the model has around 130 parts. Also included is a medium-sized decal sheet with markings for 10 different vehicles. 4 Wehrmacht (Heer), 2 Luftwaffe, 1 Feldpolizei and 2 for the Navy. Instructions are presented in a VERY different format from what we expect from other manufacturers in the form of a large (A1) double-sided sheet with instructions taken from the CAD drawings. More of that later, but, it really does make for VERY clear instructions.
in some depth
Unfortunately, in this, the review sample, there were a couple of parts (slightly) broken. Since they are 'clean' breaks they'll be easily repaired. Apart from that (accidental damage), everything was where it should be and the first impression, confirmed by the images, is that the molding is very crisp indeed. The only 'excess' plastic was under the front mudguards and will be a quick job with the X-Acto and some fine-grain Wet'n'Dry. The plastic is hard and rigid (precisely the kind I prefer!), I have a real dislike of soft styrene which tears and warps - particularly in larger parts. The two largest parts - D1 (the floor & front mudguards) and A1 (Sub-Frame) are the two most probable to suffer warping, in fact they are perfectly straight and perfectly molded.
Now, I guarantee that not everyone will like this format. I do. Firstly, it's VERY clear, you've got nice big images of the three sprues at one side of the page and when you require detail, there's a close-up provided. This definitely seemed to originate from the original CAD plans, so it's cost-effective to use something that already existed. Now there are a couple of build options. There are two kinds of fuel tank - a smaller (Pre-1939) and a larger (1939 onwards). In addition, the Type 170V, being a convertible, can be built with the hood up or down, side windows rolled up (or down) and with the design of the front bonnet, the engine can be easily displayed although the internal hinges will have to be added. A very nice design 'touch' is including the closed bonnet and separate parts to show the hood up. Also appreciated is the molding of separate doors again, to show some of the good internal detail.
Sometimes, with vehicles of this type, there's a tendency to slightly over-engineer, with this model, it isn't the case. Take for example, the sub-frame. Personally, I prefer a single molding (providing there's no warping) to a series of sub assemblies which can get complex and can be difficult to actually get flat. In this, I'm pretty sure that Masterbox have got the 'balance' right by avoiding the excessively complex. We're so used to the massive 800 parts plus, of some models, this should be put together in a couple of evenings.
With the spate of recent softskin releases, I have to say that I'm re-discovering a lot of the reasons why Axis is an immensely popular area. There really is a lot of potential (particularly with dioramas) in this kind of subject. I've always been more interested in subjects like the Pz.38(t) over the more 'boxy' forms of the JagdTiger or even the Panther. This kind of subject really enthuses me.
Being Civil About It:
Some comments have been made in the forums about the current spate of German softskins and the fact that no-one has included chrome parts for bumpers etc. Let me try and answer that. Primarily, the intention has been to produce civilian vehicles which saw service in a military role. In this, the bumpers and all chrome parts were painted over (for somewhat obvious reasons), there's a few other parts as well - the NOTEK light on the front and (obviously! the rifle racks in the back. Taking it back to a civilian vehicle should be simplicity itself - particularly by 'chroming it with an appropriate sheet from the Bare Metal Foil Company....
Improving the Model:
I've frequently said that sometimes you can judge a model's accuracy by the amount of AM sets that have been released for it. With this model there's only (I believe) one set available. This is from Hauler which replaces/improves the steering Wheel, adds detail to the rifle racks, replaces the registration plates, mirror & windshield wipers and gives you a photo-etched Mercedes symbol for the front bonnet (somewhat unnecessary as this IS included in the model).
Another area, which is in-progress, is a set of seated passengers for the car. This is coming from Masterbox themselves although no word on release date.
Tired of this debate?
The tires on the model are produced in vinyl. Now this not to everyone's taste. There are those who (with some justification) believe it's unnecessary as they have to be painted anyway, so what's the point of producing them in a material which can be problematic. Personally, I don't have any real thoughts one way or the other. They are nicely molded with good detail, no excess flash and easy to attach. My only thoughts are, like everything else, a little preparation can save problems later. What I do, is to paint them with a PVA-type adhesive (to key them for painting) let them dry and treat them like any hard styrene wheels. As I DON'T use enamels, I don't have a problem with possible chemical reactions between oil-based paints and vinyl.
Masterbox have taken quite a while to get this model onto the shelves. Many people still seem to believe that there should be a fortnight between announcing a W.i.P. and getting their hands on it. I don't. Personally, I prefer the manufacturers to take their time with NEW releases and get things right on launch. From what I can see from the model, they HAVE got it right.
Another nice aspect of this model, not only is it the first 170V in styrene, it's also an 'accessible' model. Modelers of almost all levels of experience will find it easy to build - this is particularly true for less-experienced modelers who may find some of the recent softskins pretty complex affairs. This is as complex as it has to be - no more, no less.
As to potential as a subject, it's only limited by your own imagination! A captured example painted in OD, part of a convoy of senior officers or a heavily loaded example retreating on the Eastern-Front. the sky isn't really the limit with subjects such as this.
It's the first release of this type by Masterbox - hopefully this will be sufficiently successful to fund more vehicles of this type.